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«Site: Intensive English Program American University of Kuwait Type: Programmatic Dates of Visit: February 21-24, 2009 Site Reviewers: Sarah ...»

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Accreditation Review

Team Report Response

Site: Intensive English Program

American University of Kuwait

Type: Programmatic

Dates of Visit: February 21-24, 2009

Site Reviewers: Sarah Klinghammer, Team Leader

Mark Algren, Team Member

CEA Representative: Terry O’Donnell

P.O. Box 3323

Safat 13034 Kuwait

Table of Contents 

SECTION 1

Response to the Report:

SECTION 2

Factual Errors

SECTION 3

Response to content

2. Curriculum Standard 4

5. Administrative and Fiscal Capacity Standard 9

9. Student Achievement Standard 5

EXHIBITS

Exhibit 1: Appendix A p. 86-93 from the Self-Study

Exhibit 2: C-4-1

Exhibit 3: Appendix A p. 502 from the Self-Study

Exhibit 4: Appendix A p. 269-260 from the Self-Study

Exhibit 5: F-6-3

Exhibit 6: AF-9-2

Exhibit 7: AF-9-3

Exhibit 8: SA-5-2

Exhibit 9: SA-2-11

Exhibit 10: Appendix A p. 76-77

–  –  –

Response to the Report:

Thank you for your report of April 1, 2009 and its instructions.

Receipt of the Final Team Report by the Site visitors in February 22-24. 2009 is hereby acknowledged. Copies of the Final Report have been circulated to the American University of Kuwait (AUK) community.

AUK graciously accepts the Final Team Report. We greatly appreciate your important and valuable recommendations. The report emphasizes quality assurance, program improvement and program responsiveness to the changing needs of the students and all stakeholders.

The campus’s 2009 accreditation experience initiated and encouraged a positive dialogue between the campus support units and the Intensive English Program with the Site Visitors on the nature of program accreditation for a university. Those discussions culminated in the creation of an Institutional Research Office. IEP participated fully in those discussions and enthusiastically embraces these new developments and process.

–  –  –

Based on the interpretation by the IEP of the standards discussion question, the IEP provided the CEA with the following documentation: please read below.

2. Curriculum Standard 4 – “This standard requires a written document describing a formal plan for review, including tasks, process, responsible parties, timelines, and documentation” (p. 17 of Report).

The IEP Operations Manual (Exhibit 1: Appendix A p. 86-93 from the Self-Study) contains in Section III

Curriculum Guidelines the following: Curriculum Outline, Curriculum Planning, and Curriculum Review:

Guidelines for Instructors and Coordinators which include the tasks and responsible parties to complete these tasks. The Curriculum Review Policy and Procedure (Exhibit 2: C-4-1) and the Curriculum Review Advisory Committee terms of reference (Exhibit 3: Appendix A p. 502 from the Self-Study) highlights the process and timeline for curriculum review. Additionally, the curriculum planning and review responsibilities are delineated

in the Coordinators (Exhibit 4: Appendix A p. 269-260 from the Self-Study) and Senior Instructors (Exhibit 5:

F-6-3) job descriptions.

Comment: The combined documents constitute a formal plan for review, including tasks, process, responsible parties, timelines, and documentation.

5. Administrative and Fiscal Capacity Standard 9 – “This standard requires a written document describing a formal plan for review, including tasks, process, responsible parties, timelines, and documentation” (p. 49 of Report).

The IEP has in place the Academic Program Development Policy and Procedure (Exhibit 6: AF-9-2) which includes the plan for program review, including, the tasks, the responsible parties, the time required, and the meeting schedule. The Academic Program Review Policy and Procedure (Exhibit 7: AF-9-3) further charts the persons responsible for the program review process, the tasks that must be completed, the timeline, and basic components of program review. Both policies and procedures must be adhered to by the IEP. There is an understanding that the reference to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences within these two documents, in effect refers to the Director of IEP. In other words, the Director of IEP acts as the final arbitrator to said policies and procedures.

Comment: The combined documents formulate a formal plan for review.

9. Student Achievement Standard 5 – “This standard requires a written document describing a formal plan for review [of assessment and reporting requirements], including tasks, process, responsible parties, timelines, and documentation” (p. 92 of Report).

The IEP has a formal Assessment Plan (Exhibit 8: SA-5-2) which does outline assessment and reporting requirements], including tasks, process, responsible parties, timelines, and documentation. The IEP Operations Manual (Exhibit 9: SA-2-11) in Section II Placement and Assessment has an Assessment guide which lays out the process of aligning assessment with the mission, program goals, and course learning outcomes to help improve learning and guide decision making. Additionally, in the Operations Manual, the Outcomes Assessment Timeline (Exhibit 10: Appendix A p. 76-77) illustrates the timeline in which the IEP assessment plan will be Review Team Report Responses 2009 Page 5 incorporated into the university assessment plan. The American University of Kuwait is in its 5th year of operation and needed to have statistical data in order to complete the Assessment Plan university-wide. Spring 2008, AUK had its first undergraduate graduating class of students.





Comment: The combined documents serve as the formal plan of assessment and reporting.

In conclusion, albeit our interpretation of the standards under discussion, we are willing to integrate the documents as deemed appropriate by CEA.

–  –  –

Review Team Report Responses 2009 Page 7 Exhibit 1: Appendix A p. 86-93 from the Self-Study Curriculum Outline The curriculum, which includes coursework, co-curricular activities and other educational experiences, is the program's formal plan to fulfill its mission statement and expectations for student learning. The curriculum links the program’s beliefs, its expectations for student learning, and its instructional practices. The strength of that link is dependent upon the professional staff’s commitment to and involvement in a comprehensive, ongoing review of the curriculum.

1. Each curriculum area shall identify the academic expectations for which it is responsible.

2. The curriculum shall be aligned with the university academic expectations and shall ensure that all students have sufficient opportunity to practice and achieve each of those expectations.

3. The written curriculum shall:

• prescribe content;

• integrate relevant program learning expectations;

• identify course specific learning goals;

• state instructional strategies;

• state assessment techniques including the use of program rubrics.

4. The curriculum shall engage all students in inquiry, problem-solving, and higher order thinking as well as provide opportunities for the authentic application of knowledge and skills.

5. The curriculum shall:

• be appropriately integrated;

• emphasize depth of understanding over breadth of coverage.

6. The university shall provide opportunities for all students to extend learning beyond the normal course offerings and the university campus.

7. There shall be effective curricular coordination and articulation between and among all academic areas within the university.

8. Instructional materials, technology, equipment, supplies, facilities, staffing levels, and the resources of the library/media center shall be sufficient to allow for the implementation of the curriculum.

9. The professional staff shall be actively involved in the ongoing development, evaluation, and revision of the curriculum based on assessments of student performance in achieving the program’s academic expectations and course specific learning goals.

10. The university shall commit sufficient time, financial resources, and personnel to the development, evaluation, and revision of curriculum.

11. Professional development activities shall support the development and implementation of the curriculum.

–  –  –

Review Team Report Responses 2009 Page 9 Assess student response to change Assess faculty response to change (Write it up so colleagues can learn from the experience??) The Director and Coordinators can help devise assessment procedures for evaluating the impact of the change, and can do some of the assessment ourselves e.g. speak with students, faculty, and can help plan training sessions for Instructors.

Research The IEP at AUK makes and has from its inception made every effort to engage with and make extensive use of research into language acquisition, composition, reading, listening, speaking, assessment, and teaching methodologies in an attempt to actualize the Mission Statements of both the University and the Program and the outcomes of each level of instruction while recalling at all times that writing in all the above-named areas constitutes theory and not unassailable facts or truths. Curricular decisions in the IEP as well keep ever-present in mind the nature of AUK students: their cultural background, their educational experience, and their psychological makeup. If the IEP can be said to embrace one over-arching theoretical line of thinking, it is Diane Larsen- Freeman’s “Principled Eclecticism” (2000) which “encourages instructors to consider carefully the different trends and ideas that have occurred historically, and to choose those that most closely fit the needs of a particular classroom or individual student” (Maggie Sokolik, “Writing,” Practical English Language Teaching, David Nunan, ed., McGraw Hill Contemporary, New York, 2003, p. 91).

The decision to move a portfolio system of evaluating reading and writing in the IEP demonstrates “Principled Eclecticism” in action in AUK’s IEP. The portfolio system as articulated by Peter Elbow and Pat Belanoff (“Portfolios as a Substitute for Proficiency Examinations,” College Composition and Communication, Vol. 37, No. 3 (Oct, 1986), 336-339, JSTOR, 31 Oct 2005, http://www.jstor.org) comprises two norming or sessions, one at midterm, the other at the close of term. Their midterm norming session involves teachers presenting drafts of student work to other teachers who vote on whether a student’s work is passing or not; this is the only feedback given by outside readers at this time. Teachers who disagree with a reader’s evaluation can request a second reader. At end of term, students submit a 4-piece portfolio containing an expressive “personal piece,” an essay on some academic topic, an analysis-of-text piece, and a one-draft-only in-class essay. The end-of-term norming session requires that each portfolio be evaluated by two readers. While most evaluations are considered the final word on a student’s passing or failing that particular course, there is a chance for additional revision if the failure has resulted from the poor quality of only piece of writing.

Under the Elbow/Belanoff system, students “choose their best writing” (p. 337) for inclusion in the final portfolio. Letting the students decide what to include in a portfolio, according to most discussions of portfolio evaluation, whether for language-based or other courses, appears to be the norm: “A portfolio,” says Geoff Brindley (“Classroom-based assessment,” Practical English Language Teaching, David Nunan, ed., McGraw Hill Contemporary, New York, 2003), “contains a collection of student work selected by the student that demonstrates their efforts, progress, or achievement over a period of time” (p. 318).

Upon choosing to use portfolio evaluation for reading and writing courses, AUK’s IEP took into account other “realities” and adapted the concept to fit the program’s needs. Certain adaptations focused on the pieces of writing to be included in portfolio and therefore affected the design of the writing assignments in the various reading and writing courses; other adaptations came as a result of experience in the field in general and in the Middle East/Gulf Region/Kuwait in particular. All adaptations were, and continue to be, the result of carefully balancing researched and respected theories with the judgment of trained professionals with, in some cases,

upwards of 25 years in the field and in the region:

1. Expressivist writing has fallen into disfavor and does not clearly and directly prepare the student for the academic tasks that are required of him/her at the undergraduate level and that our Mission Statement plainly indicates is our primary purpose.

Review Team Report Responses 2009 Page 10 Cherry Campbell: “Successful academic writing involves, among other things, the ability to integrate information from previous researchers in relevant areas of study.” (“Writing with others’ words: using background reading text in academic compositions,” 1987, p. 211) Muchiri, Mulamba, Myers, Nodoloi: “Much of the work of teaching composition critically is making students aware of the tricks of language, the way academic language is different from everyday language….” (“Importing Composition: Teaching and Researching Academic Writing Beyond North America, 1995, p. 365) For these reasons, we opted to minimize the role of expressivist writing in portfolio assignments and clearly tie any such writing to activities which aid in preparing students to enter the general discourse community of the academy.



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