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Employing student teacher assistants to enhance student engagement: academic and practical benefits In. Form Employing student teacher assistants to enhance student engagement: academic and practical benefits In. Form 15 th July, 2017 Sue Teale: s. [email protected] ac. uk BIA, The University of Birmingham

Outline o Foundation programme at BIA o A high-level class – engagement problems o Outline o Foundation programme at BIA o A high-level class – engagement problems o What support is offered at the university o What support the EAP PG Presessional offers o A possible scheme of peer support o The benefits and problems o What could be offered? o Conclusions

Foundation Programme at BIA o Academic Skills course (4, 6, 10 hours) o 3 Foundation Programme at BIA o Academic Skills course (4, 6, 10 hours) o 3 pathways (ABSSL, EPS and MLGS) o a range of academic modules o Small classes (15 maximum) o 219 students o 35 nationalities

High-level ABSSL group o High level of English o Good academic background o High High-level ABSSL group o High level of English o Good academic background o High level of absences o Little engagement with homework and tasks o Some didn’t do as well as they should: – On academic modules – On our English assessment

What stopped the students engaging? Personal issues o Stress, depression and health o Coping What stopped the students engaging? Personal issues o Stress, depression and health o Coping with independence / homesickness o General teenage problems Academic issues o Acclimatisation to the academic culture o Lack of study skills o Time management problems

Global Buddies o Is run by established volunteer students o Aims to help settle Global Buddies o Is run by established volunteer students o Aims to help settle new students into University life o Offers peer-to-peer support / social events o Is the first point of call for knowledge / information o Encourages students to make the most of University activities such as sports, societies and events (Guild of Students, 2017)

Global Buddies Positives: o Students listen to “insiders” rather than to “outsiders” (Maunder, et Global Buddies Positives: o Students listen to “insiders” rather than to “outsiders” (Maunder, et al. , 2013) o Can be accessed by foundation students o Gets them to try out new things

Global buddies Negatives: o Not integrated into the course (Whittaker, 2008) o Is voluntary Global buddies Negatives: o Not integrated into the course (Whittaker, 2008) o Is voluntary o May not fully understand the needs of International Students o Is not viewed positively by the students o Lower-level students may not have time for this

Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) o Is discipline-owned and student-led o offers a safe, Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) o Is discipline-owned and student-led o offers a safe, friendly space to help students o Enhances understanding of the subject matter o Helps adjustment to University life o Improves study habits o Enhances awareness of the course expectations (Uo. B Intranet)

Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) Positives: o Is embedded into undergraduate courses o Is Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) Positives: o Is embedded into undergraduate courses o Is tailored to participants’ needs o Is peer led o Provided social opportunities

Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) Negatives: o Only in 1 st year - too Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) Negatives: o Only in 1 st year - too late for our students o Not in all departments o Needs an academic to champion it o Focus on needs of a particular module

EAP Postgraduate Presessional o Is mostly an EGAP course o Classes in discipline groups EAP Postgraduate Presessional o Is mostly an EGAP course o Classes in discipline groups at 10 -week stage o 2 x 90 minute English in Your Subject (Ei. YS) o Teacher Assistants (TAs) are postgraduates o TAs are mostly international students o TAs are sometimes ex-presessional students

Pilot study on the effectiveness of TAs o Examination of records of work o Pilot study on the effectiveness of TAs o Examination of records of work o Review of materials used o Questionnaires o Interviews with a teacher assistant / teacher pair o Examination of feedback forms o Changes to the syllabus and induction

Teacher Assistants - how they help? Academic Support: o Subject specific texts / vocabulary Teacher Assistants - how they help? Academic Support: o Subject specific texts / vocabulary o Support for research skills o Support for writing an Academic Research Project o Understanding of University life / culture o How to transition UG to PG Personal support: o how to survive in the UK

Advantages of using Postgraduate TAs o Students believe the TA (TA interview, 2017) o Advantages of using Postgraduate TAs o Students believe the TA (TA interview, 2017) o Avoids the generation gap problem o TAs live in Birmingham o TAs understood the needs of the students o Students felt comfortable asking the TAs questions

Why not employ ex-Foundation Students as TAs / Mentors on our Foundation Programme? Why not employ ex-Foundation Students as TAs / Mentors on our Foundation Programme?

Take the best from all three systems GB PASS TAs Student needs focused Peer Take the best from all three systems GB PASS TAs Student needs focused Peer to peer support Provide ongoing support Embedded into the programme Employs experienced insiders Addresses life outside of studying Addresses study skills

What sessions could the Ex-Foundation student TAs / Mentors take part in? o Q What sessions could the Ex-Foundation student TAs / Mentors take part in? o Q & A in the first week o Q & A later based around students’ academic needs. o Short presentations o Social events o Task-based joint activities

Benefits for the University / BIA o Good collaboration leads to “effective course delivery” Benefits for the University / BIA o Good collaboration leads to “effective course delivery” on an EAP course (Charles and Pecorari, 2015: 10). o Students are better prepared for 1 st Year o Distinguishes our course from other Foundation courses

Benefits for our students o Gain relevant and “authentic advice” from fellow students (Maunder Benefits for our students o Gain relevant and “authentic advice” from fellow students (Maunder et al, 2012) o Find out information about living in the UK o Understand how to transition to undergraduate life o Allow them to adjust their perceptions o Is likely to improve student engagement o Have a contact in the “real world” o See the course as tailored to their needs o Have a role model

Benefits for the student assistants o Gaining “teaching” experience o Gaining confidence in presenting Benefits for the student assistants o Gaining “teaching” experience o Gaining confidence in presenting o Sharing enthusiasm o Reflecting on own academic transition / skills o Earning money

Potential problems and questions o Takes time away from the course, but may encourage Potential problems and questions o Takes time away from the course, but may encourage attendance and students see value o They may say things we don’t approve of, but teacher there to explain a different view o How would the students see it? o Would this work for all levels of students?

Future plans o Get feedback / advice from my ex-students o Set out what Future plans o Get feedback / advice from my ex-students o Set out what we want to achieve o Run a trial to gauge the interest

Conclusions o Ex-Foundation students are more likely to be listened to o Know about Conclusions o Ex-Foundation students are more likely to be listened to o Know about current university life o Know about problems of our students o Students may share problems with a peer o Have on going support o Our students don’t have to find support o Benefits: – teachers, – TA / Mentors – Students – University

References o o o Charles, M. & Pecorari D. (2015), Introducing English for Academic References o o o Charles, M. & Pecorari D. (2015), Introducing English for Academic Purposes, Oxford: Routledge. Maunder, R. E. , Cunliffe, M. , Galvin, J. , Mjali, S. and Rogers, J. , (2013) Listening to student voices: student researchers exploring undergraduate experiences of university transition. Higher Education, 66(2), pp. 139. -152 Whittaker, R (2008), "Quality Enhancement Themes: The first year experience: transition to and during the first year. " Available from: http: //www. enhancementthemes. ac. uk/pages/docdetail/docs/publicatio ns/transition-to-and-during-the-first-year accessed 25 May, 2017. Interviews with a TA and Teacher conducted at the University of Birmingham (2017). Questionnaires sent to one TA and teacher at the University of Birmingham (2016) Teacher Assistant Handbook (2016), The University of Birmingham Global Buddies Scheme, The Guild of Students (2017) [online] accessed 23 May, 2017 https: //www. guildofstudents. com/support/guildadvice/globalbuddies/ The University of Birmingham Intranet (2017), Peer Assisted Study Scheme, accessed 28 June, 2017 https: //intranet. birmingham. ac. uk/as/libraryservices/pass/index. aspx 2016 EAP PG Presessional TA end of course feedback questionnaire 2016 EAP PG Presessional Teacher end of course feedback questionnaire 2016 EAP PG Presessional Student end of course feedback questionnaire

Employing student teacher assistants to enhance student engagement: academic and practical benefits In. Form Employing student teacher assistants to enhance student engagement: academic and practical benefits In. Form 15 th July, 2017 Sue Teale: s. [email protected] ac. uk BIA, The University of Birmingham