The Foundations Development Year (FDY) courses offered by the School of Languages (SL) are an integral part of the education offered at Sabancı University and are designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge to excel in their academic studies. For this reason, School of Languages has designed and produced its own set of course books, “Beyond the Boundaries”. The course books and course materials aim to enable students attain an excellent level of language, develop academic and study skills, and expand their knowledge base in a variety of areas to help them in their academic studies.
Course materials at the School of Languages are both theme-based and content-based. The themes in the course books and course materials are selected to enable students to prepare for their faculty in terms of content that will provide them with background knowledge on topics that will be covered at their faculties. The books are also skills based, focusing specifically on the academic skills and study skills. Language is also introduced and practiced using the content in the course book.
The assessment at the School of Languages is also linked to the themes studied in class. The overall course grade is not based on a single test. Instead, it is made up of a variety of course-based and exam-based assessment administered throughout the course. The assessment is mainly skills-based, and the themes of skills exams are linked to the themes covered in the book to reflect the theme-based instruction. Students are also required to take language exams. Task types in both skills and language exams are practiced and made familiar in class and through course support materials outside the class. The fulfilment of course requirements at the School of Languages also plays a very important role in students’ advancement from one Route to another. Additionally, if a student receives an overall grade of 65% or more Routes 4 and 5, they do do NOT have to take the ELAE; they directly become Freshman students.
Below is a brief description of the assessment at the School of Languages.
Attendance: Language learning requires time and effort and therefore it is important for learners to attend lessons regularly. To reflect the importance of regular attendance to lessons, students are awarded grades according to their attendance during the semester.
Homework and Participation: Students receive a grade on their level of participation in class and tutorials, as well as on the quality of their class work and homework. Students are required to come to lessons and tutorials on time and prepared, and to complete tasks to the best of their ability. Students are also expected to actively participate in classroom discussions and activities. They need to complete the homework given by their teachers and return it on time.
Learning Portfolio: The learning portfolio aims to give students lots of opportunities to practice writing, enable them to become autonomous learners, and to motivate them further. Learning portfolios are evaluated twice a course.
Writing Exams: Writing exams are aimed at preparing students for the requirements of their faculty studies. They are based on the kinds of writing tasks done in first year faculty courses.
These tasks are:
Short answer questions: For these exams, students are expected to write a short response to a question based on the content in the course book material they have been studying. Before they take the writing exam, students do similar tasks in class and have regular feedback on their responses. The exam consists of recognition and production level tasks. In the recognition section, students are expected to identify rhetorical patterns that are used in academic writing. In the production section, students are asked to write a short answer of about 70-120 words depending on the Route. In this section, students’ work is assessed based on criteria consisting of the following components: content knowledge, accuracy and range, and use of rhetorical pattern.
Open book exam: For the Open Book Exam at higher levels, students receive some exam texts around a week before the exam. After reading them at home and working with them in class, they take the Open Book Exam. They bring their texts to the exam and write an essay using the information in the exam texts. They are also able to use dictionaries during the exam. During the course, students are given assistance and guidance on how to write these kinds of tasks. This is done first of all through work in class. There is a similar writing assignment on which teachers give written feedback. Furthermore, students receive “one to one” tutorials from the instructors about their assignments. As students progress across levels and become more experienced writers, they will be expected to write longer and better quality assignments and exams.
Oral Assessment: Oral assessment is based on general topics related to the content in the course book material students have studied during the course. In this way, students are already familiar with the topics they will be asked to talk about at the assessment. The tasks are carried out in pairs at the lowest level or groups, with students from their own sections.
Mid-term and Final exams: On each course students have a Midterm exam and a Final exam. These exams test students’ ability in reading, listening and use of language. Depending on the route, the reading section may consist of both slow careful reading (detailed reading) and speed reading (skimming), both of which are necessary for students to be able to cope with the different types of reading tasks they will need to carry out in their faculties. The listening sections can either be while-listening or note-taking depending on the Route. While listening stimulates listening to and following dialogues, which is similar to seminar or tutorial discussions that will take place on faculty courses. Note-taking is a very important skill for students in their faculty, where they will need to listen to lectures given by their professors, and take lecture notes.
CIAD (Center for Individual and Academic Development): CIAD provides several student support services work. Several support units work collaboratively under CIAD to ensure that all SU students are equipped with the necessary personal and academic skills required to be successful while at university and later in their professional lives. CIAD offers support in a wide range of areas, such as academic support, individual counselling, advisory system through peer tutoring and academic advising, and disability support services.
Writing center: The Sabancı University Writing Center encourages students to become expressive, analytical, critical, and persuasive writers in English. Since writing is only part of a students overall fluency in English, SUWC also supports the development of student proficiency in reading, listening, and speaking. It helps students make the transition from the Foundations Development Year program to the academic program, and it continues to facilitate their development as thinkers and writers throughout their education at SU. The Writing Center supports academic writing through strong programs in writing across the curriculum and thesis preparation. SUWC builds students’ abilities to write and think in English through a variety of services including workshops, tutorials, and study groups.
Tutorials: At the School of Languages, students regularly work with their teachers one-to-one and in small groups. There are four main types of tutorials. The first one is the goal setting tutorials. These provide an opportunity for the students and their teachers to get to know each other personally, and for the teacher to help students to organize their work and set targets for their study. The second type tutorials are the progress tutorials. These are done in order for the students and the teachers to discuss students’ progress in the course, further identify goals and ways of reaching those goals. The third type of tutorials is portfolio tutorials, where teachers help the students select a certain number of portfolio tasks to be evaluated, and to discuss the students’ overall progress. Finally, students also attend writing assignment tutorials where they discuss their written work and get detailed feedback. This type of tutorial is an opportunity for students to get clarifications on the written feedback they have received, and ask questions as to how to improve their written work.
Student Counselling: Student counsellors provide individual counselling to students to deal with and get advice on issues such as exam related stress, fear of failure, depression/anxiety, relationships or family problems, and adapting to the new environment at Sabancı University. Counselling can also enable students to recognize and act on the goals, dreams, hopes and expectations that students hold for their life, as well as explore learned thoughts and behaviours that create or maintain problems.
Academic Counseling: Students can get academic support from Nurdan Çoksezen Metel, the program coordinator. The program coordinator may provide students with information and guidance on the academic support that can be offered by the School of Languages and by other units in the university. The coordinator can provide students with guidance in reflecting on their language development and in exploring effective study skills.
SuCourse Plus: SuCourse Plus is an online course support program that both students and teachers have access to. On SuCourse Plus, students can access course and exam related information such as timetables, course information, exam criteria, word lists, and so on. Moreover, for each unit in the course book, there are materials available for students to practice English outside the class. The answer keys for these materials are also available. Students have access to SuCourse outside the campus, as well.
Photo credit: Ali Nihat Eken