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International English Center University of Colorado

Spring 2016


ESLevations Reaching new heights in ESL Transparency By Editor, Amanda McCracken

requires a certain measure of vulnerability, transparency & integrity. ~Janet Louise Stephenson

Thank you to all journal contributors! ~Amanda McCracken, Editor

In a culture and time when “being authentic” is (dare I say) over-encouraged, what does it mean to bring authenticity to our work place? How transparent can and should we be? What balance of vulnerability, transparency and integrity is appropriate? If we are too authentic with students, will they respect us as teachers any less? If we are too honest with our colleagues about our personal struggles, will they think we are weak? These are a few of the important and hard questions we must take time to ask ourselves. In this journal, the contributors try to answer these questions as well as others. In her article “New Authenticity”, Parmelee shares how important authentic interactions at the IEC have meant to her as a new faculty member. She illustrates this on both an interpersonal and professional standpoint. Throughout the journal you’ll see Juniper’s beautiful artwork. On page four, she describes how the pieces represent the theme of transparency. The faculty spotlight interview with Heather calls us to pause and question our authenticity in the context of leadership. She provides research that explains how transparency in leadership leads to trust. And authentic relationship with ourselves, she says, is a first step in creating healthy relationships between leaders and followers. In the push to be “authentic” in our writing, Steve discusses whether this pressure sets-up our students to plagiarize in the form of “patchwriting” when faced with cognitively ad-

INSIDE THIS ISSUE 1: Authenticity: Editor’s Prelude 3: New Authenticity

4: Juniper Stoke’s artist’s statement (art on pages 2, 3, 4, & 19)

5: Faculty Spotlight: Heather Titland Talks About Authentic Leadership

6: Setting-Up Our Students to Plagiarize

9: Authentic Interviewing in the Community

11: Helping Students Understand Rubrics

13: The Past, Present, and Future of Assessment at the IEC

16: Teaching Through Authentic Experience

18: Re-Dub in English Teaching

20: History of Transparency at the IEC 21: Shout-Out!


vanced text. He discusses different faculty reactions to this more frequently policed issue and proposes some solutions. In Karen Eichorn’s article “Authentic Interviewing in the Community,” she tells us about her Life Skills project in the retirement home where students interviewed residents. This created authentic relationships for our students with community members who were genuinely engaged in sharing their story—quite a different approach than listening to a recorded lecture and taking notes. And how do we grade those notes when we collect them and assign a score? Do we use a rubric? In her article, Barbara provides several activities to promote transparent expectations on rubrics. As teachers we are not only responsible for delivering a score, but making sure that students understand the reasoning (and descriptive language) behind the score. How can anyone improve if he/she doesn’t understand what is expected? Transparency is not only important for a healthy student-teacher relationship but also faculty relationships. Olivia’s article on the past, present and future assessment at the IEC sheds light on the history, data and research behind the assessment process. Hope is that with greater participation in interpretation of the data, faculty can consider how the test results can be a reflection on their own teaching. Acknowledging our strengths and weaknesses as teachers is not easy. While at work, vulnerabilities are something we tend to keep secret. However, Juniper Stoke’s artwork sometimes being real with our own struggles learning in the traditional classroom serve us as teachers. Kirsten expands in her article on how she uses strategies she learned as a student struggling with dyslexia to help her own students learn better. Mike reveals in “Re-Dub in English Teaching” how his passion for playing music in the classroom actually has some significant scientific rationale behind it. Not only does exposure to this music present students with cross-sections of authentic American culture, they can also help students remember certain grammatical structures. (Just don’t let the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s “Lay, Lady, Lay,” become an earworm if you are trying to keep straight the correct form for lie and lay.) Lastly, learn a bit about the history of transparency at the IEC on page 20 where Larry, Susan, and I discuss changes made over the past 40 years. 2

New Authenticity By Parmelee

Because I am a new Boulder-ite, new cultures, work place relationships and challenges are making this transition bolder for me. And intertwined with these new experiences is a question at the core: how do I remain true to who I am and who I have been, during this new season? One of my first introductions to the Boulder culture came on the bus. From my first ride I observed the culture of silence, which reminded me of living in England where reverse privacy, or respecting others’ space, is of the upmost value. So I am well-trained in avoiding eye contact and respecting silence. However, when I sat in a seat next to a woman who talked to me, I was shocked, and it must have shown on my face because her next words were, “Just being human, you know, being friendly.” Breaking the code of silence on the bus was this colloquial, coherent definition of authenticity. As a newcomer to the IEC, I have valued authentic interactions on three levels—informally with colleagues, professionally with collaboration and internally with myself. You will never know how much your casual conversations waiting in the copy room or staying late in an office have meant to me. Those r elaxed oppo r tunities to know you, your backgrounds and your unique personalities give me a sense of humanity in the workplace which transcends the frustrations of D2L. I value the opportunities to interact personally which highlights what values we have in common. Not only do casual conversations open up the human side of teaching, they also lead to collaboration and teamwork. Within this framework of sharing ideas, the opportunities for being more authentic grow. I have benefitted incredibly from the gifts of time, lesson plans and patient training and re-training that many of you have offered during these first terms. Collaboration is often negatively viewed as a last resort for teachers, as letting go of one’s secrets in teaching, of helping out someone because they are less able. But if the goal of collaboration is to increase the ingenuity and confidence of the whole team, then pooling resources and ideas is incredibly authentic. In my experience and research, collaboration in teaching is never copying or plagiarism or laziness. Collaboration does not result in mirrored lessons

Juniper Stoke’s artwork


delivered like clones exactly the same with no thought; rather, collaboration is a building block to a new approach for both teachers. In The Self-directed Teacher, Nunan and Lamb conclude that they “believe that the professional growth potential of collegial collaboration is enormous and deserves to be taken seriously” (1996). This “professional growth potential” is a form of authenticity, of learning how others accomplish the same goals in unique ways and then integrating new thoughts with what I already know. This leads to finally being authentic with myself as I return to teaching. While collaboration with others creates transparency and teamwork, I can experience collaboration within my own teaching framework. Having taught one class or subject several times gives me different experiences that inform me of how I can best approach communicating concepts. By integrating what I have studied and experienced, with these new situations, I remain authentic with myself. No two classes are the same in terms of skill levels, characters, schedules or motivation because they are based on human students with unique needs. Teaching is ther efor e never the same rodeo twice. Even with all of the experience that our colleague Connie Davis has teaching same classes and levels, she states that she must create new lesson plans for every class that she teaches. This example of collaboration with herself shows the authentic side of teaching—reworking material to fit genuine human interests and needs. Being authentic, therefore, in this season of learning my way around while teaching international students involves honest interactions on many levels— interpersonal, professional and intrapersonal. I highly value the opportunity to integrate into the IEC by authentically sharing experiences, ideas and our common humanity. Nunan, D., & Lanb, C. (1996). The self-directed teacher: Managing the learning process. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

“I draw inspiration from both the natural world around us and the mystical world just beyond the veil. I studied art formally in college, and have since honed my craft with workshops around the world. I’m primarily guided by color, and transparent layering is one of my favorites techniques.” ~Juniper Stokes’ artist statement


Faculty Spotlight Heather Titland Talks about Authentic Leadership

This journal’s faculty spotlight is on someone who has studied a great deal about leadership—Heather. In December she will be graduating from Regis University with a Master’s in Organizational Leadership. AM: What is a real leader?

HT: A real leader is one who yearns to make a positive difference in the organization and lives he/she leads. I believe in the servant leadership model. A servant leader is a leader in deed not just word. If you Google “servant leader quotes,” you’ll find Maya Angelou’s words: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” AM: Based on what you have learned in your program at Regis, what are followers looking for in a leader? HT: According to former Secretary of the Treasury Paul H. O’Neill (2011), followers of a real leader can answer, “Yes,” to these three questions: 1. Am I treated with dignity and respect by everyone I encounter every day? 2. Am I given the things I need (i.e. education, training, encouragement)? 3. Does what I do here give meaning to my life? AM: How does someone become a real leader? HT: The first step to becoming a real leader, as defined by O’Neill, is to steadfastly make the decision to be a leader. Next, it is necessary for a leader to become authentic with his/herself. “Authenticity involves both owning one’s personal experiences (values, thought, emotions and beliefs) and acting in accordance with one’s true self (expressing what you really think and believe and behaving accordingly)” (Harter, 2002). If individuals don’t own who they are, how can they expect to “know” others? If people in leadership positions are not truthful, how can they expect the followers to be 5

truthful? Leaders must act in ways they want their followers to emulate. Leaders must also be completely transparent so the follower knows what to expect, what the current situations that will impact them are, and how the leader feels about them as an individual. This leads to trust. You cannot be effective in leadership if there is no trust. AM: What role do followers play in authentic leadership? HT: When followers are encouraged, trusted and respected, the relationship between the leader and the follower develops. The cycle then becomes more beneficial to both the organization and the individuals involved. According to Can you see the real me? A self-based model of authentic leader and follower development, “Authentic leaders facilitate the experience of engagement among followers by helping them discover their talents, fitting them with an appropriate position, providing enriched work, and the opportunity to develop rewarding co-worker relations” (Gardner, et al, 2005). AM: Any final thoughts? HT: Although everyone has his/her own set of gifts and talents, not everyone was created to be a leader. However, most of us are put in a situation where we must lead at some point; we may lead our families, our students, our colleagues, our neighbors. In order to be prepared for that situation, we should first find our authentic self in order to become the authentic leader. Garner, W.L., Avolio, B.J, Luthans, F., May, D.R., Walumbwa, F. (2005) Can you see the real me?: A self-based model of authentic leader and follower development. The Leadership Quarterly 16 (343 – 372). Harter, S. (2002). Authenticity. In C. R. Snyder, & S. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 382 – 394). Oxford, UK7 Oxford University Press. O'Neill, P. H. (2012), Truth, Transparency, and Leadership. Public Administration Review, 72: 11–12. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6210.2011.02487.x

Setting-Up Our Students to Plagiarize By Steve Olson The relentless drive to compel students to produce ‘authentic’ writing has elicited three faculty reactions toward those students who might be at risk of plagiarizing: policing students’ use of source material by employing “text-matching software,” identifying students who plagiarize as either dishonest or uninformed, and teaching writing skills (Hu, 2015). Eckel (2010) commented that defining plagiarism as an ethical violation requiring policing neglects the myriad reasons that students plagiarize: lack of understanding text material, lack of writing skill, and lack of intertextual strategies. 6

Students encountering source material that demands complex cognitive processing, perhaps beyond their current ability, are unwittingly ‘set up’ to plagiarize. For example, a student who encounters source material at a level higher than her/his ability to comprehend that material may find no recourse other than to quote or to patchwrite. Knowing that quotations are discouraged in technical and scientific fields, such as engineering, physics, and mathematics (Eckel, 2010), students might use “patchwriting” (Moore, 1999, in Eckel, 2010) as a means by which they attempt to integrate source material into their papers. Thus, patchwriting is an attempt by students confronted with cognitively complex source material to avoid plagiarism. Su ch u se o f “text strings” is what Vessal and Habibzadeh (2007) demand for Second Language Writers (SLW), but not only because the SLW fails to understand source material. Rather, SLW are at a linguistic disadvantage when constructing text for Native Language Writers (NLW). Incorporating “text strings,” especially generic text lifted from Methods sections, adds clarity and accuracy to the SLWgenerated research paper. In the absence of what Afifi (2007) has described as editorial assistance to facilitate intertextuality, the SLW might be tempted to reproduce portions of published text, with or without attribution. Two issues confront the international student assigned to write a text in English: cognitive complexity and lack of linguistic resources. Transgressive intertextuality is a response to these issues. As Hu (2015) noted, policing reduces the incidence of plagiarism only when students fear being caught and punished for their transgression. Policing seldom aids students in internalizing the norms of academic text construction. On the other hand, the role of honor code committees is likely to have greater effect on NLW than on SLW. Honor codes and other ethical regulations have not been extensively studied for their effects on SLW, so their effectiveness is unclear. However, teaching the skills that students need – not only to perform ESL writing tasks but more importantly to perform university writing tasks – demands that writing faculty reflect on their own pedagogical practices. Of particular note is Yamada’s (2003) advice: do not teach students to paraphrase. She fou nd that par aphrases not only fail to fulfill academic writing tasks but also put students at risk of (inadvertent) plagiarism. Yamada correctly indicated what Paltridge and Starfield (2007) later reported: the task when using source material is to demonstrate the writer’s understanding and to integrate that understanding of material into a coherent narrative (textual construction). So, if demonstrative understanding and integration of source material demands neither paraphrasing nor patchwriting, how then does the SLW engage in textual construction? Certainly this is not accomplished by replacing some words with others, nor by rearranging phrases or altering structures. Instead, we need to take Hyland’s (2000) advice and encourage our students to cognitively process material at their operative levels. As Yamada (2003) advised: How would they [students] respond when 7

they discover that writing a faithful account of the source text was not what they were required to do, but integrating different sources as well as imposing their own interpretation of the text? In fact, previous research has stressed the importance of the latter over the former in academic writing. This apparent conundrum is addressed when writing is re-conceptualized as dialogue. As dialogue, writing demands the presence of the writer (Stemwedel, 2013), for the writer interacts with readers in elaborating the topic on which both engage: the reader as active recipient of textual information and the writer as provider of that information. Thus, mere extraction of information from sources does not suffice; the writer must judiciously select information from sources, process that information, and deliver the processed information to readers. Knowing the purpose of the original source material and its intended readership is necessary but not enough. SLW should add value to the material by contributing their own understanding (interpretation) as well as by integrating such material into a unique narrative that transforms rather than replicates. B y doing so, authenticity infuses the SLW text. Perhaps this is what Debord and Wolman (1956) meant when they wrote that detournement “supersedes the original elements and produces a synthetic organization.” Afifi, M. (2007, April). Plagiarism is not fair play. The Lancet, 369 (9571), 1428. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)60662-X Debord, G. and Wolman, G. (1956). A user’s guide to detournement. Trans. Ken Knabb. Bureau of Public Secrets. [Online]. Retrieved from Eckel, E. J. (2010). A reflection on plagiarism, patchwriting, and the Engineering Master’s thesis. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship. DOI: 10.5062/F4NC5Z42 Hu, G. (2015). Research on plagiarism in second language writing: Where to from here? Journal of Second Language Writing, 30, 100-102. DOI: 10.1016/j.jslw.2015.08.004 Hyland, K. (2000). Disciplinary discourses: Social interaction in academic writing. London: Longman.


Authentic Interviewing in the Community By Karen Eichorn Finding authentic ways for my students to practice their English has always been a challenge. When Amanda McCracken first took her Life Skills students to a retirement center in Louisville, she inspired me. I thought that would be a great opportunity for my Life Skills students to meet and talk with residents who might be interested in talking with young people from different countries. I began to look for nearby retirement centers in Boulder and finally found The Carillon at Boulder Creek in Boulder, which is located near the CU campus. I contacted Angela, who is the spokesperson for the center and asked her if any of the residents would be interested in meeting our international students. She said she would put the information in the weekly newsletter.

GUESS WHO!? GUESS WHICH FACULTY OR STAFF MEMBER IS DESCRIBED BELOW: 1. ______was a “roadie” for the Doobie Brothers.

2. ______was once a wedding planner.

3. _______can read upside down.

4 _______is a trained pilot .

5. ______ran a 32 mile trail race this summer.

6. _____is highly experienced at flyfishing.

At first, she found 5 residents who were willing to spend time with our students. On our first visit, students asked questions to learn about residents’ lives, greatest events, and life lessons. The first meeting went well, and subsequent meetings began to build relationships. Children of the residents began emailing our IEC students thanking them for taking the time to visit with their parents. Bridging the retirement center community with our international community opened the door to life stories and experiences that were shared on both sides. The residents participated full heartedly, and, over the course of two sessions, their number grew to about 20 participants. Residents told their stories, taught idioms, and taught/played card games.

7. One of _______first jobs was working as a “handyman” at a funeral home.

Find the answers on page 12


My Life Skills students’ final project this session was to write biographies on their residents. One student wrote the following about her resident: I asked Barbara if she were to write a letter for her children to see in 20 years, what would the letter say? Barbara said, “I wish that the world will be in peace and my children can be happy in their lives.” Overall, the oral feedback I received from my students was positive. My students left Life Skills with a better understanding of the community around them and more confidence in listening and speaking. What’s more, they applied what they had learned in writing through this authentic experience.

Helping Students Understand Rubrics By Barbara Flocke I remember the first number grade I received for a homework assignment while studying French as a Second Language in Paris. When I looked at the low number written on the paper, I thought that I had failed when in fact I had gotten an A! The grading system was very confusing to me because it was completely different from our American system. After two semesters of studying French language, literature and culture in Paris, I slowly came to understand the meaning of French grades. However, it was not until I returned to my university in Washington State and my French professor translated the grades for my official transcripts that I realized how ambiguous the French grading system had remained for me. It turned out that I had never truly understood my grades. Now imagine being an Intermediate 1 IEC student and receiving a graded timed writing paragraph with a rubric attached. The rubric is rated 0 through 6.5 and you scored a 3. That could look like a failing grade to you. Part of the description says, “Although the narrative may have some development, organization may be


unclear and content may be thin in parts, repetitive, and/or irrelevant.” As a low intermediate level student, you may not be sure what phrases such as “thin in parts” or “irrelevant” mean. Our students are exposed to many rubrics in many of their IEC classes. Besides the IEC Writing and Reading Rubrics used for final exams, teachers use rubrics to give students feedback on paragraph structure, note-taking, discussion abilities, speeches, short-answer reflections, and other language objectives. To facilitate student learning, it is important to introduce our rubrics in a way that helps students understand our grading system and their score. B elow ar e activities that I do in my classes to help students interact with the rubric and understand what level of language skills they are trying to achieve. By incorporating more activities that highlight understanding of rubrics, the students in our program will gain a better understanding of the expectations and scores they receive. Introducing a Rubric Activities Student Objective : to understand the levels of ability described in the rubric; to understand the numeric scores for the levels 1. Rubric description and level analysis Class Preparation: Make enough copies of the rubric for groups of 2 to 3 students to each have one copy. Cut the rubric descriptors into separate box “puzzle” pieces. Leave the outside of the rubric intact with the topics (“summary,” “response,” and “grammar & vocabulary”) and the number scores (1, 2, 3, etc.) forming an L-shaped outer edge to which students can match pieces. Shuffle the puzzle pieces so they are out of order. Class Activity: Students work with group members to read the different descriptors and place them in the correct order and location on the rubric outline. Students discuss why one descriptor is rated higher or lower than another as they place the pieces in order. They then check their rubric puzzle with a complete copy of the rubric. Afterwards, the class discusses the different levels of the rubric and what score students need to achieve for an A, B, C, D or F in the class. The teacher explains that the rubric is used for all eight levels at the IEC to help students understand that they will progress up the rubric as they move forward at the IEC. The teacher asks students to give examples to illustrate descriptors. For example, a student could explain and show what it means to have “thin” or “irrelevant” content in a composition. 2. Kinesthetic rubric-level activity Class Preparation: Depending on the size of your class, make 1-2 copies of the rubric and cut the rubric descriptors into separate box “puzzle” pieces. Do not include the number score in the piece. You can focus on the entire rubric or focus on just one aspect of the rubric, such as the “response” section of the IEC Reading rubric. Class Activity: Complete this activity after students have had a preview and some 11

understanding of the rubric. Students choose one puzzle piece that they keep secret from other class members. They should read the piece carefully so that they understand the meaning. All students stand up, walk around and ask each other yes/no questions about their rubric puzzle piece. The goal is to find a person whose piece is directly higher or lower on the rubric. Once students determine that they are probably holding neighboring rubric scores, they can continue to search for other students holding pieces that are higher or lower than their two scores. The goal is for students to put themselves in order of the rubric. Follow-up Activities Student Objective: to deepen understanding of the rubric; to determine examples of different levels of skills being scored in the rubric

GUESS WHO RESULTS 1. Mike Valle was a “roadie” for the Doobie brothers (of whom his uncle is a founding member).

2. Kirsten once worked as a wedding planner where she organized over 20 weddings in such venues as history museums. 3. Michelle not only can read text upside down, she also plays a mean ukulele.

1. Rubric Matching Activity Class Preparation: Make copies of the rubric for groups of 2 to 3 students to each have one copy. Prepare copies of 1-2 student writing samples. Samples can be from anonymous student volunteers or they can be from previous session samples. I always get the consent of the student. Bring various colored highlighters for student groups. (This example activity is for a writing rubric but it can be done with note-taking rubrics, video recordings of speeches, etc.) Class Activity: Students review the rubric and then read the writing sample. They work together to find evidence of different skills being evaluated in the rubric. For instance, they might find that the writer uses compound and complex sentences with few errors. The students mark the sentences with one color highlighter and mark the rubric showing the corresponding skill and score. After students have worked their way through the skills in the rubric, group members can either present their findings to the class or pair up with another group and compare how they highlighted and scored the writing sample. 2. Self-Assessment with Rubric Class Preparation: This activity can be done immediately after students have performed a task or after the teacher has graded student work. Make copies of the rubric for each student. Prepare student work (written work, notes, recording, etc.) that has been scored but do not give students the graded rubric.

4. Chad is a trained pilot with aerial arobatic experience. 5. Summer completed “The Dirty Thirty” trail race in Golden this June. It includes 7250 feet in elevation gain in 32 miles.

6. Karen Eichhorn said her family rarely ever went camping without grilling a fish they’d caught. She still frequently goes flyfishing with her husband.

7. Mike Hammond not only hauled dead bodies at the funeral home where he worked, he also hauled wood as a logger once upon a time.

Class Activity: Students review their own work or the work of a peer. They look closely at the work finding evidence to support 12

the level in the rubric that they think they or their partner achieved. Students annotate the work and rubric, making notes to defend the score that they think the work should receive. If this activity is done as a peer review, students discuss the scores they would give and the author can make changes to improve the work. Students then either turn in the work to be graded by the teacher, or they receive the teacher’s score on the rubric and compare it to the score they gave themselves.

The Past, Present, and Future Assessment at the IEC By Oliva Livneh

Caption describing picture or graphic

Last session, the IEC faculty spent approximately ten hours calibrating and scoring our in-house final exams. They scored over 400 exams, two and sometimes three times each. That means that faculty scored between 800-1000 exams in one session alone. Although it now seems like this procedure is streamlined and reliable, this specific process was only recently developed. Read on to learn a little more about assessment at the IEC including key developments in the past, specific examples for the present, and data for the future. Although the IEC has a history of using standardized tests for placement and exit exams, an in-house exam had not been developed until 2013. That year a committee of four faculty and the Curriculum Coordinator created a “Threshold Test� (now the final reading exam) that was used at two pivotal levels: Basic 2 and Intermediate 3. A year later the IEC gained a new director, began accepting students for the ESL Academic Bridge program and initiated the process for CEA re-accreditation. With new stakeholders involved, there was a drive to develop the assessment program even further. As a result, we expanded the reading exam to all levels and we developed a separate writing test. Once the tests were administered to the whole institution, the next task was applying the rubrics to various levels at the IEC. Hence, we developed a conversion chart that aligned with letter grades at all levels. We were fortunate to have a collection of data that we gathered and documented for this purpose. To ensure validity, we used the Empirical Cut Score Method (Morgan & Michaelides, 2005) to create cut scores (i.e., a score that is the cut off for passing) for each level. This method has proven to be valid since the numbers still correspond over an extended period of time. To see an example of these scores, Table 1 shows the average final exam scores for each level from Spring 1 2014 to Fall 2 2014, which is what the current conversion


chart scores are based on. The shading is different for the upper and lower levels to denote different rubrics or exams. This is important to keep in mind because some Intermediate 1 students have higher scores than Intermediate 2 students. If you compare the 2014 scores to the average scores for each level (Table 2) you can see that the average scores strongly correspond—within a few points—to the C+ scores on the conversion charts. The assessment committee decided that setting the average score for each level at C+ made the most sense because the cut scores, which are equivalent to a D on the conversion chart (Table 2), would be two scores below an average student. That is, students who performed one score below an average student would still pass with a C but students two scores below an average student would not pass the exam. This decision was supported by feedback from faculty that too many unqualified students were passing levels. Currently, we have 2015 data as well and we can see that the 2014 and 2015 numbers are not dramatically different, which is a strong testament to the inter-rater reliability between faculty members. Although long and difficult, hourspicture spent norming Caption describing or graphic and discussing rubrics has helped faculty improve decision-making and assessment skills. Implementing rubrics into classroom assessment has improved reliability across sections as well. When looking towards the future of assessment at the IEC, it is beneficial to examine student data. In the article titled Closing the Assessment Loop, Banta and Blaich (2010) state that assessment data and feedback should not only be collected but should be used to make informed decisions on programmatic and pedagogic changes. As we continue to collect more data, we will be able to make educated judgments on our assessment practices and strengthen the program that we have been refining. Overall, the purpose of sharing these tables in the faculty newsletter is to make sure faculty members are informed on the results of assessment, promoting more transparency in the IEC assessment process. Banta and Blaich, go on to say, “If faculty do not participate in making sense of and interpreting assessment evidence, they are much more likely to focus solely on finding fault with the conclusions than on considering ways that the evidence might be related to their teaching.” Hopefully the history, current data and research presented in this article will inform faculty of the assessment process at the IEC, which in turn will provide insight and understanding of the bigger assessment picture in our program. References Banta, T. W., & Blaich, C. (2010). Closing the assessment loop. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 43(1), 22-27. Morgan, D. L., & Michaelides, M. P. (2005). Setting Cut Scores for College Placement (Rep.). New York, NY: The College Board.


Table 1: IEC final exam average scores by level from 2014-2015

IEC Levels Intro

Writing 2014 1.14

Writing 2015 1.22

Reading 2014 1.21

Reading 2015 0.91

Basic 1





Basic 2





Intermediate 1





Intermediate 2





Intermediate 3





Advanced 1





Advanced 2





Table 2: IEC Conversion Chart Average and Cut Score Equivalencies


C+ Writing

D Writing

C+ Reading

D Reading



(Cut Score)


(Cut Score)






Basic 1





Basic 2





Intermediate 1





Intermediate 2





Intermediate 3





Advanced 1





Advanced 2






Teaching Through Authentic Experience By Kirsten Stauffer Imagine a quiet girl sitting in a first grade reading group. The teacher has students read aloud. She is nervous and dreads this activity. Usually, she counts the students before her so she can practice reading her part. Other times, she follows along as other students read, listening carefully and repeating the lines in her head. She fears making a mistake when it is her turn. Today, the girl feels a little more confident because they are re-reading a story about two frogs. However, when it is her turn, she cannot retrieve or decode a word and stumbles. She utters the word as quickly as she can, in hopes that the teacher does not catch that she cannot produce the word. Unfortunately, the teacher asks her to repeat the word. Staring at the word, she says it differently. Other children start giggling. After a few rounds of this, the girl begins to cry, and the teacher banishes her to a corner of the classroom. Her only ticket out is to read the word correctly. After what feels like an eternity, lunchtime finally comes. Instead of being allowed to go to recess after lunch, the teacher marches the girl out of the cafeteria and back to that uncomfortable corner. Her classmates return and taunt her. Finally, she overhears a boy say, “I can’t believe she can’t read ____!” She feels humiliated, frustrated, and belittled. Over the next few years, she struggles with reading words and music. Despite her challenges, she achieves academic success because she has developed her own coping and hiding strategies and received encouragement and support from her family. After two days of extensive testing when she is in high school, an educational psychologist deduces she has dyslexia. This diagnosis provides hope for moving forward but great trepidation caused by the stigmatism associated with this learning disability. Research about dyslexia and special tutoring provide a world of difference as she learns to overcome this disorder. Throughout the years, she never uses the diagnosis as a crutch and only reveals her struggles in safe environments. As a teacher, she incorporates various strategies into her teaching style she has discovered to overcome dyslexia. The story above is authentic because it is autobiographical. By revealing my deeply guarded secret, I am able to write from a voice of experience. I have learned to recognize my strengths and acquired skills to compensate for my obstacles. Simply stated, dyslexia is a learning disability that affects reading and language. Signs and symptoms may vary depending on an individual’s age. Displaying a few associated dyslexic signs does not necessarily constitute a formal diagnosis of dyslexia. Therefore, an individual with difficulty reading may or may not have dyslexia. Also, the severity of the disorder varies from person to person. A commonly cited statistic approximates that ten to fifteen percent of the US population has dyslexia. The exact number of people living with dyslexia is unknown largely because most never receive a professional diagnosis. Researchers have yet to discover an exact cause; however, it could be linked to genetics. There is no cure for dyslexia because it is not a disease. Symptoms might persist over an entire lifetime. However, it is possible for a person with dyslexia to overcome the disorder. This learning disability does not mean an individual has a lower than average ability to learn nor does it prevent someone from achieving success. Notable individu16

als with dyslexia include Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Steven Spielberg, Anderson Cooper, Keira Knightly, and Jamie Oliver. While the story above illustrates an example I have faced as a native speaker with dyslexia, L2 learners with or without a learning disability may experience similar challenges. When we bring our authentic selves into our profession, we sometimes reflect on our own educational past. We return to our L2 encounters. Perhaps more powerful are influences from conscious (or unconscious) learning experiences in our first language that help us relate to our students. Below are a few educational tools proven to help individuals with dyslexia. Many of the suggestions are practices used in language teaching. 

Create learning environments or lessons that are multisensory. While smell and taste are difficult to incorporate into most language lessons, visual, audio, and kinetic elements are quite possible. For example, encourage students to make and use flashcards with colors representing different parts of speech.

Give time to think. Word-retrieval and processing are two symptoms associated with the disorder. Extended time on tests is a frequent accommodation given for dyslexia. Be prepared to handle students without the accommodation complaining that the situation is unfair.

Teach decoding skills and sight words. People with dyslexia often do not naturally acquire phonetic skills because of brain functioning. Explicitly teach phonetics.

Promote active reading skills. Helping students use a variety of methods during all three phases of reading will help concentration, comprehension, and retention of reading passages.

Encourage organization and time management skills. Structure and sequence are important to help a person with dyslexia learn. A person with dyslexia may also have ADD/ADHD.

Read aloud and encourage audiobooks/websites where students can read along. Often times, a strength of dyslexics is the ability to comprehend and remember what they hear. Reading along aids in the brain making a connection between the appearance of the physical letters/word and its sound. When reading in a group setting and a reader stumbles on a word, softly say the word so the reader can repeat the word rather than trying to sound it out on his or her own. This helps save face.

Offer praise for noticed improvement. When students are struggling but are working hard, receiving additional encouragement builds self-esteem. They are not stupid; their brains process differently. Learn more at a one of the following excellent resources:

Dyslexia Help (University of Michigan)

Dyslexia Research Institute

International Dyslexia Association

Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity


Re-Dub in English Teaching By Mike Hammond `You’re on my mind, like a song on the radio’ sang the famous storytelling songwriter Al Stewart back in 1976. Though Stewart was known more for straight narrative in his songs, the double-entendre of this particular line is cruel if it gets stuck in your head. Scientifically, this phenomena is called involuntary musical imagery (INMI) or an `earworm.’ According to a study conducted by the Music, Mind and Brain group at the University of London (2016), nine out of ten humans who are in environments where they are exposed to music experience earworms weekly. What if this common human vulnerability could be exploited in favor of the ESL teacher? According to a study that involved neuroimaging conducted by Cambridge Medical Research Council’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit (2015). Research of about 50 subjects ages 24 to 69, found that songs that are “catchy” (such as `Happy’ by Pharrel Williams) are the most likely to become trapped in rotation of the human brain’s daily thoughts. With this in mind, songs seem to be perfect homework assignments. Once delivered in class, the song will deliver a repeating set of English lines circulating throughout students’ neural synapses during the evening. According to the research, the student often wakes up in the morning with the tune still echoing in the cranium. What if the song works too well and students get the INMI stuck in the brain for days on end? Based on the research conducted by Dean McKay, a psychology professor at Fordham University (2014), INMI (or earworms) can be treated in one surefire way – distraction. Take out the one song that the listener can’t get rid of and replace it with another song. For ESL instruction, this would seem a great way to teach simple, everyday phrases such as phrasal verbs and get students to memorize them. For example, the Tom Petty song `Won’t Back Down’ – “ Well I won’t back down…won’t be turned around, In a world that keeps on dragging me down, Well I won’t back down.” This short section of lyrics features three phrasal verbs delivered in a catchy, easy to remember package for the ESL student. Expose the student to this song just before class ends, and let them walk out the door with it echoing in their heads. I guarantee that most of the students will remember the pronunciation, phrasing and the meaning by morning. I once received a Facebook message from a former student. We had done an activity based on the song `Best of My Love’ by the Eagles in a class 7 years before, and she told me she heard it at a grocery store in Taipei. She told me that she remembered the words instinctively, even though she had not heard the song in years. It brought back not just the class but her entire experience at the English school with amazing clarity and emotion. I’d like to conclude with a quote by legendary lyricist Jim Morrison of the Doors, “Music is your special friend… dance on fires, it intends… music is your only friend… until the end.” (1967) 18

References Beaman, C. P., & Williams, T. I. (2010) Earworms ("stuck song syndrome"): Towards a natural history of intrusive thoughts. British Journal of Psychology, 101(4), 637-653. Conscious Cogn. 2015 Sep;35:66-77. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2015.04.020. Epub 2015 May 16. McKay, Dean. (August 2014) Journal of Anxiety Disorders Volume 28, Issue 6, Pages 495-632. Morrison, Jim. (1967) When the Music’s Over. Strange Days (album) Published by Elektra Records. Petty, Tom.(1989) I Won’t Back Down. Full Moon Fever. Published by MCA Records. Wojciechowski, Michele. (March 2016) Get That Song Outta My Head! Discover Magazine. Kalmbach Publishing. Waukesha, WI.

Juniper Stokes: “In the spirit of transparency, a behind the scenes peak at my process. This one, titled Summer, is number one in a series of four.”


A History of Transparency at the IEC By Amanda McCracken and Larry Fisher

The history of the IEC clearly documents 40 years of transparency within an organization going from infancy to maturity. In the early days, young, idealistic, and enthusiastic teachers (many returned Peace Corps volunteers) collaborated to establish the foundation of a survivable IEP at CU. There were few rules, few policies, few precedents, and few guides. ESL itself was struggling with various teaching methods from Aural-Oral to Silent Way to Suggestopedia to TPR, to name a few. During the early stages of the IEC, both faculty and staff played important roles. To get the best ideas from all participants, transparency required a welcoming environment where all ideas, all suggestions, all wisdom could be presented, evaluated, accepted, or discarded. However, we quickly learned that transparency was not easy, but necessary to hear the best ideas. In an environment where all ideas are welcome, people’s feelings can sometimes get hurt, and heated emotions can surface. Over time, with the guidance of faculty members familiar with eastern meditation, we learned the art of consensus. Transparency has to nurture participants and protect them from threats, rejection, and embarrassment. Freedom to share meant a responsibility to listen; once the consensus was made, you had to support the decision. This took time, leading to one to two faculty meetings per session which lasted three to four hours. Overall, the IEC benefited greatly from the sincere efforts of those early “pioneers” to create and improve the organization. Much has happened since those early formative years. As the IEC matured and became a more integral part of the university, the dynamics of communication have changed. Transparency of ideas has given way to transparency of accountability. Words like rubric, calibration, syllabi, PC, and standards have replaced discussion, debate, and argument. With an increased concern accreditation standards and stakeholders needs, the IEC has increased its transparency for students in many ways. In the start-up presentation (among other forms of communication), students are told what attendance they must maintain, the code of conduct they must follow, and what they need to do to pass a level. In the past, student accountability for their attendance was less strict. Each teacher could have different conduct rules posted on their syllabus, and passing a level was left up to the students’ teachers’ collective, but rather subjective, decision. Now, students can remain up to date on their status in a class by reviewing their grades on D2L. The more formalized appeals process follows good practices in the field by providing students a way to vocalize concerns. The committee, composed of Susan, Ruth and Agnes, meets twice per session. And for those students who are asked to leave, Susan says, “Students I have to counsel out of the program seem to understand that they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.” The IEC now makes greater efforts to ease students’ transition onto campus by making transparent to the students what will be expected of them at the university through 20

such courses as University Prep and presentations on the honor code. As our numbers more than doubled in 10 years, having more advisors (a job Susan used to do for all students) became necessary. In grooming her advisors, Susan tells them, “Being authentic doesn’t mean telling the student what they want to hear.” Surely this is sage advice for the growth of our students, faculty, leaders, and organization as a whole.

“SHOUT-OUT!” Colleagues recognizing colleagues doing good at & for the IEC David and Holly for helping m e w ith th e social media planning ~ George Patti for infor m ing u s in m eetings on all the small details that affect us ~ Amelia & Karen Eichhorn Sylvie for h er car e a nd all of the facu lty su pport initiatives she facilitates at the IEC to create a more supportive environment~ Karen Easterday Connie for being the best and m ost helpfu l advising coor dinator w e cou ld ask for ~ Sylvie Nick fo r w or king qu ite often w ith OIT on ou r behalf ~ Hea ther Barbara for helping m e this session w ith the A2 celebr ator y pancake breakfast ~ Amanda Rene fo r schedu lin g stu dent helper s fo r m y advising pr ojects ~ Connie Kirsten for br ingin g so m u ch ener gy and pr ofessionalism to the online course development team ~ Nick Karen Easterday for schedu ling on -campus classes for University Prep observations ~ Connie Barbara for her leader ship and coor dination of the Univer sity Pr ep cu r riculum and classes ~ Kirsten Ruth & Holly for their help w ith the TDU syllabu s ~ Connie Larry fo r his seam less im plem entation of the CAMLA exam ~ Olivia Heather & David for being infor m ed, h elpfu l, and alw ays r eady to assist with any admin issues ~ Sylvie 21

“SHOUT-OUT!” Colleagues recognizing colleagues doing good at & for the IEC Taylor (w ho is gr adu ating in May) for her tremendous support as a student lab assistant ~ Larry Steve fo r leading th e spr ing 1 & 2 Lunch & Learn sessions and providing great questions and ideas for discussion on student reading, writing & plagiarism ~ Ruth Ruth, Rene, Susan, & Summer for their contributions and leadership of April 19th Culture Hour ~ Holly Olivia for her gu idance and leader ship with the A2 Panels ~ Barbara and Amanda Nick fo r shar ing som e cool gr am m ar teaching activities in w r iting class which helped me engage students who usually don’t participate ~ Mark Mike Hammond & Heather for her oically fixing m y desk so I can u se the computer tray ~ Parmelee Amanda for continu ally com ing u p w ith innovative jou r nal them es and fun ideas for compiling everything into an inspiring, clever and creative faculty journal ~ Sylvie All teachers at the IEC for w o r king w ith gr eat diligence, ear nestness, cr eativity, and care in the face of many challenges ~ Leigh Ann


ESLevations Journal, Spring 2016 - International English Center, University of Colorado Boulder  

What does it mean to bring authenticity to our work place? How transparent can and should we be? What balance of vulnerability, transparency...