This program will include two interrelated academic courses, accompanied by co-curricular site visits and extra-curricular activities. The academic course offerings will include:

This participatory course is taught by Patricia (Patty) Raun, Director of the Center for Communicating Science at Virginia Tech, and Professor of Theatre, and Carolyn (Carrie) J. Kroehler, Associate Director of the Center for Communicating Science, instructor, biologist, and writer. Their work focuses on the use of the tools of the arts to develop communication skills, particularly in science and technology professionals, helping them discover ways to be more direct, personal, spontaneous, and responsive.

The course is intended to train students to communicate more effectively about their work in a variety of contexts. Areas of emphasis will include imagination, relaxation, observation, and concentration through improvisation. Written exercises will help students identify barriers to understanding, learn to see the work of others from new perspectives, and simplify their language without “dumbing down” their ideas. A greater awareness of the everyday tools of human interaction (tone of voice, body language, written and spoken word) will be gained through handouts, discussions, exercises, and improvisation. The students will develop their communicative abilities through careful observation, active class contribution, and committed participation.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the Communicating Science course, students will be able to:

  1. Speak spontaneously and effectively to others about their disciplinary focus;
  2. Speak personally about their disciplinary focus;
  3. Apply theories of performance and improvisation within the context of technical communication;
  4. Distinguish and respond to indicators of audience comprehension and attentiveness; and
  5. Respond effectively in both individual and group interactions.

Building on the content of the Communicating Science course, this advanced English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) course taught through the Language and Culture Institute (LCI) is designed to develop more fully the professional voice of the participants in written texts. Beyond working toward accuracy and clarity, the course will focus on understanding more fully and participating more effectively in the main genres of written academic discourse, including exposition, argument, and critique.

The course will employ an online learning management system (Moodle) in order to extend collaboration in learning activities beyond the physical meetings. Excerpts from selected instructional texts, texts that model composition goals, and sources for analysis will be provided in either paper or digital format.   

Course Objectives

The Developing Written Voice course has four main objectives:

  1. Conduct learners through analysis and construction of effective academic argument;
  2. Lead learners in positioning themselves relative to a given topic and presenting a coherent and defensible opinion;
  3. Guide learners toward articulating and applying a set of principles by which to make fair and consistent critiques; and
  4. Promote the practice of self-monitoring and use of resources to ensure accurate and effective language.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the Developing Written Voice advanced ESL course, students will be able, with 80% accuracy, to:

  1. Control word choice for connotation as well as precision;
  2. Manage register according to context and purpose;
  3. Control implication according to purpose and audience;
  4. Analyze the structure of arguments;
  5. Produce an effective argument;
  6. Respond to a text with depth of thought and clear contextualization; and
  7. Critique a text according to fair and well-articulated standards.