Empirical Study of Formative Evaluation in Adult ESL Teaching

Article excerpt


Formative Evaluation is a method of evaluating a program while the program activities are forming or happening. Formative evaluation focuses on the process during which problems are timely spotted, corrected and adjustments made so that an intended goal can be accomplished. Through a four-month empirical research work with students of Grade 2010 of Continuous Education College of Dalian University of Technology as the subjects, the author in this article compares the teaching process and result of the experimental and the controlled groups, discusses the positive effects that formative evaluation gives to learning ESL by adult students while points out some of the problems that exist in this connection. The main purpose of this paper is to examine the degree of effectiveness of formative evaluation as applied in teaching adult students to learn English. The result of the author's research works reveals that the formative evaluation is effective in teaching adult students of English.

Keywords: Formative evaluation, Adults, ESL, English language teaching

1. Introduction

Nowadays in China, very few teachers are specially trained for teaching adult students on continuous education programs. Teachers who have once been teaching full-time students in colleges or in universities rarely receive any special training before they are moved to teach part time or full time adult students in colleges or universities of continuous education. And due to inadequate teaching staffs, teachers often cover both full time and part time classes of adult students who are of diversified background and knowledge levels and mix. It is not a bad thing to teach classes of different age groups and diversified backgrounds at the same time. The real problem is that most teachers just teach them the same way when they should have been treated differently. Even if some teachers have tried to change their teaching methods when they face different adult students, there are still some problems that worth discussions:

Firstly, teaching materials do not adequately correlate to the motleys of background knowledge and life experiences that most of the part time adult students acquire as they grow up. The fact is that teachers just teach what's in the textbook unit by unit, disregarding whether the texts suit the taste of the students or not. When an adult student with working background in a trade company learns a science article, he may unlikely be interested in it. Yet a passage on the American economy may be more meaningful to him. Thus choosing the right teaching materials will help arouse interest in the students and make possible a good beginning for the class.

Secondly, there often seems a lack of comfortable learning environment for adult students on part time programs. Classes for adult students are more or less the same as those for other college students. Long lecture hours, tedious and rigid class attendance, lack of practicing opportunities as well as frequent interruption by teachers for correcting their mistakes when they do have a chance to speak in class are all factors that make the adult students feel uncomfortable.

Thirdly, there lacks appropriate teaching method with monotony being the common way of teaching the adult classes.

The above situation is the status quo for teaching adult students to learn English on part time basis in China. There is indeed a big room for improvements to be made. Teaching adult students to learn English as a second language in colleges or universities of continuous education is a challenging job for the education sector in China. Due to deficiency and ineffective measures, little progress has been made despite of the teachers' strenuous efforts. How to make English language teaching tailored to the requirements of the society is a topic of great significance. This paper aims at examining the degree of effectiveness of formative evaluation as applied in teaching adult students to learn English. …


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