Evaluation of Master's Programs in English Language Teaching (ELT): A Turkish Case of Professional Development

Evaluation of Master's Programs in English Language Teaching (ELT): A Turkish Case of Professional Development

Rukiye Ozlem Ozturk (Bahcesehir University, Turkey) and Enisa Mede (Bahcesehir University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1067-3.ch034
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Abstract

This chapter aims to evaluate the English Language Teaching (ELT) master program offered by the Graduate School of Educational Sciences at a foundation (non-profit, private) university in Istanbul, Turkey. Specifically, it investigates the preferences of the students about joining this particular program as well as analyzes their perceptions along with the ones shared by the course instructors and program coordinator. The sample population comprised fifty students, five instructors and one program coordinator. Data were obtained through a questionnaire and reflective essays. The findings revealed that the master program was effective regarding the content of the program as well as the role of instructors which contributed to the professional development. However, the range of elective courses and balance between course loads needed more consideration for the redesign of the existing program. Findings are discussed in relation to program design and evaluation in English language teaching master's programs.
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Introduction

Learning and teaching English language has been highly appraised all around the world, placing greater emphasis on the effectiveness of language teacher education programs and their share on raising qualified language teachers (Block and Cameron, 2002; Freeman, 2002; Kirkpatrick, 2007; Harmer, 2008; Hinkel, 2011; Cook, 2013). As foreign language skills are profoundly important in any realm like education, industry, medicine, technology, or science; quality of language education programs plays a big role in keeping up with the worldwide advancements as it is actually a prerequisite to be on the same wavelength with others in international arena. One way of reaching required quality in existing language education programs is through systematic evaluation.

The field of program evaluation has evolved over the past half century, referring to the thoughtful process of focusing on questions and topics of concern, collecting appropriate information, and then analyzing and interpreting the information for a specific use and purpose (Brown, 1995; Lynch, 1996; Posavac & Carey, 2003; Stufflebeam & Shinkfield, 2007). As in other fields, program evaluation has an important role in teacher education programs showing the necessary steps to be taken to fix and enhance current programs besides helping program designers create safe guidelines for the future programs. According to Wallace (1991), teacher education programs should have steady and established principles which are followed throughout the implementation of the curriculum and any application done within the program. While defining these principles which basically constitute the goals of the program, program features and instructional setting should be taken into account as well as students’ needs, preferences, characteristics and attitudes (Mede, 2012). Rea-Dickins and Germaine (1998) support and further this statement indicating that it is a very fundamental part of the program and takes place at the center of it. Briefly, any practice within instruction should be shaped accordingly, to reach wanted competence and proficiency level.

Since evaluation has gained attention in education, a great deal of evaluation studies that differ in terms of their purposes, emphasis and methodologies have been conducted in the field of English Language Teaching (ELT). The primary emphasis of these studies was mostly on evaluating perceptions, needs, feelings and attitudes of the students and teachers engaged in undergraduate or language preparatory programs (Basturkmen & Al-Huneidi, 1996; Ekici, 2003; Sarı, 2003; Mutlu, 2004; Erozan, 2005; Ors, 2006; Ozkanal, 2009; Akyel & Ozek, 2010; Tunc, 2010; Mede, 2012). However, as graduate studies are of upper degree and basically require the most contemporary and outstanding quality education, evaluation in these types of programs should not be ignored. As stated by Richards (2005), for an English language teaching master program to be effective enough, there are some points to be queried such as whether the goals are fulfilled, stakeholders in education are contented, it is compatible with setting in which teaching occurs, and it is any better than its equivalents.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Program Evaluation: Collection of methods, skills, and sensitivities necessary to determine whether a human service is needed and likely to be used, whether it is sufficiently intense to meet the need identified, whether the service is offered as planned, and whether the human service actually does help people in need without undesired side effects (Posavac & Carey, 1989 AU81: The in-text citation "Posavac & Carey, 1989" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. , p. 3).

Master’s Degree (MA): “A degree that is given to a student by a college or university usually after one or two years of additional study following a bachelor's degree” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

MA ELT Program: Master’s degree program which provides students with a solid foundation in the English language, methodology, educational sciences, research and linguistics in order to make them fully qualified teachers of English, taking into consideration the latest developments in the field.

Evaluation: “Systematic assessment of an object’s merit, worth, probity, feasibility, safety, significance, and/or equity” (Stufflebeam & Shinkfield, 2007, p. 13).

Curriculum: “The learning experiences and intended outcomes formulated through systematic reconstruction of knowledge and experience, under the auspices of the school, for the learners’ continuous willful growth in personal-social competence” (Tanner & Taner, 1980 AU80: The in-text citation "Tanner & Taner, 1980" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. , p. 102).

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