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Supporting the academic success of international and English as additional language students

[Intercultural Academic Support Coordinator Agnieszka Herra leads a workshop on English academic writing.]
[ntercultural Academic Support Coordinator Agnieszka Herra leads a workshop on English academic writing. (Supplied Photo)

Over the past academic year, new programs and initiatives at Queen’s have enhanced supports for and connections among international students, as well as students for whom English is an additional language (EAL).

This follows the establishment of a new position in the Division of Student Affairs, shared between Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) and Student Academic Success Services (SASS): Intercultural Academic Support Coordinator. Agnieszka Herra, who started in the role in August, is a Queen’s alumna who welcomes the opportunity to work on enhancing  the international student experience on campus.

“This position focuses on collaborations between QUIC and SASS services, so that we can provide more comprehensive supports to international and EAL students,” says Corinna Fitzgerald, Assistant Dean, Student Life and Learning. “We are delighted to have Agnieszka join our team to help make Queen’s a more accessible and inclusive learning environment."

One of the new programs is the English Academic Writing Support Clinic, a weekly writing session held in QUIC’s new location at Mitchell Hall. Developed in collaboration with Alyssa Foerstner, SASS Academic Skills Support Coordinator for the EAL program, the clinic delivers an interactive lesson where students can engage more deeply in a specific area of writing, practice effective editing techniques, and ask questions. Running the clinic in the new QUIC space provides support in a familiar environment where many international students feel comfortable and already are connecting socially with peers. The clinic also introduces students to the writing and other academic skills programming offered at SASS for English as additional language learners, encouraging them to access those supports.

“The English Academic Writing Support Clinic was developed based on student feedback,” Herra says. “Many students return every week to the program, showing its effectiveness and the positive impact it has on EAL student success.”

In addition, Herra has been piloting programs focused on academic topics, including academic communication, and a collaboration with Queen’s University Library on how to use library resources effectively. She is also working with faculties and schools to develop targeted, faculty-based supports.

While Herra’s main role is to facilitate new programming, and make campus resources more accessible, she also works to promote intercultural awareness by collaborating with the Centre for Teaching and Learning to discuss how to best support EAL and international students academically, and by developing new cross-campus resources.

“An important part of the role is offering direct support to students, but the bigger picture is to help continue to shift the mindset on campus so that all students are being valued for the perspectives and skills they bring to Queen’s,” she says. “We want to ensure that people across campus recognize that the approaches we take in interacting with a diverse student body will have a direct impact on student academic success.”

Next up for Herra is the development of a suite of workshops on the academic transition to Queen’s, and to incorporate more information about this topic into orientation activities at QUIC, online and on campus.

To learn more about services and upcoming events, visit the QUIC and SASS websites.