- What are ESP workshops for?
With each elective course, you will have the advantage of a weekly ESP workshop. The purpose of workshops is to help you with your elective courses. Although you attend the same lectures, labs, and tutorials as regularly admitted Carleton students, the ESP workshops are restricted to ESP students taking a given course. You meet as a group of 20 to 30 people each week to review the course lectures, prepare for tests and assignments, and work through the material. A trained facilitator leads the group in activities designed to help you master the course material through active practice. Facilitators do not teach or explain the material to you—that is what your professors and text books do. Instead, facilitators provide tools for you to work with others to understand and study the course material. Think of them not as teachers, but as learning guides.
- What actually happens in workshops?
Each workshop will be a little different, depending on which course it supports. What they all have in common is that you will be expected to actively participate in small groups with other ESP students on activities designed to help you get the best grade you can in the course. Sometimes you will be able to choose your own work groups, but in general the facilitator will ask you to work with everyone in the workshop to get a variety of perspectives and approaches to learning. Here are some examples of workshop activities:
- reviewing, organizing, and summarizing your lecture notes and course readings
- practicing techniques for reading and taking notes on course readings
- making up and taking sample quizzes so you can test your own progress
- learning and practicing writing strategies that apply to your course
- debating or discussing course topics
- playing educational games based on the course material to help reinforce what you are studying
- filling in worksheets that help you organize the material learned in lectures and course readings
- practicing study strategies that work for the course you are taking
- presenting the results of your work to other students in the workshop
- What are the benefits of attending workshops?
There are so many! Aside from meeting some terrific people, you also increase the chances that you’ll:
- Earn better grades in your elective courses. Students who attend regularly have a much better chance of earning the grades they need to be admitted into a degree program.
- Earn a scholarship. Students who participate in workshops and earn excellent grades may be eligible for scholarships after ESP. We announce these ESP Awards in the Fall.
- Improve your eligibility for 2nd-year ESP. For students who have not met the minimum requirement for promotion to a degree program, good attendance and participation can improve your eligibility to attend a second year of ESP.
- Improve your job prospects. Excellent student jobs are available at the Centre for Initiatives in Education, in ESP and other programs. Students with strong workshop attendance and participation have an advantage if they decide to apply for these jobs after their year with ESP.
- Who are my workshop facilitators?
All ESP facilitators are specialists in their fields. Most of them are upper year undergraduates or studying toward graduate degrees (M.A., Ph.D.). Facilitators receive extensive training and supervision from the Centre for Initiatives in Education to ensure that they correctly implement the active- and collaborative-learning techniques used in workshops. You’ll have a chance to meet your facilitators at the ESP Student Orientation.
- How do I prepare for my workshops each week?
There is no additional homework for the workshops, but you are expected to come prepared. This includes attending that week’s course lecture and taking notes, and doing the required readings and/or homework for the course. You must bring your lecture notes and textbook to your workshop each week. The workshop is not a homework session or study hall where you work independently, nor is it a tutoring session where you receive one-on-one explanations from the facilitator. Come prepared to study productively with others.
Remember, your facilitator is there to guide you in activities that help you to review and reinforce class material with other students. Workshop facilitators do not explain or teach the course material.
- What is the atmosphere like in the workshops?
The atmosphere in your workshops will range from silent individual work to lively group discussions and games. However, most of the time will be spent in smaller clusters of two to five students filling in worksheets, preparing informal presentations, and doing other activities assigned by the facilitator. Facilitators will ask you for feedback to ensure they are meeting the needs and preferences of most students.
We try to keep the atmosphere fairly informal, but essentially workshops are for working. The use of cell phones, headsets, computer games, and so on is not permitted.
Workshops follow the same policies about academic conduct (Section E: Student Conduct) as all other parts of the university. This means that facilitators and students treat each other with respect and courtesy at all times. On the rare occasion that a student chooses not to abide by these rules, or chooses not to participate in the assigned work activities, the facilitator will simply ask that student to “take the week off” and come back the following week prepared to work.
- Why won't the facilitators answer my questions?
Because it won’t really help you learn. Professors, teaching assistants, and course readings provide the information you need. The facilitator is there to guide you in how to use the information to find the answers. This helps you to become the independent learner you will need to be when you leave ESP. Facilitators will ask you questions, encourage you to discuss with other students and use your notes and readings effectively. When you go through this process, the answer is easier to understand and remember than when someone just gives you the answer. Don’t worry—the facilitator won’t let you leave with wrong answers. It’s just that you’ll have to work hard to get the right answers.
- Do I have to attend my workshops?
Yes. Attendance at workshops is an essential component of your year with ESP. Workshops give you a chance to test your understanding of concepts, develop your ideas through discussion, and practice the skills you need for particular courses. They are also a great way to keep yourself from falling behind in your studies by building hours of high-quality review into your weekly schedule. By being prepared for workshops and spending time every week reviewing the material with other students in the same class, you’ll be able to spot and fix any problem areas before it’s too late.
- What should I do if I have to miss a workshop?
It is polite but not mandatory to tell your facilitator if you are going to miss a workshop for any reason. However, if you are ill and would like the attendance record to reflect that you were absent for medical reasons (e.g., prolonged illness, surgery), you will have to provide medical documentation, just as you would for missed lectures or exams. If you miss a workshop for any reason, it’s a good idea to contact your facilitator as soon as possible to find out what you have missed.
The facilitator takes attendance each week and hands in a copy to the Student Advisors. If you miss a workshop or two, you can expect to receive a friendly email or phone call from us checking to make sure you’re doing okay and encouraging you to attend.
- What's the difference between my ESP workshops and my course discussion group, tutorial, or lab?
Some of your courses may have a weekly discussion group, tutorial, or lab. These are usually led by a Teaching Assistant who works with all students enrolled in that elective course. In contrast, workshop facilitators are dedicated to supporting only the 20 to 30 ESP students enrolled in that elective course.
Tutorials and discussion groups are intended to give students a chance to explore ideas raised by the course in a small group setting. Most of the time, the Teaching Assistant asks and answers questions about the lectures and readings. Sometimes the Professor may ask the Teaching Assistant to bring in additional readings or other extra material. You may also have assignments to do for your tutorial or discussion group, and these are usually marked by the Teaching Assistant. In fact, teaching Assistants usually do most of the marking in the elective classes you’ll be taking. It’s a good idea to get to know them and ask their advice. For example, if you have written a draft of your essay, you can take it to your TA to ask if you’re on the right track for getting the grade you want.
The focus of ESP workshops, on the other hand, is to help you develop and practice the skills you need to succeed in the courses you are taking. You work with other students in small groups, finding your own answers by actively using your lecture notes and course readings, and sharing the results of your work with others in the workshop.
Another difference between ESP workshops and tutorials is that there are no extra homework assignments or graded tests in ESP workshops. Since your workshop facilitators are not responsible for grading your work, you may feel more comfortable going to them with questions. Although workshop facilitators are knowledgeable about the assignments and exams in your courses, they are not permitted to proofread or edit your work for you or predict what grade you will receive.
- Can I attend my workshop instead of my lecture/tutorial/lab or discussion group?
No. Workshops are not a substitute for going to class, doing your readings, or attending other required sessions. Workshops help you work through material you have already learned. You cannot participate effectively in workshops if you have not already been exposed to that week’s material.
- What if I have a disability or other reason that makes it difficult for me to work in small groups with others?
Working in small groups with other students is a central component of ESP workshops. On occasion, minor accommodations may be made for students who are willing and able to work hard at improving their ability to work in groups. Talk to a Student Advisor if you are concerned about working in groups.
- What if my learning style doesn't match with the workshop activities?
You may have been told that you are an “auditory learner,” “visual learner,” or have some other type of learning style. This means that you find it easier or more enjoyable to learn in certain ways. Although it’s important to be aware of your strengths, it’s also important to strengthen your ability to learn in other ways. In university, it is particularly important to develop strong skills in reading, listening, writing, note-taking, presenting, and academic collaboration. You will practice all of these in workshops.