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First EAGLET Program grants awarded, totaling $20,000

Faculty, News, Opportunities, Research | Comments Off on First EAGLET Program grants awarded, totaling $20,000

The first three winners of a new jointly funded grant program called “Evaluation and Assessment Grant for Language-supported Education and Transition (EAGLET)” were selected at the end of September, totaling $20,000 in funding for innovative evaluation and assessment projects focused on supporting multilingual students in higher education and, in particular, at Mason.

The program, sponsored in joint partnership by the Center for International Student Access (CISA) and the English Language Institute (ELI), provides financial support for individual or small groups of faculty to engage in the scholarship of teaching and learning related to the sponsors’ mission. The grants emphasize curricular and instructional innovations, second or foreign language assessment, and co-curricular activity fostering academic achievement.

“This program is an important opportunity to create and share the scholarly activity going on with international students with the wider Mason and national community,” Nicole Sealey, CISA Director, said. “It offers CISA and the ELI a chance to contribute to the dialog in both the research and practice communities. I am especially proud that all faculty are eligible for this award–including adjunct, term, and administrative–which also offers dual opportunities for professional growth.”

A $10,000 award went to Dr. Karyn Mallett, Assistant Director for the English Language Institute, and Dr. Steven Weinberger, Linguistics Program Director, for their “I am George Mason University: A Celebration of Linguistic Diversity” project, which aims to engage members of the Mason community in research that considers what diversity sounds like. This project features an interactive website with photographs, stories, and voice recordings that raises awareness about the potential for discrimination on the basis of the listener’s associations with accented speech.

“As we begin to craft a university for the world, it is important to recognize and appreciate the role that language plays in our ability to communicate with the world,” the investigators wrote. “Linguistic diversity is interesting to study, and the project will, we hope, foster positively oriented discussions around globalization, internationalization and diversity.”

Laura L. Miller, CISA English Faculty and ELI Core Faculty, and Dr. Sharon Doetsch-Kidder, CISA English Faculty and English department faculty, were awarded $7,000 for their project, “Meditation and Multilingual Writers: Can meditation improve reading, writing, and studentship in international students?” The investigators will study the cross-cultural experiences of multilingual students taking an English composition course in the ACCESS Program, a year-long first-year pathway program, and the effects of teaching mindfulness in education.

“I have taught meditation in my composition classes for several years and have noticed benefits in student engagement,” Doetsch-Kidder wrote. “Many students have commented on how helpful they find meditation techniques for focusing in class and calming themselves in their daily lives. I am excited to find out if I can find ways to measure the effects of meditation instruction beyond the personal reflections of myself and my students.”

The final recipient, Dr. Julie Kim, ELI Language Program Evaluation Specialist, was awarded $3,000 to study the relationship between the ACCUPLACER ESL test, which is used by the ELI to determine English proficiency, and the external measures of reading section scores from other language tests, such as the TOEFL and IELTS. This study would help to more narrowly assess students’ individual reading skills to determine academic readiness for use in admissions, placement, curriculum design, language interventions, and more.

How to apply for future EAGLET grants
The next EAGLET Program application deadline will be March 1, 2014 for the following academic year. All faculty are encouraged to apply. To be considered, the principle investigator for each application must be a full-time faculty member at Mason at the time of receipt of the award and at least one member of the research team must be on the faculty/staff of CISA or the ELI. All funded activity must in some way demonstrate a direct benefit to CISA, the ELI, or Mason as a whole, and respond to some aspect of the institutional or departmental mission, vision, or core values. EAGLET funding is awarded upon recommendation of a peer review panel drawn from the previous year’s awardees and the associate provosts for Undergraduate and Graduate Education.

If you have any questions about the new jointly funded EAGLET Program, please email