Assessing Needs


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A presentation by Professor Álvaro Muñóz. Manizales, Colombia.

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Assessing Needs

  2. 2. The role <ul><li>Systematic and ongoing process of gathering information about students needs and preferences , interpreting the information and then, making course decisions based on the interpretation in order to meet the needs. </li></ul><ul><li>It is a part of teaching (Munby 1978) </li></ul><ul><li>Felt needs and perceived needs </li></ul>
  3. 3. Learners and teachers <ul><li>Learners reflect on their learning and gain a sense of ownership and control of their learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers select and design </li></ul><ul><li>A need is the gap between what language learners know and can do, and what they don’t know, can’t do—but ought to know and ought to do. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Process( cycle) <ul><li>Deciding what information to gather and why </li></ul><ul><li>Deciding the best way to gather it: when, how and from whom </li></ul><ul><li>Gathering the information </li></ul><ul><li>Interpreting the information </li></ul><ul><li>Acting on the information </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluating the effects and effectiveness of the action. </li></ul><ul><li>(back to 1) deciding on further or new information to gather </li></ul>
  5. 5. What areas of learning does N.A address? <ul><li>Current state </li></ul><ul><li>Language ability </li></ul><ul><li>Learning preferences </li></ul><ul><li>The desired goal to change </li></ul>
  6. 6. The old curriculum <ul><ul><ul><li>In the bad old days of language teaching, and maybe even in schools today (!), it wasn’t hard to say what language learners needed: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Grammar, translation, plenty of work with that dictionary, and plenty of work to prepare for that test!”… (sound familiar?) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Today <ul><li>Today, it’s nice to think people learn languages to deal with life – What they think are their needs. </li></ul><ul><li>This is what you could call FELT needs. </li></ul><ul><li>Have a look at this: </li></ul>GOAL OF LANGUAGE USE SOURCE OF INSTRUCTIONAL CONTENT Language ‘ Life ’ Didactic (education) Teaching/practicing language Teaching practicing content Social Talking/writing (re: language-as-content) Talking/writing re: non-language content
  8. 8. Can we get some ideas about what to teach from knowing about the students themselves? For instance do we teach children and adults the same thing? CHILDREN ADULTS Intellectual development Focus: here and now, concrete Can handle abstractions Attention span Short in classroom settings Relatively long Sensory input Much variety required Some variety required Affective factors Fragile in presence of peers Bring global self-esteem to classroom Authentic, meaningful language Language use for immediate rewards Tolerate less contextualiza-tion
  9. 9. Is there really anything to second language learning beyond language ? <ul><ul><li>Short answer: Yes! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Long answer: Yes, but (language is a part of culture—so, how can you get cultured?) </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. I’m talking about the ways you ‘get’ culture. How about this list: <ul><ul><ul><li>through social interaction (negotiated talk) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>through ritual (rote participation) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>through observation (passive participation) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>through microchip brain implants – well, maybe not for a few years – </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>So, are YOU acculturating? What do you think? </li></ul>
  11. 11. We can gather information about the present <ul><li>Who learners are age , gender, profession. Background. etc </li></ul><ul><li>The learners` level of language proficiency: the skills. Grammar. </li></ul><ul><li>The learners´ level of intercultural competence. </li></ul><ul><li>Their interests: topics, issues, professional experience </li></ul><ul><li>Their learning preferences: how tested, learning preference, teacher's role. </li></ul><ul><li>Their attitudes: toward themselves. Target lang, culture </li></ul>
  12. 12. The future <ul><li>The learners goals and expectations: </li></ul><ul><li>The target contexts: situations, roles, topics and content </li></ul><ul><li>Type of communicative skills they will need and tasks they will perform: listen to lectures , talk on the phone, persuade. </li></ul><ul><li>Language modalities they will use </li></ul>
  13. 13. Objective/ subjective <ul><li>What for? </li></ul><ul><li>Language ability </li></ul><ul><li>Attitudes </li></ul><ul><li>Expectations </li></ul>
  14. 14. Target and learning needs <ul><li>What students need to learn and for what purposes. </li></ul><ul><li>What they expect to learn. What motivates them as learners. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Factors that can guide your choices <ul><li>The purpose of the course </li></ul><ul><li>Your beliefs </li></ul><ul><li>Information you already have about students </li></ul><ul><li>Gather only information that you know you can use. </li></ul>
  16. 16. When <ul><li>Pre-course: placement, content. objectives </li></ul><ul><li>Initial: the first few sessions </li></ul><ul><li>Ongoing: determining whether what is being taught, how it is being taught and how it is being evaluated, are effective for the students </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>Rank Ordering of te a ching activities according to the perceived usefulness(Eltis and Low 1985) : </li></ul><ul><li>ACTIVITY % </li></ul><ul><li>Students working in pairs/ small </li></ul><ul><li>groups  80 </li></ul><ul><li>Role-play 56 </li></ul><ul><li>Language games 51 </li></ul><ul><li>Reading topical articles 48 </li></ul><ul><li>Students making oral presentations 46 </li></ul><ul><li>Cloze(gap filling exercises 45 </li></ul><ul><li>Using video materials 40 </li></ul><ul><li>Student repeating teacher cue(drill)  34 </li></ul><ul><li>Exercise in free writing  27 </li></ul><ul><li>Setting and correction of homework  25 </li></ul><ul><li>Listening and note taking 25 </li></ul><ul><li>Repeating and learning dialogues 20 </li></ul><ul><li>Students reading aloud in the class 21 </li></ul><ul><li>Exercises in onference writing 18 </li></ul>Most useful parts of lesson according to students(Alcorso and Kalantzis1985): ACTIVITY % Grammar exercises 40 Structured class discussion/conversation 35 Copying written material , memorising, drill and repetition   25 Listening activities using casettes 20 Reading books and newspapers 15 Writing stories,poems,descritions 12 Drama role-play, songs, languge games 12 Using audio-visuals, tv. ,video 11 Communication tasks, problem solving   10 Excursions with the class 7   (David Nunan :1988i)
  18. 18. Framework <ul><li>What information does it gather? </li></ul><ul><li>Who is involved and why? </li></ul><ul><li>What skills are necessary to carry it out?is preparation needed? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the activity feasible given the level and number of students? How could you adapt it? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the activity focused only on gathering information which you will analize or does it also ask students to identify problems and solutions . Identify priorities. </li></ul><ul><li>How will the teacher and learners use these information. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Assessment activities ( once or on a regular basis) <ul><li>Questionnaires: obvious choice. Not always most effective. </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews: </li></ul><ul><li>Grids charts or lists: for students to interview each other. </li></ul><ul><li>Writing activities : assess prof. diagnose strengths and weaknesses. Objective subjective needs. Compare. </li></ul><ul><li>Group discussions: teacher students responsibilities. </li></ul><ul><li>Ranking activities : where and for what purpose they use English? Most to least </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>  Proficiency level </li></ul><ul><li>Age </li></ul><ul><li>Educational background </li></ul><ul><li>Previous courses </li></ul><ul><li>Nationality </li></ul><ul><li>Marital Status </li></ul><ul><li>Trime in country </li></ul><ul><li>Occupation </li></ul><ul><li>First language </li></ul><ul><li>Other languages </li></ul><ul><li>Preferred course length </li></ul><ul><li>Preferred methodology </li></ul><ul><li>Learning style </li></ul><ul><li>Language goals </li></ul><ul><li>Life goals </li></ul><ul><li>         And he adds that these information can be seen in two different categories: </li></ul><ul><li>1.Essential biographical information </li></ul><ul><li>2.More personal , relating to the learners’preferences and perception of need. </li></ul>DATA : WHEN COLLECTED?  BY WHOM?  HOW? FOR WHAT PURPOSE?
  21. 21. A.For what communicative questions and tasks do you wish to learn English? <ul><li>  1.Talking in formal situations(e.g. to the doctor) </li></ul><ul><li>2.Understanding the radio and television </li></ul><ul><li>3.Filling in forms </li></ul><ul><li>4.Understanding native speakers </li></ul><ul><li>5.Reading newspapers </li></ul><ul><li>6.Understanding the Australian way of life </li></ul><ul><li>7.Writing letters </li></ul><ul><li>8.Talking to friends and neighbours </li></ul>
  22. 22. Ongoing <ul><li>Regular feedback sessions. how valuable was this activity in helping you with…? </li></ul><ul><li>Dialogue journals: teacher responds. Structured, unstructured. </li></ul><ul><li>Learning logs/ diaries: records/learning/ progress/continue </li></ul><ul><li>Portfolios </li></ul>
  23. 23. B.What learning activities do you prefer? <ul><li>  1.Learning grammar rules </li></ul><ul><li>2.Pronounciation </li></ul><ul><li>3.Learning ne w words </li></ul><ul><li>4.Studying a textbook or coursebook </li></ul>
  24. 24. C.Which skiils are most important for you? <ul><li>  1.Speaking </li></ul><ul><li>2.Listening </li></ul><ul><li>3.Writing </li></ul><ul><li>4.Reading </li></ul>
  25. 25.   D.What sort of groupings do you prefer? <ul><li>1.Practi c ing with the whole class 2.Practi c ing in small groups 3.Practi c ing in pairs 4.Studying alone </li></ul>
  26. 26. Learning Strategies (examples) Memory “ I use new English words in a sentence, so I can remember them.” Cognitive “ I try not to translate word for word.” Compensa-tion “ To understand unfamiliar English words, I make guesses.” Meta-cognitive “ I think about my progress in learning English.” Affective “ I give myself a reward or treat when I do well in English.” Social “ I practice English with other students.”
  27. 27. Reed, Perceptual Learning Style Preference Survey Strongly agree (SA) Agree (A) Undecided (U) Disagree (D) strongly disagree (SD) X
  28. 28. SA A U D SD 1. When the teacher tells me the instructions, I understand better. 2. I prefer to learn by doing something in class. 3. I get more work done when I work with others. 4. I learn more when I study with a group 5. I class, I learn best when I work with others. 6. I learn better by reading than by listening to someone.
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