Đánh giá chương trình giảng dạy tiếng Anh theo cách tiếp cận toàn diện, hướng tới cải thiện chất lượng dạy và học: Nghiên cứu điển mẫu tại trường Đại học Hà Nội

Tóm tắt: Việc đánh giá các chương trình giảng dạy tiếng Anh ngày càng thu hút sự quan tâm của các nhà quản lý chương trình, các nhà lập kế hoạch, các nhà thiết kế chương trình và các nhà quyết sách. Việc đánh giá này nhằm hai mục đích chính, đó là (i) giải trình và (ii) cải thiện và phát triển chương trình. Trong khi việc đánh giá theo định hướng giải trình thường xem xét đến những ảnh hưởng của một chương trình giảng dạy tiếng Anh sau khi chương trình đó kết thúc và thường được tổ chức nhằm phục vụ mục đích của người có quyền quyết định, việc đánh giá theo định hướng nâng cao chất lượng thì lại nhằm mục đích cải thiện chất lượng của chương trình trong quá trình thực hiện. Nhằm đạt được hai mục đích và quan trọng như nhau đó thì cần phải có những cách tiếp cận khác nhau khi đánh giá một chương trình giảng dạy tiếng Anh. Bài viết này nhấn mạnh tầm quan trọng của việc cần phải tiến hành song song đánh giá chương trình hướng tới đạt được cả hai mục đích – giải trình và cải thiện phát triển chất lượng chương trình. Bài viết này trình bày một nghiên cứu điển mẫu ở Trường Đại học Hà Nội, nơi đã thử nghiệm thành công việc đánh giá chương trình giảng dạy theo cách tiếp cận toàn diện. Bằng chứng từ nghiên cứu trường hợp này cho thấy để đáp ứng được hai mục đích – giải trình và cải thiện chất lượng chương trình, tiếp cận toàn diện trong việc đánh giá chương trình dạy tiếng Anh là một cách tiếp cận phù hợp, thông qua việc tập trung vào đánh giá nhiều khía cạnh khác nhau, từ việc thiết kế chương trình, nội dung chương trình, các quy trình dạy và học trên lớp học, sinh viên, giáo viên, đào tạo giáo viên, môi trường học tập, việc đưa ra quyết định cho đến cơ quan giáo dục. Bài viết này không chỉ miêu tả chi tiết cách tiếp cận toàn diện khi đánh giá chương trình giảng dạy tiếng Anh mà còn khai thác cách thức thực hiện phương pháp tiếp cận này trên thực tế ở Trung tâm Giáo dục Quốc tế, Trường Đại học Hà Nội.

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Ti u ban 1: Đào to chuyên ng 156 ĐÁNH GIÁ CHƯƠNG TRÌNH GIẢNG DẠY TIẾNG ANH THEO CÁCH TIẾP CẬN TOÀN DIỆN, HƯỚNG TỚI CẢI THIỆN CHẤT LƯỢNG DẠY VÀ HỌC: NGHIÊN CỨU ĐIỂN MẪU TẠI TRƯỜNG ĐẠI HỌC HÀ NỘI Ngô Tuyt Mai Trường Đại học Hà Nội Tóm t t: Việc đánh giá các chương trình giảng dạy tiếng Anh ngày càng thu hút sự quan tâm của các nhà quản lý chương trình, các nhà lập kế hoạch, các nhà thiết kế chương trình và các nhà quyết sách. Việc đánh giá này nhằm hai mục đích chính, đó là (i) giải trình và (ii) cải thiện và phát triển chương trình. Trong khi việc đánh giá theo định hướng giải trình thường xem xét đến những ảnh hưởng của một chương trình giảng dạy tiếng Anh sau khi chương trình đó kết thúc và thường được tổ chức nhằm phục vụ mục đích của người có quyền quyết định, việc đánh giá theo định hướng nâng cao chất lượng thì lại nhằm mục đích cải thiện chất lượng của chương trình trong quá trình thực hiện. Nhằm đạt được hai mục đích và quan trọng như nhau đó thì cần phải có những cách tiếp cận khác nhau khi đánh giá một chương trình giảng dạy tiếng Anh. Bài viết này nhấn mạnh tầm quan trọng của việc cần phải tiến hành song song đánh giá chương trình hướng tới đạt được cả hai mục đích – giải trình và cải thiện phát triển chất lượng chương trình. Bài viết này trình bày một nghiên cứu điển mẫu ở Trường Đại học Hà Nội, nơi đã thử nghiệm thành công việc đánh giá chương trình giảng dạy theo cách tiếp cận toàn diện. Bằng chứng từ nghiên cứu trường hợp này cho thấy để đáp ứng được hai mục đích – giải trình và cải thiện chất lượng chương trình, tiếp cận toàn diện trong việc đánh giá chương trình dạy tiếng Anh là một cách tiếp cận phù hợp, thông qua việc tập trung vào đánh giá nhiều khía cạnh khác nhau, từ việc thiết kế chương trình, nội dung chương trình, các quy trình dạy và học trên lớp học, sinh viên, giáo viên, đào tạo giáo viên, môi trường học tập, việc đưa ra quyết định cho đến cơ quan giáo dục. Bài viết này không chỉ miêu tả chi tiết cách tiếp cận toàn diện khi đánh giá chương trình giảng dạy tiếng Anh mà còn khai thác cách thức thực hiện phương pháp tiếp cận này trên thực tế ở Trung tâm Giáo dục Quốc tế, Trường Đại học Hà Nội. Abstract: Evaluation of English language programs has become of an increasing interest to program managers, program planners, educators and policy makers. Two major different purposes for English language program evaluation are (i) program accountability and (ii) program development. While accountability-oriented evaluation examines the effects of an English language program at significant end points of an educational cycle and is usually conducted for the benefit of an external audience or decision maker, development –oriented evaluation aims at improving the quality of a program as it is being implemented. Toward achieving such two major different purposes, different approaches to evaluation of an English language program are needed. This paper takes both purposes of program development and program accountability into consideration and presents a case study conducted at Hanoi University where a holistic approach to evaluation has been successfully taken of an English language program towards improving its academic quality. The evidence from the case study well illustrates that to fit for the dual purposes of program accountability and program development, a holistic approach to English language evaluation is recommendable by focusing on many different aspects, ranging from program design, program content, classroom processes, the students, the teachers, teacher training, the learning environment, decision making to the institution itself. The paper not only describes what such a holistic approach to English language evaluation involves but also investigates how it is being implemented in reality in an English language program in Hanoi University. Key words: evaluation, program development, English language program, academic quality. Chin lc ngoi ng trong xu th hi nhp Tháng 11/2014 157 A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO EVALUATION OF AN ENGLISH LANGUAGE PROGRAM TOWARDS IMPROVING ITS ACADEMIC QUALITY: A CASE STUDY AT HANOI UNIVERSITY 1. Introduction Evaluation of an English language program really matters. It really matters as it is concerned with answering a wide range of questions such as whether the program in place is responding to learners’ expected needs, whether it is achieving its goals, or whether students are learning sufficiently from it, whether further teacher training is required for teachers working in the program, or more generally, whether those affected by the programs (e.g., teachers, administrators, students, employers, external agencies) are satisfied with the program. According to Richards (2005, p. 286), evaluation of an English language program “focuses on collecting information about different aspects of a language program in order to understand how the program works, and how successfully it works.” Based on such important information collected, concerned stakeholders will make different kinds of important decisions about the program. This explains why evaluation of English language programs has become of an increasing interest to such key stakeholders as program managers, program planners, educators and policy makers. As far as the Vietnamese public universities’ context (where many English language programs are run) is concerned, evaluation has not practically been paid due attention to. Many efforts have been made instead into planning and implementing English language programs without reflective and purposeful analysis of the practices that are involved in planning, teaching and implementing the programs. In order to help Vietnamese program managers, planners, educators and policy makers to collect adequate information, analyze reflectively practices involved in planning and teaching/implementing a language course, and to make wise decisions about the English language programs, this paper (i) reviews relevant the literature on the topic of curriculum evaluation, (ii) explores different purposes for English language program evaluation, and (iii) presents a case study conducted at Hanoi University where a holistic approach to evaluation has been successfully taken of an English language program towards improving its academic quality. 2. Approaches to Curriculum Evaluation 2.1. The Nature of Curriculum Evaluation There are many different aspects that evaluation may focus on. Such aspects are many, ranging from the quality of program planning and organization, the syllabus and program content, classroom processes, teaching materials, the teachers, teacher training, the students, monitoring of student progress, learner motivation, the institution, learning environment to staff development and decision making (Sanders, 1992; Weir & Roberts, 1994). It is also important to note that all such key factors represent an overall and interlinked system of elements (i.e., needs, goals, teachers, learners, syllabuses, materials and teaching). Such elements are those determining the successful design and implementation of language programs (Richards, 2005). In other words, the scope of evaluation should not be limited. Rather it should be comprehensive. For a language program to be successfully designed and implemented, evaluation should focus on all such key elements. However, in reality, evaluators who are program managers, program planners, educators and policy makers, tend to focus on one single aspect at a time, or in some cases, focus on few aspects at a time. As a consequence, judgments about one aspects or some aspects have been made without due consideration to other equally important aspects and decisions have been thus made without adequate information and evidence. The author of this paper argues that an effective approach to evaluation should focus on all the key aspects well described by Sanders (1992) and Weir and Roberts (1994) because all those aspects from program planning to Ti u ban 1: Đào to chuyên ng 158 implementation are all worth being evaluated and any lack of judgments over any of those aspects may consequentially result in inadequately informed decisions about the program. 2.2. The Audience of Evaluation Language teaching programs have many different levels of involvement and thus create different kinds of audiences for evaluation. According to Elley (1989), to conduct an evaluation, it is important to identify who the different audiences are and what kind of information they are most interested in. In other words, different audiences of evaluation might be interested in different questions. For example, students want to evaluate whether they learnt something from the course and/or how well their performance compared to other, or whether they need another course. Whereas teachers teaching the materials might be primarily concerned that the books provide sufficient material for all the classes on the given timetable. Teachers might also be interested in knowing whether students were satisfied with the course and how effective the course organization was. Program administrators might be interested in knowing whether the timeframe of the course was appropriate or whether the program has achieved the set objectives and the learning outcomes. At the macro level, officers in the Ministry might be keen on knowing whether how the money provided for the project is well spent and whether all components of the invested language teaching program or project are available and well implemented according to the schedule and the set objective. The sponsors of the course were keen on such information as whether the cost of the course was justified, or if the course delivered what was promised, or if the course was well managed. 2.3. Purposes of Evaluation: Program Accountability vs. Program Development Purposes of evaluation vary according to the intention of program managers, planners, educator and policy makers. Weir and Roberts (1994) review the literature and make a distinction between two major purposes for language program evaluation: (i) program accountability and (ii) program development. Accountability, in their words, “refers to the extent to which those involved in a program are answerable for the quality of their work” (Weir & Roberts, 1994, p. 288). Accountability-oriented evaluation thus examines the effects of an English language program at significant end points of an educational cycle and is usually conducted for the benefit of an external audience or decision maker. Whereas program development refers to the quality of the program being evaluated itself and development –oriented evaluation aims at improving the quality of a program as it is being implemented. Development-oriented evaluation has a development focus and it may involve staff who are directly involved in the program, for example, language teachers and it has a teacher – development focus. 2.4. Approaches to Evaluation In order to achieve different purposes, different approaches to evaluation are suggested. Using a comprehensive typology of approaches to evaluation, Richards (2005) referred to three approaches, namely, formative, illuminative, and summative evaluation. Each of these three approaches will be discussed in details below, starting with formative evaluation. 2.4.1. Formative Evaluation Approach Formative evaluation is carried out on an on- going basis, as part of the process of program development with the aim of finding out what is successful and what is not and what challenges or issues need to be addressed. This type of evaluation is generally known as formative evaluation in the evaluation literature. Its focus is on the continuous development and improvement of the program. Formative evaluation typically attempts to answer a wide range of questions in relation to, among others, whether enough time has been allocated to particular objectives, whether teachers’ used methodologies are appropriate, and whether students benefit from the teaching program. Rich information is often collected during formative evaluation, ranging from students’ achievement outcomes, to teachers’ methodologies, programs’ teaching materials and Chin lc ngoi ng trong xu th hi nhp Tháng 11/2014 159 the adequacy of the pacing of the material. Such information is often used to not only identify issues and problems and to address the identified ones and to improve the implementation of the program for the sake of a better quality program. Formative evaluation, during the implementation of any new or old programs, can be carried out creatively in different forms or in a combination of various forms or evaluation activities, ranging from workshops, review meetings (with such stakeholders as teachers and students), to teachers’ reports, peer observations and student needs analysis surveys. Such evaluation activities or a combination of all those activities can reveal a holistic picture of what is working well and what is not, and what need to be addressed in the program before specific actions are taken to improve it. 2.4.2. Illuminative Evaluation Approach Besides formative evaluation, another common type of evaluation, generally known as illuminative evaluation is often carried out. Illuminative evaluation is often described as evaluation that “seeks to find out how different aspects of the program work or are being implemented” (Richards, 2005, p. 289). Unlike formative evaluation which covers a wide range of aspects of a program, illuminative evaluation often focuses on one single aspect of a program. Rather than providing a holistic or comprehensive picture of a program, illuminative evaluation seeks to illuminate or provide a deeper understanding of the processes of teaching and learning that occur in the program without necessarily seeking to change the course in any way as a result. Different illuminative evaluations focus on different aspects of the program, depending on what single aspects that evaluators and program managers are keen on illuminating. Within a certain illuminative evaluation, certain questions might be asked to find out how a certain aspect of the program work or is being delivered or implemented. If error-correction strategies are of evaluators’ interests, such questions as what type of and how error-correction strategies are used by teachers might be asked. In case teacher- student interaction patterns are of their interest, the question as to what type of teacher-student interaction patterns typically occur in classes. To conduct illuminative evaluation, various evaluation activities can be of use by evaluators who are language teachers, for example, the questionnaire surveys among stakeholders including teachers and students or classroom observations with purposeful investigation, the use of recorded videos can be of use. The most popular type of illuminative evaluation is classroom action research. Block (1998) highlights the importance of using classroom action research as a type of illuminative evaluation in understanding learners’ interpretations of the language courses they attend and how learners make sense of their lessons. Block recommends that teachers should interview learners on a regular basis to get their perspectives regarding what is going on in the course. Through classroom action research, teachers can collect evaluation information about learners and their performance over a certain period of time, normally over an academic term of fifteen weeks or so, using classroom observation, learner journals, interviews and test/exam results. In some situations, such an illuminative evaluation activity of action research might provide some surprising findings. In other situations, evaluators or action researchers might not learn anything particularly surprising from their evaluation or investigation, such information collected from action research can help confirm and make explicit some things which they knew intuitively. Teachers can learn a useful strategy or technique to use in order to more effectively facilitate their students’ learning. As a result, the illuminative evaluation can provide teachers/evaluators with answers to such questions and how the teacher (in spotlight) went about doing a certain thing (e.g., group work, reading strategies, helping students understand the teacher’s intentions), and which way of doing it works best for the teacher. 2.4.3. Summative Evaluation Approach Summative evaluation is a type of evaluation seeking to determine the effectiveness, its efficiency and its acceptability of a program and to make decisions about the worth or value of Ti u ban 1: Đào to chuyên ng 160 different aspects of the curriculum. According to Richards (2005), most teachers and program administrators are familiar with this approach to evaluation which takes place after the completion of a program. Shaw and Dowsett (1986, p. 66) suggest that three audiences are identifiable for all summative evaluation of language course, namely, other teachers in the program (the main audience) for course design and planning purposes, managers of the institution or program for the purpose of determining course offerings and placement, and the curriculum support or development unit for the purpose of monitoring the curriculum. This approach generally seeks answers to a wide variety of questions such as to how effective the course was, whether it achieved its aims, or how well the course was received by students and teachers, or how appropriate the teaching methods were. Answers to all such questions help reveal the effectiveness of a course or a program. In order to decide whether a course is effective or not, criteria for effectiveness and different measures of a course’s effectiveness are identified. Measures of a course’s effectiveness include mastery of objectives, performance on tests, measures of acceptability, retention rate or reenrollment rate, and efficiency of the course (Weir, 1995) and each measure can be used for different purposes (Richards, 2005). For example, to measure the extent to which the students have mastered a certain objective at the end of the course, each objective set in the course is examined and criteria for students’ successful achievement of each objective are chosen. However, the mastery of objectives is not sufficient and does not always provide a full picture of the effectiveness of a course. The reality often shows that objectives can still be achieved despite defects or shortcomings in the course. Or perhaps mastery of an objective was achieved simply because students spent a lot of extra time in private study to compensate for the poor teaching performance or insufficient materials provided during the course. Therefore other more formal ways of assessing mastery of objectives such as formal tests (e.g., unit tests given at the end of each unit of teaching materials, class tests or quizzes devised by teachers and administered at various stages throughout the course) are used to measure students’ achievement. Besides measures of mastery of objectives and performance on tests, measures of acceptability can be used through assessm
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