4080 Foreign Language Building, MC-168
707 S. Mathews Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801
My research broadly focuses on speaking and writing assessment. My specific research interests include scale development and validation, rater behavior and training, psycholinguistic approach to language testing, assessment literacy for language teachers, and test score use in educational settings. In most of my research, I employ a largely linguistic approach to examining characteristics of speaking and writing performances, to help better understand the construct of language proficiency, psychometric qualities of test scores, and validity and fairness evidences for language tests.
At UIUC, I direct the English Placement Test (EPT) and the undergraduate program in Linguistics + TESL. I am also the faculty advisor for our student-led Language Testing Research Group. Outside the university, I am currently the president of the Midwest Association of Language Testers (MwALT).
If you are a student interested in studying language testing at Illinois, feel free to send me an email!
Language testing and assessment
English for academic purposes
Quantitative research methods
My research broadly focuses on speaking and writing assessment. My specific research interests include scale development and validation, rater behavior and training, assessment literacy for language teachers, and test score use in educational settings.
Ph.D., English (Second Language Studies), Purdue University, 2015
M.A., TESOL, Ohio State University, 2009
B.A., English, Wuhan University, China, 2008
2015-2016, SPAAN Research Grant, CaMLA (with Shelley Staples, University of Arizona); Project: Investigating lexico-grammatical complexity as construct validity evidence for the ECPE writing tasks: A multidimensional analysis.
2016-2018, British Council Aptis Assessment Research Grant (with Ha Ram Kim, UIUC, and Ji Young Kim, UCLA); Project: Complexity, accuracy and fluency features of speaking performances on Aptis across different CEFR levels.
2019-2021, IELTS Research Grant, British Council / IDP: IELTS, Australia (with Shelley Staples, University of Arizona); Project: Investigating the cognitive and social aspects of IELTS speaking performances across proficiency levels: Comparing the CAF-based and register-linguistics- based analyses.
2020-2021, Duolingo Research Grant (with Okim Kang, Ron Thomson, Talia Isaacs); Project: Fairness of using different accents in Duolingo listening tasks.
2020-2022, National Institutes of Health, NICHD. NIH R03HD099491 (with Silvina Montrul, Jessica Montag, Kiel Christianson, Pamela Hadley); Project: Validating New Measures of Later Language Development with Spanish and English Monolinguals and Bilinguals.
2023-2024, Educational Testing Service (with Rurik Tywoniw). Examining the use of TOEFL tests for higher admissions in US universities.
EIL 411: Introduction to TESOL Methods
EIL 460: Principles of Language Testing
EIL 587: Current Issues in Language Testing
LING 489: Theoretical Foundation of Second Language Acquisition
LING 588: Rasch Measurement Theory
Additional Campus Affiliations
Affiliated Faculty, Associate Professor - Second Language Acquisition and Teacher Education
Affiliated Faculty, Associate Professor - Educational Psychology
Affiliated Faculty, Associate Professor - Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology
Affiliated Faculty, Associate Professor - Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies
Affiliated Faculty, Associate Professor - European Union Center
Yan, X., Dimova, S., & Ginther, A. (under contract). Local language testing: Practice across contexts. Springer.
Divoma, Slobodanka, Xun Yan, and April Ginther. Local Language Testing: Design, Implementation, and Development. Routledge, 2020.
Yan, X., & Chuang, P. (in press). How do raters learn to rate? Examining changes in rater performance over the course of a rater certification program. Language Testing.
Chuang, P., & Yan, X. (in press). An investigation of the relationship between argument structure and essay quality in assessed writing. Journal of Second Language Writing.
Dimova, S., Yan, X., Ginther, A. (in press). Local tests, local contexts. Language Testing.
Lei, Y., & Yan, X. (in press). An exploratory study of strategy use on elicited imitation tasks. Frontiers in Psychology.
Zhang, C., Yan, X., & Wang, J. (2021). EFL Teachers’ Online Assessment Practices During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Changes and Mediating Factors. The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher, 1-9.
Yan, X., Kim, H. R., & Kim, J. Y. (2021). Dimensionality of speech fluency: Examining the relationships among complexity, accuracy, and fluency (CAF) features of speaking performances on the Aptis test. Language Testing, 38(4), 485-510.
Ho, E., & Yan, X. (2021). Using community of practice to characterize collaborative essay prompt writing and its role in developing language assessment literacy for pre-service language teachers. System, 102569.
Yan, X., & Fan, J. (2021). “Am I qualified to be a language tester?”: Understanding the development of language assessment literacy across different stakeholder groups. Language Testing, 38(2), 219–246.
Yan, X., Lei, Y., & Shih, C. (2020). A corpus‐driven, curriculum‐based Chinese elicited imitation test in US universities. Foreign Language Annals, 53(4), 704-732.
Fan, T., & Yan, X. (2020). Diagnosing English reading ability in Chinese senior high schools. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 67, 100931.
Yan, X. (2020). Unpacking the processing advantage of formulaic sequences on speech fluency: Proficiency level, task difficulty, and fluency dimensions. TESOL Quarterly, 54(2), 460-487.
Yan, X., & Staples, S. (2020). Fitting multidimensional analysis in an argument-based validity framework for writing assessment: Explanation and generalization inferences for the ECPE. Language Testing, 37(2), 189-214.
Yan, X., Cheng, L., & Ginther, A. (2019). Factor analysis for fairness: Examining the impact of task type and examinee L1 background on scores of an ITA speaking test. Language Testing, 36(2), 207-234.
Park, H., & Yan, X. (2019). An investigation into rater performance with a holistic scale and a binary, analytic scale on an ESL writing placement test. Papers in Language Testing and Assessment, 8(2), 34-64.
Yan, X., Zhang, C., & Fan, J. (2018). “Assessment knowledge is important, but…”: How contextual and experiential factors mediate assessment practice and training needs of language teachers. System, 74, 158-168.
Kim, H., Bowles, M., Yan, X., & Chung, S. (2018). Examining the comparability between paper-pencil and computer-mediated versions of an integrated writing placement. Assessing Writing, 36, 49-62.
Ginther, A., & Yan, X. (2018). Interpreting the relationships between TOEFL iBT scores and GPA: Language proficiency, policy, and profiles. Language Testing, 35(2), 271-295.
Zhang, C., & Yan, X. (2018). Assessment literacy of secondary EFL teachers: Evidence from a regional EFL test. Chinese Journal of Applied Linguistics, 41(1), 25-46.
Kang, O., & Yan, X. (2018). Linguistic features distinguishing examinees' speaking performances at different proficiency levels. Journal of Language Testing and Assessment, 1, 24-39.
Fan, J., & Yan, X. (2017). From test performance to language use: Using self-assessment to validate a high-stakes English proficiency test. Asia-Pacific Education Researcher, 26(1-2), 61-73.
Yan, X., Maeda, Y., Lv, J., & Ginther, A. (2016). Elicited imitation as a measure of L2 proficiency: A narrative review and meta-analysis. Language Testing, 33(4), 497-528.
Banerjee, J., Yan, X., Chapman, M., & Elliott, H. (2015). Keeping up with the times: Revising and refreshing a writing rubric. Assessing Writing, 26, 5-19.
Zhang, C., Yan, X., & Liu, X. (2015). The development of EFL writing teaching and research in China: An update from the International Conference on English Language Teaching. Journal of Second Language Writing, 30, 14-18.
Yan, X. (2014). An examination of rater performance on a local oral English proficiency test: A mixed-methods approach. Language Testing, 31(4), 501-527.
Yan, X., & Fan, J. (in press). Reliability and dependability. In G. Fulcher & L. Harding (edts), Routledge handbook of language testing. Routledge.
Yan, X., Lei, Y., & Park, H. (in press). Speech fluency. In H. Mohebbi & C. Coombe (eds), Research questions in language education and applied linguistics. Springer.
Yan, X., Kim, H., & Kotnarowski, J. (2021). The development of a profile-based writing scale: How collaboration with teachers enhanced assessment practice in a post-admission ESL writing program in the USA. In B. Lanteigne, C Coombe & J. Brown (eds), Issues in language testing around the world: Insights for language test users. Springer.
Winke, P., Yan, X., & Lee, S. (2020). What does the cloze test really test? A conceptual replication of Tremblay (2011) with eye-tracking data. In G. Yu & J. Xu (eds), Language test validation in a digital age. Cambridge University Press.
LaFlair, G., Staples, S., & Yan, X. (2019). Triangulating corpus linguistics and language assessment: Using corpus linguistics to enhance validity arguments. In J. Egbert & P. Baker (eds), Using corpus methods to triangulate linguistic analysis, Routledge.
Yan, Xun, and April Ginther. "Listeners and raters: Similarities and differences in evaluation of accented speech." Assessment in L2 Pronunciation, edited by Okim Kang, edited by April Ginther. Routledge, 2017.
Yan, Xun, Suthathip Thirakunkovit, Nancy Kauper, and April Ginther. "What do test takers say: Test-taker feedback as in put for quality control." Post-admission Language Assessments of University Students, edited by John Read. Springer, 2016, p. 113-136.
Chuang, P. L., & Yan, X. (2022). An investigation of the relationship between argument structure and essay quality in assessed writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 56, . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2022.100892
Lei, Y., & Yan, X. (2022). An Exploratory Study of Strategy Use on Elicited Imitation Tasks. Frontiers in Psychology, 13, . https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.917168
Yan, X., & Chuang, P. L. (Accepted/In press). How do raters learn to rate? Many-facet Rasch modeling of rater performance over the course of a rater certification program. Language Testing. https://doi.org/10.1177/02655322221074913
Ho, E. C., & Yan, X. (2021). Using community of practice to characterize collaborative essay prompt writing and its role in developing language assessment literacy for pre-service language teachers. System, 101, . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2021.102569
Yan, X., & Fan, J. (2021). “Am I qualified to be a language tester?”: Understanding the development of language assessment literacy across three stakeholder groups. Language Testing, 38(2), 219-246. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265532220929924