Dr. Jinghua Liu,
Vice President of Global Assessment Services
The exams we deliver at Pearson VUE have a direct and positive impact on communities around the globe, driving progress and helping our clients deliver on the promise of their industries. In this series, we’re taking a deeper look at the ways we make that happen, by speaking to people from around our business who are making a lasting impact in a particular area of assessments.
This time we’re speaking to Dr. Jinghua Liu, Vice President of Global Assessment Services. Based in the U.S., Jinghua leads our global psychometric and testing services strategy, managing a highly qualified and specialized team operating across four continents. With the responsibility for developing fair, valid, and reliable assessments that are essential across professions, Jinghua is passionate about this valuable and strategically important suite of services.
Q. Jinghua, can you please tell us more about yourself?
I grew up in Zhejiang Province, China. After I graduated from Peking University, I came to the U.S. to pursue graduate degrees. Like many other international students, I took the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) to apply for graduate schools. I didn’t enjoy taking those tests, but I am grateful that they provided an opportunity for me to pursue my dreams.
I started my career as a psychometrician after getting my Ph.D., and worked on the SAT college entrance program for over a decade. It was a big motivation for me to do my best because my job had a real impact on people’s lives. During that time, I also got an MBA.
Prior to joining Pearson, I worked at another organization as the Chief Testing and Research Officer, where I led a team of psychometricians and content experts in designing and building the test development and psychometric infrastructure for the Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT).
I am a mother of two. My girls are teenagers and we’ve started to prepare for college. I enjoy traveling, talking to people along the journey, and experiencing different cultures and lives.
Q. Please briefly describe your role within Pearson VUE.
I’m responsible for the development and execution of psychometric services for a variety of clients, including professional certifications, IT certifications, U.S. regulatory licensure, and admissions. I also provide thought leadership through the dissemination of research and applied knowledge via professional conferences, journal publications, and direct customer engagement.
Q. Explain what a psychometrician does.
Many times, when people ask about my job and I say, “I am a psychometrician,” I see question marks hanging above their heads. I then say, “I work on such-and-such testing program,” and they think that I write items. So, what do we psychometricians do?
- We design tests. Working with subject matter experts (SMEs), psychometricians conduct a job task analysis and/or run a curriculum survey to determine what skills and knowledge a test should measure.
- We provide guidance on test delivery. Should a test be administered as a computer adaptive test? Linear on-the-fly test? Or linear fixed test? Psychometricians provide guidance to the issuing programs.
- We set standards. Using industry-standard procedures, we work with clients and SMEs to define the level of competence necessary to achieve a credential.
- We develop test blueprints and assemble test forms.
- We analyze items, equate test scores, and evaluate testing programs. Psychometricians assess item value, ensure that scores from different editions of a testing program are comparable, and gauge the fairness, reliability, and validity of testing programs.
Q. Please provide us with an understanding of the qualifications and responsibilities of you and your team.
- I have a proven track record in designing and leading large-scale testing programs, as well as success in business development of global high-stakes assessment programs. With more than 20 years in the assessment field, I have demonstrated an effective combination of psychometric, research, and business expertise.
- We are a team of professionals; 76% with Ph.D. degrees and 15% with master’s degrees, including MBAs.
- The team has 320 collective years of experience designing large-scale assessments, executing comprehensive psychometric analyses, and engaging in research related to the testing industry.
- We provide psychometric expertise to guide and support our clients across various assessment programs such as certification and licensure programs, K-12 assessment, admission tests, language assessment, etc. Currently, the team provides measurement services to 56 professional programs, 50 regulatory programs, and other miscellaneous programs.
Q. Describe your typical day.
I’m not sure I have a typical day! The way I manage my day is to set up goals and act upon them: goals for the year, for the month, for the week, and for the day.
For example, last week, my number one priority was to develop a procedure ensuring the test publishing quality of a CAT exam. My schedule for the week was centered on this goal: meetings with the vendor and test publishing team to learn more about their processes, then working to develop the procedure, and then discussing it with other key stakeholders until the procedure document was finalized.
Q. What do you and your team do to influence and advance the testing and assessment industry?
Our work is exciting because we identify problems from practice, solve problems by doing research, and use research findings to improve operational work. We stay up to date on industry trends, conduct research, and contribute to the measurement field. We also engage with clients, conduct research to address their needs, and find practical solutions given operational constraints. Below are some examples of the research work we have been engaged in:
- Online proctoring vs. test center: score comparability
- Modality impact on test security
- Modality impact on subgroup performance
Item design and performance
- Automated item generation
- Automated modeling of item difficulty on admissions tests
- Developing and pre-testing technology-enhanced items
- Investigating the relationship between ability and response time
- What it really takes to implement a linear-on-the-fly exam
- Using situational judgment tests to select human capital
Test security and forensics
- Selecting the right data forensics analysis
- Using exam design to counteract the effects of a security breach
- Using machine-learning strategies to identify collusion
Q. What are some of the most exciting future “industry disruptors” that we can look forward to?
I think a testing program should not only be a measurement tool; it also needs to be a learning tool to facilitate test-taker learning and growth. Artificial intelligence (AI) could play an important role in it.
The use of AI is increasing not only with our personal technology, but also in our educational technology use. This trend will continue as education demands more flexibility and personalization, and in the future will determine how children interact with each other, the way they experience their education, and the societies they live in.*
Q. Please tell us your secret for balancing everything in your life so easily.
Is there such a secret? If so, I’d like to know. 😊
* Personal communication with Beth Havinga, Founder and Directing Manager at Connect EdTech, May 2022.