INTO University Partnerships awards celebrate teaching at three US centers

INTO University Partnerships awards celebrate teaching at three US centers

INTO Academic Director Plus Student Services Conference Group Photo (1)

Since 2018, INTO has recognized innovation in teaching and learning across its US university partner network through five annual Academic Innovation Awards.

Designed to encourage inter-center collaboration on the development of programs that support international student success, the 2019 awards were presented on July 11 at the Annual Academic Directors’ Conference at INTO Saint Louis University.

“Each award goes to an individual or team in one of the centers that has developed a new project that can be easily adopted at other centers,” said Dr Sharon Sundue, Executive Director at INTO Drew University and Vice President of Academic Affairs for INTO University Partnerships, North America.  “What you have, then, is a whole mechanism for comparing notes on troubleshooting problems and sharing solutions.”

This year, four centers were recognized for their achievements: 

INTO University of Alabama – Birmingham (UAB)

A team of academic faculty at INTO UAB, led by Academic Director Amy Snow, took home an award for their Language Partners Program, a program that enables international students to meet regularly with native English speakers, thus encouraging cross-cultural communication and the development of language skills. 

Although similar programs are common to English language training initiatives, INTO UAB strategically recruits across campus to ensure that multiple University faculties reap the benefits.  For instance, the program is one of the University’s approved service-learning options used by the business, foreign languages, and international studies departments.  Moreover, the program helps domestic students of a foreign language to improve their language skills through practice with native speakers.

INTO Oregon State University (OSU)

Julie Zwart, an ESL instructor from INTO OSU, received an award for her new approach to preparing international students for the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test), one of which involves a 3-credit GMAT course, weekly small-group study tables, and a supplementary site with materials for self-study.  Zwart’s innovation addresses the fact that the majority of GMAT preparation materials are created for native English speakers—not for upper-intermediate, non-native speakers. 

Her curriculum incorporates materials that are level-appropriate for students and takes a step-by-step approach to the logical thought processed assessed by the GMAT, some of which may be unfamiliar to students from non-Western cultures.

INTO Drew University

Finally, Anya MacLachlan, Program Manager and ESL Instructor, picked up an award for creating a syllabus that enables teachers to handle multiple levels of English language learners in the classroom through the clever alternation of individual work and group instruction. This approach helps to provide a solution to the staffing challenge encountered by many ESL programs across the US, especially during summer sessions.

For more news about the Academic Directors’ Conference, please see our blog.

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