Raising awareness of academic expectations:
collaborative work in the EAP classroom
by Scott J. Shelton-Strong
Appendix 1: Scott's Lesson Plan for Class 1: Group Project "preparing for university study".
Time: 2 hours. (This is the first lesson of the course and should precede the first lesson of the project "Student Life in Nottingham": Its purpose is to provide an introduction to several areas i.e. criticality, academic conventions, collaborative group work and oral presentations, which will play an important part in both their upcoming class project and their future study on their courses.)
1. To raise awareness of key EAP and university study issues, such as how to avoid plagiarism, effective web searching, criticality, evaluation, and basic research tips through reading intensively in an online format.
2. To provide opportunities for learners to experience forming groups, practice brainstorming ideas, sharing and selecting those relevant to topic of presentation.
3. To provide opportunities for collaborative learning through group negotiation and preparing for an oral presentation.
4. To foster reflective learning through shared self-evaluation at the end of the lesson to be conducted in pairs.
1. To provide opportunities to practice intensive reading online, note taking skills, collaborative group work, and oral presentation skills.
2. To engage learners in self-assessment of their role in collaborative group work and to raise awareness of the cognitive and affective dimensions involved in collective interaction.
1. Learners will be able to function in a basic online environment and proceed through a 10-minute presentation with limited guidance as the web clips require only basic navigation skills such as clicking on next button and opening a new window in a tab occasionally.
2. Learners will have their own basic assumptions about how plagiarism, conducting research, effective web searching and critical evaluation work and a generally weak notion as to the University expectations in regard to their responsibilities in these areas.
3. Learners will have limited previous experience summarizing main points and participating in a group oral presentation.
Relevance to future needs:
1. Having a solid foundation in these four skill areas are essential for their success in both this immediate project they are going to be involved in, and in their chosen field of study within the University.
2. 12 computers (in a self access study room or computer room). This could be reduced to 4 if absolutely necessary.
3. Headphones for each computer (optional but motivating).
4. One pack of blank note cards
5. An IWB or white board with markers
6. Space for learners to move around, group and re-group
Anticipated problems and solutions:
1. Learners may be unaccustomed to group work – clear instructions will be given and checked. Quick teacher demonstration or elicitation of key components of group work i.e. asking questions, offering ideas, inviting collaboration, etc. may activate Ss background knowledge or experience. A clear link to the relevance of this practice to future group work on their courses will be made explicit.
2. Topic areas might be relatively unknown and concepts might cause difficulty – Collective brainstorming may activate any previous knowledge. Topics are presented in such a way, which is believed to be motivating (animated online presentation) and learners are in control of this online.
3. Learners may be nervous about oral presentations – detailed scaffolding is provided on the hand-out and by dividing the time (2 min. per person) pressure is reduced.
4. One of the three computers might fail – two people can easily work together on this as each person in the group is reading the same text.
5. Time may run short if learners work slowly – time limits will be announced encouraging learner to keep to deadlines. Also it is possible to leave out the "self-assessment" and have learners answer the questions in writing for homework for themselves.
6. Learners may be confused by the reference to Canada or Arcadia university and its facilities in the tutorials – Warn the class that this site is from a Canadian university but apart from references to specific facilities, all of the information is useful to them.
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