Projects

I am working on a few different projects right now. The top two projects are the biggest, and the rest might be considered side projects.

  1. I am working on a monograph on Placement Testing (contracted with Routledge: editors are Dr. Jim Purpura and Dr. Antony Kunnan). I have a research assistant on the placement testing book project: Ms. Melody (Wenyue) Ma.
  2. With Dr. Susan Gass, I am the Co-PI on a Language Proficiency Flagship Grant from the National Security Education Program (NSEP). For the grant, Susan Gass and I and a large team of researchers and graduate students at MSU are partnering with the Chinese, French, Spanish, and Russian language programs on campus. We are giving about 3,000 ACTFL Proficiency tests to students in those programs five times (Fall 2104, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, and once more in Spring 2017) to measure and track proficiency growth within individuals, within the programs, and across the languages. The main graduate research assistants on the grant are Ms. Shinhye Lee and Ms. Jessica Fox. The project managers are Dr. Angelika Kraemer and Ms. (ABD) Emily Heidrich. Publications stemming from the work on the project include a book chapter (under review) for the The Routledge Handbook of Study Abroad (Cristina Sanz, editor), a second book chapter (under review) for The Handbook of Advanced Proficiency in Second Language Acquisition (Wiley; edited by Paul Malovrh and Alessandro Benati), and a book (Springer; edited by me and Susan Gass) entitled “Foreign Language Proficiency in Higher Education.”
  3. A really fun project on child English-language assessment is assisted by graduate research assistant Ms. Xiaowan Zhang. I and Xiaowan have received permission from the Michigan Department of Education in Lansing, Michigan to borrow the data from all 2016 3rd-grade English language learners in the state of Michigan who took both the WIDA Access test of English language skills and the M-STEP English language arts test. (That should be data from around 7,000 children, we think: no names or identifying information will come with the data.) Xiaowan and I are going to compare the sets of test scores (through correlation) to understand whether the two tests are assessing the same or different constructs. We are going to look at that relationship according to the children’s home (native) languages, socio-economic status, and region of testing (urban, suburban, or rural). We are using this study as a pilot for a larger-scale grant application to the National Institute of Health. We hope to investigate the home (native) language use of a subset of the learners from the larger study to understand the impact of home (native) language maintenance on English language development.
  4. One of the most fun projects ever is one I am doing with Dr. Patti Spinner at Michigan State University (MSU). Patti and I received funding through the Center for Language Education and Research (CLEAR) at MSU to design an online assessment that collects speech samples from American students (mostly English native speakers) learning less-commonly taught languages (LCTLs) in the United States. We call it “LCTL VOICES.” Currently, with the assistance of MSU’s LCTL Program Director Danielle Steider, LCTL students and their teachers at MSU are testing out the system. The system comprises a series of 16 online speaking tests that can be taken throughout an undergraduate’s 4 years in almost any LCTL program. Teachers receive and grade their students’ recorded speech (which they can download from the system), and researchers can gain access to the speech samples (de-identified) to investigate SLA processes related to the learning of these LCTLs (like Persian, Urdu, and Tamil). The programmer working with me and Patti on this is Bernhard Blaette (bblaette@gmail.com), who works as a consultant with CLEAR. We have also worked with consultant Dr. Helen Carpenter and graphic artist Austin Hendry on this project.
  5. Susan Gass and I are continuing our line of research on captions for video-based foreign and second language learning. We have a paper on studies 3 and 4 in the series in draft form, and we will send it to a journal soon. Research assistants on the project, who are co-authors on various parts of the project line, are Ms. Seongmee Ahn and Mr. Daniel Isbell. Former assistants include Sehoon Jung and Tetyana Sydorenko. Dr. Gass and I most recently presented the research at an invited talk at TESOL 2016 in Baltimore.
  6. I am currently working on a Spaan (Cambridge Michigan Language Assessment) Grant Project with graduate students Shinhye Lee, Hyung-Jo Yoon, Yaqiong Cui, Ina Choi, and Irene Jieun Ahn. In my language testing class, as a class project, the students and I investigated young English language learners’ perceptions on current paper-and-pencil-based standardized tests of English. The final paper is currently under review with a journal.
  7. Shinhye Lee, I, and Xun Yan at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign are currently finishing a paper on French Cloze testing. It is a replication of Tremblay, 2011, but with eye-tracking data from a small set of 22 French language learners. We are working hard on this right now, and are hoping to turn this paper in ASAP to a journal.