A Comparison of Lecture Ratings by Native Speakers of English with EFL Students at Two Universities: University of Mississippi and Dokuz Eylul University

Article excerpt

Evaluations by students of the University of Mississippi were compared to the evaluations of students at Dokuz Eylul University related to specific lectures on communication skills. The students of the University of Mississippi were Native Speakers of English (NSE) while the students at Dokuz Eylul University spoke English as a Foreign Language (EFL). A set of lectures were developed over a ten-year period by using a continuous improvement feedback loop between student and instructor. Once the feedback data stabilized with undergraduate NSE, a comparison was made with undergraduate EFL students. Also undergraduate EFL students were compared with graduate NSE. The evaluations focused on the likeability of the lecture. Each student completed a feedback sheet indicating his or her reaction to each lecture. The results showed a remarkable similarity in response trends. If the response to a specific lecture was determined high by NSE, it was likely to be rated high by EFL students and vice versa.

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Using a continuous improvement feedback loop between student and instructor is an effective way to get valuable information for improving instruction (Blackbourn, Payne, & Hamson, 1997). A simple system of having students deposit a short feedback sheet at the end of each class session provides information to consider for improvement as well as an objective measure for determining individual class performance (Payne & Blackbourn, 1995, Payne & Blackbourn, 1996).

Using feedback from students, over time, it has been demonstrated that the reaction to individual lectures tend to stabilize. By assessing each class presentation, it becomes fairly easy to determine that some lectures are better than others. It is common knowledge that university students, class by class, vary in their reactions to the same course, semester after semester, just as individual audiences of a theatrical performance react differently to the same song, number, or joke, performance after performance. In other words, some audiences respond more favorably than others; however, trends exist over time regarding a specific song, number, or joke.

Performances on stage and in the theatre gauge how well things are going from the audience's appropriate laughter and applause. In a university course where reaction to the teaching/learning process is to be assessed, applause and excessive laughter, for the most part, are inappropriate. However, a straightforward, short, concise feedback form handed in at the end of each class session is appropriate and helpful in determining student reaction.

A form containing a simple scale of 0-100 (zero representing poor, bad, worst, while one hundred represents outstanding, best, exemplary) and space for an opportunity to give suggestions or make specific comments was used. Students were instructed to fill out the form at the end of each class and place it in a box that was located by the door as they exited. The form used in this study was developed over a ten-year period.

A detailed account of the procedure and an illustration of the form used may be found in the Proceedings of the Eleventh American University in Cairo Conference (Payne, 2004) and in the Journal of Instructional Psychology, Improving Classroom Instruction Through 'Best-of-Class' Techniques (Blackbourn, Payne, Burnham, Elrod, & Thomas, 2000).

During the ten-year developmental period, each lecture was perfected and suggestions from the feedback of students were taken into consideration. Overtime, the data began to stabilize and trends became apparent that certain class presentations scored higher while others scored lower regardless of the semester. This study was designed to determine if these trends would hold and transcend a culture where English is practiced as a Foreign Language.

Through the award of a Fulbright Grant, the lectures were presented to undergraduate students at Dokuz Eylul University in Izmir, Turkey in the Department of American Studies. …