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International Classroom Follow-up

In February, TEP, the American English Institute and the College of Arts and Sciences hosted a workshop on the teaching implications of the rise in UO’s international student numbers: this year the institution welcomed 2,524 students from around the world—the eighth year in a row record-setting numbers.

At that event, participants voiced recommendations both for individual teaching practice and for the institution to better support these students.

Here are some of the positive developments since then:

(1) Vice Provost for International Affairs Dennis Galvan is forming a working group of faculty, staff, and students to discuss the structures UO needs for international student success. The group’s first meeting comes in May. Interested in participating? Please contact Nancy O’Brien.

(2) Pending funding, next year CAS will pilot two AEI-taught supplemental discussion sections attached to general education courses with high international student enrollment, ensuring students get subject- and context-specific support.

(3) The Office of International Affairs is planning to produce videos of real UO classroom scenarios to use with incoming students beginning in Fall 2013. The videos are meant to begin a conversation about norms of participation and critical discourse in American classrooms.

(4) International Studies Professor Kathie Carpenter is designing a Fall 2013 Freshman Interest Group called, “Is this America: Baseball and Apple Pie?” geared toward international students. The FIG connects INTL 250 “Values Systems in Cross-Cultural Perspective” with AEIS 112 “Advanced Academic Writing,” taught by Dr. Tom Delaney.

“I’ll focus the College Connections class on U.S. values—trying to explain some of the baffling things we do in terms of implicit and often unarticulated, deeply held values,” Carpenter said. “And I want to try to focus specifically on U.S. academic culture, helping them to understand that academic culture is a culture like any other, and they need to learn to play ‘field worker’ if they want to succeed and flourish.” Carpenter explained that she and her students might focus on, for example, expressive individualism as an American ideal, and “tie it in with the deeply held academic valorization of originality,” which would give international students insight on faculty notions of plagiarism and intellectual property.

“I am also hoping to do some fun things like a picnic where we can try our hand at playing baseball, or going to a football game, or going apple picking or to a pumpkin patch and carving jack o’ lanterns,” Carpenter added.

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