EPPIC’s research explores key themes in the fields of Applied Linguistics and English for Specific Purposes (ESP) to generate scholarly insights and to inform the design and delivery of English language and intercultural support services for the community of multilingual students, scholars and faculty at Penn State.

Research Projects

Needs Assessment:  Department of Economics

English for Specific Purpose (ESP) takes as a point of departure the idea that academic and professional communities communicate in distinctive ways.  Therefore, understanding and addressing the communicative needs of multilingual students and scholars must be context-specific, keeping departmental and/or professional cultures and norms in mind.  Working in this vein, EPPIC has partnered with Penn State's Department of Economics to research the specific language needs of multilingual Economics doctoral students who are preparing for the job market.  What genres of academic communication (both written and spoken) are most important for job candidates in Economics, and what are the characteristics of these target genres?  Findings from this research-based needs analysis serve as the foundation for the development and delivery of tailored services such as workshops and individual consultations that focus on the high-stakes academic and professional situations in which multilingual Economics students need to communicate successfully. These research-informed EPPIC services were first implemented in Fall 2017 and are ongoing.  Data from this project  will be presented at the American Association of Applied Linguistics (AAAL) annual conference in Chicago in March 2018.

Needs Assessment: International Biomedical Students and Researchers 

EPPIC researchers conducted interviews at the Penn State Hershey College of Medicine with medical school administrators, staff members, international biomedical graduate students, and multilingual research scholars to assess current challenges in academic and professional communication among international students & scholars at Hershey, and related needs for language support services.  Findings from these interviews have been used to inform the creation and implementation of the EESIBP (Enhancing English Skills for International Biomedical Professionals) program, designed by EPPIC, for international biomedical students and scholars at Penn State Hershey. 

International Student & Scholar Focus Groups 

EPPIC led focus group sessions with international students, post-docs and visiting scholars in the Penn State community to better understand their pressing concerns relating to academic and professional language learning & socialization in the context of U.S. higher education.  Findings from this project have been summarized in a focus group report (available upon request) that includes recommendations for new support services and resources to facilitate successful learning and professional development among multilingual internationals at Penn State.  Comments from focus group participants have informed the creation of EPPIC programming, including weekly academic communication support groups (Let's Talk, and Speak UP), workshops on academic writing and speaking skills, and the drafting of a resource guide for international students and scholars at Penn State.

Program Impact Study:  EESIBP at Penn State Hershey College of Medicine

As part of EPPIC's work with the Penn State Hershey College of Medicine to design and implement the EESIBP (Enhancing English Skills for International Biomedical Professionals) Program, pre- and post-program survey data were collected to assess the impact of EPPIC's language program services on: a) work-related language skills; b) engagement in institutional activities; and c) comfort with communicating and networking at professional meetings.  An analysis of survey data, which showed highly positive impact on program participant, was presented at the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) Graduate Faculty Affairs Conference in July 2016, and received a 'Best in Class' award from a jury of medical college administrators.

Research Areas

Advanced Proficiency Language Learning for Academic and Professional Purposes

  • Conduct multidimensional analysis of the learning needs of advanced proficiency users of English as a second language in academic and professional immersion settings
  • Evaluate the impact of instructional design and delivery formats on advanced proficiency English language skill development
  • Investigate theoretical and instructional models for maximizing language and intercultural learning in the U.S. and during study abroad

Language Use in Multilingual Academic and Professional Settings

  • Analyze academic and workplace communication patterns in multilingual disciplinary and professional communities (including STEM departments, Penn State Law, and Hershey Medical Center)
  • Identify the linguistic and discursive features of key oral and written genres in specific academic communities of practice

Language Assessment in English for Specific Purposes (ESP) and English for Professional Purposes (EPP)

  • Conduct multimodal analysis of corpus, observational, and interview data to establish ecologically valid task design for specialized oral language assessments
  • Evaluate existing models of spoken language assessment criteria (e.g., the Common European Frame of Reference, ACTFL OPI) for application to English language oral proficiency assessments
  • Develop quantitative and qualitative measures to evaluate both language gains and impacts on workplace engagement before and after EPP instructional interventions

Collaborative Research

EPPIC engages in research collaborations with academic departments and professional programs across Penn State.  If your program has an interest in developing projects related to advising, instruction, or professional development for internationals—or intercultural learning/communication, please contact us.

Return to Top