Gary Ockey Directory Page


Gary Ockey
Associate Professor


email googlescholar


Contact Information

349 Ross Hall

Spring 2018 Office Hours: MW 2:15-3; W 11-11:45

Courses I am Teaching

Engl 99S: Non-native Speaking
Engl / Ling 219: Introduction to Linguistics
Engl / Ling 511: Introduction to Linguistic analysis
Engl / Ling 519: Second Language Assessment
Engl / Ling 623: Research Methods for Applied Linguistics
Engl / Ling 630: Development of Language Assessments
Engl / Ling 630: Quantitative Methods for Applied Linguistics
Engl / Ling 630: Psychometric Methods for Language Testing


Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, Applied Linguistics (language assessment and quantitative methods)

M.A., University of Utah, Linguistics

Secondary Teaching Endorsement, Southern Utah University (science and math)

B.S., University of Utah, Psychology (research methods and personality theory)

Research Areas

Assessment of second language proficiency. Task design and rating scale development for oral communication. Quantitative methods including: ANOVA, regression, exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, structural equation modeling, item response theory, many facet Rasch measurement, differential item functioning, generalizability theory, and test equating.

About My Teaching

Gaining a better understanding of language can help us in many aspects 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 best tests possible and do our best to ensure their proper use.

How I came to Teach 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 tool for communication. I also began to learn about language assessment. Even though the focus of the classes I taught was conversation, most exams were made up of multiple-choice grammar items. I noted that the students who could orally interact well did not necessarily do well on the exams, while some students who did well on the exams were not effective oral communicators. This experience led me to devote much of my career to creating better oral assessments.

I spent more than 15 years teaching English and training English teachers in Taiwan, Thailand, and Japan. I have also worked with practicing K-12 teachers in the United States who desired to obtain an endorsement in Teaching English as a Second Language.

I came to Iowa State University from the Educational Testing Service (ETS), 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. While at ETS, I also served as the editor for the TOEFL Research Report Series.

In addition to teaching and research, I am involved in a number of projects. I currently coordinate the development of the oral communication section of the Iowa State University second language English placement test, serve as an Associate Editor for Language Assessment Quarterly, and serve as the co-chair of the inaugural Language Assessment Research Conference (LARC), which will be held at Iowa State University in March of 2018.

Recent and Future Publications

Ockey, G. J., & Wagner, E. (in preparation). Emerging Issues in the Assessment of Second Language Listening. (Book commissioned by John Benjamins: Expected publication 2018).

Ockey, G. J., Gu, L., & Keehner, M. (in press). Web-based virtual environments for facilitating assessment of L2 oral communication ability. Language Assessment Quarterly.

Ockey, G. J. (2017). Approaches and challenges to assessing oral communication on Japanese entrance exams. JLTA (Japan Language Testing Association Journal), 20.

Davis, L., Timpe-Laughlin, V., Gu, L., & Ockey, G. J. (2017). Face-to-face speaking assessment in the digital age: Interactive speaking tasks online. In J. M. Davis, J. M. Norris, M. E. Malone,T. H. McKay, & Y-A Son (Eds.). Useful assessment and evaluation in language education. Georgetown: Georgetown University Press.

Ockey, G. J., & French, R. (2016). From One to Multiple Accents on a Test of L2 Listening Comprehension. Applied Linguistics, 37(5), 693-715.

Ockey, G. J., Papageorgiou, S., & French, R. (2016).  Effects of strength of accent on an L2 interactive lecture listening comprehension test. International Journal of Listening, 30(1-2), 84-98.

Koyama, D., Sun, A., & Ockey, G. J. (2016). The effects of item preview on video-based multiple-choice listening assessments. Language Learning & Technology, 20(1), 148–165.

Ockey, G. J., & Choi, I. (2015). Structural equation modeling reporting practices for language assessment. Language Assessment Quarterly, 12(3), 305-319.

Ockey, G. J., Koyama, D., Setoguchi, E., & Sun, A. (2015).  Validity of the TOEFL iBT speaking section for Japanese university students. Language Testing, 32(1), 39-62.

Ockey, G. J., & Li, Z. (2015). New and not so new methods for assessing oral communication. Language Value, 7(1) 1-21.

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. This work is directly related to the current development of the oral communication section of the Iowa State University English Placement Test, which was first administered in the fall of 2017.

Outside of the University

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