К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2012
Автор: Максимова Ксения Валерьевна
Creating a brand new class or setting out to transform an existing
curriculum can be a daunting task for new, as well as experienced, instructors.
Although courses may vary in size, subject matter and level, a systematic
process will help you plan and structure your course so as to effectively reach
desired instructional goals.
An effective course design begins with asking questions
in order to understand who your students are, deciding what you want them to
learn, determining how you will measure whether students are learning, and
planning activities, assignments and materials that are favorable to student
Academics and course designers need to know who their students are and
what experiences they will be bringing to their studies. This involves a
consideration of course design and development in terms of the textual practices
students are most familiar with, and how these might relate to the practices
which they will be engaged in during the study of any particular course. Tutors
need to find out as much as they can about students’ prior experiences of
writing and reading. They have to stand back from assuming that these will
easily map onto the practices students engage in as participants in the course.
The course design needs to incorporate attention to the practices students
bring from other contexts, both of work and previous study, and also to acknowledge
how the textual demands of this course might sit with other more familiar
literacy practices. In terms of this case study the course team knew that the
students had already studied to first degree level, and some at postgraduate
level. The course requires students to be conversant already or become quickly
familiar with discourses common in social science and education. Yet the
students were as likely to have a background in, for example, the natural
sciences, languages or computer science. The course team attempted to explicate
these kinds of issues in the course materials in order to help students recognize
some of the disjunctures they might experience.
The next stage which we should take into consideration does
not differ considerably from the previous ones. The main goal is to set already
existing knowledge on a more scientific basic by setting up procedures for
relating language analysis more closely to learners’ reasons for learning.
According to it the main purpose of the Business French course is giving
students an opportunity to function adequately in the situation in which they
need to use language they learn, i.e. target situation. So the designing of the
Business French course should have the identification of the target situation
as the first step and only then carrying out a strict analysis of the
linguistic features of that situation. These identified features will
constitute the syllabus of the Business French course. This process is
so-called needs analysis; however, Hutchinson and Walters use another notion
which describes this process more accurate – “target situation analysis”.
The principle idea of this phase of development consists in
the assumption that there are common reasoning and interpreting processes which
give an opportunity to understand the meaning of the words with the help of
discourse. The attention should be paid to the interpretive strategies which
enable student to cope with the surface forms, for example to guess the meaning
of the words from the context using visual layout to determine the type of
text, utilizing cognates - words which are similar in the target language and
in the mother tongue. In this approach there is no need to be focused on
specific subject registers because the underlying processes are not specific to
any subject register.
Speaking about the origins of any language course development we identified three
main forces which we might characterized as new ideas about language and
learning. However, too little attention is given to the last of these forces –
learning. All the stages given above were fundamentally defected because they
were focused on descriptions of language use. All the previous stages described
what people do with the language. Of course it helps to set the objectives of
the course but our concern is with language learning. It is impossible to learn
a language just describing and exemplifying what people do with it. A real
effective approach should take into consideration an understanding of the
processes of language learning. It has led us to the fifth phase of Business
French development – the learning-centred approach.
The choice of a syllabus is a rather serious step in
designing a course. There are different types of language teaching syllabus,
and these types can be used in various teaching situations. In spite of the
fact that there are 6 main types of syllabus, in practice, we will not be able
to find them independently. Almost all language teaching syllabi present a
combination of two or even more types. Usually for one course the dominant
position is given to one syllabus types, while other types of syllabus may be
combined with it. What is more, it is not easy to distinguish one type of
syllabus from another. For example, if we take skill-based and task-based
syllabi the distinction is not evident.
The ‘content’ of a course, for example, its reading lists,
lecture notes (nowadays often found posted on the departmental website) and
course materials, can easily become reified as repositories of received
knowledge. There is, however, increasing recognition that the construction of
knowledge is a dialogic process, as students mediate the texts through their
own personal readings and understandings of the materials they encounter
through their study of a course. In addition, the increased use, by students,
of resources has implications for the status of different types of texts in the
representation of knowledge, since course content is no longer confined to the
books and articles indicated on course reading lists. In some contexts students
are now as likely to follow a weblink for a course resource as they are to
borrow a book orjournal article from the university library.
In order to understand more about the ways in which
students negotiate and remediate texts, designers have to move away from
conceptualizing course content as repositories of received knowledge, and
recognize the relationship between epistemology and the construction of
knowledge through textual practices. For some years researchers have illustrated
the ways in which disciplinary bodies of knowledge are constructed through the
writing practices associated with particular disciplines, yet courses are
informed increasingly by many contrasting disciplinary ‘ways of knowing’,
rather than one clearly defined disciplinary frame. Consequently, it is
important that course designers attempt to be more explicit about the ways in
which their course is constructed through particular textual practices, which
may or may not be familiar to students on the course. Students may be
unfamiliar with the kinds of texts they encounter in their studies more
generally, and not only in terms of assessment. They may need space for discussion
of some of the less obvious principles which underlie the texts they encounter
during a course. In this instance the course team indicated some of the
difficulties they predicted students might have if they were not familiar
already with social science and education discourses.
Once you have outlined course goals and objectives and
identified the assessment techniques you’re already using, you’ll want to think
about the length and scope of the new course-embedded assessment techniques
you’d like to implement.
In recognition of the possible gaps between students’ and
tutors’ interpretation of the assessment task, the course team discussed at
length the best way of devising and wording the assessment criteria. As a
result of these discussions they came to the conclusion that they would avoid
associating a numerical mark with a specific criterion for assessment, for
example, ‘development of coherent argument (20 marks)’. They adopted a more discursive
approach to the criteria, and instead of explicitly naming these as ‘criteria
for assessment’, they explored them under the heading, ‘What will your tutor be
The attempts of the course team to adopt a more discursive
and interpretative approach to assessment, which acknowledged the inherent
limitations of apportioning objective numerical grading to what are,
inevitably, subjective assessments of the criteria, had failed from the
students’ perspective. This experience has some similarities with findings in
academic literacies research, where students conceptualize their problems with
writing in ways which feel familiar to them, in terms of the surface features
of grammar, spelling and punctuation, rather than with respect to deeper
epistemological issues concerned with writing the discipline. In this instance
students requested what they saw as an objective marking scheme, even though
the implementation of the criteria themselves as a highly subjective process
could, arguably, be laid open to much deeper scrutiny.
Classroom assessment can be conducted over the course of a
semester or it can be done at a key moment during a specific part of class.
Whether you assess student learning on a longer-term basis or “at-the-moment”
really depends on what you are trying to evaluate and learn.
A good starting point for classroom assessment is to gauge
the level of knowledge and understanding that students bring into the classroom
at the start of the semester. A background knowledge probe asks students not
only basic questions about previous coursework and preparation but also focuses
on identifying the extent to which the student may or may not be familiar with
key concepts that will be discussed in the course. Use the background knowledge
probe at the beginning of the semester, at the start of a new unit, or prior to
introducing a new topic.
The process of evaluation the
course is rather important for the teacher. It helps not only to give the
colleagues or administration an opportunity to assess the instructor’s work but
also it assists the instructor to see the points in the course design necessary
to be changed or improved.
The results of different
researches in the field of course design and organization show that the
evaluation given by learners should be taken into account and considered as
reliable. The students’ evaluation of the course may include the perception of
teachers’ personality and the easy of the course, however, the information
which is gathered during the process of assessment can be informative of the
way the instructor teaches. In order to get the benefits from evaluation it is
necessary to design such evaluations forms or questionnaires which provide the
teacher with students’ comments.
When the results of the
evaluations are given in numbers it is not very helpful for the instructor. He
or she needs to see and understand students’ thoughts. For this reason the tips
for effective evaluations should be listed.
1) The instructor should be sure that the
students evaluate what he or she really wants and needs. The points which are
evaluated by learners aimed at showing the aspects which the teacher did well
and what points should be improved. It should be clear for students what to
evaluate. In order to make it easy the instructor may make up a list of the
things necessary to be assessed. It can consist of such aspects as
organization, clarity, knowledge of the instructor, etc. The teacher needs to
be specific, in case if the goal is to evaluate the teaching, the learners
should not evaluate the teacher’s personality. They also mix it up in their
minds. Designing two different evaluations forms (for the course content and
teaching style) can be considered as a solution here. It is a god idea to give
a clear statement of what to evaluate at the top of evaluation form. As an
example of evaluation on content of the course the following questions can be
asked: please, give our comments on content of the course, did the course meet
explain how your instructor could improve the way of helping students learn the
materials covered in the course.
2) Numerical ratings should be
defined for different categories. Students can be asked to rate the instructor’s teaching.
For this way of evaluation the subjective descriptions such as “excellent”,
‘good”, etc. should be omitted. The ratings need to be made according to how
much a student agrees with a statement. For example, on the one hand, students
may be offered the following statement to be evaluated: the material was
presented in a clear manner that facilitated understanding. To evaluate
some degree of agreement could be used:
1 – Strongly agree; 2 – agree; 3 – neutral; 4 – disagree; 5 – strongly
On the other hand, the instructor may suggest the learners to evaluate the
way of teaching in comparison with teaching of other instructors whom the
students have been taught before. For such evaluation it is necessary to define
the numbers, for example, of the clarity of the way material was presented in
class to facilitate understanding. The ratings can be the following:
1– best of all instructors I
have had in other courses
2 – top 25%
3 – middle 50%
4 – worst 25%
5 – worst of all
instructors I have had in other courses
3) It is necessary to leave plenty of space
where students should leave their comments. It lies in the nature of people when they are asked to
rate something just by circling one variant of the answer. In the majority of
cases in such procedure people do not think a lot about the answer choice that
is why the results may be not reliable. Vice versa, if people are offered
enough place for their comments they will actually express their opinion about
the question and write their own answer. The instructor should forget about not
significant role of numbers, for this reason it will be a good idea to ask
learners to list a given number of things.
e.g.: define 3
things that you dislike in the way of given instructions by the teacher.
The process of
evaluation should be conducted in the anonymous way. It makes profits
for students as well as for teacher. It facilitates learners to be honest while
giving their answers and not to be afraid of negative influence of their
responses to their grades. The teacher receiving all the answers will get
objective picture without taking somebody’s comments personally. For keeping
anonymity, a volunteer among students may be chosen to collect the evaluations
form with answers.
4) There should be
enough time for evaluation. It should be given at least 20 minutes for
conducting evaluation; students need to feel that there is enough time to think
and express their opinion and not to be hurried. Students may be asked to think
about the whole course before the day of giving their comments and assessment. >Also it would be
reasonable to propose to assess the course at least a week before the finals in
order students not to worry about wasting time before their finals. It is
recommended not to conduct the evaluation right after the instructor gave the
feedback concerning major assignments/ exams as it will result
in bias evaluations.
5) The instructor
should not forget about mid-term evaluation. When the evaluation is
conducted at the end of the course it will give a teacher an opportunity to
improve the course for the next period of teaching with other students.
However, it would be useful and interesting to know what students think about
the course and the way of teaching in the moment when they are taking this
course. Mid-term evaluation may take place some time during the course after
the learners have managed to know how he instructor teaches. This can be done
after the period of adaptation, for example. The goal of evaluation is to
improve teaching and facilitate learning that is why the comments of students
will be helpful and constructive. For such kind of evaluation the instructor
may refuse of full evaluation form. The quick feedback can be achieved by
means of the following methods:
- Index cards –
students could give the comments concerning what the teacher does well and what
should be changed or improved. What is more, students could be asked to point
about what is not clear enough for them or any other things the instructor
would like to know more about.
- Questionnaires –
it proposes a short form of the evaluation form which is used at the end of the
course. It also helps to define reasonable points to be improved. For example,
students may be proposed to ask the question aimed at revealing the pace,
amount and difficulty of the given material, was it too much or too little.
They can enumerate the topics or lectures which were especially good and
memorable. Another way is to prepare a list of paper and give it to each
student in turns where they can write a question about the course they have.
- Small group
discussions – students could be divided in small groups in order to discuss
what requires to be improved, the representatives of each group are offered to
submit the summary.
It depends on the teacher, his needs and available time for conducting the
evaluation of the course. It can be done as often as it is required. Students
also can be asked to give comments and creative recommendation for the whole
Course policy, grading and evaluation are very important for the students
as well as for the teacher so it should be obligatory included in the syllabus.
It is a good idea to mention what kind of materials will be used in the course.
Students may be asked to give their feedback at the end of the course, by
marking out the advantages and disadvantages of the course, what they liked/ disliked about their
course, were their expectations legitimated; it can be done in an anonymous way
if student want.
1. Gatehouse Kristen. Key issues in Business
French Curriculum Development. The Internet TESL Journal, Vol.7, No. 10, October
2. Munby, John. Communicative syllabus design.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996
3. Nunan, D. The learner-centered
curriculum. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991
4. Andrews, J. Teaching assistants: A handbook
of teaching ideas. San Diego, CA: University of California, San Diego, TA
Development Program, 1992
5. Goodlad J. and Zhixin Su. “Organization
of the Curriculum,” in Philip Jackson (ed.), Handbook of Research on
Curriculum. New York: Mac
К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2012