Writing Support for International Graduate Students in the Academic Disciplines: This IRB-approved research project seeks to identify best practices in terms of curriculum and pedagogy, service programs and initiatives, and institutional policies affecting the growth of international graduate students as writers.
Extending from my dissertation (which studied links between perception about language variation and practices of teaching/learning academic writing among engineering faculty and their graduate students), this study focuses on effective practices, programs, and policies across the disciplines, also situating the learning/teaching of writing in the broader context of academic transition and professional development.
As such, I interview faculty and staff not only in writing programs but also in the academic disciplines who directly or indirectly support these students with their writing; I also talk to administrators and experts who contribute through units like the library, international center, counseling center, career center, and so on.
While there is extensive research on the challenges faced by international students across the levels and disciplines (especially the long-standing and rather excessive focus on their language proficiency), there are two significant gaps in the scholarship especially at the graduate level. The first is an insufficient attention to the bigger picture of how these students learn to read, write, and communicate successfully as they enter and adapt to a new academic culture, specialized disciplines, and higher level of education. The second is a need to go beyond identifying needs and fault-finding into identifying and theorizing successful practices, programs, and policies.
How are US universities responding to the increasing proportions of international graduate students in many disciplines when they do so best? How are they most effectively addressing curricular gaps and helping these students catch up on basic academic skills while also assisting them to meet demands of highly specialized fields of knowledge? What support, services, resources, mentorship in and across the academic and service units best help them learn the many components of academic writing most quickly and effectively?
As I further describe on another page, I have also been presenting (pro bono) workshops for international graduate students as well as faculty and service staff who work with them during my research visits.
Project 2– Translating Success, a web-based participatory action research for the study of academic transition of international students, approved by Stony Brook University IRB Office. The objective of this project is to develop and provide resources to (as many as possible of) the nearly three quarters of a million international students and scholars who come to US academies every year, by inviting them to share and learn from one another’s experience, while creating a database of informative and inspiring stories. Instead of attempting to study this vast and diverse population as “subjects” of a research, this project seeks to facilitate “participation” of members toward taking “action” for addressing challenges through participation and sharing of experience, while also inviting experts and researchers to share their ideas. The project’s website is www.translatingsuccess.org.
Project 3– International Teaching Assistants in the STEM Fields, an IRB-approved research project that examines (through case studies) how international, nonnative English speaking teaching assistants in different STEM departments approach writing-intensive assignments and activities for undergraduate students.
Project 4– Collaborative Technologies: Optimizing Potentials, Addressing Challenges, a faculty development project for the center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology (TLT), Stony Brook University. Funded by the TALENT Grant initiative of the TLT, and developed in partnership with a colleague from my home department, this one-year project was designed to inform faculty across campus about the dual potentials of collaborative cloud-based educational technologies: on the one hand, the affordances of such technologies toward enhancing teaching and learning, and on the other the possibility of violation of student privacy, including those protected by FERPA regulations. The project involved faculty development workshops presented through TLT and resources for teaching with technology now available on the Writing Program’s website.