Dr Huahui Zhao

Dr Huahui Zhao


I joined the University of Leeds 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.

My professional journey has been dedicated to both teaching and research. I have secured internally and externally funded projects to bridge large-scale English proficiency tests (e.g. IELTS) and assessments in academic contexts, 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 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 a two-year IELTS joint funding project (2021-2023), investigating the impact of postgraduate education provision on the predictive validity of IELTS for postgraduate academic achievements, the different language demands by IELTS and disciplinary writing, and how language and assessment support fills in the gap. I also completed an international collaborative project that explored the applicability of the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) for tertiary EAP (English for Academic Purposes) writing instruction in China, funded by the British Council ELTRA Award. The project finished with recommendations on how to align teaching, learning, and assessment in examination-oriented instruction contexts. Further details can be found on the project website. Another completed project was funded by the Leeds Institution for Teaching Excellence (LITE), the University of Leeds. The project investigated the introduction, implementation, and impact of the undergraduate assessment criteria across disciplines at the University of Leeds and recommended how to promote transparency and efficacy of assessment criteria for teaching, learning, and assessment in research outputs. 

<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>