ELI Insights: Connecting with the Learning Community

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By Sharon Mitchell, Instructor and Academic Transition Cohort Coordinator

Conditionally-admitted Students at the English Language Institute are placed into Cohort classes, which provides them the opportunity to come together and focus on developing skills and learning expectations for successful students at the University of Delaware.   For undergraduate students in the AT Program, they come together to learn social, cultural, and academic skills and expectations.

One of the most important benefits of the Cohort class is the opportunity to connect with their learning community.  Students who are connected to their university community, both domestic and fellow international students, are generally happier, more engaged, and more successful in and out of the classroom.  UD encourages students to learn together and be actively involved in curricular and extracurricular activities.  While students are now attending classes remotely, and often from their home countries, the cohort class continues to offer students this opportunity to connect with the UD learning community personally.

With the Peer Mentors

Every cohort class has a peer mentor.  The peer mentors are current UD students who mentor the classes of Cohort students, including meeting with individual students, attending class, and planning activities.  Every week the mentor provides ELI students opportunities to connect with the mentor, the cohort classmates, and the university community.  Peer Mentors are enthusiastic about the academic social and cultural success of their class.  They’re experienced with international learning and highly involved in UD organizations, and they demonstrate academic excellence and intercultural communication and compassion.

Within the Cohort

Within the cohort, students connect with each other.  They build a sense of teamwork through Spirit Games, where the cohort competes against each other in remote scavenger hunts, riddles, and UD trivia!  They also practice group work (an essential skill for university students!) through assignments that allow them to connect in smaller groups.  These small group assignments include exploring and reporting back to the class on resources provided by UD, like UD’s Writing Center, Morris Library, or the Math Lab.  The cohort classmates encourage each other to know what resources UD provides for student success and how to access them remotely. Cohort students are invested in each other’s success!

With the University Community

As we are in the fall semester, the whole UD community is adapting to the change of plans, but the students were still able to connect and build international relationships and communities within the University of Delaware.  We have several avenues that ELI students engage with other UD students.  We plan collaborative activities and assignments with other programs.  One group of cohorts in First-Year Seminar are partnering with freshman World Scholars from the Institute for Global Studies who are also completing this same university requirement. World Scholars are UD students in an international 4-year program, which includes at least two semesters of study abroad.  In mixed small groups, World Scholars and ELI students are building new friendships, exploring UD’s extracurricular activities, and developing a definition of “What does it mean to be a UD Blue Hen?”  Another group of cohorts of business students is attending major events by Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, and participating in Lerner’s Registered Student Organizations.  Led by their peer mentors, who are business students and actively involved in Lerner’s Registered Student Organizations (RSO), ELI’s undergraduate business students are meeting their domestic and international peers in their college!

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