Purpose Because standardized entrance tests do not necessarily reflect communicative ability, international students are s...
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Assessment & Curriculum Design for International Graduate Students

Poster Presented at 2008 International NAFSA Conference (Association of International Educators)
Published on: Mar 3, 2016

Transcripts - Assessment & Curriculum Design for International Graduate Students

  • 1. Purpose Because standardized entrance tests do not necessarily reflect communicative ability, international students are sometimes not equipped with the communication skills to succeed in graduate school—engaging in scholarly discussion and writing academic papers. Departments are often unaware of this potential gap until students are struggling with coursework. To support these students, the Professional Development Program at UAB Graduate School undertook a criterion-referenced Academic English assessment to measure students’ oral and written proficiency, and designed a series of academic writing and speaking courses to enhance those skills. Scores are reported to students and their departments for advising purposes. Assessment <ul><li>Speaking Assessment Procedure </li></ul><ul><li>15 to 30-minute face-to-face, structured interview, based on guidelines for the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview and adapted for UAB’s context </li></ul><ul><li>Tape recorded; rated by interviewer & 2nd trained rater </li></ul>Speaking Curriculum These blended learning classes have web components where students complete homework assignments and access supplemental materials. GRD 701 Professional Presentations Present summaries of independent research; deliver academic / scientific presentations that are videotaped, with feedback from peers and instructor. GRD 725 Pronunciation Workshop Improve individual sounds, rhythm, and prosody to enhance presentations & practice for dissertation defense. GRD 730 Advanced Oral communication Practice hypothesizing, and defending opinions; participate in culturally appropriate academic discussions; speak in extended discourse; analyze problems & solutions. GRD 721 Oral Communication II Practice expanding paragraph discourse by sharing opinions on topics of general interest, paraphrasing, summarizing, giving definitions; improve grammar and pronunciation. GRD 720 Oral Communication I Increase fluency, practice self-expression, reporting, describing; gain control of simple grammatical structures; expand vocabulary and enhance intonation for intelligibility. <ul><li>Communication Needs </li></ul><ul><li>Writing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Write research papers, thesis, dissertation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Publish journal articles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Synthesize information, hypothesize & persuade </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make comprehensive analyses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Structure argument, organize coherently </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Speaking & Interaction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Present research at national meetings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Collaborate with advisers and committee </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Critically analyze research and negotiate meaning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Participate in graduate seminar discussions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Defend dissertation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>See for example Lovitts (2007); Golde & Walker 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>Some Cultural Needs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conduct independent research (Chen 2003) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learning strategies & study skills (Edwards et al 200) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Critical analysis & problem solving (Brown, 2007) </li></ul></ul>Curriculum Overview 10-week Academic English courses meet 1.5 hrs twice weekly. Grades are Pass/ fail. Levels 2 and 3 are recommended to take a two-semester sequence of courses. <ul><li>Writing Assessment Procedure </li></ul><ul><li>1-hour timed persuasive essay, handwritten in groups </li></ul><ul><li>Prompts designed to elicit academic discourse on topics of broad general interest </li></ul><ul><li>Proctored and rated by 2 trained ESL writing professionals </li></ul>Writing Curriculum GRD 728 Advanced Academic Writing Practice tasks involved in writing grants /dissertations; produce conference abstracts, posters, research briefs, and construct longer literature reviews and persuasive discussions. GRD 727 Academic Writing II Practice tasks involved in writing research articles: organize & present clear arguments, construct literature reviews, paraphrase and avoid plagiarism; learn source citation and publication style guides, and produce accurate data commentary. GRD 726 Academic Writing I Learn about the writing process, the elements of effective writing, ethics, how to paraphrase and avoid plagiarism; practice writing in academic genres, peer reviewing, editing, and analyzing texts to enhance grammar and syntax. Results Scale adapted using criteria from 1) the iBT TOEFL Test Scoring Standards for Integrated Writing Rubric; 2) the Emory-Specific Language Assessment (based on the Test of Written English and the Advanced Placement International English, developed by ETS and the College Board); and 3) the ESL Composition Profile (by Holly L. Jacobs, et. al, 1981.) By April 2008, UAB Graduate School had assessed the academic speaking and writing proficiency of 250 international graduate students and postdocs. Despite adequate TOEFL and GRE test scores, results indicate that only 5-6% possess the expected level of academic communication skills for graduate and professional work. 44% of writers and 47% of speakers are in the advanced range of Level 3, and need support to adequately complete their coursework, while 51% of writers and 47% of speakers are in the intermediate range of Level 2 and need long-term, extensive language intervention to meet the demands of graduate school and professional scholarship. <ul><li>Future Directions </li></ul><ul><li>Increase communication with departments about student needs </li></ul><ul><li>Track student progress through annual evaluations </li></ul><ul><li>Measure correlation between ibt TOEF writing/speaking scores and UAB assessments </li></ul>The Purpose of Doctoral Education “ These people are scholars…in the fullest sense of the word; people who will creatively generate new knowledge, critically conserve valuable and useful ideas, and responsibly transform those understandings through writing, teaching, and application.” The Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate (Golde 2006, p. 5) International Graduate Students’ Academic English Needs: Assessment and Curriculum Design Nancy G. Abney, M.A. TESOL, Program Manager UAB Graduate School Professional Development Program GRD 726 & 727 2-course series Cannot write independently; demonstrates some qualities of clear writing, such as sentences and paragraphs, but employs loose organization, undeveloped arguments, imprecise connections, informal style, and/or frequent errors of usage; needs direct instruction, strong motivation, and consistent writing practice to meet the demands of graduate school. 2 High Mid Low GRD 728 Advanced Academic Writing Needs peer/faculty support to complete academic writing tasks; demonstrates many of the qualities of clear and purposeful academic writing – thesis development, paragraph-level discourse, reasoned arguments, structure, and facility with technical language; but writing falls short of publication standards. 3 High Mid Low GRD 728 Advanced Academic Writing 1 semester 3 credit hours Can work independently on scholarly writing assignments: clear academic text with a firm grasp of audience and purpose; cogent thesis, extended discourse, well-developed arguments, and organized structure (introduction, body, & conclusion); facility with academic and technical language, style, flow, grammar; minor errors. 4 Recommendation Writing Rubric Level Recommendations Speaking Rubric Level Level 2 High GRD 721 & 730 Level 2 Mid & Low GRD 720 & 721 Handles routine tasks, but has problems with grammar, fluency, and pronunciation; participates in limited, direct conversations by producing strings of simple sentences about familiar topics, but cannot connect ideas to produce a cohesive story and lacks vocabulary to provide full descriptions. 2 High Mid Low Level 3 High GRD 701 or 725 Level 3 Mid & Low GRD 730 & 731* 2-course series Speaks in paragraphs, and is fluent enough to socialize, but has difficulty with skills needed in graduate seminar discussions and academic presentations: synthesizing, supporting opinions, hypothesizing, or structuring an argument. 3 High Mid Low GRD 701— or GRD 725— (optional) Has the English language skills needed in Graduate School to participate effectively in scholarly discourse: provides structured argument to explain opinions, and develops hypotheses in cohesive, extended discourse, with a high degree of linguistic accuracy. 4

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