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AUS MATESOL alumna wins Best Paper Award at UAE graduate research conference
American University of Sharjah (AUS) alumna Anuja Mariyam Thomas won Best Paper Award at the National UAE Graduate Students Research Conference 2021 held recently in Abu Dhabi.
Thomas graduated from AUS in Spring 2021 with a Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Her paper, titled “Putting an End to Paragraphs,” focused on the importance of concluding sentences in paragraphs in advanced academic writing, and their role in comprehension, recall and overall quality of research papers. Thomas’ paper was supervised by Dr. Philip McCarthy, Assistant Professor in English at AUS.
She presented her paper at the National UAE Graduate Students Research Conference 2021, an interdisciplinary academic event that shares university research in the UAE. The conference provides opportunities for graduate students to share their innovative ideas and projects, receive scholarly feedback and network professionally.
“I feel incredibly grateful for the supportive community of faculty and peers at the MATESOL program at AUS. I have always been very anxious when giving presentations, but the faculty members in the program encouraged me to hone this skill. I developed my confidence by presenting in front of peers and professors. Soon enough, I become more comfortable presenting in front of larger audiences. I would particularly like to recognize the commitment shown by my mentor, and the entire department, to fostering an environment where diversity is celebrated, and everyone is encouraged to fulfill their utmost potential,” she said.
The paper aimed to establish a easy model for writing concluding sentences in paragraphs. “The model I developed is teachable, and I consulted with various experts involved in the process. The model I created can be used as a framework when teaching students of academic writing how to end their paragraphs,” explained Thomas.
The paper examined how students in advanced academic writing classes at AUS ended their paragraphs as a case study.
“My research relates to a bigger project entitled ‘Auto-Peer’ led by Dr. McCarthy in which I was involved as a research assistant during my MA studies. Auto-peer is a user-friendly 24/7 automated peer review tool where one of its options is to check paragraph endings in academic writing. My research builds on this particular subject,” she said.
Reflecting on her experience at AUS, Thomas said: “My experience has been better than my wildest dreams, and I thoroughly encourage prospective students to grasp the multitude of opportunities provided by the program, the university and this remarkable country— the UAE. I also would like to acknowledge the contributions of AUS faculty members and staff, particularly Dr. Tammy Gregersen, Dr. Roger Nunn, Dr. Rachel Buck, Dr. Ahmad Al-Issa, Dr. Khawlah Ahmed, Ms. Noor Kaddoura and Ms. Ayah Al-Harthy, and all my amazing friends in the UAE who continue to inspire me every day.”
The College of Arts and Sciences at AUS offers a Master of Arts in TESOL to prepare professionals for a career in teaching English to speakers of other languages. The program is designed to meet the needs of teachers of English as a second language in a diverse, multicultural setting while providing students with professional training and solid foundations in second language acquisition, teaching methodology, language testing and use of technology in language teaching classrooms. For more information about the program, visit aus.edu/cas/matesol.