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Psychologist Ying “Alison” Cheng Wins Promising Scholar Award

Author: Kate Cohorst

Ying “Alison” Cheng

Ying “Alison” Cheng, an assistant professor in Notre Dame’s Department of Psychology, has been named the 2012 winner of the Jason Millman Promising Scholar Award.

Given by the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME), the award honors outstanding scholars “whose research has the potential to make a major contribution to the applied measurement field.”

“The award is great encouragement to continue the lines of research that I have devoted myself to,” says Cheng, a quantitative psychologist who studies educational and psychological measurements, particularly the computerized adaptive testing used to assess performance in schools.

Her research seeks to improve the precision and usefulness of large-scale standardized tests such as the SAT, GRE, and statewide student assessment exams. And this work has attracted significant attention in recent years.

CTB/McGraw-Hill awarded Innovation Research and Development grants to Cheng in 2010 and 2011 for her work with Notre Dame Psychology Professor Ke-Hai Yuan and invited Cheng to be the featured speaker at its 2011 conference on psychometrics.

In 2009, she also was recognized with the NCME’s Bradley Hanson Award, honoring “a substantive contribution to the field of educational measurement.”

The testing research, Cheng says, complements the other part of her work in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters teaching undergraduate statistics and two graduate courses: Item Response Theory and Psychological Measurement and Test Development.

“I enjoy teaching very much, as it is closely related to my research interests in education,” she says. “It is extremely exciting and gratifying when research ideas are generated from a classroom.”

Cheng says she is humbled to have been selected for this latest honor and grateful to be a part of the Department of Psychology.

“I am very much indebted to my colleagues here. Without their support, I would not have had such smooth transition from graduate school to an independent researcher,” she says. “The collegial environment is so critical to an early-career person like me.”

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