The purpose of this program is to help students attain proficiency in the English language. The program is offered by a university located in a non-native English speaking country and is targeted to non-native English speaking students aiming to a major course in English. The program is intensive and takes a period of one year, during which, students undertake studies in four skills necessary for the acquisition of proficiency in the language.
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Program evaluation plan
The following plan enabled the evaluator to determine the effectiveness of the program. The plan focused on determining whether the program addresses the core of the problem and whether the program led to the attainment of desired outcomes. Of specific importance is evaluation of program effectiveness in helping students gain language competence. As such, the evaluator targeted students enrolled in the program as well as those who had completed the program and are already enrolled as English majors.
Direct observations as well as interviews were the primary methods of data collection. The evaluator attended classes and made observations on the mode of instruction, the number of students per class as well as whether teachers implementing the program were native English speakers. Additionally, the evaluator requested students who had already completed the program for oral interviews. This was primarily purposed to gauge students perception about the program as well as indentify whether student exhibited competency in spoken language. Each interview session lasted five to ten minutes. Data collected was correlated and overall judgment made.
Assessment of program needs
Understanding the needs of the program enables the program evaluator to measure program effectiveness. Undertaking needs assessment involves identifying the problem that the program attempts to solve, the target population and to see whether existing problems are correctly conceptualized within the program (Freeman, 2004). As indicated earlier, the program is offered at a university in a non native English speaking country.
Additionally, the program is offered to students willing to major in English. As such, it only targets non-native English speaking students intending to take English as a major course. One of the major problems facing the universities is poor language skills. This not only affects the teaching learning process but also academic performance. The problem is further compounded since English, a foreign language, is the primary medium of communication.
The university aims at improving language skills among students, especially those taking English as a major course. However, the problem of poor language skills hinders the attainment of this. To address this problem, the program is designed such that it offers students an opportunity to undertake studies in four major skills. The program takes one academic year. The one year duration is perceived to be sufficient time for students to acquire basic skills necessary for the acquisition of basic language competency. This is perceived as necessary qualification before students enroll for a major course in English. To major in English, students have to pass the intensive program exams.
The program theory
Program evaluators ought to understand the underlying assumptions on which a program is based (Royse, Thyer and Padgett, 2009). The major assumption of the program is that students lack basic language skills, and that to enroll for a course in English, acquisition of basic skills in language is relevant. By offering a one year program where students undertake studies in four basic skills, program designers hope that students will acquire the appropriate level of language proficiency necessary for taking English as a major course. Students are deemed to have successfully accomplished program requirements by passing written exams. However, this reveals underlying program design weaknesses as the program lacks practical based learning. This reduces the effectiveness of the program.
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The impacts of the program
To understand the impacts of the program, it is imperative to evaluate how the program is implemented as opposed to how it is supposed to be implemented (Yarbrough, Shulha, Hopson, and Caruthers, 2011). The purpose of the program is to equip students with basic language skills before enrolling for a course in English. However, program implementation is affected by a number of factors. The program evaluator found out that each class had a very high number of students.
The program evaluator found out that all classes had a very high teacher student ratio, which is necessitated by high number of student enrolled at the department. Additionally, it was also found out that all teachers involved in delivering the course content are non native English speakers. This dilutes the quality of teaching and learning. Additionally, the program was noted to have certain design weaknesses. The program is designed such that it maximizes on theoretical learning, but with very little emphasis on practical learning. Such weaknesses deny students opportunities to acquire practical skills in language competency. This implies that desirable outcomes are not achieved.
Regardless of the weaknesses mentioned above, it was found out that the program had a high level of academic success. The program evaluator found 90 % to be the average exam pass rate. However, the evaluator found out that most students who passed exams and subsequently gained promotion to take English as a major course failed to exhibit the necessary language competence skills. Language competency is a multi-skill concept that involves both theoretical and practical skills. Students who passed the program were found to be deficient in certain practical skills.
For instance, about 80% of participants were found to portray common weaknesses in spoken language, 40 % of whom were serious cases. These include poor sentence structures, grammatical mistakes and limited vocabulary. Additionally, eloquence was found to be a major challenge among participants, 60 % of whom could not express themselves fluently. This can be attributed to lack of practical learning experiences. Students taking English major were also found not to speak in English outside the classroom. This is thought to be a manifestation of poor program design, and negatively affects program outcomes.
It is also imperative to determine whether a program is cost effective. The effectiveness of any program ought to correspond with the cost of the program. Less effective programs have a higher cost benefit ratio (Posavac, 2010). From the assertions made above, it is evident that the program only accrues academic benefits, without necessarily resulting to the acquisition of language competency. This implies that the program is not cost effective.
Acquisition of language competence is a major requirement for students in post secondary schools. Programs such as this one are aimed at helping students gain language competency. There are notable weaknesses identified in the program design, and which impinge on the attainment of desired outcomes. Despite the fact that the program accrues high academic benefits, the program fails to facilitate the acquisition of practical skills in language competency. To address such shortcomings, redesigning of the program is highly recommended.
Freeman, H. (2004). Evaluation: a systematic approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Posavac, E. (2010). Program evaluation: methods and case studies. London: Prentice Hall.
Royse, D., Thyer, B. and Padgett, D. (2009). Program Evaluation: An Introduction. Ontario: Cengage learning.
Yarbrough, D., Shulha, L., Hopson, K. and Caruthers, F. (2011). The program evaluation standards: A guide for evaluators and evaluation users. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.