Investigating EAST (A Scotland-Gaza English for Academic Study Telecollaboration between SET Students)

Bill Guariento, Nazmi Al Masri, Anna Rolinska

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

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How can technology be best-harnessed to innovate pedagogical approaches to curriculum design and delivery in order to enhance university students’ learning experience?
This article looks at this question from the English for Specific Purposes (ESP) perspective and reports on a number of technology-enabled interventions to the design and teaching methods used on a Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) pre-sessional course.

Every summer the University of Glasgow (UK) runs an intensive ESP course for incoming international postgraduate students wanting to study SET-related disciplines. In previous years, in order to progress onto their master’s or PhD programmes, the students had to produce a written assignment and an oral presentation which investigates an engineering problem of their choosing and a range of solutions.

In August 2015 an online collaboration with a partner university in Palestine was piloted, which allowed several significant developments. During the project, 20 Palestinian students and 37 UK-based students, divided into small groups, worked together on authentic and highly contextualised SET-related scenarios from the Gaza Strip, devised by the Palestinian students. Their role was to act as critical friends, and provide content-oriented comments throughout the project, which they had been trained in on an intensive online preparatory course in constructive feedback. Based on the guidance from their peer mentors, the students in the UK analysed and evaluated possible solutions. At the end of the project, they delivered presentations to the audience in Gaza via a videoconference link.

The course was evaluated highly. In an end-of-project survey, with an 81% rate of completion, the students from both institutions commented on the range of positive outcomes of the participation, for example language practice, development of digital literacies and enhancement of content knowledge. It was felt, though, that there was an imbalance in benefits and that there is need to revise the course further to offer more opportunities for mentoring input from the Palestinian participants.

This article reports on the project and looks into how the technology-enabled interventions helped improve the course by strengthening the project-based learning elements of the previous course design, focusing on development of transferable skills, and above all bringing in real-world issues into the SET classroom. Working with authentic and specific issues, the UK-based students’ output seemed of higher quality in terms of critical analysis or evaluation. The paper discusses a number of related challenges too in order to help any educator interested in introducing tele-collaboration into their curriculum to avoid pitfalls and make more informed decisions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings
Place of PublicationWashington
PublisherAmerican Society for Engineering Education
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780692685655
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes
EventASEE's 123rd Annual Conference & Exposition - New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Duration: 26 Jun 201629 Jun 2016
Conference number: 123


ConferenceASEE's 123rd Annual Conference & Exposition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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