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Research design

Research questions

To examine the applicability of the ELP descriptors for English for Academic Purpose (EAP) writing in Higher Education in China, four research questions were asked:

  1. What are students’ and teachers’ perceptions of the ELP descriptors in terms of accessibility and usefulness?
  2. Are modifications to the ELP descriptors necessary to make them applicable for Chinese English learners and if so, what should these be?
  3. To what extent do learners’ self-assessment ratings agree with those of teacher assessment using the modified ELP descriptors?
  4. What are students’ and teachers’ perceptions of the feasibility and usefulness of the modified ELP descriptors for self-assessment of EAP writing?

Research phases


  • 155 second-year students from four classes and three non-English programmes at the Zhejiang Shuren University (ZSU), China, participated in the project for one semester on a voluntary basis. Most of them had an approximate English proficiency level around B1-B2 judging by their entrance English exam scores, their writing scores at the end of the academic year and their tutors. They had very limited experience in self-assessment.
  • Two tutors who had been working at the ZSU for more than 10 years and taught the academic reading and writing integrated module since its introduction in 2016.
  • Both tutors and student participants are Chinese and speak English as a foreign language.

Zhejiang Shuren University