“think critically and speak carefully”
My research concerns assessment for learning in English language classrooms in Shenzhen, China. My supervisors are Professor Louise Hayward and Dr Sally Zacharias. My PhD study has made me a person who thinks more critically and speak more carefully. In a PhD’s eyes, an argument needs to be justified with proper evidence, and a conclusion can never be reached easily.
My PhD studies have also had a positive influence on my role as a part-time Chinese teacher in a local Chinese school in Glasgow. Since my study is concerned with classroom assessment and the relationship between learning and assessment, I pay particular attention to how the assessment practices in the Chinese classroom could improve students learning and how I can provide students with better feedback. The role as a part-time Chinese teacher also informs my PhD study in return. My experience in the Chinese school allows me to observe many teachers and language classrooms, and also allows me to achieve hands-on experience in pedagogy and assessment. I was able to draw on my teaching and assessment experience and use that to reflect on my PhD study.
My PhD study equips me with research skills and professional knowledge needed for obtaining a job in academia. Besides, my research area, assessment for learning, is an emerging educational focus in the Chinese educational context. Therefore, doing a PhD in this area enables me to plan for an academic job in the future and also allows me to become an expert who can contribute to an emerging and important field in the Chinese educational context.
I have had many wonderful experiences in Glasgow. The memory I’d like to share is a virtual conference experience I had last month. I applied for an opportunity to share my work in a conference called NAFOL, which was organised collaboratively by the Norwegian National Research School in Teacher Education (NAFOL), Western Norway University of Applied Science (HVL) and Nordic Research School in Teacher Education Relevant Research (NorTED). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference was run online. Researchers and PhD students from all over the world were able to participate and present while staying at home.
This was my first time attending a virtual conference and also my first time presenting my work to people outside of the university, so it was an exciting and rewarding experience. One of the benefits of joining a virtual conference is that you can enjoy the diversity of topics brought by the convenience of participating in the conference from different parts of the world. You are also able to move between different sessions quickly to listen to the topics you are interested in without disturbing others. Another benefit of a virtual conference is that you receive comments during your presentation from people around the world. In my session, the audience was not large, but there were very interesting discussions between the discussant and the presenters. My experience of attending a virtual conference suggests that it can facilitate excellent global discussions, which may be more difficult to achieve in regular times.
However, I do wish that this challenging time could pass as soon as possible, and we could all be able to join in offline conferences to meet real people and talk face to face. The virtual conference is a necessary alternative. However, it cannot replace the unique experience brought by face-to-face conferences. I hope that, in the future, I can present to people face to face and receive feedback from them, but I also appreciate the experience given by the virtual conference, which gives us such special memories in such difficult times.