ISU's program for international teaching assistants has been in place since 1985. International graduate students who plan to take teaching assistantships in their departments are tested with a modified version of OECT, a performance test developed at ISU. OECT provides evidence of the teaching assistants' oral English proficiency in a classroom setting and identifies the specific communicative problems the new teaching assistants may have.
In the OECT test, prospective TAs have five minutes to explain a concept from their fields and three minutes to answer questions from a "class" consisting of student questioners and raters. The test is videotaped. Raters score each performance using four categories: overall comprehensibility, cultural awareness of appropriate teacher-student relationships in a U.S. classroom setting, communication skills, and ability to understand and answer student questions.
Depending on their combined scores on SPEAK and TEACH, TAs may be certified to teach without restriction, may be allowed restricted teaching with concurrent enrollment in a course for international TAs, or required to take a course and retake the tests at the end of the term. The courses are housed in the English department and cover such skills as pronunciation and fluency, interactive speaking and responding to questions, and developing explanations and leading discussions.
For more information about our ITA evaluation and training program, or about the OECT test in particular, visit the OECT Homepage or contact:
Dr. Elena Cotos
Phone: (515) 294-1958