Adapting the lecture format in the Warwick International Foundation Programme
Anna Tranter & Miriam Schwiening
Anna Tranter teaches business on the Warwick International Foundation Programme and Miriam Schwiening is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Linguistics. As the Warwick International Foundation Programme exclusively enrols international students, staff members have a unique appreciation of the struggles international students undergo when they uproot their entire lives in order to study at a UK university. Within this department, internationalisation is conceptualised as any pedagogical or curriculum change made to support international students in engaging with their studies and fully accessing all of the opportunities UK higher education has to offer.
Within the Warwick International Foundation Programme Anna sees her role as teaching the academic content, while also supporting international students to develop softer skills and international capital to be able to fully participate in learning at a Western university. Students at Warwick university come from a variety of educational backgrounds and may have a variety of academic skillsets. In further developing their skills Anna creates opportunities for group work, presentations, critical thinking, and class discussions. Bringing a variety of voices together allows the students to see that there is not always a right and a wrong answer but what is important is how you can justify what you think and what you believe.
At the same time, international students also have different levels of English and Miriam’s experience has been that language can be an issue in making study more accessible. For Miriam, internationalisation is about enabling Non-English speaking background students (NESB) to reach their potential irrespective of their language level. This involves adapting the format and the delivery of lecture content to increase students’ learning gains, their independent study skills and at the same time as improving their English language proficiency levels.
To enable students with English as an additional language to fully understand and engage with their lectures, Anna and Miriam worked collaboratively to identify key academic lexis, used within each lecture, and write definitions which were embedded in the business lecture slides. Students were sent the enhanced lecture slides prior to the lecture so they could familiarise themselves with key concepts and key words likely to be used in the lecture. Content and vocabulary quizzes, accessed through QR codes, were created and inserted into the lecture which was divided into three sections lasting no more than 15 minutes. Students were able to self-select either quiz, although they were encouraged to complete both. Students answered the questions independently on their phones and received instant individual feedback. The aim of the intervention was to reduce students’ cognitive load during the lecture by providing personal reflection time and feedback.
With COVID-19, and lectures going online, the pre-recorded lectures were made interactive for the students. Lectures were broken up by inserting quizzes within the videos. When the lecture video paused, students got an opportunity to answer questions and get feedback straight away, explaining why this was the right or wrong answer.By dividing the lecture into bite-sized chunks, students are allowed time to refocus and avoid cognitive overload. At the same time rather than focusing on the vocabulary, students can devote more attention to the concepts – something that is important to consider when teaching students who are simultaneously engaging in a new academic discipline and practising their English language skills. Students welcomed the non-competitive aspect of the quizzes as it maintained a studious and calm learning environment. This teaching approach isn’t just relevant or beneficial to international students – integrated quizzes with feedback allows students to refocus and check their understanding during the lecture, developing their self-efficacy and engagement.