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CityU: English For Science Case Study
 

CityU: English For Science Case Study

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This presentation draws on a course in English for Science at a university in Hong Kong, and describes the process of curriculum and syllabus design for that course, including a needs analysis and ...

This presentation draws on a course in English for Science at a university in Hong Kong, and describes the process of curriculum and syllabus design for that course, including a needs analysis and action research into new literacies and English for Specific Purposes.

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  • Note that EN2251 was specifically singled out as a course that could do with some revision
  • Note that I was extremely keen to do the adjunct course but practical constraints made this impossible
  • I should show them an example English for Science Project prompt here (Blind as a bat) and perhaps some of the student work, for example the lab reports and the scientific documentaries
  • Distribute a lab report and ask students to design categories for a rubric, view the documentary and ask what criteria would you use to evaluate?
  • It’s important to note here that we have not done a full analysis of the data yet, so the findings reported here are only preliminary. For the purposes of this presentation I should also focus on action that has been undertaken as a result of this study, probably with reference to the conclusions outlined in the report. This could perhaps be reported as ‘challenges’ for the course.
  • Answers to these questions for later: Q1. The academic literacy practices are varied (i.e. we gained a lot of insight into the kinds of tasks that students do and these can be outlined) Q2. I think it is fair to say that academics are not very demanding of their students’ in terms of academic literacy, until the students do a final year project at which point the academic writing must be of a high standard Q3. a. The idea of discipline specific courses is broadly supported as students do not have sufficient opportunities outside of class. b. The question arises as to how specific we should be in our support, given a rather diverse range of students and tasks, and a diverse range of final career destinations – this is one of the most interesting findings of the project in my view.
  • Note that in the previous needs analysis we had not been able to take into account the student voices (except for examples of texts), so this time we wanted to focus more on the student perspective.
  • Data was gathered in Semester B, 2008-2009, from January to May, 2009.
  • The challenge here arises partly due to the fact that we have such diversity, even within these two departments.

CityU: English For Science Case Study CityU: English For Science Case Study Presentation Transcript

  • Curriculum Design in English for Science: A Case Study in EAP
      • Dr. Christoph Hafner [email_address]
  • Outline
    • Background
    • Quick and dirty needs analysis
    • Curriculum design, materials design, piloting
      • Sample assessments
      • Sample student work
      • Sample materials
    • Expanded needs analysis
    • Further innovation
  • Background
  • About me
    • BA/LLB (Auckland), MA (Auckland), PhD (Macquarie)‏
    • Teaching: France, NZ, Hong Kong
    • Research interests: Legal language, Academic and professional literacy, Educational technology
  • About the course
    • ‘ Inherited’ EN2251: Communication Skills I
    • Course Aims:
      • This course aims to develop students’ ability to read a variety of scientific texts, and appropriately communicate (through speaking and writing) the findings of scientific projects in an academic context.
    • Target departments: Biology and Chemistry, Mathematics
  • External review: A call to action
    • When I first looked at the materials, one lacuna that seemed fairly obvious was a lack of attention to making students more aware of language in all its aspects , as summarized in the heading for this subsection. Where was material, I thought, that compared over-formal and over-informal documents; where was material that contrasted rhetorically successful and unsuccessful applications; where was material that discussed the pros and cons of making recommendations at the beginnings or endings of texts; what were the purposes of “good” and “bad” news letters, and how did these differences translate into textual structure and style? And so on (Swales, 2008).
  • Phases of course design
    • Quick and dirty needs analysis
      • Meeting program leaders
      • Meeting other staff
      • Collecting texts: e.g. examples of student work, science course syllabi, textbooks, lab manuals
    • Deciding approach
    • Designing curriculum
    • Designing materials
    • Delivering course
  • Quick and dirty needs analysis
  • Data sources
    • Meetings with programme leaders (3 BCH/MA)
    • Meetings/calls with other academic staff (4 BCH)
    • Examples of student work
    • Textbooks
    • Lab manuals
    • Course syllabi
    • Disciplinary sources, e.g. research articles, websites
  • Findings
    • Faculty perceptions of student needs:
      • Presentation skills, including esp. pronunciation
      • Writing skills, including esp. grammatical accuracy
      • Reading skills
    • Text analysis of lab reports
      • Confirmed a basic IMRD structure, with strong emphasis on the presentation and discussion of results
      • Elements like the procedure sometimes optional
  • Approaches considered
    • Adjunct course
    • Self-contained ESP course
    = Administrative nightmare! = Problem solved!
  • Design principles
    • Self-contained ESP course:
      • Task-based
      • Genre-based
      • Project-based: Authentic materials and tasks
      • Focus on language form and function
      • Promoting situated learning (Lave and Wenger, 1991; Gee, 2004)
  • Curriculum Design, Materials Design, Piloting
  • A messy process
    • Evaluation of existing materials
    • Curriculum and syllabus design, including assessment
    • Materials design – week by week, just in time
    • Piloting (?)
  • Outcomes and assessment
    • Individually read and summarize a short scientific article
    • In groups, orally present findings of an English for Science project*
    • In groups, present in writing (i.e. as a lab report) findings of an English for Science project*
    • Individually, utilize corpus tools to explore academic vocabulary (Thurstun and Candlin, 1997, 1998)
  • English for Science Project*
    • Provides an overarching structure for the course
    • Students complete a quasi-experiment in groups:
      • Research the topic provided
      • Collect data
      • Orally present and interpret findings (groups)
      • Present and interpret findings in writing (individuals)
  • Samples of student work
    • Lab report*
      • What criteria would you use to evaluate?
    • English for Science Documentary*
      • What criteria would you use to evaluate?
      • View
  • Principles of task design applied
    • Consciousness raising (Swales, 1990)
    • Focus on genre (Bhatia, 1991, 1993)
    • Focus on text
    • Focus on language use
    • Develop transferrable skills (Flowerdew, 1993)
    • Provide opportunities for interaction and production
  • Process of task design
    • Establish lesson aims
    • Locate suitable, relevant texts for modeling and analysis (print, audio, video)
      • Technical, but not too technical
      • A range of genres or focused examples
    • Design tasks
      • E.g. text analysis, categorization, language analysis
      • E.g. text transformation
    • Scaffold, scaffold, scaffold
  • Sample materials 1*
    • Imagine you are a student of Applied Biology, Applied Chemistry, Environmental Science and Management, Computing Mathematics.
      • How do you feel about taking a course in English as part of your degree?
      • What are your expectations for EN2251 Communication Skills I?
  • Sample materials 2*
    • Again, imagine you are a student of AB, AC, ESM, or CM.
      • How confident do you feel about writing a lab report introduction on a given topic?
      • What background information do you require, before you sit down to write?
  • Expanded needs analysis Academic literacy practices of university science students: A needs analysis (Departmental QTL fund)
  • Aims and questions
    • In order to better understand the difficulties that students face in their development of academic literacy, the following research questions were developed:
      • What are the academic literacy practices of students in the BCH and MA departments?
      • What literacy practices do academics expect their students to develop in the course of their studies? Do students meet these expectations?
      • What measures can be taken in order to further support students in the development of academic literacy in science subjects?
  • Approach adopted
    • Qualitative interpretive approach, which involved ongoing monitoring of students throughout the semester
    • Small-scale, sampling of students and academics in BCH and MA departments
      • 11 BCH students (incl. 3 FYP)
      • 5 MA students (incl. 2 FYP)
      • 5 faculty (3 BCH, 2 MA)
  • Data sources
    • Student background questionnaire
    • Weekly learning journals by students (weeks 3-12 Sem B)
    • Structured focus group and individual interviews with students (week 3, week 14)
    • Student academic and social communication logs (week 5, week 9)
    • Student work
    • Structured interviews with academics
  • Q1: Academic literacy practices
    • What are the academic literacy practices of students in the BCH and MA departments?
      • Very varied across disciplines, e.g. lab reports in Biology/Chemistry, Maths assignments
      • Students perceive that disciplinary courses provide few opportunities to practice academic writing in English
      • English perceived as a useful global lingua franca in the scientific world, an important instrument to achieve career goals
  • Q2: Expectations
    • What literacy practices do academics expect their students to develop in the course of their studies? Do students meet these expectations?
      • Students are expected to use appropriate academic language for their Final Year Project
      • Academic literacy and language use is not generally perceived as an issue in lab reports and assignments prior to this
  • Q3: Further measures
    • What measures can be taken in order to further support students in the development of academic literacy in science subjects?
      • Greater focus on academic literacy in disciplinary assignments: English across the curriculum
      • Maintain and refine the opportunities provided through EN discipline-specific courses, with a focus on transferrable skills: How specific should we be?
  • Further Innovation
      • Oral Presentations of Academic Projects: Developing Multiliteracies through English for Science (TDG 6000302)
  • Rationale
    • Catering to student diversity
    • Developing transferrable skills, including critical creativity in genre production
    • Aligning school-based literacy with ‘new literacies’ (New London Group, 1996; Knobel and Lankshear, 2007)
  • Intended learning outcomes
    • Create, share and discuss a multimedia documentary which presents the theory, method and findings of a quasi-experiment, and makes effective use of verbal and non-verbal delivery techniques;
    • Collaboratively evaluate the process and procedure of creating a documentary, and provide peer feedback on the collaborative aspects of the process;
    • Write a reflective report based on their experiences of preparing the documentary and their in-class discussions about it.
  • Scientific Documentary 1
    • Working in groups of 3, create a documentary of your English for Science Project, which documents the process and findings of your experiment. You should include:
      • A description of your topic of exploration, your aims and your hypothesis
      • An introduction with some background theory, and relevant diagrams if necessary
      • Details of the procedure used, photographs or other multimedia presentation of the materials and set-up
      • Explanation of your results, with tables and charts
      • A discussion of your results, comparing your results to your hypothesized results, and explaining sources of error
      • A brief conclusion
      • Any other relevant material needed to better understand your experiment and results
  • Scientific Documetary 2
    • Your documentary must include a range of media (e.g. video, audio, images, text, diagrams etc.), and all members of the project team must be involved in the narration of the documentary. Extra credit will be given for creative presentation of the information (e.g. use of interesting locations, interesting presentation techniques).
  • Initial student evaluation 1 0% 20% 51% 25% 3% 2.88 Q13. The skills I learned by doing the video project are relevant to my major subject 8% 66% 20% 5% 0% 3.78 Q12. The skills I learned by doing the video project are useful to me personally 7% 36% 44% 14% 0% 3.36 Q11. The skills I learned by doing the video project are useful to my career 10% 39% 41% 10% 0% 3.49 Q10. The skills I learned by doing the video project are useful for my studies SA A N D SD AVG
  • Initial student evaluation 2 7% 44% 36% 14% 0% 3.44 Q23. As a result of doing the video project I have improved my English listening skills 10% 63% 25% 2% 0% 3.81 Q22. As a result of doing the video project I have improved my English presentation skills 3% 41% 49% 7% 0% 3.41 Q21. As a result of doing the video project I have improved my English writing skills 0% 44% 44% 10% 2% 3.31 Q20. As a result of doing the video project I have improved my English reading skills 2% 71% 19% 8% 0% 3.66 Q19. As a result of doing the video project I have improved my English research skills 2% 41% 47% 10% 0% 3.34 Q18. As a result of doing the video project I have improved my English language skills SA A N D SD AVG
  • Where to from here?
    • Continue to promote the course with target departments
    • Continue to involve the target departments in course initiatives
    • Explore other avenues for collaboration
  • Questions?