Thursday, February 28, 2008

Recently, I carried out an activity in my class that I like to call the “compliment sandwich”. Here are the questions I asked:

Top Bun:
Something I like about the EAP 3 Writing Class
General advice I would give to my EAP 3 Writing teacher
Something specific I wish were different about EAP 3 Writing
How I would make my wish come true
Bottom Bun:
Something else I really like about the EAP 3 Writing Class

While the students had some very valid comments on class size, table shapes, teacher personalities and the time table, I thought I would focus in this blog on the specific comments the students made that related to the EAP 3 Academic Writing and Grammar curriculum. I also thought I would leave out summarizing the compliment part (the bun) of the sandwich. However, I would like to say thank you to all the students who took the time to give me some compliments and brighten my day! It was good to know that some of you like my shoes. Anyway, what you will find below is a synopsis of the important points the students made from both classes of EAP 3 (lectures 1 and 2)

The students provided some interesting feedback for the writing and grammar class. First of all, students are looking for more flexibility choosing their own topics for the writing assignments. This could mean, choosing their own topics for the term papers, or finding new topics that could be added to the topics in the textbook. Some of the students felt that some of the topics were boring and that because the topics were boring, this sometimes made the class boring as well.

Students are also looking for more feedback on their writing assignments so that they can fix their mistakes and perfect a piece of writing before they move onto the next assignment. Thus, the students would like grammar errors not only pointed out in their essays, but also identified so that the students know exactly what their weaknesses are. The students felt that more specific comments on their papers would contribute to greater learning.

Additionally, the students would like to find a balance between writing and grammar instruction (some want more grammar, and some want less). However, basically the students are specifically looking for instruction that will lead to direct improvements in their writing. One example that was mentioned was that students would like to learn more about writing effective introductions and conclusions. While studying skills such as effective introductions and conclusions, the students would like to see a large number of clear examples they can learn from and use as models for their own writing. They would also like to see samples of essays from past semesters that earned top grades, and samples of essays from past semesters that failed. They could then compare their own writing to those essays and identify the gaps between what they are doing and where they need to be.

Along with finding a balance between writing and grammar, the students would like to spend more time writing in class, as opposed to doing the writing assignments strictly for homework. By writing in class, the grammar the students study can then be immediately applied to their writing. In other words, the students would like to see the grammar topics covered in class feed directly into the grammar they need for their writing assignments, and they want the chance to practice it in class. By covering specific writing skills and having grammar instruction to support those skills, the students feel they would be better prepared to analyse their own essays for mistakes. Students would also like more instruction on how to find the errors in their essays and learn how to fix these errors themselves. This means, the grammar curriculum needs to be flexible enough to react to the grammar issues that are arising in class. In other words the problems identified through the writing assignments would be addressed by the grammar instruction.

A final theme that came up more than once in the compliment sandwiches was the time the teachers have for students outside of the regularly scheduled class time. The students have a strong desire for more individual instruction, more time for questions, more personal advice for each student, and for more help after class. This could mean having more office hours, or simply making the teachers more accessible after class. Students indicated that they wanted help specifically from their writing instructors, and didn’t want the writing centre to replace being able to see their own teachers.

Phew, I think this is one of the longest blogs I have ever written! However, I really got a lot of interesting feedback from the students, and now I am trying to think of what I can do to enrich the learning experiences of each and every student enrolled in EAP 3. What I would like now is some more positive advice on how we could address the issues raised in the above blog so that we can put into practice some of the things the students would like to see changed in the EAP 3 curriculum. Feel free to make comments!

P.S. I still love the writing centre!


Nahid said...
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We will,we will rock U!! said...

How I wish I was in your lecture from the very beginning!!!
Besides, that is a great sandwich, oh, no... a burger, really great!! I hope it was a real one in front of me!! I've already got hungry again though I just finish my dinner...

Jason said...

Thank you for pay attention to our feedback, and I CAN SEE you doing some changes to make everybody better. I appreciate it. There is still a very big question about grammar, some teachers prefer students doing more writing and reading rather than doing grammar exercises, but some teachers prefer students doing more grammar exercises. There is still an argument about it. What do you think of it? I'll see you on Monday!

Natallia said...

Hi Scott! You have done such an enormous job to analyze and systematize our feedback.
Every minute in our class which we spend listening to you is extremely valuable to us. In my opinion, it is irrational to waste this valuable time for reading articles in order to discuss them in class. I think it would be more reasonable to read them at home to be prepared to work at them in class. Thank you for paying so mach attention to our feedback.

Oksana said...

To be honest, sometimes I feel like I should have taken a course of Canadian culture to understand the way Canadians explain themselves as well as the order of ideas that have different importance for me and them. However, I think it's a question of time and I cannot become good at writing essays in English immediately. :)

Helen said...

I asked them about Beaver's is near a Mall..but they forgot to take me to eat.....5555.....they promise me to eat next time!!!Why does only Ottawa have Beaver's Tails?
Is this a kind of typical Canadian food?

ykont_65 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.