CaMLA’s internship program provides professional training and research opportunities for English language teaching and assessment professionals and graduate students. In 2015, CaMLA had two interns in the office. This is the first of two pieces we are posting about how our 2015 interns felt about their time at CaMLA.
Deirdre J Derrick is a PhD student in applied linguistics at Northern Arizona University. Her research interests include language assessment, assessment literacy, and teacher training in assessments. Her dissertation looks at inferencing in second language reading and listening.
I was thrilled to have been chosen as the 2015 research intern for CaMLA. I had experience writing test questions, but this was my first professional foray into the world of assessment research.
At CaMLA, I worked on conducting research to provide validity support for the revised ECPE writing scale. This involved looking at how raters apply the scale through verbal reports. This type of qualitative research was new to me, as our program at Northern Arizona University is primarily quantitative. I was given training and guidance throughout the process, however, and I was able to return to school feeling as though I had gained a new tool for research. I am even planning on including a qualitative element in my dissertation, which I would have never even considered had it not been for my experience at CaMLA.
Getting to spend the summer in Ann Arbor was a wonderful experience. I arrived just as the lilacs were blooming. I enjoyed the walk to and from the CaMLA office, as I was able to enjoy the spring flowers. The peony garden in Nichols Arboretum bloomed while I was there. After the desert of Flagstaff, the sights and smells of these flowers were heaven.
I also had the opportunity to do a lot of camping around Ann Arbor, which allowed me to experience the diversity and beauty that Michigan has to offer. I explored Detroit and Chicago, where I fully enjoyed the art museums and culture.
I learned a lot from my time at CaMLA, and I have returned to my school work with a renewed sense of energy, a more focused purpose, and a greater confidence in myself as a researcher.