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English Help Desk Research Project


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Research Project about falling numbers of student usage in the English Help Desk at Yeungnam University

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English Help Desk Research Project

  1. 1. English Help Desk Study Yeungnam University Foreign Language Institute Feb. 2014 Terry Faulkner, Ted Mishler, Steven Schuit, & Peter Thwaites
  2. 2. The English Help Desk is the public face of FLI, as such, it should maintain a welcoming and helpful atmosphere. From the FLI Employee Manual 8/2013
  3. 3. Why undertake an EHD study? • Most faculty work at the EHD = high resource investment for the FLI • Key FLI service • Declining participation by students (<48%) • Discussions amongst FLI staff indicate disagreeing perspectives on the role, services and protocol of the EHD
  4. 4. Components of the study • EHD attendance records • Faculty survey • Student survey • Visitation and interview: Keimyung University’s International Lounge
  5. 5. Findings: Survey participation • Faculty: 42 of 55 responded (76%) • Students: 642 – Freshmen……………………………607 (94%) – 2nd and 3rd year students…………...34 (5%) – Graduate students and faculty……….4 (1%)
  6. 6. Findings: Student Usage Semester # of student visits Average/We ek Average/Da y Spring 2013 804 67 13.4 Fall 2013 422 (<48%) 35 7
  7. 7. Findings: Students Do you know about the English Help Desk? Yes 50% (320) No 50% (322)
  8. 8. Findings: Students What services do you think the English Help Desk should provide? N = 486 Free speaking practice 55% Help with writing skills 23% Help with homework 21% Help with resumes and cover letters 13% Other 1%
  9. 9. Findings: Students For those students who do know about the English Help Desk), have you ever visited the English Help Desk? (N=320) Yes 27% No 73%
  10. 10. Findings: Students Why haven’t you visited the English Help Desk? (N=315) It doesn’t look like a friendly place. 32% I’ve never needed it. 29% I am too nervous. 14% I don’t know when it’s open. 13% I am too busy 7% Location and hours are inconvenient. 3% Other. 2% My friend had a bad experience. NR
  11. 11. Findings: Students How many times have you visited the English Help Desk? (N=88) 1 time 66% 2-3 times 25% 4-5 times 2% 6+ times 6%
  12. 12. Findings: Students Do you think you will visit the English Help Desk again in the future? (N=87) Yes 47% Probably 39% subtotal = 86% Probably not 13% No 1%
  13. 13. Findings: Faculty How often have you recommended to your students that they use the EHD? (N=40) Never/hardly ever 3% Once or twice a semester 38% subtotal = 41% 3-6 times a semester 40% 7-12 times a semester 20%
  14. 14. Findings: Faculty Faculty members who think the following services should be provided by the EHD: Speaking practice 88% Interview practice 76% Spoken error correction 74% Writing skills 67% Advice 67% Listening services 62% Editing/proof reading/correction 33%
  15. 15. Findings: Faculty How do you feel about the time you spend in the EHD? (N=37) I enjoy it. 38% (14) I enjoy it somewhat. 24% (9) I wouldn’t say I enjoy it, but I don’t have a problem with it. 30% (11) I don’t enjoy it at all. 8% (3)
  16. 16. Findings: Faculty How do you generally deal with students who want help with writing? (N=39) I correct their errors. 21% (8) I give general feedback but don’t correct specific errors. 31% (12) I re-write their texts or provide a model. 3% (1) I don’t give feedback on writing. 0% I have no idea how to deal with writing requests. 0% Other 46% (18)
  17. 17. Findings: Faculty As a faculty member providing EHD services, which areas would you like to know more about to enhance your effectiveness? TOEFL 26% (11) TOEIC 21% (9) IELTS 21% (9) Information about independent study 19% (8) Other 14% (6) Coaching writing 12% (5) Interviewing skills 8% (4) Resumes 4% (2) Cover letter 4% (2) Conversational skills 2% (1) Slang/Jargon/Idioms 0%
  18. 18. Findings: Faculty Have you ever turned a student away? If so, for what reason(s)? (N=21) No 48% (10) Yes 52% (11)
  19. 19. Findings: Why did you turn students away? • “I have turned away “students who come to the EHD with a written homework assignment that they want to have corrected and perfect before handing to their teacher. This serves very little purpose to either student-someone else corrects their mistakes so they don’t learn, or teacher-every student can hand-in a perfect copy so there is no way to assess their writing skills or improvement.” • “Unreasonable requests, in particular from students being sent by ‘profs’ in the English Dept. who should do their own jobs instead of sending their students to us. I have also turned away many professors-the EHD is for students.”
  20. 20. Visitation and Interview: Keimyung University International Lounge • “International Lounge is a place where students, faculty, and staff can meet up, exchange cultures, get to know each other, practice 2nd languages and bring the world to our campus.” • Physically, the International Lounge has seven (7) different “zones” ranging from an “internet zone” to a “café zone,” which serves fresh coffee. • The Lounge also offers or sponsors events that vary over the course of the semester such as cultural presentations, seminars, and trips. • One ongoing service, “Language Advisory Support (LAS) of English Study,” seems to be similar to the FLI English Help Desk. This service is available Monday-Friday, from 10:30-2:30 and takes place in the lounge’s seminar room, which has a capacity of 8 people.
  21. 21. Visitation and Interview: Keimyung University International Lounge • The Lounge itself is directed by Mr. Seanan Clifford, this year’s faculty volunteer professor, who performs the role in addition to his regular teaching responsibilities. • Two (2) full-time employees, and four (4) part-time employees staff the Lounge. • Student usage is monitored by visual headcounts taken hourly by the staff. According to Professor Clifford, 300-400 students use the Lounge on a typical day. • Professor Clifford offered that there are 13 “Help Desks” at universities in Korea, including those at Yeungnam and Keimyung Universities.
  22. 22. Conclusions • It has been suggested that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” However, recent records of student visits to the EHD suggest that visitation frequency may have decreased by as much as 48% between the Spring and Fall semesters of 2013. • More than 70% of students, who learn about the EHD services from their teachers, when asked if they will use the services, say “Yes” or “Probably.” • For some faculty who have come to expect less frequent student visits, and to be able to use their time at the EHD for planning purposes, student visits may be experienced as interruptions.
  23. 23. Recommendations 1. Expand the English Help-Desk service hours from 10:30AM-4:30PM to 9:00AM-6:00PM. We recommend that the EHD be closed during lunch hours. 2. Implement a basic service policy that says: “We will not turn any visitor away without providing some sort of assistance.” 3. We believe all Yeungnam University students and faculty should be welcome at the FLI English Help Desk. Program policy, procedures and practices should support this philosophy.
  24. 24. Recommendations 4. We encourage the FLI faculty to regularly recommend the EHD to their students throughout the semester. Additionally, we recommend that all faculty give a brief presentation with information on the English Help Desk during the first or second class meetings of the semester. This project team will provide a PPT presentation for that purpose. 5. We believe that the EHD should be more welcoming to visitors. This includes both physical factors such as the actual set-up of the EHD and interpersonal factors such as how faculty members welcome and treat students.
  25. 25. Recommendations 6. Help visitors with their skills, as opposed to their product: We encourage FLI faculty staffing the EHD to adapt the spirit of "to aim to help the student, not the text they bring in with them,” For example, rather than word-for-word editing of a written document, look for themes that suggest areas for development for the student. Point-out and discuss these themes. 7. We encourage faculty members to identify areas in which they would like to further develop their own expertise regarding their EHD service skills and abilities, for example exam preparation skills and independent study skills.
  26. 26. Recommendations 8. We recommend that the EHD have an automatic card-swipe system to make usage easier and record keeping more effective. In any case, record keeping of student usage must be improved, including ongoing record keeping and record maintenance. 9. We suggest that one faculty member be designated each semester as a coordinator or “point-person” to ensure that the EHD is running effectively, and that EHD-related communication amongst all FLI staff is timely and effective. 10. We believe there are opportunities for better marketing, communication and overall integration of the EHD with other FLI programs and services.
  27. 27. The EHD Mission To help the university community with their English, while maintaining a welcoming and helpful atmosphere.