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Thursday, June 19 • 11:30am - 12:20pm
CON5.07 – Transforming Capacity to Engage: Addressing the Root Challenges that Prevent Academic Integration (Room A317)

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With immigration and internationalization, the linguistic and cultural diversity among the student population has increased significantly on many campuses in the Western world.  This diversity represented by many English as a Second (or Subsequent) Language (ESL) students has often been perceived as problematic in that these students are said to be unable to participate in their courses and in other aspects of student life as well as students who do not face linguistic and cultural barriers.   However, the very diversity in their backgrounds and experiences make these students an underexplored resource that can contribute to improving critical thinking, problem-solving and other sociocultural aspects of the student experience for all.  How do we help transform these students from being “outside” or on the periphery to becoming active members of the academic community? What changes in roles can support this transformation? What needs to be in place so that these students feel capable of being an active agent of change? What can we learn from the students’ perspectives to make these transformations sustainable, given the large populations of students who need such support?  These are some of the questions we would like to explore with the participants from the framework of academic integration.   

To make learning an inclusive and enriching experience for all students, we need to facilitate opportunities for integration that intertwines the uniqueness of each student at different levels (e.g. academic and social needs, motivations, background experiences, and aspirations).  Since academic integration is essential for achieving effective learning communities where all students can engage effectively, this session will first describe a program developed at University of Toronto Scarborough that had been continually evaluated and improved in an endeavor to achieve a more efficient model of academic integration.   On one level, this program focuses on fast-tracking students’ ability to write successfully for academic purposes.  On other levels, it addresses the affective and sociocultural dimensions of students’ other transitions issues.  In this session, we will present data collected from a larger and continuing study obtained from (a) pre- and post- support tests  (b) comparison of students’ self-examination of their fears/anxieties, motivation and aspirations at the start of the support program with students’ responses to a post-support survey  (c) interviews  and (d) quality and quantity of students’ writing.  We will invite participants to examine and interrogate conclusions drawn on the data from the perspectives of questions presented above and draw pedagogical insights for transforming the learning experiences for ESL students in their respective teaching contexts.  Participants will also be invited to identify key components of this program that could be deconstructed and customized to meet the different demands of their various teaching contexts.

Thursday June 19, 2014 11:30am - 12:20pm EDT
A317 McArthur Hall

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