The purpose of the conference was to build an educational community within the region and to help high school teachers develop and improve their professional teaching skills. The two-day conference, which was organized by the University’s Academic Preparatory Program (APP), was led by Rachel Laribee, director of APP and Geoffrey Gresk, dean of students, with participation from several APP instructors and faculty members. “The more time we spend together - APP teachers and local high school teachers - the better the transition is for AUIS students.” said Laribee, “The more we engage in conversation about victories and obstacles that we face in our classrooms, the stronger education will be in the region of Kurdistan.” In the past two years, APP has been working to build an educational community beyond AUIS, and to provide an opportunity for high school teachers to learn from the American teaching style, while also strengthening AUIS’s relationships within the region. The conference included English-language sessions (demonstrations of grammar, writing, reading, active listening and speaking); panel discussions; presentations; and analyzing effective methods in English-language instruction. It also included STEM materials (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), which was made possible through a grant from the U.S.Agency for International Development. “We provided two days of programming to local secondary and university educators,” Gresk said. “We discussed ‘Inverted Classrooms,’ modern teaching methods, and the next generation science standards.” The STEM sessions included thematic approaches to science education and how to bridge the gap between secondary school and university, as well as panel discussions about STEM curriculums and common practices in the Iraqi teaching style versus the AUIS teaching style. The attendees ranged from high school teachers to university lecturers across the region. Many of the attendees found the conference to be intellectually stimulating and useful. “I found out that our conventional teaching techniques and methods are out dated,” said Nawzad Mohamed, a chemistry teacher at Peramagrun High School. “Sometimes simple teaching techniques have a greater impact on the student’s learning experience.” Another teacher, Hero Ahmed, who teaches biology in the same high school said, “I find these conferences very useful, it broadens our horizon. I would definitely come back for the next one.” AUIS is hoping to arrange more education conferences in the future. The conference is free of charge to attendees, as it aims to provide professional development training for teachers and lecturers - either in high school or university - across the region. According to Laribee, the goal of the event is to share the most up-to-date effective methods in teaching instruction with local teachers and strengthen the university’s relationship with the community. Click to see more conference photos
“APP is always looking for ways to improve the quality of English instruction at AUIS and this language lab is going to be a great resource for our students,” said Rachel Laribee, deputy director of APP. “With the establishment of this new resource, we’re ensuring that every student can receive one-on-one instruction that might be hard to get in a classroom setting with twenty or so other students.” Merit, the software installed in the lab, is state-of-the-art and comparable to those used in the top language institutes across the world. It allows students to create their own account where they can track their progress and hone in on specific grammar and reading problems. It also provides information for APP teachers on how their students are progressing and where they are still having trouble. The goal of the lab is to allow APP students who feel overwhelmed by their class work, or who simply want further challenges, to develop their English language comprehension at their own speed. “The language lab is really useful because it has grammar and reading,” said Mina Bassam, a level four student from Sulaimani. “The grammar tests punctuation and pronouns. I’ve been there six times and I plan to continue going.” The software was installed over the course of January and February and launched on March 1. While some minor technical issues are still being ironed out, the program is up and running in lab 44 on the second floor of the Main Administrative Building. Twenty-five computers are available to accommodate students who want to use the lab. The new lab is just one of several projects the APP program is pursuing to enhance the quality of English instruction at the university. APP currently offers after-school help for struggling students and is in the process of selecting new textbooks for next year’s classes in order to give instructors a wider variety of teaching material to choose from. APP is also transitioning to a trimester schedule to allow students to study English year-round and avoid losing ground over the long summer months. The program is also establishing a library specifically for APP students, many of who do not have a strong enough command of the English language to avail themselves of the reading material currently available in the University’s library. The lab is currently open to all APP students from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday, and from 2:00p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
April, 2015 - The American University in Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) is proud that the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA) has granted the University’s Academic Preparatory Program (APP) a five year accreditation, from April 2015 to April 2020. CEA is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accrediting agency for English language programs and institutions in the U.S. APP Director Rachel Laribee has been leading the accreditation process since 2012. She emphasized that “For APP, the news for accreditation was wonderful. But the real gift of accreditation was the process that we have gone through the past three years, to make sure our program really is giving the quality instruction that we say we are giving.” She continued, “I hope our students realize that this process is for them. So that when they decide to come to AUIS, they are enrolling in a program that not only strives to follow best practices, but works to deliver quality instruction.” APP operates with a high level of quality, with an approved program of study, qualified instructors, adequate resources, and approved recruitment and admissions policies. And through the hard work of the APP staff and instructors, APP has acquired public recognition with this accreditation which indicates that it fully meets US and international standards set by the US Department of Education. “For APP students, accreditation ensures that they receive a high standard of education. This also gives them a competitive advantage in jobs requiring English skills,” explained Laribee. “For AUIS, this represents a first step towards accreditation for the university as a whole. University accreditation is important for the acceptance and transfers of credits earned, and is a prerequisite for many graduate programs.” Talking about some of the trials they faced during the accreditation process, Laribee said, “The main challenges we faced were finding the time to write the self-study and to formalize all of our policies and procedures, while still having to run the day to day functions. During this time, our program also doubled in size, so it was quite challenging to get everything finished within a few years.” Although she was leading the process, Laribee acknowledges the hard work of the APP staff and instructors in ensuring accreditation for the program. “Without the work of all APP teachers, this could not have been done. Stacie Long was a great help in writing the self-study, and along with the program’s Deputy Director, Katherine Yaw, all APP Faculty - those currently here and those who have since left- were a huge part of the process,” she said. The Interim President of AUIS, Dr. Esther E. Mulnix, was delighted to hear of the accreditation. She stated: “AUIS strives to implement its mission and live its vision to deliver quality education at every level. The community of trustees, faculty, staff, and students have all come together to obtain the accreditation of the English Program that APP delivers.” The Director of Enrollment Paul Craft added, “AUIS focuses on quality. APP’s accreditation by CEA certifies that our program is equal in quality to English language programs in the US, Europe or the Gulf States. Students can get a high quality education at Iraqi tuition rates and without leaving Iraq, the KRG or Sulaimani!” For further information about this accreditation, please contact CEA, 801 North Fairfax Street, Suite 402A, Alexandria, VA 22314, (703) 665-3400, www.cea-accredit.org.