It is this time of the year again when we get together with our partners at IUG, both staff and students, to start our successful tele-collaboration involving engineering students in the Gaza Strip and Glasgow researching together engineering-related problems. It’s the third iteration of the project and, as in the past, we have introduced some changes based on the lessons learnt in the previous two summers. This post briefly outlines the modifications.
First of all, we’re back to the initial set-up involving only engineers. Last year we managed to get medical students on board thanks to the ELT Research Award from the British Council. Unfortunately, due to lack of funding we’ve had to cut back. This does not mean however that we’ve given up on improving our tele-collaboration set-up. Having learnt a few lessons from the medical students’ involvement last summer, we’ve decided that the current engineering participants from IUG will be acting simultaneously as mentors and co-researchers for our international students.
This is how we envisage the student partnership:
IUG engineering students devise engineering scenarios which are of relevance and currency in the Gaza context. Since we’ve got engineers from different disciplines, the scenarios are bound to represent the richness of challenges in Palestine. International engineering students in Glasgow select scenarios that they would like to research and this way form groups of 3-5. Each group includes a student from IUG who provides guidance to help Glasgow-based students understand the context and background to the scenario so that the suggested solutions are not generic but target the particular aspects of the challenge. This set-up is similar to EAST 1 from 2015.
At the same time, IUG students co-research the scenarios with their Glasgow partners and contribute to the final presentation as well as write up a short report summarising the findings of their little literature-based study. Since the students may require some support with academic writing, we’ve managed to involve a strong group of English and Education students from IUG whose role will be to help their colleagues improve their academic English skills. At the end of the project, the students will receive language feedback from UoG staff.
For all the IUG students to effectively mentor other students, as before, we have launched a short constructive feedback course which should help them give advice that is constructive and fosters inquiry and discovery on the part of the mentees.
So to sum up the changes to EAST 3 comprise IUG engineering students taking on a dual role of mentors and co-researchers, and IUG education and English students acting as teacher assistants.
We’re very excited about the developments and are looking forward to working with the IUG students who seem very enthusiastic and passionate about learning new things. You can get to know them by exploring this Padlet: