Dr Huahui Zhao

Dr Huahui Zhao


I joined the University of Leeds as a Lecturer in Language in 2017. I completed my Ph.D. in the area of language assessment and technology-enhanced learning from the University of Bristol in 2008. Following that, I was appointed as a postdoctoral research fellow in distance education at Umeå University, funded by the Swedish Research Council.

I am committed to delivering research-informed teaching and engaging in reflective practices to inform my research. I have secured internally and externally funded projects to bridge large-scale English proficiency tests (e.g. IELTS) and assessments in academic contexts. I explore the role of new technologies in assessment and pioneer innovative methodologies to conduct interdisciplinary research, including corpus analysis of teacher feedback on disciplinary writing.


  • Deputy Director of Research and Innovation
  • Cross-faculty Ethics Committee School Ethics Lead

Research interests

My research interests mainly lie in language assessment and technology-enhanced education. I am particularly interested in developing learner agency in learner-driven assessment with new technologies (including Large Language Models). I've published widely in these areas in key journals including the British Journal of Educational Technology, Assessing Writing, ELT Journal, Learning and Instruction, Language Teaching Research, and Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education.

I am embarking on a newly funded project by the British Council (2023-2024) with Dr Yen Dang (CO-I). The project will examine the distinctive features of ChatGPT-assisted and human-only disciplinary writing, based on corpus analyses of writing scripts and disciplinary lecturers’ feedback on them. Additionally, we will carry out student focus groups to explore the essential skills required for producing quality ChatGPT-assisted disciplinary writing. 

In the past, I have completed five funded projects based on which I’ve published 17 journal papers and invited book chapters:

  1. 2021-2023: Unveiling the factors for the predictive validity of IELTS for postgraduate studies: assessment, teaching, and learning in the TLU domain, funded by the IELTS Partners (IELTS Jointly Funded Project)
  2. 2019- 2020: Teaching Excellent Project (TEP) by the Leeds Institute for Teaching Excellence: an interdisciplinary investigation of the construction, introduction, implementation, and impact of assessment criteria across schools, Funded by Leeds Institution of Teaching Excellence
  3.  2017-2019: accessibility, effectiveness, feasibility, and usefulness of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) in EFL writing assessment, British Council ELT Research Awards 
  4. 2009-2012: Learning, teaching, and social presence in distance courses, funded by the Swedish Research Council and Umea University, Sweden
  5. 2005-2006: who takes the floor: peer or teacher assessment (PhD project, funded by WUN Global Exchange Research Student Awardee (University of Bristol, U.K.)
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD in TESOL/Applied Linguistics (University of Bristol)
  • MA in Educational Studies (University of York)

Professional memberships

  • British Association for Applied Linguistics
  • International Language Testing Association
  • British Education Research Association
  • BALEP (British Association of Lectures in English for Academic Purposes)
  • UK Association for Language Assessment and Testing

Student education

I've been involved in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and supervision in language assessment and testing, technology-enhanced learning, and language analysis. I am currently supervising six PhD and EdD students in the area of language testing and technology-enhanced language learning.

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Language Education

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>