Due to a policy change issued by the Board of Regents, Georgia Gwinnett College eliminated English classes for non-native speakers and integrated them into English learning support classes at the start of the fall 2018 semester.
Professors and faculty stated that this change raises concerns and will require students to utilize more resources outside of class than previously needed.
In previous semesters, GGC taught non-native speakers English for Academic Purposes, or EAP, before taking English learning support courses, or ENGL 0999. These learning support courses were taught alongside ENGL 1101 and referred to as Segue courses.
With this change, EAP classes have been entirely converted into Segue courses. Courses with students who would have formerly been in the EAP 0988 classes are designated with an E.
According to Justin Jernigan, Dean of the School of Transitional Studies, this adjustment comes after research done by Complete College Georgia, a nonprofit organization funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The research demonstrates that students who do not take part in learning support courses before for-credit courses are more likely to graduate.
However, Susan Bleyle, assistant professor of English for Academic Purposes says there is one problem.
“None of this data is based on the experiences of ESL/language minority students,” Bleyle said. “Somehow the USG conflated these two groups (Learning Support and ESL/EAP) without any evidence to show that this is a best practice for second language students.”
GGC faculty have already begun to respond.
“…writing tutors have undergone training in order to better assist non-native English-speaking students.” Thomas Shay, the writing coordinator of the Academic Enhancement Center, stated.
Shay stated the center has seen an increase in students as compared to previous semesters.
“I think getting rid of EAP was a mistake. I think getting rid of foundations was a mistake, but that’s not something that we at GGC have any control over,” said Suzanne Biedenbach, associate professor of English.
While professors and faculty found the change troubling, most believed that GGC students will benefit despite possible disadvantages.
Dean Justin Jernigan stated that “Students will sense that they’re cared for and that we’re doing all that we can to make sure that they’ve got the resources that they need.”
Biedenbach continued on to say that the faculty “will make it work. I have confidence that we’ll make it work, and that our students will benefit, not from the change, but from having professors that can deal with and make the best of the change for our students.”