Some of my students are in a Springboard program.  How do I make sure they don’t feel left out?

Par: Andy Van Drom

20 mars 2018

For as long as I’ve been teaching B-block courses, every term, on the first day of class, at least one student inevitably raises the following question: How can I work on field-specific content and tasks if I do not yet “have” a field? 

Students in so-called Springboard programs often feel they need to tackle an added challenge to meet the ministerial requirement of communicating in English using field-related language and formats. 

"My experience has showed me that, if left unaddressed, this situation may cause additional stress or lead to students losing motivation for the course." 

In turn, this places additional pressure onto teachers’ shoulders to:

  • ensure that the course content and tasks are specific enough to allow students in technical and pre-university programs to attain the competency.
  • offer sufficient leeway for students who don’t know yet what program or field they want to evolve in while still evaluating them on field-related language use.

I then decided to design Become to help teachers and students to overcome this typical B-block hurdle using these 3 building blocks. 

Themes relevant to all students, regardless of their program

Become offers broad study and work-related themes that are pertinent to all college-level students, regardless of their program. Throughout the units, focused tasks invite students to reflect on precise aspects of these themes, from the vantage point of their current status as higher education students or their future role as professionals in a given field. 

In this way, Become doesn’t leave anyone behind, without the need to adapt tasks for Springboard students.

Putting students at the center of their own learning

A personalized scaffolding approach places all students at the center of their own learning. This gives students more control over the angle from which they investigate proposed themes and allows them to reinvest the acquired insight and language in complex end-of-unit tasks that feel relevant to them rather than uniformly imposed. 

In this way, Become gives all students, including those in Springboard programs, an authentic purpose instead of merely getting them to “work for a grade.”

A personal reflection on students program 

Become repeatedly gives students the responsibility of acting as ambassadors of their program. This encourages them to critically reflect on their coursework and explore different aspects of their program across speaking and writing tasks in order to deepen their understanding of their field.

In this way, Become actively supports Springboard students in their exploration of the subjects and fields they are interested in, which actually helps them in their future choice of program.

How about you? How do you deal with students in Springboard programs? 

Andy Van Drom has been teaching Linguistics and ESL at the college and university level, specializing in English for Specific Purposes, since 2005. He is an editor and regularly writes on the ProfWeb blog. He is also the author of Become, a series designed for Block B students in levels 100-102. Learn more ->

Tags: Become, Block B, blog, Cegep, ELT, ESL, Springboard programs, Teaching mixed groups,

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