The proposal presents the project of creating Alternative Courses of English Literature for students of our university. The objective of the proposal is to contribute to the improvement of the quality of education at out university and broaden the intellectual horizons of the students who study English literature, as well as encourage their interests in the courses they enroll in.
The procedure of the proposal includes the research of the students’ interests in the English literature (the project will be based on suggestions of students taken from the interviews on the subject) and suggestions about organization of the courses. The results of the previous research show that students are interested in the new (alternatives) ways of learning literature based on communicative approach that allow them express their opinions and develop new knowledge through communication with other students.
Specifically, the project is interested in learning more about literature and alternative learning environment including structure of the courses, learning opportunities for students, creative techniques of teaching and learning and cost factors. As a result, these courses will enable students acquire new skills and knowledge that help them in their future careers and make their learning of literature more interesting and motivated.
Students who enroll in English literature are to read a lot and analyze the material. According to the results of the interview that was conducted with the aim to discover major difficulties students meet during the course of study and define their interests, the students find traditional ways of learning quite boring and depressing because of the amount of material and lecture/listening approach. Moreover, they would like their learning was based on the “interactive – instructional techniques” and was more creative.
In the project suggested in this proposal, we took into consideration several factors that students mentioned in the interview: quality of the material, organizational techniques, alternative ways of teaching and assessment. In addition, students can be active participant of the learning process and make commitment to the program. Finally, we will discuss how to make a curriculum more individualized in order to maximize the learning opportunities for students.
Previous research on the problem of the traditional way approach to the teaching of literature has shown that students are not satisfied with the common lecture methods that are provided in colleges and universities. Moreover, students say that they are ready for introducing new learning techniques that will make their learning more communicatively based, creative and active. According to the recent survey, these days it is very important for students to be involved into the teaching learning process.
Such approach can help them develop their independent and critical system, find new decisions to common problem (while learning particular work of literature they are welcome to provide their own ideas and interpretations of the themes and subjects). As practice show, students who are enabled to speak during lectures and classes do better in other disciplines and mode independent in their academic activities. Moreover, the results show that students are not motivated enough during classes.
This provides new topics for discussions and reasons to reorganized traditional methods of education. Considering the fact that at current stage there are considerable difficulties concerning reorganization of the traditional curriculum, we suggest providing courses of the alternative English literature teaching that are not included into curriculum and organized compact settings that are not college or school.
The description of the courses includes the following issues: the place where the courses will be held, curriculum, providers, new teaching and learning techniques.
The courses can be organized indoors or outdoors. For certain classes, the equipment is not needed and students can find the place which is more suitable for them. However, a separate classroom can be provided for source and equipped according to providers’ requirement. The classroom should have media board for special classes.
Students are encouraged to decorate the classroom following their preferences and taste. The most important is the emotional environment and students’ involvement into the process of decoration is one of the motivational factors to encourage them participate in the project.
In order to maximize the learning opportunities of the students, the curriculum should be more individualized and it should be based on diagnostic assessment to set realistic goals. It must be flexible, organize students in small groups to reduce the social barriers, ensure the variety of activities, vary between outdoor and indoor activities, include challenging activities, introduce cultural and ethical issues.
The providers of the program should be ready to alternative methods of teaching, and challenge. They must work in cooperation with other participants of the program, as well as with student as active providers of new ideas concerning the organization of the course. The providers should be well aware of such knowledge as medication, management of staff, conflict resolution, etc.
Teaching and learning techniques
As opposed to the traditional learning techniques, the alternative courses will reduce to minimum traditional techniques, such as lectures. They will be based on communicative approach and active learning. First of all, “Active learning means that students are working together, and with the instructor, to achieve educational objectives” (Lantis, Kille, and Krain n. p.).’
In this light, we suggest organize activities in small groups so that every student had a possibility to be active participants of the educational process. In addition, every students should be involved in the discussion, or any other activity and support dynamic collaboration with other students, as well as with instructors:
“Scholars argue that techniques that engage students in collaborative learning practices can help achieve key educational objectives. The dynamic of collaboration can be fostered both among students themselves and between students and the instructor. Instructors who are able to establish strong connections and dialogue in the classroom effectively empower students in the learning enterprise” (Lantis, Kille, and Krain n. p.).
Students should be encouraged to speech and express their own opinion, they should be ready create linkages between theory and practice and provide real life examples.
Learning activates should be various. We suggest introduce video classes (students can not only watch videos, but create them by themselves), a blog post of the literature course must be created so that students could share their ideas and have reliable source of information. Teaching with case studies can be very productive, “Educational objectives include case based content learning and the development of analytical and communication skills.
The case method also may be seen as a prototypical form of problem based learning” (Lantis, Kille, and Krain n. p.). Teaching with alternative texts can be really successful But, “a careful assessment of whether and how well these alternative texts achieve these pedagogical goals” (Lantis, Kille, and Krain n. p.) should be provided.
Furthermore, we suggest introduce role-play activities and problem-solving classes. We strongly recommend introduce new assessment techniques, they can include portfolios, individual and group projects and presentations.
Benefits and feasibility of the project
The information mentioned earlier supports the argument that alternative courses of learning English literature can provide a great contribution to the improvement of the students’ learning of the literature. New techniques and creative approach to education will promote students’ independence in learning new material, enhance their motivation and encourage them read works of literature. Moreover, it will help them develop critical thinking, communication techniques and be more socialized.
Cost and resources
The funding of the alternatives courses ranges approximately from $2,000 to $5,000. This will include the necessary equipment and materials for the courses, and organization of the classrooms and necessary decorations.
Thus the organization of the courses of the alternative learning of the English literature can be a first step to the reorganization of the traditional curriculum that students find boring and monotonous.
New learning and teaching techniques based on the communicative approach and active learning can help students develop necessary skills and knowledge important for their future careers. Moreover, alternative learning will enhance students’ motivation and encourage them read extensively. It will help them become more independent and make their study creative and interesting. Thus, we suggest that new alternative courses can be introduced at all grades among students who study English literature.
Lantis, Jeffrey S., Kent J. Kille, and Matthew Krain. “The State of the Active Teaching and Learning Literature”. Web.