Research Groups

Research Groups

  • The Criterion Research Group explores the use and evaluation of an automated writing evaluation (AWE) software, Criterion, in ESL writing classrooms. Our group of dedicated students, led by Volker Hegelheimer, is currently exploring multiple avenues including pedagogical use, student improvement, and user perceptions.
  • The CyWrite Research Group emerged from research in the Criterion Research Group into uses of  the commercial automated writing evaluation (AWE) tool Criterion by Educational Testing Service (ETS) by learners and teachers of English as a second language (ESL). CyWrite research investigates how to improve the state-of-the-art in AWE through improvements in including the accuracy, clarity, and explicitness of formative feedback from the software; learners’ and teachers’ confidence in AWE scoring; questions of when and how learners should use AWE while learning to write academically; and the usability and functionality of the system itself. CyWrite was developed to operationalize our ideas with customizable system.
  • The Language Assessment Group was formed to help language assessment students find jobs, obtain funding for their research, and find summer internships as well as to help support their individual research projects and move forward university-level language assessment projects. Currently, the group is developing an oral component for the English Placement Test, which is used to place students into appropriate language courses when they first arrive at the university. The group also provides feedback on individuals’ work by providing a safe environment to practice and receive feedback on presentations or possible publications.
  • The Pronunciation Research Group that meets regularly to discuss current research and discuss potential research projects. Recent collaborative research studies between faculty and students have resulted in an upcoming TESOL Quarterly article on native and nonnative teachers of pronunciation, book chapters on connected speech processes, historical views of pronunciation and communicative approaches to teaching, student beliefs toward nonnative teacher of pronunciation, the role of segmentals in judgments of intelligiblity, and online approaches to improving comprehensibility.
  • The STEM Writing Research Group was formed in response to the increasing demand for strong writing skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The project investigates academic and professional writing in these relevant disciplines, aiming to create a national center of scholarship to conduct research on linguistic practices in STEM disciplines, to improve pedagogy of writing in the relevant fields, and to develop and apply computational methods for analysis and assessment of discipline-specific writing. Started at Iowa State University in 2013 with a Presidential Initiative for Interdisciplinary Research grant, this project seeks more collaborators and external funding.