Research Projects

EPPIC’s research reflects key foci in the field of Applied Linguistics—and is aimed at generating insights that can inform the design and delivery of English language and intercultural support services for the increasingly multilingual community of students and scholars at Penn State.

Recent Research Projects:

  • Assessment of English Language Support Needs Among Biomedical Students and Scholars:  In Fall 2016, our team conducted interviews with medical school administrators, staff, students, and post-docs to assess current and future academic language support needs among multilingual biomedical researchers at Penn State Hershey College of Medicine.  Findings from these interviews are shaping the development of EPPIC programs at Hershey for 2017-2018.
  • International Focus Groups:  In Spring 2016, we conducted multiple 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 while in the U.S.  Findings from this project have been summarized in a focus group report 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 new EPPIC programming in the 2016-2017 academic year, including Intercultural Conversation Groups (ICGs), a workshop series on graduate academic writing, and the drafting of an international student resource guide.
  • Biomedical Communication Skills Program Data:  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 in 2015-2016, we collected pre- and post-program survey data to assess the impact of EPPIC's language program services on program participants': a) work-related language skills; b) engagement in institutional activities; and c) comfort with communicating and networking at professional meetings.  This data was presented as a poster at the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) Graduate Faculty Affairs Conference in July, 2016, and the poster received a 'Best in Class' award from a jury of medical college administrators.


Ongoing research initiatives include:

Advanced Proficiency Language Learning for Academic and Professional Purposes

  • Conducting multidimensional analysis of the learning needs of advanced proficiency users of English as a second language in academic and professional immersion settings
  • Evaluating the impact of instructional design and delivery formats on advanced proficiency English language skill development
  • Investigating 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

  • Analyzing academic and workplace communication patterns in multilingual disciplinary and professional communities (including STEM departments, Penn State Law, and Hershey Medical Center)
  • Identifying 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)

  • Conducting multimodal analysis of corpus, observational, and interview data to establish ecologically valid task design for specialized oral language assessments
  • Evaluating 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
  • Developing quantitative and qualitative measures to evaluate both language gains and impacts on workplace engagement before and after EPP instructional interventions

Collaborative Research

  • We seek research collaborations with academic departments and professional programs across Penn State.  If your program has an interest in developing joint projects involving advising, instruction, or professional development for internationals—or intercultural learning/communication, please contact us.
Return to Top