English Language Specialist Dr. Sarah Sahr spent several months as part of a multi-phase project with the Amity School for Communication Enhancement & Transformation (ASCENT) at Amity University in Lucknow (AUUP), India, to develop a new curriculum that builds upon the speaking-fluency work of current English Language Fellow Kristina Dixon. During the first part of this project, which took place in March, 2018, Sahr reviewed the overarching ASCENT curriculum. This initial review showed that there was a need to revise the existing speaking-fluency courses, creating two new courses: Public Speaking and Business Writing. Subsequently, based on classroom observations, meetings with various heads of department, and reviews of current ASCENT and other department curricula, four needs assessments were developed and administered to over one-hundred and twenty ASCENT students and eight ASCENT professors. Afterwards, Sahr put six weeks into creating the new curriculum, which was rooted in the key findings of the needs assessments and professional learning workshops. When Sahr finalized the new curriculum, a preliminary draft was submitted for review to the U.S. Embassy, the ASCENT department, Dr. Aseem K. Chauhan, Chancellor of Amity Education Group, and the new AUUP Pro Vice-Chancellor.
The second phase of this project began at the end of May 2018. Sahr returned to India to meet with Dr. Chauhan to facilitate the new curriculum’s rollout. The ASCENT team spent seven-and-a-half hours in a focus group to contribute additional feedback to strengthen the curriculum. In addition to participating in the development of the new curriculum, Amity professors attended workshops aimed at increasing teacher effectiveness and professionalism. Overall, Sahr believes that this project has strengthened the understanding and awareness of American language, society, and values throughout the curriculum-review process and its implementation.
Dr. Sarah Sahr holds an EdD in education administration and policy from George Washington University. Her professional career includes extensive experience as a teacher and administrator in various international settings, most notably as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia, traveling teacher/administrator with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, a primary-school curriculum reformer in Qatar, and Director for Professional Learning and Research at the TESOL International Association. Her research interests include online communities of practice/professional learning networks, teacher self-efficacy, and combating teacher isolation.