More than 115 students from Dubai Men’s College (DMC) and Dubai Women’s College (DWC) have recently entered their Academic programs of choice - Business, IT and Engineering, six months ahead of their classmates.
“I knew when I was accepted at Dubai Women’s College that the Foundations program would last a year,” said Amina Saleh, “so it was a really nice surprise to have just one semester in Foundations and join the IT program so quickly. My English was good; I just needed help with Math”. And Abdul-Qader at Dubai Men’s College said that the college was doing the right thing to put students first, and not tie them into a year-long Foundations program they didn’t really need. “I’ve always wanted to study Engineering,” he remarked, “but my father said the Maths was tough. Luckily DMC gave me the chance to improve my Maths quickly. Now I’ve started the Engineering program after a special fast track program, it’s great, and I feel very motivated to succeed.”
The teachers at both colleges support the fast track idea too. Doug Harrison, Engineering faculty at DMC believes that giving students a one semester target to succeed in their Foundations studies is the right approach. “Generally all students want to move into their chosen field of study right away, but every student is different, and needs different periods of study to learn the skills in English and Math that prepare them for their major program. Previously, our Foundations program was fixed at one year, and we took the one-size-fits-all approach. With the introduction of our Fast-track program, we have recognized students have different abilities and progress at different speeds.”
“Another advantage” said Jeannette Watts, the Chair of Foundations at DWC, “is that we have created entry points into the major programs each semester, instead of each year. We can also target what individual students need to meet the entry requirements. For example, if a student does not need much English instruction but a lot of Math instruction we can take a flexible approach to provide that during this one semester course.”
DMC takes a creative view of the curriculum for these fast track students in Foundations. Phil Lodge, the Chair of Foundations and English at DMC, integrated studies in Global Awareness and Heritage, History and Culture into the program. “One of our teachers took a very practical approach and worked with the Heritage Centre in Dubai to have students build an Areesh, a kind of palm-frond dwelling used by the students grandparents; the students were a bit skeptical at first, but in the end they worked very well as a team, solved lots of problems along the way, and realized that life had been much harder in the old days! The point was to make learning fun, and give students some real responsibility.”
All in all, both colleges feel that the introduction of fast track courses has been a success. As Brian Keenan, Academic Dean at DWC, notes, “Students enrolled in the program were highly motivated by the prospect of early admission to their major which contributed to the high success rate of students who participated. We plan to run and expand the program in the next Academic Year.”
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