Marist College/Newburgh International Academy FIPSE Grant #: PR116B001527
In this second year of our grant, we are confident that we have “hit our stride” and progressed on all of our objectives. We have gained a more mature view of the possibilities and limitations of the mentoring process. We have secured within Marist College a network of faculty and administrative support for international activities that will outlive our grant. We have involved more Marist students in our activities, and the range of these activities has broadened. We have increased our Web visibility and extended the technological training directly to the students, as our participating faculty is itself now better trained through last year’s workshops. Finally, we have made encouraging progress on the fourth of our listed goal, which concerned the technical training of future language teachers. This goal had been under-addressed in our first year as it was contingent on other technical development. The San Diego convention was as stimulating as last year. With less need to study the fundamentals of grant management, we were able to take advantage of the specialized workshops and were gratified by the special attention given to our own two concerns: international development and meaningful use of technology. Recalling one question that we had been asked to clarify for ourselves in our final proposal, we have paid particular attention to what the gains will be for Marist College proper, beyond the benefits of the mentoring activities. As a result, we decided to initiate a more ambitious International event at the College, in addition to the yearly event that took place in the Fall for the Newburgh students. Marist’s International Career Day, initially planned for April 12th, has been postponed to October 4 to meet additional preparations and to time it in relation with the Marist Graduate School Fair. We have stayed on track with all our four stated goals. We have been challenged this year, and expect to be challenged further by substantial administrative and political developments at the Newburgh Academy that have led the school to reconsider the structure of the theme houses that provided the original focus of our partnership. This has not obstructed in any way our activities with the children, thanks to the exceptional creativity of the project’s co-director Tony Wesneski, and to the flexibility we learned from last year’s experiences. To give ourselves ample resources for our International Career Day, we have maintained our habit of frugality in our second year’s budget by relinquishing one course release and postponing other miscellaneous expenses. As we would like this event to continue in years to come, we are keen on building a strong network of presenters’ contacts both in New York and in Washington, which may call for some increased travel and hospitality expenses. Our assessment of mentoring activities all point to a positive outcome both in student satisfaction and attendance. Dr. Whalen will be conducting the second year’s review over
the summer, and Dr. Kent, our internal evaluator at Marist, will assist us in the coming weeks in choosing evaluation tools for our major event. There have been no changes in staffing this year. Prof. Karen Tomkins Tinch, already listed in the original proposal, has increased her responsibilities and will maintain these during the third year.
Progress in Individual Objectives
I - Test the ability of technology to offer alternate ways of delivering Foreign Languages and Cultures instruction. FIPSE’s help had proven unexpectedly timely in this area, not only to meet Marist’s specific needs, but because of some developments that appear to be gaining ground in the area of Languages and Technology nationwide. Several of the most recognized Multimedia Language Centers have recently been under administrative pressure to cut costs, generate revenue or even relinquish outright their facilities to money-making ventures on campus (as happened to the much respected Language Center of University of Massachusetts at Amherst this year.) This trend is preoccupying enough to have been chosen as the theme of the upcoming meeting of NERALLD (North-East Association of Language Lab Directors). Unlike other institutions that house state-of-the art labs, Marist was never in a position to staff a full-time director in its Language Center when the college built the facility into its new Library three years ago. Instead, with a modest yearly budget and a symbolic faculty stipend, the department has from the start sought creative alternatives to the laborintensive operations of a language lab, and looked for ways to extend its services to other academic areas in order to minimize the risk of losing its control of the facility. FIPSE’S support allowed us this year in particular to find solutions to the need for a simplified online course management system, as an alternative to the expensive and elaborate commercial products such as BlackBoard, Prometheus or WebCT, with which labs with larger budgets have been experimenting. Under the pedagogic guidance of C.Keith and K. Gaugler, our technical assistant has programmed several independent Web tools that have attracted much interest among colleagues at conferences to whom we presented them informally, an example of which being our Sound Recorder, a highly flexible system for sending via the Web recorded assignments that can be retrieved, assessed and commented upon by instructors without the traditional constraints of the email environment (limited size of files, lack of interactivity). A system of online placement is also in use, as is a simplified structure of password protection and syllabi management. The common qualities that we have pursued in these developments are simplification, user-friendliness, technological sobriety (without the excess of bells and whistles imposed by professional products), and long
term self-maintenance. We will continue actively this development this year, both for the benefit of Marist and with the purpose of free dissemination among our colleagues in the profession when we are satisfied that the tools have gained the critical approval of all our language faculty, especially adjunct. Another development to which FISPE contributed was the addition of Chinese to the Departmental course offerings of 2001-2002. Chinese, of course, has been offered for years at a number of other institutions, but the significance of this progress at Marist is that the college reflects very well the demographics and curricula of most good but non-elite four-year American colleges. Schools like ours service students who are on the whole not accustomed to thinking in a global perspective, and while a Global Studies requirement can easily be added to a curriculum, the study of a non-Western language remains a matter of personal incentive. The purchase and digitizing of several instructional programs in Chinese, and the ability to pay a modest stipend to one of our Chinese International student to tutor experimentally a couple of interested students helped convince the Administration of the viability of a regular course. We will use this opportunity to develop Web based resources in this language, and plan in particular to test a multimedia pedagogical series developed at John Hopkins University through a FIPSE grant. We will also experiment with the Penless Chinese instructional software, also developed with the support of FIPSE (Baruch College). II - Expand the traditional role of the Language department by adding interdisciplinary and international activities to the curriculum. We have continued our dialogue with other departments, especially, this year, with the Political Science Department. In the unfortunate aftermath of September 11th, several teach-ins and debates were organized on campus, and we were pleased that the Modern Language Department was invited by Political Science colleagues to contribute cultural analyses on regions outside of those whose languages are taught on campus. The dialogue initiated last year and the small financial support we provided towards the purchases of software and World maps has made our colleagues more aware of the travel experience and research interests of the Modern Languages faculty. The preliminary planning of our International Career Day has also attracted the attention of the Dean of Faculty’s Office, who has asked if their newly created Dean’s circle (a groups of high-achieving students) could be invited to meet our panelists and special guests. The Department’s visibility has also grown through its regular support of the International Students Club, after last year’s FIPSE-sponsored International Dinner, at which the fundraising efforts of our Indian
students were publicized. Through this support, we have extended our contacts to international students at the neighboring Culinary Institute of America, whose help we will solicit for the October 4th event. The MidHudson International Career Day is in the final planning stage, in consultation with neighboring colleges and a diverse and promising reach. We much hope that it will become a repeat event at Marist. Details can be viewed at the following Website set up for our participants: ( http://www.mlc.la.marist.edu/presenters). The preparation of this event also has the active support of the Office of Career Services, which has volunteered its research time and its data bases to the Language Department and will advertise our International Fair as a coordinated follow-up to its own Graduate Fair. Finally, the technological development that we have integrated into our curriculum in the past two years has been communicated to the Office of Admissions, which has modified its Guided Tours itinerary to include our facility. Several parents’ emails commented on our presentation as one of the highlights of the Fall Open House. III - Offer an opportunity to economically disadvantaged High School students to learn about college life, technology and career opportunities in the international field, and to improve attendance and retention among these students. In light of the major administrative changes that have been taking place and are still unfolding within the Newburgh school district (see section below on Challenges and Shortcomings), we are much gratified that we have been able to maintain a regular and productive series of activities during this academic year. Following the series of faculty Technology workshops of the prior year, we scheduled two more faculty workshops during the 2002 summer, this time with the agenda set entirely from the Newburgh perspective: the International Academy (which exists strictly on the basis of voluntary participation by faculty willing to add an international component the required High School curriculum) had suffered chronically from the inability to find a time and space conducive to the mini faculty retreats needed to discuss long-term pedagogical objectives, and set clear strategies to support the Academy’s growth. Marist’s FIPSE-supported offer to provide a high quality environment, some academic advice and a modest stipend to the Newburgh faculty insured a committed participation from a diverse team of teachers representing the breadth of the academic program of the High School. The calendar of Marist/Newburgh activities that was set during these summer workshops has been mostly fulfilled with clear positive results, and consisted of the following:
The yearly full day visit to Marist College, in October 2001, of all Newburgh students enrolled in the International Academy. The day’s theme was International Travel and Study and included a hands-on introduction in the Library’s labs to a range of travel and research sources on line; a luncheon and guided tour of the College for newly enrolled students; a major presentation on living in foreign countries, which was made by twenty Marist students returned from study abroad, International students just arrived at Marist, and several administrators of international background. Online photos supported the presentation, as did a take-home information packet. Quizzes were rewarded by prizes and a Mascot for the Academy. The full and generous response from our student volunteers confirmed to us that time is often the major obstacle to students’ willingness to mentor, and that the most successful returns are achieved on an ad-hoc basis, matching one particular event with special student interests. The development by T. Wesneski of the Sophomore Seminar at Newburgh, a skills-oriented course for the development of study and research skills on international issues. This course was supported by Marist’s own ALCUIN Web site (developed by the Academic Learning Center) and the advice of the Center’s Assistant Director. Two presentations done at the Newburgh Academy to students faculty and administrators by Dr. Duleep Deosthale (director of International Studies) on the topic “Glocal Economy and International careers”, and By. Ms. Iris Ruiz-GRECH, (Director of the Higher Education Opportunities Program (HEOP) ) on opportunities for minority students. The Young WebMasters program, in which Marist and Newburgh collaborated on the development of the NFA’s homepage (http://mlc.la.marist.edu/infa), and organized an afternoon workshop in the Language Center. Our plan for two teleconferencing sessions between our institutions did not materialize due to technical difficulties. There has been a clear and consistent improvement in attendance and performance under Tony Wesneski’s caring leadership at the International Academy. He succeeded in instituting, without coercion or bribe, a system of penalties and rewards that he tied to the permission to attend Marist’s
special projects. The benefits of self-esteem, sense of achievement and incentive for the long-term life of his pupils vastly exceed the capacity of any statistics to measure. IV - Train future teachers in Marist Teacher Education Program in the use of technology for Foreign Language and Culture instruction. This objective had not been sufficiently pursued in our first year, because of the difficulty in reaching in a uniform way all the Education students scattered over many Language sections on a given semester. Also, we were pondering how to serve the different needs of our own Majors in Language seeking Education certification, and of students who were taking a language solely as a state requirement in the Education program. With the Education department also seeking to establish a model for an general course on educational technology, we found that the best way to reach our intended audience effectively was to design a departmental course whose formula would be the same for all languages taught, and would become a requirement for all Language majors. With the help of an assistant paid by the grant and the summer work and time release scheduled in our proposal, Professor Gaugler designed the innovative course Language and Technology for which we have seen no equivalent yet at other institutions. The course was tested in Spanish in Spring 2002, and will be extended to French this academic year. With a carefully calibrated technological and linguistic learning curve, assignments are built around three major projects, to be completed as a semester portfolio: 1) designing (in Spanish) a brochure for an international organization or company. 2) assessing the content and validity of the information on Foreign Language listservs; 3) Using specialized software to create an online interactive questionnaire or exercise with a selected audience and objective in mind. In the process, students become proficient at quick Web design or PowerPoint presentations with a focus on content; they learn to find and use the many linguistic resources online for self-corrected writing in the target language; they become discriminating users of Spanish listserves and chat-rooms; they are challenged to design an effective pedagogical or evaluative product. The course’s chosen them of Careers provides coherence for the e-resource bank supporting the class, lets students to customize the portfolio to their interests, and allows the instructor to individualize his/her support of Education students without neglecting the rest of the class. The course was well enrolled and received unanimously positive feedback, documented through the course’s own evaluation structure and in the end of semester evaluations. We knew we had a “winner” with the Language and Technology Practicum, but were taken by surprise at one unexpected and very positive development: through word of mouth, Professor
Gaugler’s exciting pedagogy led at least one professor in the department of Education to report his own difficulty in developing a Technology curriculum in his own discipline and to invite Dr.Gaugler to conduct workshops in his classroom. For reason of collegiality and departmental identity, however, it seems preferable for the time being to continue testing the course within the Foreign Languages, and disseminate its ideas widely within the Language profession through its accepted channels. As a next step, we will explore the possible extension of Prof. Gaugler’s model across the curriculum.
Challenges and Shortcomings
The only serious challenge experienced this year was mostly outside of our control: the political changes within the Newburgh School district. With the forced resignation of the superintendent over a personal matter, programs that had been established and supported through his administration have been reconsidered. This has been the case with all the theme academies, which had been established initially in response to the district being placed on a probationary status several years ago for its poor record of attendance and academic indicators. In the past year, the International Academy saw its budget greatly diminished, and a further erosion of the registration and statistic-keeping processes necessary for the good operation of the Academy. As of this writing, there is further evidence that academies may be eliminated altogether. We still expect to be able to pursue our Young WebMasters Program, which requires mostly teacher collaboration between the institutions without much expenditure, and we also have all arrangements in place for the participation of our “mentorees” as guests of honor for the October 4th event. For the sake of the grant project’s legacy, however, we have begun to look at ways to transfer what we have learned about collaboration with high schools to one or more local secondary institutions in the Poughkeepsie School district, with which Marist already has various levels of contacts. We have also found a serious interest in collaborative pursuit at the Dutchess Community College, where student groups exist that also need encouragement and information to understand the wide possibilities of international careers. We must still report as a shortcoming the fact that our evaluation process has been more qualitative than quantitative, due in part, as was the case last year, to a substantial discrepancy in the Newburgh School district between the planned record-keeping structure of registration, attendance and academic performance that was to support the new Academies, and the reality of the figures made available. We are much concerned about this point, and have asked Dr. Brian Whalen, our outside evaluator, to assess the extent to which this is bearing on our self-evaluation responsibilities to FIPSE, and to suggest possible ways to correct this imbalance.
Recognition, Dissemination and Outreach
We have established our FIPSE Web site () and worked primarily on helping develop the Newburgh children’s page. We are waiting to see the result of our October 4th event both with regard to the networking reach and with regard to the information Website that will support it. Both the event and the site are being advertised as FIPSE-sponsored initiatives, and we have found so far that the umbrella of this sponsorship has facilitated our introduction with potential participants, and has invariably elicited good will in their response. We are otherwise communicating our activities informally at conferences (see section 1) and will begin disseminating freely through major professional lists the small and versatile teaching tools developed for our classes.