TitleThe Pedagogical Significance of Educational Supporter System in the Project-based English Program
S. KIMURA, Y. KONDO, T. KASAMAKI, M. OGA
AbstractThis paper reports on the utilization of Educational Supporters (ESs) and their benefits in the Project-based English Program at Ritsueikan University. Ritsumeikan University characterizes the implementation of ESs as an assisting factor in creating a better environment for the students to study or teachers to teach in, and also an educational activity for ESs to learn through giving support to others. Our departments of Life Sciences and Pharmaceutical Sciences started to introduce ESs in 2010, when the inaugural members of the departments finished their compulsory English courses in the Project-based English Program, and ever since we have strived to optimize the use of them by hiring former students from the course. Through evidence of 5-year practice of our ES system and inquiring surveys to both the ESs and teachers, as well as class attendees, synergetic effect between the facilitation of the smooth operation of classes and the development of ESs themselves has been observed. As an example of operational benefits, ESs have contributed in turning the classrooms into a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) environment. No matter what advanced efforts teachers and students try to make, classrooms are still very conventional. Nevertheless, teachers have a lot more important things to do than to prepare extension cords or different types of cables for students to connect their own laptop computers. This is where ESs can become effective. By allowing ESs to prepare all those logistics, teachers can focus on teaching and monitoring students. This is also an example where ESs do not necessarily have to be students good at English. Students who are motivated to volunteer to be an ES have their own personal strength. Of course, ESs are committed to English classes, but placing other strengths they have, such as ICT skills and leadership, etc., enables the program to diversify beyond English classes into Project-based English classes. In contrast to lecture-style classes, the contents of the Project-based English Program heavily depend on the students’ work, and the contents and the ways to deliver them develop as science and technology advances. Students who return to classes as ESs do not just repeat the class and impart their pre-existing knowledge, but they grow with the program. There are a lot of universities that have utilized student supporters; however, we find our program has uniqueness in that the implementation of ESs can contribute to the development of the program as well as the students.