Ph.D. Student Interns at the Michigan English Assessment

Second Language Studies Ph.D. student Xiaowan Zhang expanded upon her research surrounding language test impacts as an intern at the Michigan English Assessment in Ann Arbor this past summer. 

While working at the Michigan English Assessment, Zhang’s main task was to develop a toolkit for investigating the impact of the Michigan English Test (MET) and its sister test for young learners, the MET Go! 

Developing these toolkits required Zhang to dig deep into the literature of test washback and impacts, understand the constructs of the MET and MET Go!, and create instruments that are appropriate for the specific context of South America, where the MET and MET Go! are currently being used. With the help of Zhang’s mentor, Dr. Gad Lim, she also had the opportunity to pilot some of the survey questions with test takers in Costa Rica and Colombia. 

Not only did all my dreams come true at Michigan Language Assessment, but I was also given much more.

“When I received the internship offer from Michigan Language Assessment, I imagined with great excitement what it would be like to work in a well-known testing company,” Zhang said. “I dreamed of myself working on interesting projects, learning from testing professionals, and participating in the day-to-day business operations. Not only did all my dreams come true at Michigan Language Assessment, but I was also given much more.” 

In addition to the MET and MET Go! impact project, Zhang was involved in investigating the cognitive diagnostic validity of the two-skill listening and reading MET, where she worked with five assessment staff members to identify the skills that are necessary to answer the MET listening and reading items. As a team, the group resolved the differences in their respective tags and refined the original skill list through group discussion. 

Aside from her research experience, Zhang also gained insight into the nuts and bolts of test development, where she participated in all assessment staff meetings and content review sessions, allowing her to gain insight about item writing, item review, and item analysis.