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Graduate
Assessment of English Competency

Expectations Regarding English Competency

Speaking Competency Expectations: Students in BMMB will be expected to demonstrate proficiency in communicating scientific information in a formal professional setting. To achieve this objective, they must first be capable of effective communication during normal conversation and scientific discussion in an informal one-on-one setting. This assumes adequate vocabulary for normal conversation, and we will expect students to learn the required technical terminology as they progress in their graduate training. We do not necessarily expect our students to have perfect pronunciation and enunciation, but we expect their spoken English to be of sufficient quality so that their speech patterns are not overly distracting to a listener attempting to understand the content of a presentation. The key criterion is their ability to effectively communicate scientific information. They will also be expected to develop the necessary speaking skills that will allow them to organize a presentation or lecture that includes introductory remarks, results (with an integrated description of methodology), interpretation/discussion and conclusions.

Writing Competency Expectations: Students in BMMB will be expected to demonstrate proficiency in communicating scientific ideas and information in writing. Correct grammar, spelling and punctuation are all necessary components of this requirement. The student will be expected to write documents that are clear, concise and logically organized. An additional area of emphasis will be the need to provide smooth transitions between sections or topics.

 

Procedures for Assessing Speaking Competency

Assessment of English Speaking Competency: A formal evaluation of each student's spoken English proficiency will be made on the basis of oral presentations that the student will make in our General Seminar course (BMMB 507) during their first fall semester. Students who receive a passing grade on their English speaking ability in BMMB 507 will have completed their spoken English proficiency requirement.

Improving English Competency of Students with Speaking Deficiencies: Students whose spoken English ability is judged inadequate on the basis of that presentation will be required to formally enroll in ESL 114G and achieve a B- in the course. Students will be formally evaluated again at their oral qualifying exam.

Attainment of Spoken English Competency: Students who did not receive a passing grade on their English speaking ability during BMMB 507 will be evaluated for the second time during their oral qualifying examination presentation in the fall semester of their second year. Students will be evaluated by the faculty examination panel. Students who receive a passing grade will have completed their spoken English proficiency requirement. Students who fail to receive a passing grade will dropped from the graduate program.

 

Procedures for Assessing Writing Competency

Assessment of English Writing Competency: For the qualifying examination in the fall of the second year, all BMMB students prepare a written research summary of their proposed research project. The summary will be graded by the faculty examination panel, and the assessment will be based solely on the demonstration of proficiency of writing in English. Students who receive a passing grade will have completed their English writing requirement.

Improving English Competency of Students with Writing Deficiencies: Students who do not receive a passing grade on their initial formal evaluation will be required to participate in remedial writing activities consisting of one or both of the following:

  1. Domestic and International students will write two documents under the supervision of their research adviser during the spring and summer semesters of their first year. These may be topical mini-review papers or monthly/quarterly reports of the student’s research. The student will be expected to make appropriate revisions after these papers have been graded for both scientific content and English acceptability by the research adviser.

  2. International students only (domestic students may not take ESL courses) may enroll in ESL 116G in the spring or summer of their first year for additional remediation upon advisement of their dissertation adviser and/or the BMMB Steering Committee. A grade of a B- or higher should be achieved.

Attainment of Written English Competency: Students who have not satisfied the requirement for English writing competency will write an extended essay on a science related ethics issue which must be completed by no later than the first day of August that falls on a weekday in the students second year. Students who receive a passing grade on this essay, which is evaluated by the BMMB Steering Committee, will have successfully completed their English writing requirement. Students who fail to receive a passing grade will be dropped from the graduate program.