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Curriculum, Teaching  & Learning

Alister Cumming
Professor Emeritus

phone: (416) 978-0276
email: alister.cumming@utoronto.ca  
website: http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/cerll/FACULTY/CERLL_Faculty_Profiles/Alister_Cumming/index.html

Curriculum, Teaching and Learning

Centre for Educational Research on Languages and Literacies

Research Overview

Since July 1, 2016 I am Professor Emeritus, continuing with some professional and research responsibilities but having retired as a Professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning where I was formerly (from 1993 to 2013) the Head of the Centre for Educational Research on Languages and Literacies (CERLL, which was formerly the Modern Language Centre).

My research and teaching have focused on the learning, teaching, and assessment of writing in English as a second/foreign language, the evaluation of programs and curricula for second language education and immigrant settlement, and the development of assessment instruments and procedures in academic, professional and settlement contexts.

I have written numerous books and articles on second-language education, language assessment, literacy, and international education policy.

Curriculum Vitae


Academic History

Ph.D., H.C. University of Copenhagen, English, Germanic and Romance Studies, 2009
Ph.D. University of Toronto, Education, 1988
M.A. University of British Columbia, English, 1979
B.A. University of British Columbia, English, 1975

Teaching Overview

The courses I have usually been teaching at the University of Toronto are CTL 3013 Second-Language Assessment, CTL 3020 Writing in a Second Language, CTL 3003 Planning and Organizing the Second-Language Curriculum, CTL 3807 Research Methods in Second-Language Education, and CTL 3001 Research Colloquium in Second-Language Education.

Since 2014 I have also been a Changjiang Scholar in the National Centre for Foreign Language Research at Beijing Foreign Studies University, China, where I have been teaching and conducting a research project on writing development in English among undergraduate and graduate students at a consortium of universities in China. In May 2016, I was a visiting TÜBİTAK scholar at Yeditepe University, Istanbul. In March 2013 I was the Lansdowne Lecturer in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Victoria. In the spring of 2016 I will be teaching and conducting research again at Beijing Foreign Studies University as part of my Changjiang Scholarship (described below).

Representative Publications


Ortega, L., Cumming, A. & Ellis, N. (Eds.) (2013). Agendas for language learning research. Supplement 1 to Language Learning 63. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2012.00734.x/full

Cumming, A. (Ed.) (2012). Adolescent literacies in a multicultural context.  New York: Routledge. http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415898904/

Leki, I., Cumming, A., & Silva, T. (2008). A synthesis of research on second language writing in English.  New York: Routledge.http://www.academia.edu/2039019/Review_A_synthesis_of_research_on_second_language_writing_in_English

Cumming, A. & Laurier, M. (Eds.). (2007). Language assessment, special issue of the Canadian Modern Language Review, 64, 1.http://www.utpjournals.com/Language-Assessment.html

Cumming, A. (Ed.). (2006). Goals for academic writing: ESL students and their instructors. Amsterdam:  John Benjamins.http://www.benjamins.com/cgi-bin/t_bookview.cgi?bookid=LL%26LT%2015

Cumming, A., Kantor, R., Baba, K., Eouanzoui, K., Erdosy, U., & James, M. (2006). Analysis of discourse features and verification of scoring levels for independent and integrated prototype tasks for the new TOEFL. TOEFL Monograph Series, Report No. 30. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.http://www.ets.org/research/policy_research_reports/rr-05-13_toefl-ms-30


Research Grants and Contracts

My recent research, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, investigated the development of literacy among adolescents at an after-school tutoring program in downtown Toronto. The project, Adolescent Literacy in Three Urban Regions, involved collaborations in Toronto with Pathways to Education Canada, in Amsterdam with colleagues at the University of Amsterdam, and in Geneva with colleagues at the University of Geneva and the Educational Research Services of the Canton of Geneva.

A current project, funded by my Changjiang Scholarship at Beijing Foreign Studies University, involves analyzing how English and Commerce majors at 10 universities in Chinese develop abilities to write from sources in English for their course papers at the undergraduate and Masters' levels. Data include detailed questionnaires, integrated writing assessments, and samples of students' course papers collected over two years.

Honours and Awards

I have received: a Changjiang Scholarship from the Chinese Ministry of Education for 2014 to 2017 to spend summers at Beijing Foreign Studies University to coordinate research on English writing development at the undergraduate and graduate levels with a consortium of universities throughout China; a TÜBİTAK scholarship at Yeditepe University in Istanbul in May 2016; an honorary doctorate from the University of Copenhagen in 2009; a Japan Science Foundation Research Fellowship at Nagoya University in 2006; a University of Auckland Visiting Research Fellowship in 1999; and the R.B. Jackson Award from the Canadian Educational Researchers' Association for the best article appearing in the Canadian Journal of Education – for Cumming, Mackay & Sakyi (1994).

Professional Activities

Some of the roles I have recently had with professional associations, in addition to serving on the Boards of a dozen scholarly or professional journals, include:

• Executive Director, Language Learning; A Journal of Research in Language Studies, University of Michigan, Wiley-Blackwell Publishers (2006 to 2015), and Associate Executive Director in 2016 and 2017

• Chair of the TOEFL Committee of Examiners and member of its Research Sub-committee and of the TOEFL Board, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ (2006 to 2011)

• subject specialist, Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation and Vocational Qualifications (2001 to 2017)