The English Language Centre (ELC) participated in the University of Waterloo’s annual teaching and learning conference, organized by the Centre for Teaching Excellence. The conference, Opportunities and New Directions (OND 2014), provides a platform for instructors, staff, and students from across campus, as well as from neighbouring universities, to share practices and research about teaching and learning. With this year’s theme being, “Rethinking and Reframing the Assessment of Learning", the ELC delivered a comprehensive and informative presentation on the University of Waterloo’s new university foundation program for undergraduate students, Bridge to Academic Success in English (BASE).
The presentation, Assessing university preparedness in the Bridge to Academic Success in English (BASE) program: A communicative competency perspective identifies and explains how the BASE program is designed and structured to prepare English language learners (ELLs) for their degree studies at the University of Waterloo. ELC’s very own Christine E. Morgan, Staff Language Instructor and Teacher Development Coordinator, and Keely Cook, Staff Language Instructor and BASE Curriculum Coordinator presented to a diverse audience of professors, staff, and graduate students.
Jointly developed by the University of Waterloo and the English Language Institute at Renison University College (Renison ELI), the BASE program integrates academic English language courses with a discipline specific university credit course. Credit courses are designated and English language course curriculum is specifically tailored to support the academic content of the university credit course:
The BASE program prepares students for the rigours of their academic programs by creating curriculum that is immediately relevant to the students’ learning within their respective disciplines” (Cook, 2014)
Launched in September 2013, the BASE program admitted a group of 40 undergraduate students registered in the Faculties of Applied Health Sciences, Arts, Engineering, Environment, and Science. Students are required to complete 1 or 2 semesters of BASE depending on their English language test scores submitted in their application to undergraduate programs at Waterloo. Conditionally offered to academically exceptional students, the BASE program admits students that have the potential to succeed at the University of Waterloo by completing English language courses that improve all language skill areas: reading, writing, listening and speaking. “Academic Skills Instructors play an important role, applying content from the credit courses to develop each of the skill areas” (Morgan, 2014).
With the first cohort of BASE students completing the program this past April, preparation for the second cohort, beginning in September 2014 is well underway. However, true to the focus of the presentation and theme of the OND 2014 conference, the real work involves looking at the carefully articulated curriculum outcomes and tracking a student’s progress with the specific and measurable performance indicators developed for the BASE program: “This is significant for it is these measures of student progress that will allow us to continually adapt and improve the BASE program to best reflect the overall goal of academic readiness” (Cook, 2014).
About the Renison English Language Institute
The Renison English Language Institute (Renison ELI) has offered high quality English as a second language (ESL) programs and courses since 1970. We welcome more than 1000 students each year to Renison University College.
Housed within Renison ELI are the English Language Centre (ELC) and English Language Studies (ELS). We invite you to explore our programs and courses, and look forward to welcoming you to the Renison community.