Gary Ockey Directory Page


Gary Ockey
Associate Professor


Contact Information

349 Ross Hall

Fall 2017 Office Hours: MWR 2:05-3:05

Courses I am Teaching

ENGL/LING 219: Introduction to Linguistics
ENGL/LING 511: Introduction to Linguistic analysis
ENGL/LING 519: Second Language Assessment
ENGL/LING 630: Development of Language Assessments
ENGL/LING 630: Quantitative Methods for Applied Linguistics
ENGL/LING 630: Psychometric Methods for Language Testing


PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, Applied Linguistics (Assessment and quantitative methods)

MA, University of Utah, Linguistics

Secondary Teaching Endorsement, Southern Utah University

BS, University of Utah, Psychology (research methods and personality theory)

Research Areas

Assessment of second language proficiency, particularly oral communication. Second language test development: rating scales. Quantitative methods including: ANOVA, regression, factor analysis, structural equation modeling, item response theory, differential item functioning, and generalizability theory.

About My Teaching

Gaining a better understanding of language can help us in every aspect of our lives. In my classes, I try to motivate students to investigate how they use and evaluate others’ use of language. Many of us, especially those of us who have been teachers, have had bad experiences with tests. I try to help students recognize that tests can be used in both positive and negative ways, and it is our responsibility to do all that we reasonably can to develop the most appropriate tests possible for any given situation and to do our best to ensure their proper use.

How I came to Applied Linguistics

I started my career as an English teacher at the high school level in Taiwan. Along with finding what I enjoy in life—teaching, this experience helped me to understand the importance of language as a communication tool rather than something that needs to be memorized. I also began to learn about language assessment. Even though the focus of the classes was conversation, most exams were made up of multiple-choice grammar items. I noted that the students who could speak well did not necessarily do well on the exams, and some students who did well on the exams could not converse. I decided that I would devote my career to improving language assessments, particularly in the area of oral communication.

In addition to teaching English in Taiwan, I have also taught English in Japan and Thailand. All total, I spent more than 15 years teaching English in East Asia. I have also trained teachers in each of these countries as well as in the United States, where I have worked with practicing K-12 teachers who desired to obtain an endorsement in Teaching English as a Second Language.

I came to ISU from the Educational Testing Service, where I conducted research on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). I spent most of my time working on the speaking and listening sections of the test. I also served as the editor for the TOEFL Research Report Series and currently serve as an Associate Editor for Language Assessment Quarterly.

Recent Publications

Ockey, G. J., Papageorgiou, S., & French, R. (in press). Effects of strength of accent on an L2 interactive lecture listening comprehension test. International Journal of Listening.

Ockey, G. J., & French, R. (in press). From one to multiple accents on a test of L2 listening comprehension. Applied Linguistics.

Koyama, D., Sun, A., & Ockey, G. J. (in press). Effects of previewing question stem and option, question stem only, and no preview on L2 MC listening assessments. Language Learning and Technology.

Ockey, G. J., Koyama, D., Setoguchi, E., & Sun, A. (2015). Validity of the TOEFL iBT speaking section for Japanese university students. Language Testing.

Ockey, G. J. (2014). The potential of the L2 group oral to elicit discourse with a mutual contingency pattern and afford equal speaking rights in an ESP context. English for Specific Purposes, 35, 17-29.

Ockey, G. J., Koyama, D., & Setoguchi, E. (2013). Stakeholder input and test design: A case study on changing the interlocutor familiarity facet of the group oral discussion test. Language Assessment Quarterly, 10, 1–17.

Ockey, G. J., & Abercrombie, S. (2013). The structural consistency of a six-factor model of academic self-concept among culturally diverse preadolescents in the United States. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 31 (3), 271-283.

Ockey, G. J. (2013). Exploratory factor analysis and structural equation modeling: Chapter 73. In A. J. Kunnan (Ed.). The companion to language assessment.

Young, J. W., So, Y., & Ockey, G. J. (2013, July). Guidelines for best test development practices to ensure validity and fairness for international English language proficiency assessments. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.

Current Research

I am currently working on a number of projects. One that occupies much of my time is writing about the construct of oral communication. With the advances in technology, how we conceptualize the ability to orally communicate with others has changed dramatically, and I am trying to capture these changes and their implications for assessing second language oral ability in this line of research. I am also actively working on research on the impacts of accent on listening comprehension and how and to what extent diverse accents can be fairly used on second language listening assessments.

Outside of the University

I spend much of my free time watching my sons play basketball, baseball, and run in track and cross country events.