T&L Exchange

Centre for Quality Support and Development

Category: Globalisation and internationalisation

Universally Speaking: crossing cultural & generational boundaries – a seminar series

Dan Jones, School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences, d.jones6@reading.ac.uk

 

Overview

The ‘Universally Speaking’ series provides a platform for students, staff and community members to exchange ideas on culture, heritage, customs, values and traditions, via a seminar presentation. Each seminar is followed by an informal drinks reception to facilitate further discussion and interactions between the different communities.

Objectives

  • To offer an outstanding holistic student learning experience by promoting extra-curricular activities in the School.
  • To celebrate and promote the diverse School: lends on the diverse experiences of our staff, students and local communities to help students become global citizens and directly experience the benefits of a diverse and multinational learning environment.
  • To equip students with the aspirations, confidence and skills: opportunity to present and talk to a range of different people.

Context

The School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences is a wonderfully diverse School – this series was launched to promote and celebrate this diversity. The series provides an opportunity for members of the School to reflect upon different experiences and perspectives of the world, and to take a moment to discuss these with others. Ultimately, it is a tool to promote and explore difference, leading to greater tolerance and acceptance of it.

Implementation

Once funding was gained, along with the student partner, we formed a student committee to help support the different aspects of the series: promotion, advertisement, organisation, and invitations to community members. The committee was made up of five students, and two members of staff (myself included). The seminars were run on a monthly basis, starting in February 2019 and running until June 2019. Talks were delivered by a range of volunteers: UG students, PGR students, PCLS staff and other University members (including the University Chaplain, who is hopefully going to repeat their highly interesting session).

Overall, the series was a success, with positive feedback received and a consistent attendance, including up to eight members of the public attending the final session of the academic year. Due to the positive reception, we are hoping to make this a permanent fixture on the PCLS calendar.

Impact

The feedback on the series has been overwhelmingly positive. Quotes from attendees nicely summarise the benefits that have been gained from the series so far:

“The ability to increase my knowledge on other countries education and research style/system. Learn about peoples’ experience – first-hand experience. Love it!”

“Hearing about the differences from personal perspectives. Helping people embracing the differences.”

“Really interesting to hear about cultures and customs in other countries and how one should consider them when assessing actions and situations.”

Many of the quotes reflect on learning about and understanding difference; skills that lead to more tolerance and acceptance of difference – ultimately, this is what the series contributes to the PCLS community.

Reflections

The only negative of the series was attendance: considering the size of PCLS, we only averaged around 40 attendees across the series. There were several reasons why this may have been the case, including the timing, exam periods and advertising. We are aiming to address these issues if the series is to continue. One step that we have taken is to utilise the skills of the School marketing officer to help with promotion and advertising.

Follow up

The launch of the seminar series was made possible with PLANT funding – this funding ended in July 2019. To maintain the series over the course of the next academic year, and to enable collaboration with other groups across the University, additional funding has been sought from the School of PCLS. We already have the next seminar planned for January 2020, in collaboration with the UoR Islamic Society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rev Dr Mark Laynesmith, Anglican Chaplain at the University, reports on a project set up with the University’s Institute of Education to explore increasing knowledge diversity among school children.

Blackboard Collaborate cross-campus tutorials as a useful tool to enhance the Part One Pharmacy student experience at the University of Reading Malaysia

Dr Darius Widera, School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy
d.widera@reading.ac.uk

Overview

After a successful application to act as one of the early adopters of Blackboard Collaborate at the University of Reading, this technology platform was used for a series of cross-campus tutorials within the Fundamentals of Physiology (PM1AM) module between the University of Reading’s Whiteknights and Malaysia campuses. The format was well-received, and contributed to an enhanced student experience.

Context

The official inauguration of the University of Reading Malaysia (UoRM) campus in EduCity, Johor Bahru, in early 2017 and the start of the MPharm (Malaysia) programme in the academic year 2016/17 offer excellent opportunities for further internationalisation of the University of Reading and specifically within Pharmacy education.

The University of Reading Malaysia offers a double accredited (UK and Malaysia) 2+2 MPharm (Hons) degree where the students study for two years at the Malaysia campus followed by two consecutive years in Reading.

The PM1A module and its UoRM counterpart, PM1AM, cover the basics of biology and human physiology including genetics, biochemistry and cell biology. According to student feedback, these topics tend to be challenging for the students, especially in light of the fact that significant numbers of Pharmacy students do not have A-level biology to provide background knowledge.

In response to this feedback, several tutorials have been introduced to provide students with interactive opportunities to revise the content of lectures and practical sessions and to close any potential knowledge gaps.

Thus, there was a need for the development of a cross-campus solution to ensure that both MPharm cohorts (UoR and UoRM) are provided with a similar form of tutorials.

Objectives

  • To explore if Blackboard Collaborate can be used for cross-campus delivery of tutorials covering the content of the genetics lecture series within the PM1A/PM1AM module.
  • To investigate if cross-campus virtual classroom/teleconference represents an appropriate pedagogical tool for delivery of tutorials in Pharmacy and how this deliver method affects student engagement and interactivity.
  • To assess if these sessions could help 2+2 MPharm students to prepare for their two years of study in Reading.

Implementation

The Blackboard Collaborate platform was used to develop a series of tutorials in genetics. The online sessions were led by Dr Widera (live video capture via a webcam) at the University of Reading’s Whiteknights campus and streamed to students at the UoRM. The student group was composed of 11 Malaysian Part One MPharm students. The content of the tutorials was covered in the respective lecturees. It was expected that students would have factual knowledge of the topic, although at heterogeneous levels.

All students were equipped with PCs with headsets and webcams. Blackboard Collaborate functions including ‘raise hand’, virtual whiteboard, chat, and direct interaction with all or individual students (either via audio or video) were used. In addition, external tools (e.g. Microsoft PowerPoint presentations and the Poll Everywhere app) were used via the ‘share screen’ function of Blackboard Collaborate. For the tutorial, an introductory PowerPoint presentation was designed and a screencast deposited on YouTube as a contingency plan. Multiple choice questionnaires (MCQs) were set up on the Poll Everywhere platform, and short answer questions (SAQs) were included in an additional PowerPoint presentation. After each MCQ/SAQ, students were given time to decide on an answer (individually via Poll Everywhere), followed by an interactive discussion.

The overall length of each tutorial session was 50 minutes. Individual anonymous post-hoc feedback was collected to evaluate student opinions on the usefulness, overall style, and delivery. In addition, a technical report and an experience log was collated and submitted to the Technology Enhanced Learning team. Finally, the content, deliver and potential changes were discussed with students and peers during a visit to the UoRM.

Impact

During the tutorials no serious technical issues were encountered, although students at UoRM did experience slight lagging in their connections (with video and audio becoming slightly out of sync). Students showed high levels of interaction and successfully used most of the Blackboard Collaborate features. Importantly, other than in UoR in-class tutorials, students engaged and interacted early on. This is reflected in the feedback collected after the first session (“I like how it is interactive and fun”). The tutorial format also seemed to help students to revise the content of the lectures (“Useful to enhance my biology knowledge”, “It helps me to revise”, “It helps me to find out my difficulties with previous lectures”). Moreover, students appreciated that the session was different compared to conventional lectures (“It was different from just sitting in the classroom and listening to lecturers”, “it was another way of learning outside the classroom”). Last but not least, it was appreciated that the tutorials were run by Reading-based staff that the 2+2 students would meet during their two years in Reading (“can meet Dr Widera and learn from him”). No negative feedback was received.

Follow up

Following the feedback received, further tutorials involving other lecturers teaching on the PM1A module will be developed and implemented.

Supporting diversity through targeted language skills development

Alison Fenner, International Study and Language Institute                                                                                                         j.a.fenner@reading.ac.uk

Overview

The project responded to a perceived need for additional support in the development of oral language skills among some students learning a language with the Institution-Wide Language Programme. It took place within the context of the IWLP Language Learning Advisors’ peer advisory scheme. There were clear benefits in terms of the development of coaching skills and increased employability for the Advisors, and improved oral performance and confidence for the students they supported.

Objectives

  • To provide and monitor targeted support sessions in oral work and pronunciation
  • To improve student speaking skills and confidence
  • To work with and train selected Language Learning Advisors in this area
  • To create a body of material for use in future years
  • To disseminate the practice through student presentation within a School staff forum

Context

With the increasingly international nature of IWLP classes, it has become evident that some groups of students at beginner level find oral work and pronunciation more of a challenge than others, depending on their linguistic background. (For example, some Asian students may find European pronunciation challenging and vice versa.) The Language Learning Advisor scheme, which I have run since 2012 and which usually operates on a one-to-one basis, was extended to small groups of students to provide additional support in this area.

Implementation

As IWLP German Co-ordinator, I decided to set up these sessions with German beginner classes in 2016-17. I had already trained a cohort of Language Learning Advisors for the year. Advisors (students recruited from the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies and higher IWLP classes) normally offer one-to-one advice to IWLP and DMLES students on the acquisition of effective language learning strategies and independent learning.  I invited three Advisors with relevant experience, ability and pedagogic commitment to run regular small-group sessions with the emphasis on oral work and pronunciation. I successfully applied for PLanT funding to pay the students for the sessions. During the year, I held feedback meetings with the Advisors in which they shared their experience and developing expertise. I also sought feedback from the IWLP students attending the sessions, and was able to perceive a clear improvement in oral performance and confidence in students in my own beginners’ German class. In June 2017 the Advisors and I presented the project to ISLI staff at the ISLI Learning and Teaching Research Forum.

Impact

The project worked well. The beginner students reported an improvement in pronunciation and increased class participation and confidence, and spoke of enjoyable learning sessions and friendly and helpful Advisors. The Advisors acquired intensive coaching skills which will benefit their future employability as well as the opportunity to present to University of Reading staff within a tutor forum. The Advisors’ reports on their activities and experience gained this year can be passed on to future Advisors.

Reflections

The enthusiasm and commitment of the Advisors were a major factor in the success of the project. They were willing to commit time and effort and enjoyed seeing improvement in ‘their’ students. They are all interested in teaching as a future career and so were doubly motivated in developing their teaching skills. We had some very useful meetings in which students’ needs were analysed, and ideas and activities were shared and their effectiveness evaluated. The students with whom they worked appreciated the help and the benefits to their oral performance. The only challenge was to maintain regular attendance at the small-group sessions at times when students had a particularly heavy workload; at times attendance decreased, which is perhaps unavoidable since the sessions were not compulsory.

 

 

 

 

 

Closing the gap! Bringing together students studying at different campuses using Blackboard Collaborate

Kate Fletcher, Sue Slade, Kevin Flint, Raj Vaiyapuri, Wee Kiat Ong, School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy; Pharmacy

Context

MPharm Programme: Introduction to Professionalism and Practice

Undergraduate (UG) students, Part 1

Number of participants in sessions: 20 (9 in the UK and 11 in Malaysia)
Session length: 60 minutes

Description

 Part 1 students studying the MPharm course at both the Reading and Malaysia campuses were
brought together using Blackboard Collaborate to compare Pharmacy Practice in each country.
 Kate wanted to encourage crossover between campuses and for students to get to know each
other before the Malaysian students came over to study in the UK for Part 3.
 Students based at each campus logged in to Collaborate on individual computers with a
headset.
 Both groups of students were in the Clinical Skills Suite on each campus with laptops and
headsets.
 Staff supported students in the physical rooms to get them settled and set-up.
 The session was designed around set discussion activities and students separated out into
groups that included students from both campuses, using the ‘Breakout room’ feature.

Impact

 Collaborate provided an effective way for students studying at different campuses to learn
together and begin to build relationships.
 Close cooperation was needed between the UK and Malaysian staff to set up the session.
 Students quickly picked-up how to use the tool, were using the Chat tool without prompting
and easily able to undertake the tasks in the breakout rooms.
 The session was activity based and students were discussing with each other. This made best
use of the technology to facilitate communication.
 There were good levels of interaction between students using the audio and video. However,
the first time people use the system interaction can initially be awkward.
 Some cultural differences were perceived. Malaysian students were quieter in the
conversations and UK-based students tended to lead.

Thoughts and reflections

 Kate and Sue were thoroughly prepared for the session and had rehearsed how to use the
‘breakout rooms’ and written a session plan with timings.
 Don’t expect to get as much done as you would in a face-to-face session or allow more time for
activities in this environment.
 As the students were located in the same room together they were spread out to minimise the
transfer of noise between them when talking. Pharmacy had a large enough room to allow this.
Feedback from students indicated they could easily take part from home.
 Pharmacy needed to purchase suitable headsets that could be re-used by different students.
Allow sufficient time to arrange ordering from IT.
 Make sure Chrome is installed on the University computers students are going to use.
 There was a significant investment of time and a learning curve to set up the session, as this
was the first time they had attempted this. Future sessions should be easier to facilitate.
 It’s not yet possible to save what has been written on the whiteboards in the breakout rooms.

(Use the PC – Microsoft Clipping tool https://support.microsoft.com/engb/help/13776/windows-use-snipping-tool-to-capture-screenshots
or MAC keyboard shortcut to take a screenshot of the whiteboard.)

 

What a Cultural Adventure: Moving from a Career in Industry to Academia!

Shelen W H Ho, Henley Business School, University of Reading Malaysia                            shelen.ho@henley.edu.my

“Academia isn’t for everyone!”  I was warned by my business associates when I decided to become a full-time academic in 2016, after spending decades working outside of the enclaves of universities and research facilities.  In the past, industry professionals had little to offer to institutions driven by grant acquisitions and research publications.  However, in recent years, there has been an increasing emphasis being placed on producing graduates with relevant work skills. Academic institutions have become more open to receiving these professionals with years of real-world experience to bring practical innovation into university courses.

In my practice as a business consultant, I was often chosen to be a member of clients’ recruitment panels to provide an outsider’s perspective to the assessment of candidates. There were common grievances voiced by clients that new graduates today lacked critical thinking skills, attention to details, interpersonal competencies and ownership attitude.  The Malaysian Higher Education Ministry has also urged higher education institutions to change the process of teaching and learning to produce holistic, balanced and entrepreneurial graduates with life and career skills, who could adapt and fill in jobs ‘that are yet to exist’ in the 4th industrial revolution (4IR).  With opportunities on the rise and my passion to contribute back to the community, I took a leap of faith from client meetings and corporate environment to meeting students and adapting to a university’s rhythm.

I have to admit it was a culture shock when I started my job as an associate professor at the Henley Business School in the Malaysian campus.  I knew the working culture and work values would be different but experiencing them required me to make connections between what I knew.  I was so used to rushing around everywhere as a consultant and the rhythm in the university was a major source of frustration for me right from the start.  I have since accepted the slower rhythm but not a convert, as yet.  Another peculiar difference is demand expectations.  In business, I needed to have the answers all the time and be answerable every minute, meeting the briefs on time and on budget.  My time belonged to somebody else and I was never really left alone. The demand is different in academia; at least that was what I was told and had observed.  I am allowed to not have the definite answer.  I get time to reflect.  I can explore and think about it first.  However, I also get to be on-call for students, which I find quite enjoyable as students are why I am here after all. A further intriguing experience is with project demands.  The fast-paced, productivity-driven corporate environment leaves little time for eureka moments that come from repeated failure with commercial projects.  In the business world, an approach that does not work or that produces sub-par results is quickly discarded.  That is often frustrating.  On the other hand, in academia, there is time, freedom and support to ask the hard questions, make mistakes and come to inconclusive results.  A failed experiment or a faulty hypothesis does not mean the end of a research project; it could still contribute to statistically significant findings. That is elation to intellectual curious researchers.

As a business consultant, one activity that I looked forward to was invitations to provide training in corporates.  Many of my consultancy associates shared the same desire.  I have the opportunity to train managers and executives in many multinational corporations and public organizations over the years.  When I became an academic, I thought I was well-equipped for teaching with my training experiences.  However, I soon realized that training is not quite the same as teaching. Teaching seeks to impart knowledge and provide information.  Teachers are expected to have the latest subject-matter knowledge and an understanding of pedagogical processes to fill the knowledge gap in students and enable them to achieve the intended learning outcomes. A trainer, on the other hand, has narrow set of items to cover during training sessions.  The focus is less on having a broad knowledge base for the subjects, and more on the behavioral aspects of the trainees.  The aim is to develop certain competencies. For instance, with applied management subjects, it is possible to teach someone about the theory of conflicts management, but that knowledge will not make them a good conflict manager. Specific, practical and applied training is necessary to use abstract knowledge to learn or master a skill. A common feedback from employers about university graduates is that they do not have the practical skills that are necessary to thrive in the workplace. Although many universities and institutions are excellent at teaching, the training component is found in practice to either fall short or is non-existent.

It became clear to me that both teaching and training should be complementary to meet the challenges of educational transformation for the 4IR.  I am a certified professional trainer. However, I needed to learn how to be a professional teacher. Working in partnership with the Centre for Quality and Support Development (CQSD) and the dedicated mentoring by my colleagues at the centre was invaluable to my achievement so far with teaching and learning.  The acknowledgement of my effort with the HEA Senior Fellowship award recently was totally unexpected when I started teaching in 2016.  However, it was the journey to certification that was most rewarding as it has engendered enthusiasm in me and provided me with new insights and new meaning to my past and current work as a facilitator of learning for the future generation of leaders.  The recognition has provided me with a conduit to move forward in the world of teaching and learning.

To conclude, as with many other universities, the University of Reading has adopted the strategy of curriculum internationalisation to prepare our graduates for employment in the global economy.  Internationalisation of the curriculum is the incorporation of an international and intercultural dimension into the preparation, delivery and outcomes of a program of study (Leask, 2009). However, as advocated by Zimitat (2008), ‘internationalizing curricula is not just about content, it also requires changes in pedagogy to encourage students to develop critical skills to understand forces shaping their discipline and challenge accepted viewpoints’.  Here, teachers play the key leading role. As reported in the 3rd global survey report by the International Association of Universities (IAU), ‘the interest, capacity and involvement of faculty members appears to act as a major barrier to moving forward’ (Egron-Polak et al, 2010).  This sharing of my personal adventure could perhaps provide some insights and add to the rich picture for colleagues and peers to have a better understanding of the motivations and challenges experienced by faculty moving between industry and academia. The support for these faculty members could then be more targeted, their competencies and energy better harnessed to build internationalization knowledge and readiness for the institution to reach the internationalization goals.  In line with the UKPSF professional values of inclusiveness and respect for diverse community (V1, V2), I wish to end with a popular quote by a bestselling author, the late Steven R. Covey, ‘strength lies in differences, not in similarities’.

References

Egron-Polak, E., Hudson, R., Gacel-Avila, J., & International Association of Universities. (2010). Internationalization of higher education: Global trends, regional perspectives: IAU 3rd global survey report. Paris: International Association of Universities, IAU (pp. 77-78).

Leask, B. (2009) Using formal and informal curricula to improve interactions between home and international students. Journal of Studies in International Education, Vol. 13, No. 2, 205-221.

Zimitat, C. (2008). Student Perceptions of the Internationalisation of the Curriculum. Chapter 13. In L. Dunn and M. Wallace (Eds), Teaching in Transnational Higher Education (pp. 135-147), London: Routledge.

Outward mobility and real world engagement

Alison Nader and Ali Nicholson, Lecturers, International Study and Language Institute                                                                                            a.m.nader@reading.ac.uk     a.v.nicholson@reading.ac.uk                                                                                                                                                    Year of activity 2017/18

Overview

For the past 2 years UoR students taking IWLP French 20 credit optional modules have had the opportunity to undertake 2 weeks of intensive language study in France at CUEF, Université Grenoble Alpes.

Students arrange their own travel and accommodation with light touch support from IWLP staff.

They now have the possibility to take a credit module based on their experience, in the academic year following their return from France.

 IWLP Students arriving at the CUEF, Université Grenoble Alpes, France

Objectives

  • To give students the opportunity to study and live independently in France for a short period of time.
  • To improve language skills, in particular speaking and listening in real world situations.
  • To offer the opportunity to use their real world experience on a credit bearing IWLP language module.

Context

  • In SSLC meetings and end of year module evaluations, students had been asking for the opportunity to spend a short period of time in France.
  • The placement needed to fit around the students’ core studies.
  • Recognition by UUki that outward mobility experiences are increasingly important for graduate attributes.
  • University of Reading’s ambitious outward mobility targets.

Implementation

Initially this experience was conceived of as a trip abroad, responding to student requests for recommendations of where they could go to take a short intensive language course.  Two members of IWLP staff researched short language courses offered by French universities.  Having identified CUEF, a part of l’Université Grenoble Alpes, as having a suitable offering, IWLP staff visited the Centre, met the French staff and observed teaching on the courses.

Before leaving for France, students are supported with briefing sessions given by IWLP French staff but have to organise travel, accommodation and where necessary visas, themselves.

The classes take place outside UoR term time and to date students have either chosen to go for two weeks during the Easter holidays or in early September.

In the first year 2016-17, 10 students took up the opportunity and this year the expectation is that numbers will increase, 10 have just returned and more will be travelling out in September.  Students have to pay the fees, travel and accommodation.  So far each cohort has received a small bursary from UoR but this is not guaranteed.

In 2017-18 students were offered the opportunity to select a credit bearing placement module on their return.  A small number of students opted to take the module and the improvement in their ability to undertake an oral presentation in French was truly remarkable.

Impact

From the student perspective, their competence in speaking and listening in French demonstrably improved.  The improvement for those who took the credit bearing module was measurable from comparative assessment results before and after the placement.

Students also acquired transferable skills and increased their independence, confidence and motivation.  In feedback one of the students commented: “going by yourself from a country to another implies responsibility and independence” and another mentioned how the experience increased her general confidence.

These gains also came from practising in a real world situation and, for those who had not visited France before, a greater cultural understanding of the country where the language is spoken.  Increased linguistic confidence and cultural awareness was cited in feedback by a student who commented on his motivation for going on the placement, to improve his French as well as to “really understand what it takes to learn French by understanding the culture”.

The mobility opportunity also contributes to the UoR Global engagement strategy and outward mobility targets.

Reflections

Quite apart from an increase in students’ linguistic competence, they gain in independence and heighten their intercultural awareness.  The cohesive group that went to France this spring are themselves from eight different countries.  This time, as a “bonus” they experienced at first hand strikes and blockades of university buildings: coping with all of this strengthened their group cohesion.

In general, on their return, students are enthusiastic ambassadors for learning a language.

Short-term mobility opportunities can attract students who would not be able to go abroad for longer periods, though Home students have said that even a small study abroad bursary or help with the travel costs would encourage more of them to take up this opportunity.

Follow up

Scaling up the offering may be challenging from the organisation and staffing point of view, however it is hoped to extend the opportunity to other languages in the near future.

As the IWLP modules are offered to students from Schools across the university, the mobility placements can contribute to the internationalisation of students university-wide.

Ensuring inclusion, finding sustainable ways of financially supporting students and resourcing staffing are top priorities for future development.

Links

https://www.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/iu_bc_outwd_mblty_student_perception_sept_15.pdf 

http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/reports/Documents/International/UK-Strategy-for-outward-student-mobility-2017-2020.pdf

http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/files/cqsd/University_of_Reading_Curriculum_Framework_for_web_with_infographic.pdf

Placement Modules

https://www.reading.ac.uk/modules/document.aspx?modP=LA1FP3&modYR=1819

https://www.reading.ac.uk/modules/document.aspx?modP=LA1FP4&modYR=1819

https://www.reading.ac.uk/modules/document.aspx?modP=LA1FP5&modYR=1819

 

Outward mobility and real world engagement

Alison Nader and Ali Nicholson, Lecturers, International Study and Language Institute                                                                                                        a.m.nader@reading.ac.uk     a.v.nicholson@reading.ac.uk                                                            Year of activity 2017/18

Overview

For the past 2 years UoR students taking IWLP French 20 credit optional modules have had the opportunity to undertake 2 weeks of intensive language study in France at CUEF, Université Grenoble Alpes.

Students arrange their own travel and accommodation with light touch support from IWLP staff.

They now have the possibility to take a credit module based on their experience, in the academic year following their return from France.

              IWLP Students arriving at the CUEF, Université Grenoble Alpes, France

Objectives

  • To give students the opportunity to study and live independently in France for a short period of time.
  • To improve language skills, in particular speaking and listening in real world situations.
  • To offer the opportunity to use their real world experience on a credit bearing IWLP language module.

Context

  • In SSLC meetings and end of year module evaluations, students had been asking for the opportunity to spend a short period of time in France.
  • The placement needed to fit around the students’ core studies.
  • Recognition by UUki that outward mobility experiences are increasingly important for graduate attributes.
  • University of Reading’s ambitious outward mobility targets.

Implementation

Initially this experience was conceived of as a trip abroad, responding to student requests for recommendations of where they could go to take a short intensive language course.  Two members of IWLP staff researched short language courses offered by French universities.  Having identified CUEF, a part of l’Université Grenoble Alpes, as having a suitable offering, IWLP staff visited the Centre, met the French staff and observed teaching on the courses.

Before leaving for France, students are supported with briefing sessions given by IWLP French staff but have to organise travel, accommodation and where necessary visas, themselves.

The classes take place outside UoR term time and to date students have either chosen to go for two weeks during the Easter holidays or in early September.

In the first year 2016-17, 10 students took up the opportunity and this year the expectation is that numbers will increase, 10 have just returned and more will be travelling out in September.  Students have to pay the fees, travel and accommodation.  So far each cohort has received a small bursary from UoR but this is not guaranteed.

In 2017-18 students were offered the opportunity to select a credit bearing placement module on their return.  A small number of students opted to take the module and the improvement in their ability to undertake an oral presentation in French was truly remarkable.

Impact

From the student perspective, their competence in speaking and listening in French demonstrably improved.  The improvement for those who took the credit bearing module was measurable from comparative assessment results before and after the placement.

Students also acquired transferable skills and increased their independence, confidence and motivation.  In feedback one of the students commented: “going by yourself from a country to another implies responsibility and independence” and another mentioned how the experience increased her general confidence.

These gains also came from practising in a real world situation and, for those who had not visited France before, a greater cultural understanding of the country where the language is spoken.  Increased linguistic confidence and cultural awareness was cited in feedback by a student who commented on his motivation for going on the placement, to improve his French as well as to “really understand what it takes to learn French by understanding the culture”.

The mobility opportunity also contributes to the UoR Global engagement strategy and outward mobility targets.

Reflections

Quite apart from an increase in students’ linguistic competence, they gain in independence and heighten their intercultural awareness.  The cohesive group that went to France this spring are themselves from eight different countries.  This time, as a “bonus” they experienced at first hand strikes and blockades of university buildings: coping with all of this strengthened their group cohesion.

In general, on their return, students are enthusiastic ambassadors for learning a language.

Short-term mobility opportunities can attract students who would not be able to go abroad for longer periods, though Home students have said that even a small study abroad bursary or help with the travel costs would encourage more of them to take up this opportunity.

Follow up

Scaling up the offering may be challenging from the organisation and staffing point of view, however it is hoped to extend the opportunity to other languages in the near future.

As the IWLP modules are offered to students from Schools across the university, the mobility placements can contribute to the internationalisation of students university-wide.

Ensuring inclusion, finding sustainable ways of financially supporting students and resourcing staffing are top priorities for future development.

Links

https://www.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/iu_bc_outwd_mblty_student_perception_sept_15.pdf

http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/reports/Documents/International/UK-Strategy-for-outward-student-mobility-2017-2020.pdf

http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/files/cqsd/University_of_Reading_Curriculum_Framework_for_web_with_infographic.pdf


Placement Modules

 

https://www.reading.ac.uk/modules/document.aspx?modP=LA1FP3&modYR=1819

https://www.reading.ac.uk/modules/document.aspx?modP=LA1FP4&modYR=1819

https://www.reading.ac.uk/modules/document.aspx?modP=LA1FP5&modYR=1819

 

Five ideas on how to use Chromebooks in the Classroom By Daniela Standen FHEA

As part of my quest to encourage students to learn broadly as well as encouraging them to engage with Italian deeply (J. Biggs, 2003), I have experimented with using the Chromebooks, which have been recently purchased by ISLI (International Study and Language Institute), in the classroom. Chromebooks are a great tool: they are quick to set up, instinctive to use and create an immediate buzz in the class.  If you don’t have Chromebooks available, these activities can also be done by asking students to bring their own laptops.

I have been using them with my IWLP Italian stage 3 class (students transitioning from A2 to B1 Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) and my stage 1 (complete beginner class).

I found that through this work students were pushed to explore language away from their comfort zone and to apply language to practical purposes. More generally though, students worked collaboratively and reflected on own and fellow students’ work.

Read on for 5 suggestions on in-class activities with Chrome books. They are specific for language learning but could be adapted easily. Most are quick to prepare as it is the students that do the work, others require more preparation:  for example the creation of a class google account.

Really good learning came out of these activities and students found them interesting and engaging. I’d be interested to hear from you if you decide to try/adapt some of these activities in your classes d.standen@reading.ac.uk


Activity 1: Working together / Peer learning

Topic:    Preparing a set of common questions for an interview

Procedure:         Students develop a common set of questions to interview native speakers individually.  Students share the results of interviews and draw conclusions. In pairs, working from the class google account, students work on a different aspect of the interview. Students then read through the questions written by the other pairs and give each other feedback on accuracy and content.  A final set of question is agreed.

Learning outcomes:        Formulating questions, proof reading, giving and receiving peer feedback.


Activity 2: Using Tutor Feedback to improve writing skills

Topic:    Replying to a question on an on-line forum

Procedure:         Decide on the question you want to ask. Students work individually. Using Chrome books and the class google account.  Students start working on their answer, the teacher also logs into the account from the main computer. The teacher can access each student’s piece of work and using the ‘suggesting tool’ can make suggestions onto the student document in real time.  Work can be flashed on the smartboard to highlight common errors or share good work.  Students continue working on their piece from home and demonstrate how they have used the feedback to improve it. Students have access to each other’s documents and can also learn from looking at each other’s work.

Learning outcomes:        Writing (replying to a forum), improving work following feedback 


Activity 3: Using software in a foreign language

Topic:    Advertising an event

Procedure:         Decide on the type of event.  Students work in groups to gather information and make decisions. Using Chrome books and the class google account, which had been set up to be in Italian students create a poster using ‘google slides’ student create a poster.  All the commands within google are in Italian and students have to navigate the software in the target language.  While working on the poster, students compile a glossary of the various commands and create a Quizlet set. As the students are creating the posters, the teacher also logs into the google account and can flash the posters on the Smart board suggesting corrections and showing good examples of work. Students present their poster to the class.

Learning outcomes:        Developing vocabulary relating to operating software, agreeing and disagreeing, expressing a point of view, IT literacy and employability 


Activity 4:  Fact finding

Topic:    Music.

Procedure:         Before working on a song give the Chrome books to the students, and ask them to work in pairs to find some specific information about the song and the singer. Suggest a couple of websites but leave them free to choose other sources so long as they are in the target language.  Students share with the class the information they have found.

Learning outcomes:        Reading to find specific information, summarise, speaking, peer learning 


Activity 5: Fact finding

Topic:    Applying for a volunteering position.

Procedure:         Find a website with volunteering opportunities. Give the Chromebooks out and ask the students to find an opportunity they would like to apply for.  Students discuss why they have chosen that opportunity; complete an application form; and role play interviewing for the role.

Learning outcomes:        Reading skimming and finding specific information, talking about interests and their own abilities, completing forms, development of pragmatic skills, employability


 Presented at the ISLI Technology Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group 14th March 2017

 

Subject specific English, academic, and professional skills for NUIST students in Chemistry

Professor Elizabeth Page, School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy; Aaron Woodcock, International Study and Language Institute
e.m.page@reading.ac.uk, a.e.w.woodcock@reading.ac.uk

Overview

16399Two complementary modules within the Department of Chemistry, English Language for Chemists (CH3ENG) and Health and Safety and Professional Skills (CH3NUI), were created to support students recruited from the Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology (NUIST) on the BSc Applied Chemistry 3+1 programme.

Objectives

  • Create bespoke modules that would build upon and refine BSc Applied Chemistry 3+1 programme students’ skills for the practice of Applied Chemistry in a UK academic context and future employment.
  • Improve students’ subject-specific English skills.
  • Ensure strong collaboration between the Department of Chemistry and the International Study and Language Institute (ISLI).

Context

While students from NUIST undertake the Pre-sessional English Programme and have access to in-sessional tuition through the Academic English Programme (AEP) within ISLI, these programmes provide an understanding of general academic English, but are unable to provide students with subject specific English skills. For the study of Applied Chemistry students recruited from NUIST require an understanding of a highly specialised lexis and communicative skills suitable for the context of working in a laboratory and writing reports.

Implementation

A strong collaborative approach between the Department of Chemistry and ISLI was taken in order to set up the modules and ensure that the modules were constructed in such a way that best supports students from NUIST. The core design of the modules was undertaken by the Programme Director of the BSc Applied Chemistry programme, the AEP Programme Director, and the Programme Director of the Visiting Student Programme.

Initially a single 20-credit module incorporating health and safety training, professional skills and academic English for chemists was conceived. As this module was developed, however, it was decided that as English language proficiency is a central element of all these components, it would be optimal to divide the module into two complementary 10-credit modules, with tutors from ISLI leading on instruction in English language for academic Chemistry and tutors from the Department of Chemistry leading on health and safety training and professional skills.

Within CH3ENG students were provided with training in Chemistry-specific English language. As CH3ENG was specifically designed in conjunction with CH3NUI, it was able to be mapped onto the module, supporting its delivery and ensuring that students were provided with the language skills necessary to achieve CH3NUI’s learning outcomes. The module sought to improve students’ written and oral communication, as well as their lexis. In terms of summative assessments, students completed a written project, an oral presentation and a class test. In addition to these, students were provided with multiple feedback opportunities from formative assessments across the duration of the module.

CH3NUI provided students with training for working in a UK chemical laboratory and carrying out independent research in a practical-based investigation.  Assessment was conducted through a test on health and safety and risk assessment, the creation of a summary of an article, group work activity culminating in the production of a video and accompanying report, and the writing of a letter of application. In addition, students were invited to receive summative feedback on drafts of their assessments.

Impact

The collaboration between the Department of Chemistry and ISLI produced two successful modules which have eased the transition of international students to studying Applied Chemistry. Student feedback on the modules has demonstrated that students have noticed an improvement in their language, academic, and professional skills.

Reflections

The delivery of successful modules was only possible as a result of the close collaboration that occurred between the Department of Chemistry and ISLI, allowing two strongly complementary modules to be designed. While coordinating across two departments can be difficult to achieve, the efforts of staff members from both ensured that synergy was able to be achieved. Anyone seeking to establish a similar set of modules to aid the transition of international students should be aware that it is necessary to engage in the collaborative process fully with partners across the University.

By collaborating it was possible to ensure that the modules developed in ways that were of most benefit to its students: tutors on CH3NUI were able to regularly feedback to tutors on CH3ENG students’ needs regarding academic English skills, allowing needs to be responded to as they emerged.

CH3NUI prepared students for the expectations of the UK academic and professional contexts, providing skills that will assist students in not only their academic study, but also their careers after graduation.

The use of these modules to develop the skills of students on the BSc Applied Chemistry 3+1 programme has been beneficial across the programme, allowing students to perform confidently and precisely in other modules, and to work well with students enrolled on programmes other than the BSc Applied Chemistry 3+1 programme.

Follow up

Since the first running of these modules there have been some small adjustments made, with some of the learning outcomes originally within CH3ENG being assigned for coverage by CH3NUI, allowing CH3ENG to focus primarily on developing students’ communication skills. Assessment on CH3ENG has also been refined, with the written project being replaced by three written tasks, allowing students access to increased opportunity for feedback.

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