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Open Educational Resources for Bridging High School – University Gaps in Academic English

This presentation was prepared for INTED2020 conference about the difficulties high school studies have to face when learning English. This results in an inadequate level of English when they enter the university thus they fail to succeed.

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Open Educational Resources for Bridging High School – University Gaps in Academic English

  1. 1. Open Educational Resources for Bridging High School – University Gaps in Academic English Ingrid Barth, Jack Barokas Tel Aviv University Mary Grammatikou, Dimitris Pantazatos National Technical University of Athens Stasele Riskiene, Ausra Urbaityte Kaunas University of Technology INTED 2020 - Valencia
  2. 2. Academic English
  3. 3. Introduction Problem description  Research on high-frequency words not yet filtered down to mainstream classrooms - many teachers don’t yet understand how high-frequency wordlists can help students to prioritize vocabulary learning.  Not enough class hours to teach all the high-frequency general academic vocabulary students need to know.  Students who graduate from high school at Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) level B2 may not learn key academic terms and concepts that appear only at C1 and C2 level, e.g. ‘distribution’ (C1) and ‘interpretation’ (C2).
  4. 4. Problem description 1. Many students leave high school without the high frequency academic vocabulary they need to understand academic texts in English. 2. Constantly interrupting reading to look up unknown words can:  reduce fluency needed for comprehending academic texts.  break concentration.  add cognitive load, leaving less resources for critically evaluating text content.
  5. 5. Towards solutions High-quality open educational resources for self-paced learning can help students close their vocabulary gaps on their own – BUT:  Self-directed learning requires a complex mix of motivation, skills and attitudes.  High school teachers may not believe their students have the ‘grit and resilience’ they need to sustain self-directed learning.
  6. 6. Research Questions 1. Does students’ level (high school or university) affect English teachers’ skepticism regarding their students’ capacity to benefit from OER-based self-directed learning? 2. Can continuous professional development (CPD) that emphasizes the potential contribution of OERs affect possible teacher resistance among high school teachers?
  7. 7. Closing the academic English gaps - examples of Up2U’s OERs 1. Roads to Academic Reading Text analytics-based site lets users upload their own digital texts to identify which are the high-frequency academic words that they should focus on learning first. Site provides:  Three ‘roads’ or routes to identifying high-frequency words.  Sets of 3 – 5 exercises with diagnostic feedback for 300 target words that appear on CEFR and AWL wordlists.
  8. 8. Examples of Up2U’s Academic English OERs 2. List of over 50 exercises to teach terms that are the ‘building blocks’ of critical evaluation of information and academic literacy.
  9. 9. Examples of Up2U’s Academic English OERs 3. Instructional video on how to write the Introduction section of an academic paper, based on Swales’ CARS model.
  10. 10. Examples of Up2U’s Academic English OERs 4. Free access to Pearson’s University Success (reading edition CEFR B1-B2) and MyGrammar Lab for Up2U users for 24 months months.
  11. 11. Methodology  N = 52 teachers  36 high school teachers who completed Up2U CPD before the OER survey, 16 university teachers who were not exposed to Up2U CPD.  Non-random convenience sample of teachers.  Data collection: Short survey related to OERs – 10 closed questions, 1 open question.
  12. 12. Main Results 1. High school English teachers who completed Up2U’s CPD in Lithuania and university teachers in Israel showed similar levels of positive beliefs re their students’ capacity to benefit from academic English OERs. 2. Among both groups, approx. half the teachers believed their students would use OERs often or very often (4-5 on Likert scale). 3. 11% of high school teachers compared to 50% of university teachers believed that their students would seldom use OERs to close their academic English gaps (1-2 on Likert scale).
  13. 13. Discussion 1. Huge amounts of resources have been spent on development of OERs but: Not enough data on possible barriers to take-up of OER. 2. Possible barriers to take-up include:  teachers’ skepticism regarding students’ capacity to engage in OER-based self-directed learning.  lack of effective CPD.
  14. 14. Discussion 3. “If we build it, will they come?” Building OERs does not guarantee take-up: Projects that provide OERs also need to provide effective CPD to ensure that teachers know how to help high school students develop the ‘grit and resilience’ they need for self-paced OER-based learning.
  15. 15. What should CPD on OERs include? 1. Creating a shared ‘bank’ of OERs Each CPD participant shares their ‘big five’ – the 5 OERs they rank most valuable and use most often. 2. Avoiding ‘re-inventing the wheel’ How to use MERLOT to locate useful OERs for teaching English as a foreign language at high school level (many resources are already CEFR-aligned). 3. Share and pass forward and share MERLOT can also be used to share materials that teachers create, specifying CEFR level.