November— December 2010
Preparatory Year - Teacher Support
Issue 1
Feedback Strategies
Inside this issue:
Types of Feedback
Feedback Strategies: Individual Conferencing
Corrective Feedback
Dos and Don’ts of Feedback
Good Practice
Just a thought . . .
Self test—Feedback Checklist
Coming Up
Further Reading & Web-links
Special thanks to: Prof. Shadia Fahim Dr. Azza Taha, Dr. Sherine Mazloum Ms. Nabila Nakhla & Yasmine Ahmed.

 Prep Year Core Group
Aya Elshahawy, Marwa Atieya
Fayrouz Gamil, Rania Khalil

                                                                                                                                  Individual Conferencing
The goal of individual conferencing is to help Prep Year students become independent and provide them with useful strategies that can be applied either in the English language classroom or their majors.
-Both the teacher and the student play different roles during individual conferencing. The teacher is the resource and the coach, while the student acts as an inquirer, writer and idea-generator. Individual conferencing also provides students with a chance to be note-takers and discussion participants.
Teachers can develop a conferencing model based on three types of individual conferencing: content, process and editing.

Type 1: Content: Teacher elicits the type of content/theme from the student.
Type 2: Process: Helps the student to learn how to reflect on their work; review their progress and set goals to improve their work;.
Type 3: Editing: Helps the student to concentrate on one problem, it also teaches the student the skill.

In order for the individual conferencing session to be successful, teachers should consider the following phases: Pre-conferencing, Conferencing , Post-conferencing.
Pre-conferencing; What is the single most important problem about the work presented? How can I help the student?
During Conferencing:
1. At the beginning state your expectations from holding the individual conferencing.
2. Listen to the student and allow the conference to function as a two-way interaction rather than dominating the student.
3. Help students explore the various ways of locating and organising information necessary to completing their work.
4. Your aim is not to correct; but to raise the awareness of the students and not to provide them with the answers.

Post Conferencing:
The teacher can ask students to indicate what skill strategy they were taught during the conferencing. Both the teacher and the student can agree on the new skill that the student needs to develop.

Types of Feedback
Written feedback strategies:
Generic feedback, individual conferencing, peer feedback and self evaluation.
Oral feedback strategies:
Recasts, repetition, elicitation and paralinguistic signals.

If ... feedback is to be effective in guiding learning, it should focus on ‘growth rather than grading’ encouraging and advancing student learning (Sadler, 1983: 60).  
The elements of the feedback that the student receives could include a mark, a feedback sheet, a criteria matrix and a copy of the essay (Rae & Cockrane, 2008: 223).

Corrective Feedback
Written Feedback Strategies:
There are many ways for giving written feedback on students’ written work. These ways can be as follows:
 Error feedback (using correction codes and an error awareness sheet)
 Error feedback and commentary on a submission form
 Submission form feedback commentary and rubric

Errors can be underlined, circled and categorized. The choice among those strategies depends on the language proficiency level of the students in each class. To consolidate the feedback process, this process should be followed by meeting the student to give oral feedback, or what is literally known as individual conferencing. Individual conferencing will help students get more clarification about their work.

Dos and Don’ts of Feedback

 Do give feedback that is prompt, encouraging and constructive.
 Do provide feedback during the learning process as it helps students improve their work in the future (i.e. formative feedback).
 Do pay attention to diversity and individuality when giving feedback.
 Ensure your feedback is directed at the student’s work, rather than at the student.
 Make judicious selections of which errors to treat; do so with empathy.
 Do not stifle the students’ attempts at production by smothering them with corrective feedback.

Good Practice

1. Select and photocopy an anonymous essay.
2. Divide students in groups and ask them to edit the essay using the set of editing questions given to them for the task.
3. After 20 min. each group gives feedback to the whole class. For example another Thesis Statement can be proposed, topic sentences for the body paragraphs
suggested, correct in-text citation, or propose another conclusion.
4. Show students a good writing sample.
5. Elicit from students areas of best practice based on the shared essay samples.

Just a Thought . . .

“A teacher had used in class a green pen to give written feedback to students. I was interested to know whether or not the teacher had a rationale for using only a green pen. He had. He said he thought green was softer on the eye. I thought this a perfectly reasonable rationale” (Hunt, 2010).

Self-test—Feedback Checklist

Read through a recent feedback sheet you have given one of your students and then answer the questions below. Award yourself one point for each positive
Did you:
                   start off with a positive comment?
                   write a brief summary of your views?
                   turn criticism into positive suggestions?
                   ask questions that encourage reflection about the work?
                   explain ALL your comments? Including the mark or grade?

Coming Up
Research Seminar: Feedback Strategies: Is there a best strategy for giving feedback? 12/12/2010 12:00—1:00pm. English Department—Building D, room # 304

For further support on Feedback Strategies please visit: 
Lane, J. & Lange E. (1999) Writing Clearly. Heinle ELT, xx-xxiii.
ALSO Advising and Language Support Office
English Department, Building D, ground floor,
Office # 107.

Bone, A. (1999) Ensuring Successful Assessment. University of Warwick.
Brown, H.D. (2000) Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. NY: Pearson Education.
Dicks, P. & Bouthillier, J. (2008) Conferencing with Students.
Hunt, R. (2010) Ship on the Horizon. Written Feedback to Teachers Training.
Lane, J. & Lange E. (1999) Writing Clearly. Heinle ELT, xx-xxiii.
Rae, A. & David Cockrane. (2008) Active Learning in Higher Education. Glasgow University, UK.
Sadler, D. (1983) ‘Evaluation and Improvement of Academic Learning’, Journal of Higher Education 54 (1); 60–79

March —April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Preparatory Year - Teacher Support

Issue 3
                                                                                                            Bridging the Communication Gap for Preparatory Year Students
Inside this Issue:
Research says . . .
- Glossary of Terms
- Blended Learning: The Best of two worlds
- Simple Flexible Tools in Moodle
- Do’s and Don’ts
- Just a Thought . . .
- Can e-learning emulate engaging classroom training?
- Touchstone Online - Cambridge University
- Are YOU a “digital native?” Self Test
- Coming Up
- Further Reading and Web-links
Special Thanks to: All contributors to this issue.
Prof. Shadia Fahim, Newsletter Director
Aya Elshahawi, Marwa Atieya, Dr. Rania Khalil
Prep Year Core Group S2 2011
Dr. Rania Khalil
Preparatory Year Coordinator

Research says . . .
Aya ElShahawi
“ a blended –learning approach is established whereby both teacher and learner combine traditional instruction with online learning in order to create a more
personalized type of pedagogy.” (Thorne, 2003)

Glossary of Terms
Dr. Rania Khalil
Voice Thread:
a web service allowing users to upload voice narrations. Students can attach questions directly to the lecture when and where they apply. The result is
a discussion that is integrated into the lecture itself.
a web based tool alternative to power-point to explore the relationship between ideas in a non-linear fashion and encourage higher order skills in higher education students as well as increase the percentage of audience interaction in any presentation.
Social Bookmarking:
allows users to store their bookmarks on a password protected website that can be accessed from any computer on the Internet.

Blended Learning: The best of two worlds
Marwa Atieya
Blended learning is the best of two worlds; it not only provides students with the chance of receiving direct instruction, participate and socialize in pairs or groups, but it also provides them with a comfortable environment of learning which builds on their independency in acquiring knowledge (Bart, 2010). Blended learning is a revolutionary method for the traditional classroom experience. Through blended learning, students can learn at their own pace and manage their time guided by the instructions and explanations made by their teachers. The most exciting part about blended learning is to identify suitable ways and approaches to integrate the teaching and learning experiences of both face-to-face and online as one unit. This will help in promoting students’ creativity and thinking skills to a higher degree.

When designing a blended course, certain guidelines should be adopted in order to ensure effectiveness. These guidelines can be summarised as follows:
- Set clear expectations: Teachers should explain to students what they will learn as a result of using blended learning throughout the course.
- Use a variety of active learning techniques: Integrate and take advantage of the different online resources. Teachers can use forums, weekly reflective diaries, online individual and group feedback sessions and students-led discussions.
- Follow a clear scaffolding approach: Apply scaffolding as a way to improve the quality and depth of student learning, especially after delivering certain instructional goals. Let students practice using online ‘hands-on activities’ in order to encourage them to participate independently in the classroom.
- Attend to differentiation: Teachers should cover a variety of activities in a blended course bearing in mind students’ learning styles and preferences. Use an
array of online activities that would address different levels of students, ranging from students at risk to exceptional ones. This ensures reaching out to all students.
- Offer students easy communication tools: Provide students with simple ways for communicating to ensure that they are not frustrated when working independently.
- Adopt different assessment methods: Use a variety of assessments to evaluate students’ performance like online projects or quizzes to guarantee effective
blended learning.

Simple, flexible tools in Moodle
Ghada Abdel Kader
Creative practices:
The uses for the online assignment tool on Moodle are limited only by your imagination.
- Start small and build up over time.
- Group assignments are a good example.
- Designing a good problem solution group activity does take some time, but an iterative approach works well. There is the prompt, background data, and a problem statement. The problem statement should be an interesting challenge linked to course goals and solvable by applying concepts and procedures learned in class.
- For more advanced challenges, create a problem where there is no clear-cut answer, to encourage student online discussion.

Do’s and Don’ts of Blended Learning
Aya ElShahawi

- Do use the e-learning as it increases student engagement in blended courses.
Students and faculty experience a level of comfort facilitated by student-to-student and faculty-to-student interactions. When students become comfortable with the instructor and their peers, they become more involved with the course material.
- Do provide a brief summary of the uploaded material
as this taps into the student’s schema and helps students to better process the input.
- Do not simply upload the material without presenting it in an interesting way.
Regardless of how well designed an educational multimedia component may be students may not perform to their potential if the material is not used in a well thought out educational manner.
- Do encourage collaborative learning as when students work in pairs in both the face-to-face and with online (e-learning) lessons , working collaboratively can be more educationally sound and cognitively supportive.
- Do not provide one certain type of activity;
vary the online activities (such as pictures, audio, video files, interactive material) in order to cater for the different learning styles of students.

Touchstone Online—Cambridge University Press 
Dr. Chris Hughes

The pedagogy of the Touchstone Online course adopts a 'scaffolding' approach designed to support the students as they slowly build their language level through e-learning. An online inductive approach is used to facilitate the learning process.

The Touchstone Online course objective is for students to achieve the learning outcomes utilising both traditional classroom teaching and online learning with the added flexibility of choice given to the teacher and student. Because so much can be achieved online, precious classroom time can then be used to maximum effect.

Just a Thought . . .
Aya ElShahawi

“ ... multi media activities are mere vehicles that deliver instruction but do not influence student achievement any more than the truck that delivers our groceries causes change in our nutrition.” (Clark, 1983)

Can e-learning emulate engaging classroom training?
Mai Hamed and Ghada Abdel Qader

To find the answers visit:   

Are You a “digital native?”
Dr. Rania Khalil

Most students do not want to lose the classroom experience, but they also want e-learning. A drip feed approach with e-learning ensures a re-enforcing approach to language learning and understanding of classroom practice. Use the self-test below to check how far you have caught up with the digital age.
Do you:

Voice Thread lectures and discussions?
Blog to encourage group work?
Encourage peer online editing?
Build reflection and extension into activities?
Bookmark to create a self-access facility?
Connect e-learning with the real world? 

Coming Up
Blended Learning—A Workshop by Dr. Heba Zeitoun
10 /04/2011 11:00am—12:00pm.
English Department—Building D, room # 304

Further Reading & Web Links
Yasmine Ahmed
Pape, L. (April 2010). Blended Teaching and Learning 16-21. Published by the American Association of School Administrators,
Hofmann,A. (2008). Developments in Blended Learning © Copyright by Institute of Organization and Managment in Industry ORGMASZ” Vol 1(1); p. 55 - 62 10.2478/v10061-008-0007-9 
Mitchell, A. and Honore, S. (2007). Criteria for successful blended learning. Ashridge Business School, Ashridge, Hertfordshire, UK VOL. 39 NO. 3 2007, pp. 143-149, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 0019-7858
Blended Learning with Web 2.0 Tools 

For further support on Blended Learning please visit:
ALSO - Advising and Language Support Office
English Department, Building D, ground floor, Office 107.
Comments and queries contact :
Dr. Rania Khalil ext. 1724

Bart, M. (2010). The benefits of blended learning. Retrieved from 
Clark, R. (1983). Reconsidering research in learning from media. Review of Educational Research, 53 (4), 445-459.
Thorne, K. (2003). Blended learning: How to integrate online ad traditional learning. London: Kogan Page.


January-February 2011
Preparatory Year - Teacher Support
Issue 2
Activating Independent Learning

Inside this Issue:
Research says . . .
Material: Tried & Recommended
Autonomous Learning Defined
Good Practice
Do’s and Don’ts
Just a Thought . . .
Do You promote Independent Learning?  Self Test
Coming Up
Further Reading & Web-links
Special Thanks to:
All contributors to this issue. 
Prof. Shadia Fahim, Newsletter Director
Prep Year Core Group
Aya Elshahawi, Fayrouz Gameel, Marwa Atieya, Dr. Rania Khalil
Dr. Rania Khalil
Preparatory Year Coordinator

Research says . . .
Autonomy crucially depends on the learner’s developing a capacity for critical reflection, decision-making, and independent action (Little, 1991). Aya Elshahawi
Tolerance and courage to hand some control to students might be what teachers need to make some changes in the classroom in order to create a learner autonomy friendly environment
(Matbouli, 2009). Heba Matbouli

Material: Tried & Recommended
Dr. Azza Taha & Dr. Pauline Ghenghesh
Learner Autonomy. A guide to developing learner responsibility. Agota Scharle & Anita Szabo. Cambridge University Press.
Communicative Activities for EAP. Jenni Guse. Cambridge University Press.
Discussions that Work. Task-centered fluency practice. Penny Ur. Cambridge University Press.
Strategies for Student Peer Review. Maryellen Weimer .
Journal of English for Academic Purposes 

Material: Tried & Recommended
Dr. Azza Taha & Dr. Pauline Ghenghesh
Learner Autonomy. A guide to developing learner responsibility.
Agota Scharle & Anita Szabo. Cambridge University Press.
Communicative Activities for EAP. Jenni Guse. Cambridge University Press.
Discussions that Work. Task-centered fluency practice. Penny Ur.

Autonomous Learning Defined
Learners’ autonomy is defined as the ability of learners to be held responsible for their own learning decisions (Holec as cited in Fenner, 2000). It is viewed as the process where learners are given the opportunity to be responsible for their learning activities that would promote learning beyond the traditional way of processing knowledge.

Promoting Independent Learning In and Out of the Classroom
There are many ways to posit learners’ autonomy which include: self-reports (introspective or retrospective), diaries and evaluation sheets, e-learning, self and peer assessment. Guiding students to set their own learning agenda helps learners develop autonomy. Students making the transition from high-school to university need to be aware that independent learning means working in and out of the classroom independently. By setting up learning teams with different roles to play, teachers are also helping students become autonomous; for example: time-keeper, note-taker, a researcher or a facilitator. This approach helps students work together to achieve a shared outcome and helps in setting up a student centered classroom instead of a teacher centered one.

There are many ways that teachers can promote independent learning inside the class. Students could be encouraged to take responsibility of their learning process by giving them the opportunity to make choices. This encourages students to identify their own interests and preferences. Students should consider reflecting on their own choices and evaluate whether they were successful or not.

Taking into consideration the clear and consistent expectations of students while designing in-class tasks and activities, ensures that the teacher meets the needs of all learning styles. It is important for teachers to create trust with students in order for them to leave their comfort zone and take the risk of learning independently making use of supportive material. This trust is also built on helping students understand that making mistakes helps them learn and move forward.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             By Marwa Atieya

Good Practice

Students need to be aware of their abilities and how they can enhance their skills. Specific skills might include:
- completing set tasks/activities without seeking assistance
- skimming and scanning material prior to reading for details
- understanding context clues
- summarising the main points of the task
- using a variety of different sources to complete tasks
- writing, planning, organising, drafting and rewriting essays
- working individually, in pairs and groups
- being resourceful and creative when a task is difficult
- demonstrating organisational skills to meet deadlines
- displaying effective note taking skills
- transferring learning to other areas of the curricula
- presenting work which is comprehensible
- perceiving mistakes as part of the learning process
- setting high goals and aiming to achieve them
- making up for missed work through time management

Do’s and Don’ts of Independent Learning
Aya Shahawi
Do help students set achievable goals for themselves and find value in the module.
Explore with your students what they want to learn and what they should learn. Have the students sign a learning contract. Finally, elicit from your students the relevance of what they have learned.
Do consider asking students to submit self-evaluation forms with one or two of their assignments. For students to become independent learners, they need to be able to evaluate their own progress.
Do make students active participants in the learning process. Students learn by doing, making, writing, designing, creating, solving. Encourage students to suggest approaches or to guess the answer of questions. Students need to learn to smoothly adjust from school (dependent learning) to university (independent learning) or from knowing and remembering to analyzing
and researching.
Don’t assign tasks that are too simple or too difficult as this might demotivate and hence discourage students from being independent learners.
Do give your students the option to select from a wide range of alternatives. Let students select which topics to explore in greater depth. If possible, include optional or alternative reading passages in your lesson plan.
Don't let your students struggle to figure out what is expected of them. Students need to believe that achievement is possible which means teachers need to provide concrete examples that meet their expectations.
Don’t forget to vary your teaching methods. Use plenty of activities where students can explore and learn new strategies in solving problems. Variety reawakens students' involvement in the course and their motivation.
Do reduce direction and support gradually as the learner increases in their proficiency level and in their confidence.
Don’t provide your favoured ways of thinking about solving problem. It might be more beneficial if you gave your students a chance to solve their problems first before offering any assistance.
Do encourage the use of CALL material as it is one of the essential resources that students can use to become independent learners.
Don’t forget to check students’ notes or portfolios. Require your learners to keep a written record of their learning

Just a Thought . . .
Aya Shahawi
You may have heard the saying, ‘Give a man grain and he will feed his family for a week. Give him the tools and he will feed his family for life'. In the context of education, how much of our time is spent providing grain, and how much at providing learning tools that will serve students for life?” (Teaching Expertise, 2004)

Do You promote Independent Learning?
Dr. Rania Khalil

True autonomy (auto-didaxy) is the extent to which learners can learn what they want, when they want and how they want. Read through and then answer the questions below to see if you promote independent learning. Award yourself one point for each positive answer.
Do you:     
give choices to students?
encourage group work?
encourage peer editing?
build reflection and extension into activities?
create a self-access facility? (e.g. ALSO)
connect learning with the real world?
differentiate resources to meet student needs? 

Coming Up
Workshop: Empowering the Learner and Promoting Learner Autonomy. by Heba Matbouli
6/03/2011 12:00—1:00pm. English Department—Building D, room # 304

Further Reading & Web-links
Yasmine Ahmed
Toward a Theory of Independent Learning and Teaching. Michael Graham Moore. 
Managing Independent Learning. George Plumleigh
The Empowering Learners Project. Nora Redding 

For further support on Learner Autonomy please visit: Language_ Learning_Articles/what_is_learner_autonomy and how. htm 
ALSO - Advising and Language Support Office
English Department, Building D, ground floor, Office 107.
Comments and queries contact :
Dr. Rania Khalil ext. 1724


Mynard J. & Robin Sorflaten. ( 2002). Independent Learning in your Classroom.
Fenner, A. (2000). Learners Autonomy. Retrieved from 
Developing independent learning skills 

May-June 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Preparatory Year - Special Issue for Students
Issue 4
                                                                                                                                                                 Study and Recall Strategies
                                                                                                                                        The Student’s Corner - Tips for Terrific Test Taking

Inside this Issue:
Tips for Terrific Test Taking
Do’s and Don’ts of Assessments
Revision Strategies
Time Management Strategies
Exam Techniques

Special Thanks to: All contributors to this issue.
Prof. Shadia Fahim, Newsletter Director
Aya Elshahawi, Marwa Atieya, Dr. Rania Khalil
Prep Year Core Group S2 2011

Dr. Rania Khalil
Preparatory Year Coordinator

Do’s and Don’ts of Assessments
Aya ElShahawi

- Do connect class work to long-range goals: 
Some students learn for the sake of the exam but studying in the end serves the purpose of setting your future and personal daily life.
- Do become active and involved in learning: Becoming an active learner requires that you mentally process what you are learn ing. Write the material you’ve learned
into your own words which will make it seem more meaningful to you.
- Do use multiple methods for learning: Don’t think that the only way of studying is just memorization. Successful students learn best through using a variety of
strategies such as reviewing notes, making flashcards, completing homework activities, outlining chapters or studying in groups. The methods used will vary
depending on the nature of your module.


Dr. Pauline Ghengesh
Revision Strategies

 Organise your notes.
 Keep things in a folder.
 Refer to past exam papers.
 Practice writing answers to questions.
 Share notes with other students.

Time Management Strategies
 Do not intend to study all day.
 Be realistic – do not plan a schedule you can not manage.
 Schedule breaks in your working day for fun, food, relaxation and exercise, but not all at once (IMPORTANT).
 Do difficult tasks at times when you are more productive.
 Do not attempt to do all the difficult topics at once.
 Try to give each subject appropriate time.
 Reward yourself when you achieve targets or goals.

Exam Techniques
 Have all the necessary material with you.
 Read the exam prompts carefully.
 Jot down ideas as they come to you and organize them.
 Don’t leave any questions unanswered.
 Always proofread what you have written.

More Tips ? Read on . . .
Marwa Atieya
 Decide the order of answering the questions.
 Look carefully at the mark allocation for each question to help you to set your time correctly.
 Start with the questions you feel most confident about.
 Read the question carefully 2 or 3 times.
 Highlight the key words to help you focus.
 Brainstorm the question prompt in the margin of your answer sheet.
 Check that the information you wrote is relevant to the question.
 Plan and structure your answer into introduction, body and conclusion.
 Allow some time at the end to revise your answer.
 Write clearly and legibly.