Liying Cheng smiling in a hallway

Liying Cheng

Emeritus Professor of Language Education and Assessment

Language Education and Assessment

People Directory Affiliation Category

MA (Reading), PhD (Hong Kong)
Professor of Language Education and Assessment, Graduate Faculty
Director, Assessment and Evaluation Group

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Spotlight on Liying Cheng's Research

Our Peer Research Consultant, Dr. Liying Cheng, a faculty volunteer, assists in promoting a culture of research intensity and collaboration among their colleagues. The Peer Research Consultants Program was established by the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) and the University Research Services. The Peer Research Consultant supports the peers as they build their own record of scholarship and creative activity, assisting them in the development of research grants, obtaining peer reviews of research proposals and nominations for research awards. The Consultant also raises the awareness of Indigenous scholarship in the Faculty at Queen’s.

Recipient Queen's University 2017 prize for Excellence in Research 


Recent Books 

Assessment in the Language Classroom 

English Language Teacher Development Series: Language Classroom Assessment

English Language Assessment and the Chinese Learner

Changing Language Teaching through Language Testing 

Washback in Language Testing: Research Contexts and Methods

Research Interests

  • Impact of large-scale testing on instruction
  • Relationship between assessment and instruction
  • Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language teacher education
  • Teaching and learning English for academic purposes
  • Academic and professional acculturation of immigrants


Liying Cheng has been a language teacher and language teacher educator for more than 20 years, during which time she has taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses at the pre-service, professional development and graduate levels at a number of universities in Canada, Hong Kong, and China. Her primary research interests are the impact of large-scale testing on instruction, the relationships between assessment and instruction, and the academic and professional acculturation of international and new immigrant students, workers, and professionals to Canada. She received the TOEFL award for outstanding dissertation in second/foreign language testing from Educational Testing Services in 1998, and TESOL Leadership Mentoring Award from TESOL in 2002.

Liying had her formative and undergraduate education in China. She received MA in teaching English as a Foreign Language from the University of Reading in England, and PhD in second/foreign language testing from the University of Hong Kong. Before she joined Queen’s University in 2000, she was a Killam Postdoctoral Fellow (1998-2000) within the Centre for Research in Applied Measurement and Evaluation (CRAME) and the TESL program at the University of Alberta. From 1996 to 1998, she was an Assistant Professor at the School of Education and Languages, Open University of Hong Kong.

Since 2000 after Liying joined Queen's Faculty of Education, she has obtained research funding totalling more than 1.8 million Canadian dollars. In addition, she has conducted more than 230 conference presentations and has more than 150 publications. Her recent books are Assessment in the Language Classroom: Teachers Supporting Student Learning (co-authored with J. Fox, 2017); Language classroom assessment (single-authored, TESOL, Inc., 2013); English Language Assessment and the Chinese Learner (co-edited with A. Curtis, Taylor & Francis, 2010); Language Testing Reconsidered (co-edited with J. Fox et. al., University of Ottawa Press, 2007); Changing Language Teaching through Language Testing (single-authored, Cambridge University Press, 2005); and Washback in Language Testing: Research Contexts and Methods (co-edited with Y. Watanabe with A, Curtis, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004).

Research Funding

Her recent funded research projects include the following:

  • Maximizing our investment in Canadian education: strengthening student outcomes through a national research-practice network for teacher professional learning
    Christopher DeLuca (Principal Investigator), Liying Cheng (Co-Investigator), Queen’s University
    Funded by SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) Partnership Grant (Stage One) (19,000)

  • Alternative Pathways: Examining the Impact of English for Academic Purposes on the Undergraduate Experiences of Students from Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds
    Scott Douglas (Principal Investigator), University of British Columbia, Liying Cheng (Co-Investigator), Queen’s University
    Funded by SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) Insight Development Grant (61,176)

  • Validation of English reading test using methods from cognitive neuroscience and cognitive psychology 基于认知神经科学与实验认知心理学方法的英文阅读测试效度研究
    Dong Manxia (Principal investigator) , Sichuan International Studies University, Liying Cheng (Co-Investigator), Queen’s University
    Funded by the National Social Science Fund of China (NSSFC) ($44,000 equivalent)

  • Crises and Opportunities: Creating a Safe Environment to Learn by Breaking the Psychological, Social, Linguistic and Financial Barriers Facing Internationally Educated Nurses
    Liying Cheng and Dirk Rodenburg (Principal Investigators)
    Funded by eCampus Ontario Research and Innovation Grants ($86,949)

  • What’s in a Grade? A Multiple Perspective Validity Study on Grading Policies, Practices, Values, and Consequences
    Liying Cheng (Principal Investigator); Christopher DeLuca (Co-Investigator), Queen’s University.
    Funded by SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) ($349,532)

  • Test Preparation: Does It Enhance Test Performance And English Language Proficiency? 
    Liying Cheng (Principal Investigator); Hong Wang (Co-Investigator), Mount Saint Vincent University; Lynette May (Co-Investigator), Queensland University of Technology; Shahrzad Saif (Co-Investigator), Université Laval. 
    Funded by SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) ($200,005)

  • The Role of Testing in Professional Certification for Newly Arrived Foreign-Trained Professionals to Canada 
    Liying Cheng (Principal Investigator). Research News.
    Funded by CERIS The Ontario Metropolis Centre ($10,845)

  • Motivation, Test Anxiety and Language Test Performance: An International Investigation 
    Liying Cheng (Principal Investigator); Don Klinger (Co-Investigator), Queen’s University; Janna Fox (Co-Investigator), Carleton University; Yan Jin (Co-Investigator), Shanghai Jiaotong University; Jessica Wu (Co-Investigator), The Language Training and Testing Center.
    Funded by SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) ($75,000)

  • Second Language Immersion and Students’ Academic Success 
    Liying Cheng (Principal Investigator); John Kirby and Lesly Wade-Woolley (Co-Investigators), Queen’s University; Haiyan Qiang (Co-Investigators), South China Normal University.
    Funded by SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) ($75,000)

  • An impact study of a high-stakes ESL assessment innovation in Hong Kong secondary schools 
    Steve Andrews (Principal Investigator), University of Hong Kong, and Liz Hamp-Lyons, Christine Davison, University of Hong Kong, Liying Cheng (Co-Investigators), Queen’s University
    Funded by UGC (University Grants Committee) ($176,883 equivalent)

  • Impact of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test on Second Language Students 
    Liying Cheng (Principal Investigator); Janna Fox (Co-investigator), Carleton University, and Don Klinger (Collaborator), Queen’s University.
    Funded by SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) ($130,627).

  • Costs and Benefits: English for Academic Purposes Instruction in Canadian Universities 
    Janna Fox (Principal Investigator), Carleton University; Liying Cheng (Co-investigator), Queen’s University; and Robert Berman (Co-investigator), University of Alberta. 
    Funded by SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) ($125,023).

  • Developmental Evaluation for Alternative Teacher Accreditation Program for Teachers with International Experience 
    Liying Cheng (Principal Investigator) with Lyn Shulha, Don Klinger and Bob Wilson (Co-investigators), Assessment and Evaluation Group, Queen’s University.
    Funded by The MTCU (Ministry of Training, College and Universities) ($54,000).

  • An Investigation of ESL/EFL Teachers’ Classroom Assessment Practices 
    Liying Cheng (Principal Investigator); Todd Rogers (Co-investigator), University of Alberta.
    Funded by SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) ($120,000).

Selected Recent Publications (2010-Present)

Cheng, L. (2020). Compassion, Acquisition, Respect, Evaluation (CARE): Key to Academic Acculturation. Together We Are.

Douglas, S., Doe, C., & Cheng, L. (2020). The role of the interlocutor: Factors impeding workplace communication with newcomers from linguistically diverse backgrounds. Canadian Modern Language Review, 76(1), 31-49. doi:10.3138/cmlr.2018-0161

Saif, S., Ma, J., May, L., & Cheng, L. (2019). Test preparation across three contexts: Case studies from Australia, Iran and China. Assessment in Education.

Im, G.-H., Shin, D., & Cheng, L. (2019). Critical review of validation models and practices in language testing: Their limitations and future directions for validation research. Language Testing in Asia, 9(14).

Im, G.-H., & Cheng, L. (2019). The Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC). Language Testing, 36(2), 315-324.

Mei, Y., & Cheng, L. (2019). Impact of a high-stakes test on education: Evidence from newspaper data. Foreign Language Testing and Teaching 《外语测试与教学》, 1, 1-15.

DeLuca, C., Cheng, L., & Volante, L. (2019). Grading across Canada: Policies, practices, and perils. The EdCan Network

Cheng, L. (2018). We all put too much emphasis on test scores. The Conversation Canada.

Cheng, L., DeLuca, C., Braud, H., & Yan, W. (2018). Grading policies in Canada and China: a comparative study. Comparative and International Education, 47(1).

Zheng, Y. & Cheng, L. (2018). How does anxiety in foreign language classrooms and cognitive tests influence language performance? Language Testing in Asia.

Cheng, L. & Yan, W. (2018). Immigrant Student Achievement and Educational Policy in Canada. In L., Volante, D., Klinger, & O., Bilgili, (Eds.). Immigrant Student Achievement and Education Policy: Cross-Cultural Approaches. Springer Press.

DeLuca, C., Braund, H., Valiquette, A., & Cheng, L. (2018). Grading Policies and Practices in Canada: A Landscape Study. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 184, 4-1.

Cheng, L., Yan, W., Mei. Y., & DeLuca, C. (2017). Grading Policies in China: Are We Assessing the Learner or the Learning? Assessment Matters, 11, 6-31.

Cheng, L. & Fox, J. (2017). Assessment in the Language Classroom: Teachers Supporting Student Learning. London, UK: Palgrave McMillan.

Cheng. L. (2017). Geopolitics of assessment. In S. Abrar-ul-Hassan (Ed.), TESOL encyclopedia of English language teaching: Teaching English as an international language. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons

Cheng, L., & Ma, J. (2017). Preparing students to take tests. In C. Coombe (Ed.), TESOL encyclopedia of English language teaching: Assessment and evaluation. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Tsagari, D., & Cheng, L. (2016). Washback, Impact, and Consequences Revisited. In: Language Testing and Assessment (Eds. Shohamy et al.). In preparation. Encyclopedia of Language and Education. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-02326-7_24-1.

Ma, J. & Cheng, L. (2016). Chinese Students’ Perceptions of the Value of Test Preparation Courses for the TOEFL iBT: Merit, Worth and Significance. TESL Canada Journal, 33(1), 58-79.

Cheng, L. (2015). Embracing the Multilingual and Multicultural Assessment Context of Canada. TESL Canada Journal, 32, special issue 9, v-xiv.

Fox, J. & Cheng, L. (2015). Walk a Mile in My Shoes: Stakeholder Accounts of Testing Experience with a Computer-Administered Test. TESL Canada Journal, 32, special issue 9, 65-86.

Cheng, L. (2015). Symbiosis of language testing and language teaching. Foreign Language Testing and Teaching 《外语测试与教学》,4, 1-18.

Cheng, L., Sun, Y., & Ma, J. (2015). Review of Washback Research Literature Within Kane’s Argument-Based Validation Framework. Language Teaching, 48(4), 436–470. doi:10.1017/S0261444815000233

Cheng, L., Wu, Y., & Liu, X. (2015). Chinese University Students’ Perceptions of Assessment Tasks and Classroom Assessment Environment. Language Testing in Asia, 5(13). doi: 10.1186/s40468-015-0020-6

Cheng, L., & Ma, J. (2015). “It puts us in our students’ shoes”: Listening to Voices from Teacher Candidates on Their Test-Taking Experience. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Research, 1, 46-56. 

Cheng, L., & Sun, Y. (2015). Teachers’ grading decision making: Multiple influencing factors and methods. Language Assessment Quarterly, 12, doi:10.1080/15434303.2015.1010726

Song, X., Cheng, L., & Klinger, D. (2015). DIF investigation across groups of gender and academic background in a large-scale high-stakes language test. Papers in Language Testing and Assessment, 4(1), 97-124.

Cheng, L., & Sun, Y. (2015). Interpreting the impact of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test on second language students within argument-based validation framework. Language Assessment Quarterly, 12, 50–66. doi: 10.1080/15434303.2014.981334

Cheng, L. (2015). Framing and defining your research project. In C. Coombe & J. D. Brown (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to language research. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Yan, W. & Cheng, L. (2015). How Language Proficiency Contributes to Chinese Students’ Academic Success in Korean Universities. Language Testing in Asia, 5(8). Doi:10.1186/s40468-015-0016-2

Cheng, L. (2014). Consequences, impact, and washback. In A. J. Kunnan (Ed.), The companion to language assessment (pp. 1130–1146). John Wiley & Sons. doi:10.1002/9781118411360.wbcla071

Cheng, L., Klinger. D., Fox, J., Doe, C., Jin, Y., & Wu, J. (2014). Motivation and test Anxiety in test performance across three testing contexts: The CAEL, CET and GEPT. TESOL Quarterly. doi: 10.1002/tesq.105

Fox, J., Cheng, L., & Zumbo  (2014). Do they make a difference? The impact of English language programs on second language (L2) students in Canadian universities. TESOL Quarterly. doi: 10.1002/tesq.103

Sun, Y., & Cheng, L.  (2014). Teachers’ grading practices: Meanings and values assigned. Assessment in Education. doi:10.1080/0969594X.2013.768207

Mei, Y., & Cheng, L. (2014). Scoring fairness in large-scale high-stakes English language testing: An examination of the National Matriculation English Test. In Conium, D. (Ed.), English language education and assessment: Recent developments in Hong Kong and Chinese mainland (pp.171-187). Singapore: Springer Science+Business Media. doi: 10.1007/978-981-287-071-1_11

Cheng, L. (2013). Language classroom assessment. Alexandria, VA: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). 

DeLuca, C., Cheng, L., Fox, J., Doe, C., & Li, M. (2013). Putting testing researchers to the test: An exploratory study on the TOEFL iBT. System, 41(3), 663-676.

Sun, Y., & Cheng, L. (2013). Assessing second/foreign language competence using translation: The case of the College English Test in China. In D. Tsagari & G. Floros (Eds.), Translation in language teaching and assessment (pp. 235-252). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Cheng, L., Spaling, M., & Song, X. (2013). Barriers and facilitators to professional licensure and certification testing in Canada: Perspectives of internationally educated professionals. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 14(1), 733-750. doi:10.1007/s12134-012-0263-3

Cheng, L., & Fox, J. (2013). Review of doctoral research in language assessment in Canada. Language Teaching, 46, 518-544. doi:10.1017/S0261444813000244

Cheng, L., & Curtis, A. (2012). Test impact and washback: Implications for teaching and learning. In C. Coombe, B. O’Sullivan, P. Davidson, & S. Stoynoff (Eds.), Cambridge guide to second language assessment (pp. 89-95). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Cheng, L. (2012). English immersion schools in China: Evidence from students and teachers. Journal of Multilingual & Multicultural Development, 33(4), 327-330.

Cheng, L. (2012). Editorial: The power of English and the power of Asia: Issues of English as Lingua Franca and in bilingual and multilingual Education. Journal of Multilingual & Multicultural Development, 33(4), 370-391.

Cheng, L. (2011). Supporting student learning: Assessment of learning and assessment for learning. In R. Grotjahn & G. Sigott (Series Eds.), Language Testing and Evaluation Series: Vol. 25. Classroom-based language assessment (pp.191-203). Frankfurt, Germany: Peter Lang.

Doe, C., Cheng, L., Fox, J., Klinger, D., & Zheng, Y. (2011). What has experience got to do with it? An exploration of L1 and L2 OSSLT test takers’ feelings, perceptions of test performance, and alignment to classroom literacy activities. Canadian Journal of Education, 34(3), 68-85. 

Han, H., & Cheng, L. (2011). Tracking the success of ESL students within the context of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test. Canadian and International Education Journal, 40(1), 76-96.

Zheng, Y., Klinger, D., Cheng, L., Fox, J., & Doe, C. (2011). Test-takers’ background, literacy activities, and their views of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 57(2), 115-136.

Cheng, L., & DeLuca, C. (2011). Voices from test-takers: Further evidence for test validation and test use. Educational Assessment, 16(2), 104-122. 

Song, X., & Cheng, L. (2011). Investigating primary English immersion teachers in China: background, instructional contexts, professional development, and perceptions. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 39(2), 97-112.

Cheng, L., Andrews, S., & Yu, Y. (2011). Impact and consequences of school-based assessment in Hong Kong: Views from students and their parents. Language Testing, 28(2), 221-250.

Cheng, L., & Curtis, A. (Eds.). (2010). English language assessment and the Chinese learner. New York, NY: Routledge. 

Cheng, L., Li, M., Kirby, J., Qiang, H., & Wade-Woolley, L. (2010). English language immersion and students’ academic achievement in English, Chinese, and mathematics. Evaluation & Research in Education, 23(3), 151-169.


PhD Students

  • Wei Yan (Ontario Graduate Scholarship; SSHRC Graduate Fellowship)
  • Rubaiyat Jabeen
  • Peiyu Wang
  • Melissa McLeod

MEd Students

  • Alexa Elder
  • Weilan Zhong

Visiting Research Students and Scholars

  • Tao Xiong (2017-18). Associate Professor from Guangdong Foreign Studies University. Supported by China Scholarship Council (CSC)
  • Grazia (Grace) Scoppio (2017-18). Associate Professor from Royal Military College of Canada
  • Jian Xu (Winter 2017), Doctoral Candidate, Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Weiqiang Wang (Spring/Summer 2016), Associate Professor at the School of English for International Business, Guangdong University of Foreign Languages 
  • ​Hongling Li (Fall-Winter, 2015-2016) Lecturer, Chongqing University
  • Manxia Dong (Fall 2015), Doctoral Candidate, Shanghai International Studies University
  • Luna Yang (Fall 2015), Doctoral Candidate, Beijing Normal University
  • ​Flávia Juliana de Sousa Avelar (Fall 2014), Doctoral Candidate, Unicamp in Campinas São Paulo, Brizil Canada-Brazil Awards - Joint Research Projects


  • Sarah Carolyn-Baker (MEd, 2019)
  • Christopher Suppa (MEd, 2019)
  • Xing Sheng (MEd, 2019)
  • Nasreen Sultana (PhD, 2019)
  • Gwan-Hyeok Im (PhD, 2019)
  • Voila David (MEd, 2018)
  • ​Julie Yaqi Hao (MEd, 2018)
  • Jia Ma (PhD, 2017) (SSHRC CGS Graduate Fellowship; TIRF doctoral dissertation award)
  • Jason Yoongoo Nam (MEd, 2017)
  • Youyi Sun (PhD, 2016) (Ontario Graduate Scholarship)
  • Yi Mei (PhD, 2016 ) (TIRF doctoral dissertation award)
  • Stefanie Bojarski (MEd, 2016)
  • Esther Bettney (MEd, 2015) (Thesis in Education Prize; TESOL Leadership Mentoring Program Award)
  • Xiaomei Song (PhD, 2014) (Ontario Graduate Scholarship)
  • Wei Yan (MEd, 2014)
  • Taciana de Lira e Silva (MEd, 2014)
  • Christine Doe (PhD, 2013) (Ontario Graduate Scholarship)
  • Xiaoqian Liu (MEd, 2013) (Queen's 3MT First Place - 2013)
  • Nang Saluna Wong Sowat (MEd, 2013)
  • Anna Zyuzin (MEd, 2012)
  • Dana Knarr (MEd, 2012) (Queen's 3MT Finalists – 2012)
  • Queenie Chi Wah Wong (MEd, 2012)
  • Ying Zheng (PhD, 2010) (SSHRC CGS Graduate Fellowship)
  • Jia Li (Postdoc Fellow, 2010)
  • Jeffrey Hamacher (MEd, 2007)
  • Hong Wang (PhD, 2006) (SSHRC Graduate Fellowship)
  • Jing Zhao (MEd, 2006)
  • Michele S. Babcock (MEd, 2006)
  • Ying Zheng (MEd, 2005)
  • Li Zhang (MEd, 2005)
  • Terry Milnes (MEd, 2005)
  • Ying Yu (MEd, 2005)
  • Marsha Forrest (MEd, 2004)
  • Lin Cui (MEd, 2004)
  • Junli Diao (MEd, 2004)
  • Xiaoying Wang (MEd, 2003)
  • Yang Lu (MEd, 2003)
  • Jennifer McMaster (MEd, 2003)
  • Lingyun Gao (MEd, 2002)

Courses Taught


  • EDUC 811: Second/Foreign Language Education
  • EDUC 809: Assessment of Student Growth and Achievement
  • EDUC 827: Measurement In Learning
  • EDUC 833: Language and Learning
  • EDUC 890: Introduction to Educational Research
  • EDUC 901: Contemporary Research Methods
  • EDUC 900: Doctoral Seminar
  • EDUC 940 Educational Assessment 


  • PROF 506: English Language Learners
  • EDST 429: Teaching English as a Second Language (I/S)
  • FOCI 282: Teaching English as a Second Language (P/J)
  • EDST 409: Classroom Assessment Practices (I/S)
  • PROF 190: Theory and Professional Practices

Continuing Teacher Education

  • CONT 939: English as a Second Language Part I