Innovations introduced at Andhra Loyola College
- From 1998 to 2003, I carried out an action research project in response to the growing concern at Andhra Loyola College about a large number of undergraduate students failing the General English examination. On the five-year-long project I produced a variety of materials and tried them with different groups of low achievers in English. Activity-based, the materials promoted an interactive methodology and offered the students adequate practice in the use of real-world English. This longitudinal experiment produced satisfactory results both in terms of examination results and in terms of the students’ actual proficiency in English.
- Two years before this action research project concluded, I had undertaken a University-Grants-Commission-funded project on which the focus was again on low achievers in English. The project involved developing materials which specifically addressed the needs of low achievers, trialling them, and theorizing from the experiment about the kind of materials and methodology that could work with low achievers. Putting together the trialled materials used on these two projects, I brought out two resource books meant for use with low achievers in English: Access to Essential English, Books 1 and 2, and also sent a report to the UGC about the outcome of the experiment.
- In 2003, a major reform was introduced, under my leadership, at Andhra Loyola College. I laid the entire groundwork for the implementation of the reform, which involved the diversification of the half-a-century-old, monolithic undergraduate General English course to enable students with widely divergent attainments in English to choose courses in English appropriate to their linguistic levels and addressing their needs:
- Designed a detailed syllabus for each of the three streams, providing for the mastery of language systems, language skills, communicative skills, study skills, and literary skills, and spelling out the kind of methodology appropriate to each stream and the evaluation procedures. The diversification includes an innovative extensive reading programme for Stream C, and a Course in English for Career Development for Stream A.
- Authored two coursebooks.
- Organized workshops on streaming, classroom methodology, and testing in order to prepare the teachers.
- In the academic year 2011-2012, I carried out yet another action research project at the Loyola ELT Centre in order to find a viable solution to a problem both teachers of English and students are facing, especially in countries like India: while teachers of English are finding it difficult to do justice to their correction of students’ compositions, learners are not able to make progress in their writing skills with a sense of direction owing to either absence of feedback or inadequate feedback. About 800 students and several English teachers worked with me on the project which proposed an evidence-based solution, namely, peer feedback on ESL students’ writings. A report on the experiment, written by me, is being published in the June-July 2013 issue of IATEFL Voices, UK. I have also conducted workshops on peer feedback to disseminate this field-tested model among teachers of English in other colleges and schools as well as university teachers.
- Considering that teacher education and training, especially in higher education, is an undefined affair in our country, I have, under the auspices of the Loyola ELT Centre, put forth a model called the Reflective Model for the continuing professional development of teachers in general and teachers of English in particular – a model that involves teachers exploring their practices, examining their attitudes, beliefs, and principles, collecting data about their own classrooms and their roles within them, and using the data as a basis for self-evaluation and professional growth. Thanks to the efforts I have made in projecting this model as a self-directed one which has the potential to involve teachers in an ongoing process of examining their teaching and developing strategies for improvement and, therefore, a reliable model of professional development, I have been invited by two of the technological universities in Andhra Pradesh to establish a Centre for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in their universities and work as the founder director of the Centre, and I propose to accept one of the invitations and work in a full-time capacity at the CPD Centre after my retirement from Andhra Loyola College.