Examinee Characteristics Associated With Choice of Composition Medium on the TOEFL Writing Section

Edward W. Wolfe


The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) contains a direct writing assessment, and examinees are given the option of composing their responses at a computer terminal using a keyboard or composing their responses in handwriting. This study sought to determine whether examinees from different demographic groups choose handwriting versus word-processing composition media with equal likelihood. The relationship between several demographic characteristics of examinees and their composition medium choice on the TOEFL writing assessment is examined using logistic regression. Females, speakers of languages based on non-Roman/Cyrillic character systems, examinees from Africa and the Middle East, and examinees with less proficient English skills were more likely to choose handwriting. Although there were only small differences between age groups with respect to composition medium choice in most geographic regions, younger examinees from Europe and older examinees from Asia were more likely to choose handwriting than their regional counterparts.

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