Course rationale for freshman seminar at lehigh university 5-18-09 v1

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Course rationale for freshman seminar at lehigh university 5-18-09 v1

  1. 1. New Pilot Course Proposal – Adaptation to the American University Prepared by Tim Bonner, ESL Director, and Jane Desnouée, EdD, ESL Faculty (3/17/10) Background/Rationale • The freshman, first-year experience has been shown to be critical for successful integration of freshmen into the campus community (cf. Gardner & Jeweler 2004; Gardner & Hansen 2002; Upcraft, Gardner, Barefoot, & Ass. 2004; Gardner, Siegal, & Cutright 2001; Korschgen, Fuller, & Gardner 2001; Gardner, Barefoot, & Swing 2000; Gilbert, Chapman, Dietsche, Grayson, & Gardner; Gardner, Decker, & McNairy 1986). • The successful transitions of our international undergraduate students into the Lehigh community requires even more effort due to their varied international experiences. • Successful integration and acculturation of international students is one central goal of Lehigh’s current focus on internationalization. • Lehigh does not currently have a first-year experience that is geared towards the culturally different needs of our international undergraduate students. • This proposal recommends guidelines for the addition of a 1-credit course that combines the principles of adaptation to American university academics with the principles of cross-cultural communication and acculturation. Course Description – Adaptation to the American University: The First-Year Seminar • The course introduces university-level academic strategies and acculturation skills to our international students. • In addition to the standard university curriculum skills such as textbook/lecture integration, library/research knowledge, advisor/career/major strategies, students will be introduced to the American norms of time management, navigation of US grading systems, Western learning/teaching styles, classroom/extracurricular cultural etiquette, critical thinking, and developing cross-cultural relationships. • Recommend that the course meet 2 hrs every other week for 12 wks (1 credit, pass/fail). Building the International Learning Community • In conjunction with Composition and Literature for International Writers and the Speech Communication course, both offered by the ESL Program, Adaptation to the American University, can further increase the learning community for international students, thereby increasing their attraction to and retention at Lehigh by acculturating them to the academic and social university environment. 1
  2. 2. New Pilot Course Proposal – Adaptation to the American University Prepared by Tim Bonner, ESL Director, and Jane Desnouée, EdD, ESL Faculty (3/17/10) • Research on learning communities with the Freshman Experience, in universities such as MIT, Georgia Tech, University of Pittsburgh, and University of Illinois, suggests that students who travel in cohorts have improved GPAs and opportunities to graduate, forums for discussion, and thus ease of integration into the university community. • Undergraduate international students at Lehigh have expressed their desire for a more integrative freshmen ESL course to round out their positive experiences in the ESL writing courses. Indications of their positive experiences are evident in some of their comments from their final self-assessments: Nisa Quai (Bangladesh) states, “I have made my best friends in this nonthreatening classroom setting,” and Adrian Velasquez (Venezuela) says, “The people in this class are more like me.” • In order to determine the progress and success of this learning community, student success rates and satisfaction data are to be collected via a mixed methods approach (e.g. GPAs, surveys, and focus groups) with data being collected at the beginning and end of the first semester. 2

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