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The Missing Link: adding scholarship to university preparation courses Olwyn Alexander and Sue Argent.

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Presentation on theme: "The Missing Link: adding scholarship to university preparation courses Olwyn Alexander and Sue Argent."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Missing Link: adding scholarship to university preparation courses Olwyn Alexander and Sue Argent

2 Overview of the session Aim: to show how materials to prepare students for academic study can go beyond language and skills to engage with scholarship and graduate attributes Scholarship Graduate attributes Rationale for inclusion in university preparation courses Shaping tasks and activities: examples Conclusion

3 Scholarship a new set of behaviours, determined by the culture and values of the academic community developed through critical thinking and independent learning activities on a pre-sessional course, students may not be getting a consistent and coherent understanding of these behaviours –not consistent: if the ideas are not embedded in a syllabus, different teachers may present different understandings –not coherent: underlying purpose of the activities may not be clear to students

4 Specific examples of scholarship Graduate attributes 'the skills, knowledge and abilities of university graduates, beyond disciplinary content knowledge, which are applicable to a range of contexts and are acquired as a result of completing any undergraduate degree'. Barrie (2006: 217)

5 Specific graduate attributes an ability to analyse and align individual needs & purposes to the needs of the academic discourse community and its wider community (university, professional community) an understanding of how knowledge is created in a discipline, and how students need to engage with this, e.g. through discussion and research an ability to evaluate critically the quality and impact of their own and others work

6 Precursor skills and abilities –basic skills that permit acquisition of programme content, e.g. literacy, numeracy, technology & library skills –students expected to arrive on a degree equipped with these –but cannot assume that international students have acquired all these skills and abilities to the expected level –so they are taught on university preparation courses

7 Beyond precursor skills and abilities Why do we need to go further in terms of graduate attributes? –need to create an awareness that students will be expected to develop graduate attributes further on a degree –lecturing staff will model graduate attributes but will not teach them explicitly –it can be taught on a pre-sessional, not by adding content but by shaping tasks in particular ways. –we can introduce an orientation to questioning and reflection which can simulate graduate attributes at an accessible level.

8 Shaping tasks and activities Provide students with a procedural framework to begin to develop graduate attributes Provide information Stimulate analysis Encourage self-alignment

9 Graduate attribute - context an ability to analyse and align individual needs & purposes to the needs of the academic discourse community and its wider community (university, professional community)

10 Studying at university is an opportunity to become a member of a global academic community with shared goals, shared understanding and a shared language, English. You will meet many different people from different backgrounds and different countries. Its an exciting time; its also a time when you have to be prepared to leave your comfort zone. Life will be very different from what you are used to and you will face many challenges. Information Example 1: University mission statement

11 Who are the intended readers of this statement and what is the universitys purpose in putting it on the website? In what respects are these students becoming members of a global community with shared goals, shared understanding and a shared language? To what extent are their backgrounds and countries different? Say which student is prepared to leave his or her comfort zone and justify your choice. Analysis Activity: Critical reading

12 What might be the challenges for you personally and what steps can you take to prepare yourself? Self-alignment Not How does this align with me? but How will I have to align with this? Activity: reflection

13 Graduate attribute – knowledge creation an understanding of how knowledge is created in a discipline, and how students need to engage with this, e.g. through discussion and research

14 Example 2: lecture on mathematical models A model often starts as a kind of metaphor or analogy to represent a system in the real world.... business students are familiar with metaphors like stock market crashes, credit crunch and price squeeze..... Metaphors and analogies link new ideas to familiar ones that we all know.

15 Example 2: lecture on mathematical models A mathematical model is a description of a system using a set of variables together with the equations or functions that relate the variables. The variables can include a range of values, for example measurements such as height, numbers, time values.

16 Activity: analysis The lecturer thinks that business students are likely to know the metaphors stock market crashes, credit crunch and price squeeze. Do these metaphors refer to positive or negative events? Think of examples of how the exponential growth in computer memory has impacted on products that we buy today compared with products ten or twenty years ago.

17 Activity: reflection and alignment Do researchers measure anything in your subject discipline? Give examples of these key variables.

18 Graduate attribute - evaluation an ability to evaluate critically the quality and impact of their own and others work

19 Example 3: a university tutorial Guy has worked hard on a draft text for his assignment about the co-operative movement. He s the draft to Dr Malik for feedback at his next tutorial.

20 Activity: analysis and alignment What made Guy worried about the title he chose? How did Dr Malik respond to this – positively or negatively? Did this surprise you?

21 Conclusion Aim: to show how materials to prepare students for academic study can go beyond language and skills to engage with scholarship and graduate attributes can be taught on a pre-sessional –by inserting the target context into the materials –by shaping tasks in particular ways no change to the language and skills syllabus just a different orientation to questioning and reflection

22 References Alexander, O., Argent, S. And Spencer, J. (2008) EAP Essentials: a teachers guide to principles and practice. Reading: Garnet Education. Argent, S. and Alexander, O. (2010) Access EAP: Foundations. Reading: Garnet Education. Barrie, S (2004) A research-based approach to generic graduate attributes policy. Higher Education Research and Development, 23/3 pp 262–275. Barrie, S.C. (2006) Understanding what we mean by the generic attributes of graduates. Higher Education, 51, pp 215–241 Laurillard, D. 2nd ed. (2002) Rethinking University Teaching: a framework for the effective use of learning technologies. London: Routledge Falmer. Nicol, D. The foundation for graduate attributes: developing self-regulation through self and peer-assessment. QAA Enhancement themes Accessed from


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