This spring, the Department of English at my home university, the University of Idaho will bring back my English 404-02 Research Writing for International Students. The class is designed for international graduate students and very advanced upper-level undergraduates. The course is graded, worth three-credit-hours, is eligible for inclusion in the study plans of many of the university’s graduate programs, and may be repeated for credit. That’s quite a coup, really. When I first created the course, I couldn’t find another one like it anywhere. Oh, there are lots of advanced ESL writing courses, but they tend to be labeled “remedial,” which can make it difficult for busy, budget-conscious grad students to take advantage of them.
The first time I offered this as a pilot class, the international graduate students, themselves, got together and wrote a letter to the English department lobbying to keep it. They invited some of their advisers to sign it, and the course has been well-supported by advisers in technical and scientific fields ever since.
This year, because I’ll be away on Fellowship, the course will be offered entirely via internet.
The course will have its own site, and we’ll use a combination of synchronous web conferencing for class meetings, asynchronous peer discussion through the university’s Blackboard system or Moodle, and individual Skype conferencing with me.
The UI Department of English has waived the extra fee that is usually required of online classes, so this is a great deal!
English 404-02, Research Writing for International Students, builds skills in research, citation, and writing that are needed to effectively enter into the academic discourse community.
The first 60% of the course focuses on explicit instruction and linguistic support using authentic writing assignments from the students’ major fields of study.
Objectives for students include understanding writing assignments and professors’ expectations, understanding western ideas about plagiarism and the practice of citation, improving research skills, understanding structure and organization in academic discourse, mastering the academic genres of summary, synthesis, evaluation, analysis, and argument, and improving general facility in English grammar and usage.
The final 40% of the course focuses on the professional and academic needs of the individual student.
I meet via Skype and email with individuals to offer guidance for preparation of theses, dissertations, conference presentations, and articles for publication.
Since the class will be online this year, students and teachers anywhere in the world can enroll in University of Idaho and take the course for credit! Don’t you just love the internet?!