Celebrating academic excellence and innovation, the DET proudly presents the winners of the 2023 Doctoral Dissertation Awards! These groundbreaking researchers have addressed critical gaps in language assessment, reshaping the future of evaluation through their pioneering work.

Read on to learn about our 2023 winners!

Yuanyue Hao

University of Oxford

Yuanyue aims to bridge gaps between applied linguistics and speech processing, by developing a scoring rubric to assess prosodic features in second language English speech by Chinese adult learners. He hopes this work will help to promote fairness considerations in automated assessment and supporting English learners in improving prosody acquisition and proficiency.

Jia Guo

Queen's University

Focusing on the sociocultural influence of English tests on young learners and parents in Chinese society, Jia's work addresses the gaps by considering the experiences and perceptions of test-takers and parents. By unraveling the multifaceted influences shaping young learners' encounters with English assessments, Jia's findings emphasize the importance of sociocultural backgrounds in shaping perceptions of language assessments, offering invaluable insights for educational practices and policies.

Tiancheng Zhang

The University of Auckland

Tiancheng's project focuses on improving how a language assessment called DELNA evaluates students' language skills at the University of Auckland. DELNA helps determine if students have the necessary English proficiency for university studies. Currently, DELNA gives detailed feedback for writing but only general scores for listening. Tiancheng aims to use a tool called Cognitive Diagnostic Assessment (CDA) to provide more specific feedback on students' listening abilities. This improvement can give students better guidance on how to enhance their academic listening skills, which is crucial for their success in university studies conducted in English. By enhancing this assessment, it helps students identify areas needing improvement and ultimately supports their academic progress.

Monique Yoder

Michigan State University

Monique's research explores how parents of English Language Learners (ELLs) interpret standardized test score reports. Addressing the gap in understanding parental comprehension of these reports, Monique aims to provide insights into the resources and support parents need to interpret their child's scores accurately, extending implications globally beyond the US education context.

Jincheng WU

University of Macau

Jincheng is working to create a standardized scoring system for academic presentations (AP) in higher education. Addressing the gap in evaluating multimodal composing, Jincheng's work aims to craft a rubric that considers various multimodal resources used in communication, ultimately empowering students and teachers in the assessment of academic presentations.

Elisa Guggenbichler

Universität Innsbruck

Elisa's research focuses on assessing the impact of self-paced listening on learners with reading-related learning difficulties. By addressing the gap in providing fairer testing opportunities, Elisa aims to offer empirical evidence on accommodating learners with reading difficulties, significantly influencing assessment practices.

Zhiyuan Deng

University of Maryland, College Park

Addressing the gap in assessing vocabulary, Zhiyuan's research focuses on ready-to-use language phrases, challenging the conventional focus on individual words. By examining the reliability and effectiveness of these tests in assessing phrases, Zhiyuan's findings could significantly impact vocabulary assessment methodologies and teaching methods.

Shishi Zhang

University College London

Bridging the gaps in pragmatic competence assessment, Shishi’s research aims to develop an assessment tool focusing on second language pragmatic competence for intercultural communication, targeting pre-sessional students in UK higher education. By systematically engaging pre-sessional teachers and students in test development, Shishi’s findings aim to enhance UK pre-sessional students’ spoken communication skills, to help them better handle academic communication and become more capable intercultural communicators.

Takehiro Iizuka

University of Maryland, College Park

Investigating vocabulary acquisition disparities between listening and reading modalities, Takehiro’s study aims to identify distinctive learning patterns and their impact on overall comprehension skills. By addressing this gap, Takehiro's research could provide insights into how different vocabulary acquisition methods affect understanding, guiding educators and test developers in enhancing language assessments and test design.

Xiaozhu Wang

Beijing Language and Culture University

Integrated reading-to-speak task (IRST) is widely used in language assessments, and the same skills are adopted in real-life tasks, such as oral presentations. To address the question of how receptive and productive skills are integrated in the IRST, Xiaozhu’s study examines the influence of text genres and graph types on test-taking processes and speaking performance of advanced L2 Chinese learners within academic settings. Employing multiple methods, this study provides insights into assessing integrated speaking skills, from designing a task to formulating its scoring rubrics.

Liam Hannah

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

Addressing the gaps in oral reading fluency (ORF) assessments, particularly for older language learners, Liam's research focuses on creating a comprehensive tool that evaluates reading speed, accuracy, expression, and rhythm in speech (prosody). Tailored for university-level students in language learning environments, Liam's work aims to refine assessment methodologies, offering valuable guidance for educators through the effective use of automated assessment tools.

Tingting Liu

Nanyang Technological University

Tingting's research delves into the varied impacts of different test methods on second language (L2) listening assessments. By employing sensor technologies and psychometrics, Tingting aims to understand how these methods affect test-takers' responses and emotions. Her study seeks to uncover diverse patterns in test performance, ultimately aiming to enhance the authenticity and effectiveness of listening assessments by shedding light on the influence of test methods.

Fred S. Tsutagawa

Teachers College, Columbia University

Fred's research focuses on evaluating pragmatic skills in second language learners through innovative first-person POV video tasks. This study aims to enhance pragmatic assessment by simulating authentic interactions, refining theoretical constructs, and offering insights for the development of more effective language tests.

Congratulations to our winners!

The DET celebrates these pioneering minds, whose groundbreaking research has not only bridged crucial gaps but also reshaped the landscape of language assessment. Congratulations to the winners for their outstanding contributions, propelling education and evaluation toward a more inclusive, comprehensive, and equitable future!