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Using linguistic needs analysis to inform discipline-specific EAP course design
Natalia Dolgova, George Washington University
Natalia Dolgova is Teaching Assistant Professor of EAP at the George Washington University in Washington DC. She has conducted targeted needs analyses, designed curriculum for, and taught targeted EAP/ESP courses to a number of discipline-specific cohorts, such as Finance and Statistics/Data Science.
Addressing the last question on the 2018 CGC agenda (What programs, courses, and workshops have been designed to help graduate students develop their identities as effective communicators in their fields?), this workshop reports generalizable principles and findings from the process of a needs analysis project focused on determining language-related needs of international graduate students in Statistics and Data Science. Participants will learn about the main case study from the presenter’s home context and will attempt applying select relevant principles to similar situations in their own institutional settings. Ultimately, upon completion of the workshop participants will gain a better understanding of how to utilize needs analysis findings for the purpose of course design.
A language needs analysis serves to determine types and ranges of real-world tasks in order to inform the creation of pedagogic tasks. The use of needs-to-tasks progression is particularly relevant for EAP (English for Academic Purposes) and ESP (English for Specific Purposes) graduate-level contexts and professional settings (Long, 2005; Bosher & Smalkoski, 2002; Crosling & Ward, 2002). If used appropriately, the results of such needs analyses provide a basis for developing a number of targeted pedagogic tasks and suggest next steps for further curriculum development in EAP/ESP programs.
Within the presenter’s institutional context, exponential growth of graduate student population in Statistics and Data Science made determining these students’ specific academic needs and subsequently adjusting EAP/ESP instruction an institutional priority. The research questions guiding the needs analysis focused on identifying specific tasks that graduate students in Statistics and Data Science needed to master in order to participate successfully in their graduate academic communities and in the future workplace. Both qualitative (classroom observations, semi-structured interviews, discourse analysis of target genres) and quantitative (online questionnaires) methods involving multiple sources (students, faculty, experts, and writing samples) were used for data collection.
The results indicated real-world tasks and genres crucial for Statistics/Data Science classes or professional contexts. Next, a number of pedagogical tasks were developed to address both speaking/listening (e.g., oral presentations, poster session presentations) and writing (e.g., writing research reports) skills necessary for success in working with data.
The workshop will report the lessons learned from the process of organizing these tasks into a cohesive course syllabus and subsequently implementing it with a pre-selected group of Statistics/Data Science EAP graduate students. In conclusion, a number of possible directions for further curriculum development in Statistics and Data Science EAP/ESP programs will be proposed.
Following the theoretical introduction and reporting the research results, the workshop will provide the audience with a step-by-step procedure to use for transforming research findings into pedagogic tasks and course syllabi. Examples of discipline-specific pedagogic tasks addressing different language skills will be presented for audience discussion and feedback. Participants will engage in small-group discussion and hands-on activities focusing on transferring/applying select takeaways from the workshop into their own instructional contexts. To get maximum benefit from this process, participants are encouraged to bring to the workshop their own questions, materials, course syllabi, etc. they would like to get feedback on.
Designing a Course on Publishing for Multilingual Graduate Students
Joel Bloch, The Ohio State University
Joel Bloch has taught a course on publishing for multilingual graduate students taught this course for twenty years years. He has a PhD in rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon University and has published a numerous books, articles, and book chapters on technology, plagiarism, and academic writing. He is currently working on research on open access journals.
This workshop will provide teachers an opportunity to discuss issues related to the design of a publishing course for multilingual students who are beginning to enter their academic communities of practice, share with other participants their previous work on these designs, and work with other participants on the design of various forms of support for publishing, and discuss their designs with other participants. I will lead the discussion and be available to answer questions of the participants’ designs. The participants should bring their materials, syllabi, or course and workshop designs. Each participant may share with the other participants their designs as well as questions and concerns they have with the design of a course on publishing. Finally, the participants can work together to develop or modify their own course designs. I will be available for suggestions and questions. We will then reconvene and discuss the results of these groups. The goals are for a better understanding the content of support needed for publishing as it relates to their emerging identities and for teachers to share their own designs and concerns. This workshop begins with questions using Top Hat for discussing participants’ backgrounds and concerns. The questions asked here will relate to issues related to publishing to be answered using a cell phone. We will then discuss the questions asked, and then discuss the identities of the students and how these identities impact course design and the role of the teacher. We will then discuss the design of a semester-long course divided into two parts: a discussion of various topics related to publishing including the motivation for the design of the class, the topics discussed, the nature of the one-on-one tutorials, and some of the reactions of the students as a basis for revising the course. In the next section, we will address the institutional and departmental constraints on course design as well as alternative approaches. Then we will discuss potential topics that can be part of a course or broken into workshops: introduction to the publishing process, the choices of journals, the peer review process, auxiliary writing forms including grants, the ethics of publishing, plagiarism and intellectual property, conference proposals and presentations, and related grammar topics. I will share the URLs to my open access textbook and curated Scoopit site containing articles related to publishing. We will discuss the role of open access materials and some of the issues students need to consider. Each participant will have the opportunity to share their designs brought to the workshop Outcomes Each participant will take an increased understanding of designing and teaching courses on publishing and ideas for implementing or improving new or existing designs. The participants will understand the relationship between the emerging identities of graduate students as they prepare to enter their academic communities of practices and their relationship with support design as well as discuss the concerns raised, in the literature, on the GCS bulletin board, and in the field of multilingual writing and publishing.
Teaching Students How to Increase Conceptual Clarity Through Diagramming
Jane Freeman, University of Toronto
In the last eight years, Dr. Freeman has taught a course that she designed called “Prewriting Strategies for Developing and Organizing Your Ideas” to more than 1,000 graduate students at the University of Toronto from all divisions (Humanities, Social Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Life Sciences). In this CGC workshop, she will share some of the strategies from the course that have been most popular with students.
In our work as teachers of writing to graduate students, we usually work with students who are writing. Whether they are working on a proposal, a course paper, or a dissertation, students most often come for guidance motivated by problems in their current written drafts. While teaching a course on “Prewriting Strategies for Developing and Organizing Your Ideas,” however, I have had the opportunity to see graduate students’ work long before they begin to write: work done at the prewriting stage, such as their notes, diagrams, and outlines. Many of my students use diagrams and outlines to organize their writing, but until I saw their diagrams and outlines I did not realize how much trouble they were having in using these techniques effectively; indeed, some of my students’ diagrams and outlines actively increase the very confusion the students are trying to address. Seeing their prewriting material has not only helped me to understand more fully the nature of the problems some students have with achieving conceptual clarity in the early stages of their writing but also helped me to develop a series of strategies to guide them as they work to lift the fog of their own confusion. In this workshop, I will introduce participants to a sequence of prewriting strategies I designed that help graduate students to clarify their thinking before they write. This sequence includes specific uses of spreadsheets in note taking, and a series of diagramming techniques, shaped by Aristotle’s Topics of Invention, for use at the early, middle, and late stages of the prewriting process. The workshop will have three parts. First, I will introduce a sequence of spreadsheeting and diagramming strategies designed to help students who are embarking on large writing projects, such as long course papers or dissertations. The strategies introduced encourage students to harness spatial logic in the service of their writing, and each strategy we will consider has a specific function (such as brainstorming, summarizing, correlating, synthesizing, proposing, preparing an outline, etc.). The strategies chosen for the workshop are those that have been most popular with the graduate students in my Prewriting class. Second, workshop participants will try the techniques themselves to get a feel for how they work in performing the range of functions listed above. Third, as a group of experienced teachers of graduate writing, we will discuss the ways in which the prewriting strategies introduced in the workshop can be used to help address several specific writing challenges faced by our students. The goal of the workshop is to give teachers of graduate writers a series of practical strategies for teaching students how to clarify their own thinking.
Tell Us What You Struggle With: How to Understand and Respond to the Concerns of Graduate Students in Writing Consultations
Elena Kallestinova, Yale University
Linda Macri, University of Maryland
As directors of writing centers that exclusively serve graduate students at two large research institutions, Kallestinova and Macri have substantial experience coordinating and facilitating writing consultations, as well as training and mentoring peer-consultants. Yale’s Graduate Writing Laboratory has been in operation for ten years and annually offers over 2000 consultations to graduate students from a wide range of disciplinary and linguistic backgrounds. The University of Maryland’s Graduate School Writing Center, founded five years ago, offers over 600 appointments annually to a similarly wide range of graduate students.
The outcome of a writing consultation with graduate students frequently depends on how consultants match the stated needs of graduate students. If a consultant addresses the concerns that the student brings to the session, then the outcome of the session is more positive (Raymond & Quinn 2012; Winder, Kathpalia & Koo 2016). In the context of a one-on-one consultation, what distinguishes graduate students from college students is the variety of genres they work in, the length of their papers, and the scope of their concerns.
To address those concerns, the consultant needs to make a number of mindful choices in (1) eliciting information from a student, (2) interpreting those articulations, (3) prioritizing the elicited concerns, (4) addressing those concerns during the session. This workshop will offer participants ways to support graduate students in a writing center or through one-on-one consultations. Using research from our writing centers, we will consider ways to design consultation appointments, including methods for collecting information from both students and consultants and best practices for pre- and post-consultation support. The goal of the workshop is to engage the participants in examining the writing concerns of graduate students when they come to writing sessions. Participants will leave the workshop with a number of concrete take-aways. First, they will develop a list of questions tailored to their institution that they could use to elicit information from consultees. Based on the protocol of an appointment at their institution, they will be able to use this list in the appointment form or during an in-person session. Moreover, they will create a list of effective practices (questions for client report forms and evaluation forms) that will allow them to assess what makes a writing consultation successful. Finally, they will develop a plan for incorporating research in their own center practices and designs. The design and delivery of the workshop will be equally shared by the two presenters who will organize the discussion through a series of small group and hands-on activities. Together, we can address a wide range of settings (private and public institutions; serving a wide range of disciplines; working with students from a wide range of linguistic and national backgrounds; serving students in doctoral, master’s and professional programs). The activities will invite the participants to analyze consultation scenarios, share ways programs elicit writing concerns of graduate students, and evaluate examples of student requests (gathered from research at our centers). By examining a variety of terms graduate students employ when they articulate their writing needs, we will invite the participants to make choices about how they or their consultants would prioritize and address those concerns during their sessions. Participants should come prepared with any information about their current consultation practices, in particular what scheduling system they use and what information they collect on their appointment requests, client report forms, and evaluation forms/surveys.
Why Do Advanced-High/Superior Speakers Seek Language Support and How Can We Respond?
Peggy Wagner, Emory University
Peggy Wagner has been teaching in the ELSP program of Emory University since it first began in 1990 (being one of the original creators of the program). She teaches courses in both the intermediate and advanced tracks of oral communication, as well as the courses in academic writing. In response to requests from graduate faculty in the mathematics department, Peggy was awarded a grant to develop the elective course Seminar in Professional Communication which is designed to improve the academic and professional speaking performance of the Advanced and Superior level students (OPI Levels 3.7-4.0) . She subsequently developed and teaches the companion elective course for advanced-high/superior speakers Laboratory in Professional Communication. Peggy Wagner received an MS in Applied Linguistics/TESL from Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
The English Language Support Program of Emory University’s Laney Graduate School offers full credit, semester long elective Oral Communication courses for students scoring Advanced High/Superior on the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview. Although the ELSP has been providing advanced oral communication support for over two decades, interest and enrollment in these courses has doubled in the past five years. This increase aligns with the more recent notion that living and studying in-country is not sufficient to move them to higher level speaking skills but that language instruction is indeed needed (Leaver and Campbell 2015; Bygate 2005). What compels them to come into our program? Why do they believe they need more training and practice? When asked these questions on a precourse information gathering form, some common responses are “to feel more confident” or “to reduce my accent” or “my vocabulary is limited” or “I make mistakes” or “I want to sound like a native speaker”. The question then arises: How can these perceived needs be translated into a successful and viable graduate course and curriculum? But the general goal for all, we have found, is that they want to develop a more professional identity by using the language that best expresses their intellect, their expertise, their knowledge. One challenge to developing and teaching this course is that the needs of speakers of this level become even more individualized to where approaches used at the intermediate level do not necessarily work at these higher levels (Bygate 2005; Leaver and Campbell 2015).
Secondly, these students are highly motivated, so identifying and working with that motivation is critical to the success of the student and the course; this often requires flexibility on the part of the instructor. Thirdly, considering adult learning theories, the student must perceive all activities, goals, and tasks as relevant and meaningful; the teacher-student relationship takes on a more coach-professional interaction, or facilitator-actor; students require greater autonomy and control over their learning which requires flexibility on the part of the instructor. During the workshop, the facilitator will describe profiles of advanced-high and superior speakers, and identify what they need to advance to a higher level of speaking. She will share the considerations when developing goals, a curriculum, and activities, and how these considerations informed her course development. Using sample student profiles and cases, the participants will discuss possible goals for a course, activities that might be used to reach the goals, and strategies to maintain motivation of the students.
Questions to discuss include: What are the main types of ‘repertoires’ or oral discourse that these speakers should be able to use? What role does ‘repetition’ and ‘rehearsal’ play, if any? How can goals be prioritized or scaffolded? What should be the focus of explicit instruction? Implicit instruction? What priority should be given to pronunciation, if any? What role does formative feedback play? The workshop will enable participants develop strategies to provide oral communication support for advanced/superior speakers who are moving towards developing a more professional identity.
Strategies for Teaching a One-Size-Fits-All Graduate Writing Course
Shyam Sharma, Stony Brook University
Imagine that you are asked to develop the first graduate-level writing course in your university, that your department and graduate school as well as faculty advisors who have demanded the course want it to be “remedial,” and that the course will enroll students from across the disciplines and with various levels of writing skills among both domestic and international students whose linguistic proficiencies further widely vary. In other words, it is a one-size-fits-all class for all graduate students, some of whom you anticipate may be anxious about their language proficiency and “basic” issues about graduate-level writing in the US and others are interested in writing skills for academic publication and the job search. One way to proceed would be to pick a certain area or areas to focus on, advertising the course accordingly and letting students who attend the class decide whether they want to continue. A “universal design” approach could be useful in this case for engaging the diverse students (as much as possible). But there is another approach, or one among other approaches, that can be taken, as I did when developing (and also for gradually adapting over the last four years) the first graduate-level writing course at a large public university in New York.
I will begin the proposed workshop by asking participants to list a few possible assignments and activities that they would use in an “open enrollment” course like the above—asking them to discuss with a neighbor how they would maximize student engagement/interest with those assignments. Then I will share the four assignments that I use in my course WRT 621—including (1) Self-Assessment, (2) Rhetorical Analysis, (3) WID Interview, and (4) Final Paper—illustrating strategies for (1) identifying their own needs and strengths as writers, (2) using activity theory to develop genre-and discipline- awareness, (3) learning systematically from more experienced writers in their disciplines, and (4) implementing what they learn from the first three assignments to a standard academic paper/essay that they write or revise for the course. I will follow up this activity with a brief open discussion, asking the audience to take notes and share ideas about assignments that can benefit diverse students in the same class.
In the second half of the workshop, I will ask the audience how they might adapt, for their own contexts, a handout each that I use for teaching: rhetorical analysis of in-text citation in academic articles, genre and WID-informed analysis of the discussion section in academic articles, and a rubric for workshopping a job application (cover) letter. The participants will also browse through the courses and relevant resources on CGC website, as well sharing their teaching strategies. The objective of this activity is to try to collectively generate pedagogical strategies (and materials) for teaching writing to highly diverse classes of students, helping students transfer rhetorical knowledge and skills for different kinds of writing needs in different disciplines and stages of their academic and professional development trajectories. I will conclude the workshop by providing participants the opportunity to begin developing their own materials based on the conversation.