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Giving Students a Choice

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In our on-going series on the 2010 – 2011 Grants, we  explore improving reading through relevance with Maria Escott (Communications, Seminole) and learn more about Increasing Self-Efficacy and Reading Comprehension among ESL Students.

Describe your project. Did the project end up being significantly different then the original plan and why?

Judy MacDonald (Communications, Clearwater) and I worked together to see if the use of multicultural reading packets, used with ESL students at SPC, would achieve increased vocabulary, confidence, and reading comprehension. We wanted to know if giving students a “voice” in the choice of reading materials used in their EAP0495 class enabled them to have greater “buy in” to the assignments which in turn led to greater effort being applied and added confidence for the ESL student.

The project ended up being pretty much as we had envisioned it. The description of the project was true to what was evaluated/studied.

What was the chief accomplishment of your project? What problem did you solve?

We did not implement a program so to speak; we just wanted to enable EAP teachers to have more choices in reading materials for their EAP0495 Intermediate ESL classes. Students utilized various multicultural weekly readings to enhance their mastery of main idea and supporting details, content, vocabulary, and parts of speech. These objectives aligned with the course objectives for EAP 0495. The problem was that not all students were “embracing” the assigned novel for the class, as the novel was based on a topic which the ESL students had no background knowledge/schema to make connections with.

What were the results? Did you see a numeric increase or a qualitative improvement?

The results of the project showed that the students did more reading outside of class because they were able to choose which topics were of interest to them. The students were actually reading more than before the reading packets were utilized. In addition, because the students were journaling about their experiences each week, their writing, reflection skills, and overall comprehension was improving. The students took a survey before and after the study, and the results of the survey showed they enjoyed having a “voice” in their reading topics. The results are detailed in this PowerPoint –  MariaEscotCETL_MINI_GRANTResults

Did YOU learn anything from the project? Did you make any changes to your teaching style or content?

At the time I was in an A & P position, and Judy was teaching the class. She really enjoyed the reading packets and noted she would add this to other sections she was teaching in the future.

Can another teacher use your project? How can they implement your learning?

Yes, any instructor can use the materials. They can implement the materials to increase reading comprehension, vocabulary, and overall student effort and interest. This is something all instructors strive to do.

Do you have plans for a follow-up project/additional research? If you did a grant again, what would you do differently?

Not at this time, but perhaps in the future. This project was mostly qualitative in nature, as it asked students to give written feedback on their experience during this project. Quantitative data on reading comprehension levels between classes which utilized the multicultural reading packets as compared to classes which did not utilize the multicultural reading packets would be needed to see if there was any level of significance.

Thanks, Maria and Judy, for sharing your hard work and your insights into the fun and challenges of grants!

Share your thoughts on the importance of curriculum choice in your class. Does having a say in topic lead to performance improvement or confusion in your class? Feel free to add your insights and share ideas in the comment section below!

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