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Helping Our International Students Succeed In Communication

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

International Graduate Students

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.608.1 - 7.608.5

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Paper Authors

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Julie Jessop

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Main Menu Session 1655

Helping Our International Students Succeed in Communication

Julie L. P. Jessop University of Iowa


We are seeing more international students in graduate studies as American students choose industry rather than academia. Maybe this trend will change as the economy goes through a downswing and jobs become scarcer, but maybe not. Regardless, if we expect international students to perform at a similar level with American students in written and oral communication forms, we need to provide them with sufficient instruction and practice. We cannot take for granted that they have been coached in the basic rules of communication that we have ingrained in the typical American student throughout high school and undergraduate studies.

Since this is something that cannot always be left to the graduate students’ advisors, we have developed a first-year graduate course that seeks to hone these communication skills by laying the groundwork for the students’ second-year proposal defense. Activities include conducting a literature review, developing an oral presentation, and writing a research proposal. As a result of this early intervention class, advisors have noticed increased productivity and focus in their students as they begin their research projects.


“Introduction to Literature Review and Proposal Writing” was first developed two years ago as a required core course for incoming chemical and biochemical engineering (CBE) graduate students. The course has been offered in the summer with a CBE faculty member coordinating course content and projects. Various CBE faculty members delivered individual lectures, and a team of CBE faculty members graded student work.

This course does not take the place of English-as-a-second-language (ESL) courses that may be required by the university after an English proficiency evaluation or a speaking and comprehension skills test. The ESL courses focus on basic skills associated with everyday communication (grammar, pronunciation, conversation, reading, and writing), while this course focuses on the art of technical communication in its various formats.

This year, course delivery has been modified to increase instructional continuity by assigning it to one CBE faculty member who will deliver the majority of class lectures. It has also been moved to the spring semester of the first year for incoming graduate students. In this way, the students will move into their first summer prepared to focus on their research projects without the distractions of coursework.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Jessop, J. (2002, June), Helping Our International Students Succeed In Communication Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada.

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