CAA Global Education Conference 2011- Expanding ACCESS to International Students


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Session Title: Expanding ACCESS to International Students

Session Abstract: Mason’s recent foray in international education is an innovative new foundation year program for international freshmen designed to increase their academic English language skills while enrolled as full-time students. The presenters will discuss the historical development of the program (beginning with a university encounter with INTO); its academic foundation utilizing cross-departmental collaboration between university and intensive English programs; its implementation this past fall providing cohort-style, credit-bearing, custom curriculum, along with academic and student services designed for students studying abroad; research-backed program revisions and implications for comprehensive approaches to language-supported internationalization in U.S. higher education, and the development of a new university entity developed to manage administration of the program which builds further on interdepartmental partnerships.


* Nicole Sealey, Director, Center for International Student Access, George Mason University
* Rick Davis, Associate Provost, Undergraduate Education, George Mason University
* Karyn Mallett, Assistant Director, English Language Institute, George Mason University
* Ghania Zgheib, Faculty, English Language Institute and Ph.D. Student, Graduate School of Education, George Mason University

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  • RICK: (5-10 minutes) Setting stage
  • RICK (5 minutes)University’s interest/vision for creating these programsCreation of an entity to manage and house w/ academicsCollaboration to build
  • NICOLE (2 minute)Describe basic program elements
  • KARYN (1.5 minutes)Theoretical Bases for developing language support beyond ELI and with ELIELI at Mason = 2011 is the 30 year anniversary of the ELI (Mason’s IEP); we’re established, we have a proven track record of success; we are connected to faculty/administrators throughout the university = partnering with CISA allows both sides to capitalize on what we know works and the program that we have spent years and years refiningIntensive English language instruction = our intensive English language program has 7 levels from near-beginner to undergraduate and graduate transition (1-2 academic courses with in-class and out-of-class support) as well as a full tutoring staff for individualized instruction. While the IEP is takes an integrated skills approach, the highest levels of the program directly address academic skills/genres in preparation for full academic study. Therefore, the notion of setting up the language-support for CISA’s ACCESS program presented an opportunity to take our current program to the next level, closing the gap between the IEP and academic coursework that we have known/felt for years.
  • Karyn (1 min) One aspect of ELI-CISA collaboration is entrance testing for non-ELI ACCESS applicants as well as exit testing for all ACCESS students. However, since there are a variety of language proficiency tests out there, we worked for several weeks on the development of a chart that would streamline assessment measures and communicate a clear range to non-language-specialists across the university. A colleague in the ELI (also the ACCESS assessment coordinator), Julie Kim, developed the concordance chart.The process of researching and developing the concordance chart was quite an endeavor (this will be a well-received fact among those involved with language assessment), since the process of deciding proficiency entrance/exit thresholds requires a deep awareness of how/what each test measures, how tests compare with regard to raw scores on different scales (for each sub-section and overall). The resulting ELI concordance chart is correlated to the Common European Framework Reference scale. We decided, based on the new chart, that students could probably come into ACCESS at the B1 level (regardless of what test they took). We expect that students will complete ACCESS at the B2 level or higher (with no sub-score below B1+), and we will be conducting our first exit proficiency assessment of the ACCESS pilot group in April.
  • NICOLE (2 minutes)Extra & co-curricular endeavors& contributions to university efforts at internationalization
  • Nicole (3 minutes)Highlight collaborations occurring all across campus
  • NICOLE (3-4 minutes) Financial model Human Resources Program enrollment goals
  • KARYN (1.5 minutes)A second piece of ELI support for ACCESS has been the development of a longitudinal study examining ACCESS students’ and ACCESS faculty experiences (review title, phases of research project, and data collected from student and faculty participants)
  • Karyn (1.5 minutes)Exploratory comparative case study analysis (faculty & students) for pilot year (i.e. phase I); descriptive goalsReview purpose (driving question) and participants
  • Ghania (1.5 minutes)Data = All surveys from fall and about 40% of transcribed student/faculty interviews have been coded and analyzed. So far, we have a number of themes developing. The project is longitudinal, so data-based findings and implications are very tentative at this point. All of the themes in yellow are ones that apply to both faculty and students. (In other words, the same/similar questions of faculty and students, so the data we have is comparable)
  • Ghania (2 minutes)Highlight: Of the themes mentioned, one issue of interest has to do with faculty/student perceived challenges; among the variety of challenges addressed by both groups survey and interview data, academic challenges were the most common. Here – ACCESS students’ perceptions of the most common academic challenges they faced. (bits of data are used to illustrate the kinds of things students said about these specific academic challenges)
  • Ghania (2 min)Here – ACCESS faculty perceptions of the most common challenges they faced when teaching academic content/skills to students. (bits of data are used to illustrate the kinds of things faculty said about these specific academic challenges) Issues = making content accessible to students at varied/developing levels of English proficiency; teaching not just academic content, but also the Western Educational system; evaluating students on a different set of criteria than other courses; teaching classroom expectations (studentship in US higher education)
  • Ghania (1 min)One of the themes that we have been interested in is students’ and faculty perceptions of academic writing, especially given the strength/comprehensiveness of Mason’s stacked writing program and WAC/WID programs. Here = a bit of data showing students’ varied descriptions of academic writing in general and, below that, a repeated finding that students (100% of the time at multiple points of data collection) have said that rubrics are helpful (especially when the teacher reviews the rubric with the class and then sticks with it when evaluating the students’ work) and individualized teacher feedback on student writing is helpful.
  • Ghania (1 minute (or less))One consideration with regard to producing academic texts for ACCESS students has to do with grammatical accuracy. Here = faculty perceptions on the importance of grammatical accuracy in ACCESS students’ success in the course (overall) all = some level of importance; blue = very important
  • KARYN (2 min)Beyond asking students to consider what they find helpful in terms of developing academic writing proficiency and asking faculty to consider the importance of grammatical correctness in terms of overall course success, we also asked faculty to consider what they think would be helpful/useful for teachers of international students at Mason (*Notice that 1 = a workshop on providing effective feedback on students’ writing; 2 = a collection of stories told from the ACCESS student perspective; 3 = a mentoring program for experienced ACCESS teachers to coach less experienced teachers) * Also note that 0% of faculty wanted a grammar workshop for faculty* This is an area of focus that we need to address = beginning with clear suggestions for faculty across the ACCESS curriculum on constructing assignment-based rubrics that tie in 1-2 major grammatical points. In terms of professional development opportunities offered through the ELI, I feel that the ELI needs to 1) lead in the process of reaching out and collaborating with academic faculty on rubric creation and 2) develop and teach basic metalinguistic terms that we can all use and be familiar with when discussing teacher feedback on ACCESS student writing.
  • NICOLE (3 minutes)Basic lessons and considerations from an administrative point of view[I suspect that some things may be adjusted before conference]
  • Karyn (1 min) (if we have time) Students have consistently stated their satisfaction with the ACCESS program. They recognize that it is difficult on a number of levels, but they do feel supported and that they are succeeding. Here = a few of their most memorable moments from this pilot year.
  • RICK (1-2 minutes)Any wrap up comments you might like to make (e.g., positive direction for future development)
  • CAA Global Education Conference 2011- Expanding ACCESS to International Students

    1. 1. Center for International Student Access<br />Where Innovation is Tradition<br />Expanding ACCESS to International Students<br />CAA Global Education Conference<br />March 25, 2011<br />Rick Davis, Associate Provost, Undergraduate Education<br />Nicole Sealey, Director, Center for International Student Access<br />Karyn Mallett, Assistant Director, English Language Institute<br />GhaniaZgheib, Faculty, English Language Institute and Ph.D. Student, Graduate School of Education, George Mason University<br />
    2. 2. Introduction<br />Mason’s international profile:<br /> a fortunate confluence of strategic intention and circumstance<br /> international goals articulated in strategic plan<br /> enrollment goals as part of a larger discussion of internationalization<br />
    3. 3. Internationalization at Mason<br />Expanding international student enrollment<br />• catalyst -- approach by outside partner<br />• decision to “DIY”<br />• conversations with stakeholders: ELI, academic programs, OIPS.<br />
    4. 4. Key Programmatic Components<br />Academic Coursework utilizing teaching methods supported by theory and research for content-based English language acquisition<br />Advising and acculturation support in an environment designed to elicit comfort and trust<br />Co-extracurricular programming and activities designed to engage and enrich international students in the larger university community<br />Coordinated university resources and assessment made possible though collaborative efforts among units and faculty<br />Successful Completion:<br />Passing Language Portfolio/Exam & Achievement of GPA of 2.0 <br />
    5. 5. Program Structure<br />FALL 2010 - 12 credits<br />CORE<br />Using innovative team teaching approach<br />Offered with in-class and after-class language support<br />Incorporating<br />Peer Advising from successful Mason Undergrads<br />Mathematics Placement Seminar<br />(0)<br />Additional tutoring made available during afternoon and evening hours <br />
    6. 6. Program Structure<br />Spring 2011 - 12-16 credits<br />CORE<br />Using innovative team teaching approach<br />Major Courses<br />(2-4)<br />English<br />Grammar<br />(Summer)<br />(3)<br />*Mathematics: Per placement exam<br />Additional tutoring made available during day and evening hours<br />
    7. 7. English Language Support<br /><ul><li>The English Language Institute at Mason</li></ul> Established<br /> 7-level IEP<br /> Integrated skills approach<br /><ul><li>Intensive English language instruction </li></ul>Graduate/Undergraduate Transition<br />ACCESS <br />
    8. 8. Language Requirement Threshold<br />
    9. 9. Co-Curricular Connections<br />Complementary Programming<br />Peer Mentorship Program <br />Peer Learning Partnership Program <br />Student Leadership Council <br />“Alumni” Program<br />Co-curricular Programming<br />Academic Support<br /> Advising & Acculturation<br /> Academic Success Workshops <br />Tutoring<br />Student Activities<br />Fall Themes: Academic/Acculturation <br />Spring Themes: Community & Self-directed Success<br />
    10. 10. Inter-area Coordination<br />Consultation with liaison from ELI (English Language Resource & Development Coordinator)<br />Faculty/Staff trainings<br />Cross-course coordinated assignments<br />Communication & resource sharing<br />Academic department resources & English language support resource coordination<br />Inter-unit activities and collaborations:<br /> University English Language Institute <br /> International Programs & Services (Immigration)<br /> Honors College<br /> Residence Life (Living-Learning Community)<br /> Diversity Programs & Services<br /> Peer Empowerment Program (Counseling Services)<br /> Student Involvement/University Life<br />
    11. 11. Enrollment Management<br />Financial Model: <br /><ul><li>Out of state tuition rates + flat‐rate premium cost
    12. 12. Short seminars set up as 0 credit courses, costing between $60‐250 each</li></ul>Enrollment forecasts: <br /><ul><li>Strategically planned with a fairly aggressive growth within the program
    13. 13. Modest increase of ~2% university-wide</li></ul>Shared Human Resources & Facilities:<br /><ul><li>Staff, faculty, course scheduling, and space coordination</li></ul>Recruitment:<br /><ul><li>Fairly aggressive recruitment schedule with visits covering Far East, Indonesia, and Middle East
    14. 14. Use of agents & tours
    15. 15. Current students, faculty, & community</li></li></ul><li>Program Assessment<br />Research project: “Assessing the pilot year of the access program: A mixed-method, longitudinal research study of ACCESS students’ and faculty experiences”<br />Phase I: Pilot year ACCESS 2010-2011<br />Phase II: ACCESS 2011-2012 & non-ACCESS multilingual populations on campus<br />Data Gathered from Participants<br />QL Data:<br /><ul><li>Monthly video-recorded classroom sessions (Students)
    16. 16. Three audio-recorded individual student interviews (Students)
    17. 17. Samples of student-generated writing (Students)
    18. 18. Three day-long audio-log sessions (Students)
    19. 19. Monthly video-recorded classroom sessions (Faculty)
    20. 20. One audio-recorded individual interview (Faculty)
    21. 21. Samples of student-generated writing with teacher feedback (Faculty)</li></ul>QN Data:<br /><ul><li>Weekly on-line ACCESS student surveys (Students)
    22. 22. Two individual English language assessments (Students)
    23. 23. Weekly on-line ACCESS faculty surveys (Faculty)</li></li></ul><li>Purpose & Participants<br />Driving question: <br />How do ACCESS students’ perceptions of the academic, linguistic, and cultural experiences compare with ACCESS-affiliated faculty feedback on teaching academic content/skills across the ACCESS-included disciplines? <br />ACCESS student participants for phase I<br /><ul><li>n = 21 for Fall 2010; 19 for Spring 2011
    24. 24. All students = multilingual
    25. 25. Majority = Asian or Arab; one student from Ivory Coast</li></ul>ACCESS faculty participants for phase I<br /><ul><li>n = 8 for Fall 2010; 6 for Spring 2011</li></li></ul><li>Findings: Themes<br />1. Factors that appeal to international students (i.e. things that students say make them feel engaged/motivated)<br />2. Perceived challenges (classroom, transition)<br />3. ACCESS faculty expectations and goals<br />4. Students’ perceptions of ACCESS faculty/program<br />5. ACCESS group/cohort dynamics<br />6. Language and cultural permeability <br />7. English language proficiency<br />8. Satisfaction with ACCESS program<br />9. Academic writing<br />10. Academic preparedness<br />11. Revision to ACCESS program<br />12. What works for ACCESS faculty<br />13. Students’ experiences at Mason<br />14. Faculty professional development and lived experiences<br />15. ACCESS teaching-related issues <br />
    26. 26. Perceived Academic Challenges: Students’ Perspective<br />“…but when we ask for clarification, the professor is always there to help…the problem is how to achieve the requirements”<br />“Note taking is a little bit of a problem but its being handled”<br />
    27. 27. Perceived Academic Challenges: Faculty Perspective<br />Tardiness<br />Absences<br />Quality of assignments/work<br />
    28. 28. ACCESS students’ viewpoints of academic writing<br /><ul><li>100% of the students reported that rubrics are helpful
    29. 29. 100% of the students reported that teachers’ feedback on their writing is helpful</li></ul>“In writing my second draft English essay, <br />I wrote way more than I expected.”<br />
    30. 30. Faculty perceptions on the importance of grammatical accuracy<br />
    31. 31. Research Implications<br />Individualized instruction/attention; <br />meeting students at varied and developing points of need; <br />and teaching students to become autonomous = these things have to be the stated goals across the ACCESS curriculum<br />
    32. 32. Implementation Considerations<br />Program development is always a work in progress; utilize functioning academic model already in place<br />Pre-implementation planning critical to success<br />Both upper administration and faculty buy-in a requirement<br />Programmatic buy-in essential to smooth the pathway to full major status<br />Student affairs must be fully enmeshed in program to assure student success<br />
    33. 33. Most Memorable Moments <br />Student<br />Faculty<br /><ul><li>“Study groups that were organized by ourselves…”
    34. 34. “Just the experience of having all the classes together”
    35. 35. “The trip to New York, so much fun and getting to know each other better”
    36. 36. “how excitingI was in the beginning of the semester. And how I was doing assignments happily because I knew it’s all for crated (credit)”
    37. 37. “The support classes help a lot”
    38. 38. “that I have to workreally hard”
    39. 39. “The first draft from an ACCESS student which demonstrated lack of exposure to American academic writing.”
    40. 40. “coming into class with everyone prepared and ready to participate and turn in assignments…”
    41. 41. “they really know how to express themselves in multiple nuanced ways (even beyond language)…”
    42. 42. “listening to their speeches; remarking how far they’ve come, how much more confident they are…”
    43. 43. “…more than language ability, motivationis the key factor to success”</li></li></ul><li>Conclusion<br />Measuring success of ACCESS as an institution-building activity:<br /> enrollment growth<br /> student progression to graduation and beyond<br /> campus culture<br /> test bed for innovative strategies with broader application<br />
    44. 44. Acknowledgements<br /> The authors would like to thank the following individuals at Mason whose contributions led to the development of the program reflected in the presentation:<br />Peter Stearns, Provost<br />Linda Schwartzstein, Vice Provost, Academic Affairs<br />Rick Davis, Associate Provost, Undergraduate Education<br />Ann Schiller, Assistant Vice President, Global Strategies<br />Andrew Flagel, Dean, University Admissions<br />Kathy Trump, Associate Dean, International University Life<br />Judith Green, Director, Office of International Programs & Services<br />John Pope, Director, English Language Institute<br />Terry Zawacki, Director, Writing Across the Curriculum<br />
    45. 45. This presentation is available at:<br />Thank you!<br />