For PhD programs taught in English


Aims

English-medium doctoral programmes attract numerous interested students with a wide range of academic English skills. These applicants also come from a variety of global academic backgrounds, some with academic cultures similar to JYU in academic practices but others quite different. Combining academic English with field-specific academic skills can make doctoral research challenging. When inviting students to come to JYU for doctoral research, programmes want to communicate to applicants that both sets of skills are at appropriate levels for completing their work within a given time frame, usually only four years

Knowing that current means for assessing language and academic readiness are limited, Movi has implemented an Academic Readiness Screening (ACRES) process for applicants that combines academic language with academic readiness skills.

The current admissions process often looks at language skills separately from academic skills by requiring candidates to participate in validated general English tests, some of which also have a general academic language focus testing option. However, a number of the accepted tests for admissions do not assess academic language, so it is difficult to confirm to an applicant who does not participate in an academic language version of a test that the results suggest academic language is appropriate for studies. Additionally, for those tests that do focus on academic language, only general academic English is assessed and not field-specific academic language.

Beyond validated language tests, other options for showing language skills are also accepted. For example, applicants can submit information from previous universities showing an earlier degree was completed through English. It can be difficult to determine, however, whether English language skills were required to be at the same levels for those degrees as the levels required at JYU.

 

In addition to the challenges involved with deciding that a candidate has appropriate skills in academic English, there is an additional challenge in deciding whether a candidate has appropriate skills, in general, for academic practices in the JYU academic environment. Programmes are aware of what they will provide throughout the study years for students to learn, but they are also aware of what academic skills they want students to already have when entering the programme, such as skills in information management and self-directed learning.

Students studying in the main building

This combination of determining the appropriate academic language, as well as the necessary academic skills, can make determining who should enter a doctoral programme complicated. However, when welcoming a student to the university following the application process, the welcoming study program is indicating to the applicant that academic language and study skills are sufficient for completion of work within the given 4-year time frame.

Knowing that current means for assessing language and academic readiness are limited, Movi has implemented an Academic Readiness Screening (ACRES) process for applicants that combines academic language with academic readiness skills.

For programmes interested in implementing ACRES as part of the application process, a pilot of the process is first conducted following an academic year timeline:

ACRES timeline

During the pilot process, Movi and participating new programmes would determine what aspects of the process run smoothly and what aspects need adjustments. Following the pilot, if the process is determined to be sustainable, programmes could even solely use ACRES without the need for separate language skills testing.

Pilot process 

Reading and writing

In the pilot phase, programs continue to require separate language tests, but supplement the information provided by the tests through ACRES. The first part of the screening involves the creation of a pre-task that assesses field-specific language and academic reading and writing skills. This pre-task focuses on assessing reading strategies, critical thinking skills and dialogic discussion through a written format.

Listening and speaking

Following the pre-task essay, Movi prompts are included within a short 20-minute interview session held by members of the program with each applicant. The goal of this aspect of the interview is to assess applicant information management, critical thinking and dialogic oral interaction skills that students would need to activate throughout their studies.

 

Assessment

Following the completion of assessment, Movi assessors give brief feedback to the program on each candidate’s appropriacy for study, with a profile for language and academic skills in reading, writing, listening, speaking and interaction. Click here for a link to the assessment criteria.

Programmes can consider how to adjust their point system for applicant admissions to determine the weight of ACRES in the admissions process.

 

Post screening

Movi assessors and participating programs review the pilot process and determine whether ACRES will continue to be used, making appropriate adjustments. A determination will also be made as to whether ACRES will be solely used or whether it will be used in combination with other validated language tests.

For further information about the ACRES option for doctoral programmes click here, and scroll down to Demonstrating your language skills during the application process.