CAA Global Education Conference 2011-Internationalization in Action


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Session Title: Internationalization in Action: Developing a Peer Learning Partnership with International and Honors Programs

Session Abstract: Mason’s ACCESS program for international students and Honor’s College are going where few freshmen have gone before: a pilot Peer Learning Partnership program is designed around variations of “Research Methods” courses. This program helps international students to strengthen developing research skills and Honors students to have hands-on opportunities to become more cross-culturally competent.


* Linda Schwartzstein, Vice Provost, Academic Affairs, George Mason University
* Zofia Burr, Dean, Honors College, George Mason University
* Nicole Sealey, Director, Center for International Student Access, George Mason University

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  • LINDA: (1 minute)
  • LINDA: (2 minutes)Are we co-locating or are we interacting? Are we creating cultural exchange or recreating the cultural silos that often exist as students, like most people, gravitate to those whose backgrounds are similar to their own? This is a common challenge for efforts to “internationalize the campus”. I think we’ve all come to recognize that much of the benefit for both domestic and international students may be lost if there is little interaction outside of the classroom. When Mason developed the Access program to provide a transition program for international students who needed extra English language support, we knew we needed to find ways to promote social interaction with domestic students, or we risked that these students, especially, would be isolated in their access cohort.At the same time, we were also looking for ways to enhance the experience of our Honors College students and to provide opportunities for them to contribute to the broader university community. While not unique to Honors students, these students are eager for community service and also for international experience. The Research methods course that was created for the Access students for their second semester was based on a course that all our Honors College students are required to take. This led to the idea of forming the peer learning partnerships between Honors students and access students that my colleagues will describe in this presentation.
  • ?? NICOLE (1-2 minutes) Description of UNIV 206, meetings, communication, hiring, etc. Access students expected to meet with PLP as part of 106 course requirements
  • ZOFIA (2 minutes) Explain Research Methods Explain why program was important to base on a courseThe academic focus of the peer learning partnership between the Honors College students and the ACCESS students is a process-oriented introduction to research methods course that is based on the Research Methods course taken by all first semester Honors College students (HNRS 110). The course is designed to lead each student through the process of shaping a research question; finding, evaluating, and analyzing sources; drafting and revising the research essay; and then also presenting the research in oral and visual formats. In addition to providing individual students with the methods of academic research that are fundamental to university-level education, the collaborative (or “workshop”) style of the course fosters intellectual community among students representing the range of academic disciplines. The community-building aspect of the course makes it particularly appropriate for bringing students from different educational and cultural backgrounds into discussion with one another.
  • NICOLE (2 minutes) [w/ help from Zofia] Describe Learning Outcomes Describe Benefits to Students for participating
  • ZOFIA (2 minutes) [w/ help from Nicole] Describe Learning Outcomes Describe Benefits to Students for participating
  • ZOFIA: (2 minutes)Example assignment to show how these things come togetherDoes it make sense to talk particularly about finding sources? Going to the library? Or designing posters? (still trying to figure out how to structure the PLPs involvement in this last thing, but it might help me do so)
  • NICOLE (1 minute) [w/ help from Zofia]What we are learning and how it is shaping the program and it’s future.
  • LINDA(1 minute)Any wrap up comments you might like to make
  • CAA Global Education Conference 2011-Internationalization in Action

    1. 1. Center for International Student Access<br />Where Innovation is Tradition<br />Internationalization in Action: <br />Developing a Peer Learning Partnership with International and Honors Programs<br />CAA Global Education Conference<br />March 25, 2011<br />Linda Schwartzstein, Vice Provost, Academic Affairs/Vice President, Enrollment Services<br />Zofia Burr, Dean, Honors College<br />Nicole Sealey, Director, Center for International Student Access<br />
    2. 2. Internationalization at Mason<br />Institutional Profile:<br /> International enrollment - 1,727 (5%)<br /> International/Multicultural Student Organizations – 28 <br /> International Academic Programs - > 30 (e.g., 11 UG degrees, 20 UG minors) <br />High aptitude and opportunities for cross-cultural exchange:<br /> Mason freshman desired to “improve their understanding of other countries and cultures… and help to promote racial understanding” at higher rates than public university counter parts (2003, 2005 CIRP data)<br /> Mason seniors have consistently shown high satisfaction rates with diversity experiences on campus (2007-8 Graduating Senior Survey Report)<br />
    3. 3. Action-Oriented Approach<br />What is the approach towards internationalization?<br /> Are we co-locating or are we interacting?<br /> Are we creating cultural exchange or recreating the cultural silos that often exist as students, like most people, gravitate to those whose backgrounds are similar to their own? <br />
    4. 4. Program Structure<br />ACCESS students enrolled in Research Methods for International Students (2x weekly)<br />Honors students enrolled in CISA/Honors Peer Learning Partnership (2x monthly)<br />Small groups of Honors & ACCESS students paired together for weekly one hour meetings together to work on assignments<br />Students use online resources (e.g., Wiki, Blackboard) to communicate with instructors<br />
    5. 5. Curricular-Based Endeavor<br />First-year first semester Research Methods (Honors College “Boot Camp”)<br /> Shape and focus a research question;<br /> Find, evaluate, and analyze sources;<br /> Draft and revise the research essay; <br /> Present the research in oral and visual formats. <br />Collaborative (or “workshop”) style class<br /> Students from different educational and cultural backgrounds in discussion <br />
    6. 6. ACCESS Students<br />Learning Outcomes<br />Focus on strengthening course-related learning outcomes.<br />Confidence in utilizing university resources.<br />Tangible Benefits<br />Access to strong “academic coaching.”<br />Expanded peer connections—beyond the academic.<br />
    7. 7. Honors Students<br />Learning Outcomes<br />Increased intellectual maturity & confidence. <br />Increased understanding of and connection with a person whose experience and perspective is very different than their own. <br />Tangible Benefits<br />Small stipend.<br />Optional 1 credit.<br />Points towards the University’s co-curricular “Global Proficiency Certificate.”<br />Preparation for additional opportunities to work with other groups/study abroad.<br />
    8. 8. Learning In Motion<br />Example assignment: Developing a research question<br /> International Student Challenges<br /> PLP support interaction and outcomes<br />
    9. 9. What’s Working: Lessons from the Field<br />“The [PLPs] are so nice… so committed to helping us… it kinda makes you feel like a jerk if you don’t meet with them.”—ACCESS student<br />“The [PLPs] are smart and helpful… I never thought I would make these kinds of new friends… I really like them!” —ACCESS student<br />“The ACCESS students are really nice. The one thing I want to know is what can we do to help them more?”—PLP Honors Student<br />“One of the things the students are struggling with is… Do you have any recommendations on how we can help them to better connect to the [material]?” —PLP Honors Student<br />Positive Outcomes (at all levels)<br />High Maintenance (pilot offers greatest challenge)<br />Learning in Progress<br />
    10. 10. Concluding Thoughts & RecOMMENDATIONS<br />
    11. 11. This presentation is available online at:<br />Thank you!<br />