The Vocabulary Expansion Accelerator (VEA) facilitates students keeping up with their course readings and helps them expand their vocabulary at the same time. Students are able to look up the meanings of unfamiliar words and this helps students across all disciplines and years of study, both undergraduate and graduate, to be able to gain content knowledge and disciplinary terminology through reading. In addition, the VEA Skill-Builder enables students to self-train for writing in their respective disciplines. This tool is particularly useful for helping English Language Learners in acquiring the vocabulary and academic language skills they need to cope with the demands of their courses. The tool is currently accessible to faculty and students across all three campuses in a stand-alone format, but not integrated with the larger Toolbox.
VEA has meets accessibility requirements and has been subject to both an information risk assessment. Educational research has been conducted on VEA.
In the credit course I am teaching this semester, VEA is an integral part of the pedagogy. Since students are able to use VEA to accelerate their language development, I have noticed that students are able to express their ideas clearly and with a wider range of vocabulary compared to writing done in my classes in previous semesters (before the advent of VEA). Students’ increased ability to read peer-reviewed journal articles and other academic references that are part of weekly readings, was evident in the ideas they brought up in their assignments. As such, their written assignments were much richer in content, and had better syntax and grammar. In addition, students’ oral presentations turned out very well, as their expanded vocabulary and familiarity with concepts taught in the course made them feel more confident to present their ideas. Students reported that having learned how to use VEA, they are using it to help them with their other courses. From usage statistics across campus, we can see a steady exponential increase in number of logins as well as no. of unique individuals using VEA.
English Language Development Centre,
Centre for Teaching and Learning, UTSC