Departmental Bulletin Paper Support Systems for Instructors and Teaching Assistants in the ALESS Program

Saneyoshi, Chie  ,  Mishina, Yukiko  ,  Nozawa, Emiko

1pp.36 - 47 , 2017-06 , Centre for Global Communication Strategies, College of Arts & Sciences, The University of Tokyo , The University of Tokyo, Center for Global Communication Strategies, ALESS Program
Section 2: Pedagogic-Methodological Practices
Teaching English communication to students of science is an essential aspect of scientific education, if students are to develop and become competitive in a global setting. The ALESS (Active Learning of English for Science Students) Program at the University of Tokyo is a 13-week academic writing course for all first-year students of science. The course is taught completely in English by instructors with diverse backgrounds from not just the natural sciences, but also from the social sciences and humanities. For this course, active learning is encouraged and the scientific thought process is emphasized through project-based learning, and students partake in this scientific process by designing and performing scientific experiments which provides the content for their academic papers. Here, the “support system” includes assistance for students as well as mutual cooperation amongst instructors. As instructors have diverse academic and teaching backgrounds, collaboration and mutual learning constitute an important element of the development of effective curriculum and pedagogy. Among various aspects of the ALESS course, this paper specifically focuses on the supporting system involved in the course. Based on the close examination of the current situation, this paper proposes some possible solutions to problems observed in this study. This study may contribute to the development of course design and teaching methods in English for Specific Academic Purposes. In this paper, reasons for students to seek advice will be discussed with specific examples of some actual visits. Furthermore, recent attempts to minimize the gap between students’ interests and TAs’ background disciplines to provide more effective consultations will be mentioned. Some reflections by instructors of various backgrounds as well as some specific concerns that have risen will be reported. Here, we will consider some of the difficulties that are encountered, not by students, but by the instructors and teaching assistants who directly support those taking the course, and discuss the support systems that are in place.

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