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CET Student Engagement Program: engaging international students outside the classroom

July 2017
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The CET Student Engagement Program is a framework which has been designed to support international students in their engagement efforts and their acculturation to Australia.

The Program relies on a gamified approach of student engagement where CET sources a pool of free activities offered by the Centre for English Teaching, the University and the City of Sydney. Each activity is attributed points, which are needed to unlock levels and earn rewards. Since the implementation in October 2016, the success of the program has seen participation figures triple in many activities.

The activity points are formulated to represent hours of engagement outside of the classroom. The activities which are categorised within specific learning communities, integrate with the ways in which the students engage in those activities to formulate the point structure. For example, attending one of CET's weekly interactive workshops – CET’s Student Engagement Council, requires face-to-face interaction and is classified in the co-curricular learning community. Whereas CET's pre-arrival online modules require online interaction and are classified in the multi-modal learning community. Each activity has clear learning and social benefits for the students such as improving the levels of accuracy and fluency in English, extending social interactions with others, developing autonomous learning and communication strategies among others.

In order to track student participation in the program, CET partnered with the University of Sydney Union (USU), Australia’s oldest and largest student union. The USU offers an annual membership card which contains a unique barcode. CET utilises the barcodes as a mean to track attendance. Every time a student attends any event or activity listed in the CET Student Engagement Program, their card is scanned and the data is automatically transferred to the student database*.

CET’s Education Manager Services, Robert Chasse, indicated that “this initiative was developed by the CET Education Services Team to address the historical issue of international students (primarily from mainland China) who tend to not engage with their new local networks outside of the classroom. Although, students want to make the most out of their time in Australia and socialise with local and other international students, it is usually hard for them to connect and engage with the broader community. The CET Student Engagement Program has been created to facilitate these connections and reduces the pressure international students feel when interacting with others by fear of 'not doing it right'.”

*Update: Due to the release of CET Connect, student participation is now tracked and monitored via the app. This system gives students the opportunity to monitor their own level of engagement in real-time, so they can take ownership of their learning and engagement throughout their course. Find out more on CET Connect here

Contact:

Iris Loba iris.loba@sydney.edu.au +61 2 8627 8560