CIty University of New York: Hostos (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2018 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Pages: 3854-3862
ISBN: 978-84-697-9480-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2018.0075
Conference name: 12th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2018
Location: Valencia, Spain
To reach their potential, community college students need to engage with in-depth written discourse as both readers and writers. Nevertheless, faculty members often complain that their students are not equipped to do so and sadly, research concurs with this view. National studies have shown that as many as thirty seven percent of students entering college need more extensive preparation for their courses, and that this figure has not changed significantly over the past thirty years. A grave challenge thus affects students on the threshold of their academic careers. Among second language learners struggling to improve their English competency, the issue is compounded.

Institutions across the nation have long recognized that poor academic preparation is a significant barrier to success in college. New models of instruction combine basic skills courses with general education courses, and these initiatives are promising. However, in addition to these large-scale interventions, innovative pedagogical practices are also pivotal in promoting student success. Good reading and writing, as well as listening and speaking, expanded vocabulary, grammatical competency and the ability to conduct basic research, are still the goals of any student. In this regard, the traditional pillars of competence have not changed no matter what the modality of instruction. Yet incorporating a skills focus into classroom materials and practice has now become a central insistence. Recent publications are increasingly responding to this need, and there is an emerging awareness that this new emphasis can speed student progress.

Ongoing skills development can indeed be promoted in class materials in a more deliberate manner, and the precise way skills are addressed must be explored more fully. Specific note taking and critical thinking exercises, for example, are overtures into academic competency and can be presented in ways that engage students' metacognitive awareness. Other activities, such as outlining, identification of key words, and quoting and paraphrasing are tangible capabilities that enable better comprehension and writing. A clearly defined skill set can be taught in ways that facilitate ongoing assessment and permit more tailored engagement with students' needs. In the end, a milestone surpassed becomes a yardstick to measure progress.

The presenter will show how having a taxonomy of skills at hand helps to clarify curricular objectives. Such a classification, by type and purpose, can guide materials developers and instructors as they seek to make learning meaningful and engaging. Even more important, an explicit inclusion of skills aids students, because skills provide students with concrete tools, the tools that they need to broach more demanding content. The session will show how this focus has played out in the design and delivery of academic courses and consider its potential applications to participants' own settings.
Skills development, reading and writing, second language programs.