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SCUPI Writing Center Hosts Its Innovation Research Mid-term Inspection Presentation

Published on: March 10, 2022 | Views: 582

Recently, Sichuan University has carried out the mid-term inspection meeting for the “New Century higher education innovation research (Phase IX)” projects. The inspection meeting for projects from Sichuan University – Pittsburgh Institute (SCUPI) was called by Prof. James McDougall from SCUPI Writing Center.

Prof. McDougall and his team’s project, “Integrated Academic Support Services for Language Learning in an EMI Setting”, is also one of the University-level projects. The goal of its mid-term inspection meeting was to evaluate the effectiveness of the work of Writing Center and the students’ motivation for looking for academic support service.

Prof. McDougall began with a brief history of Writing Centers’ development in North America, and then introduced the progress of the writing program at SCUPI Writing Center (SWC). According to him, SWC has mainly implemented the following initiatives since the last semester.

•       A new appointment system 

•       Weekly staff meetings

•       Listening and speaking sessions

•       Feedback surveys

The new appointment system helped students from SCUPI use academic support for a total of 2632 times during the Fall 2021 semester. Data also shows that the students who visited the SWC more than 8 times had had significant improvement in their English scores than those who visited less.

In the meeting, Prof. McDougall also mentioned that the SCUPI Writing Center will contribute extra effort for the project in the future which will cover the following aspects.

First, the team will do the following research:

• Incorporate survey information

• Incorporate focus groups

• Use more robust and accurate tools for text analysis of student reflections

• Write up research into publishable journal articles

• Contact other joint institutes to get a better contextual understanding of institutional practices across China

Second, the team will also launch the following endeavors to build a better SWC:

• Better TA screening and training

• Identify low-scoring students and assign them Writing Center appointments

Faculties who attended the meeting also participated in the discussion after the presentation of Prof. McDougall.

Dr. TsunZee Mai, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of SCUPI, wondered whether the online appointment system would make it more difficult for students to attend consultations. To answer this question, Prof. McDougall pointed out that through a formal appointment, students would know that there will be a particular professor or a student teaching assistant (TA) they want to consult with, which would consequently encourage students to attend the session. This statement was also confirmed by the comparative success rates data.

Dr. Areum Jeong wanted to know what might be more effective with the support from the Institute. Prof. McDougall believed that a better TAs’ screening and training can be fostered with the support of SCUPI.

Faculty and staff who attended the meeting agreed that with the progress of the project, the SCUPI Writing Center will become a stronger tool to facilitate both the teaching and learning at SCUPI.

Editor | Joanna Peng