Investigating the Process of EAP Course Design by Teachers at a Tertiary Level, English Department, a Private College in Oman from the Perspectives of Teachers and Students
Al Khalidi, Iman Jabbar Abbas Saleh
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
ABSTRACT This study is addressing course design as an important process within the area of language curriculum development. The importance of course design lies in its being as the preparatory stage that contributes to shaping and guiding the subsequent stages of the whole process of course development-implementation and evaluation. The study aims at understanding the role of teachers at a tertiary context in Oman in designing the courses they teach based on their perspectives. It also aims at understanding how students conceptualize and evaluate theses courses. In addition, it aims at exploring what issues and factors have the greatest impact on course design and in what way from the teachers and students’ perspectives as course developers and course receivers, respectively. Based on its purpose, the study is conceived within the paradigm of interpretivism employing its epistemology and philosophy as an underpinning stance. On the basis of the participants’ perspectives and experiences, the qualitative approach has been chosen for determining the strategy and methods of sampling, and data collection and data analysis. In order to gain thick descriptions and information about the investigated phenomenon, the researcher used the method of semi-structured interviews with the teacher sample and focus group discussion with the student sample. In addition, the method of document analysis was also used as a supplementary tool for the teacher sample as it is concerned with the mechanism of course design. Findings of the study were categorized according to the five research questions of the study and the two types of data (teachers and students’ data). Interpretations of teachers’ data revealed that they conceptualize course design as a matter of prioritizing the key element- that is mainly students’ needs- that contributes to shaping and guiding the other components of a course. The students’ data, on the other hand, revealed a variety of perspectives involving their evaluation of single aspects of course design, particularly materials development and selection of the content of a course, with their major concern about course implementation. Among the major findings of this study is the identification of challenges confronted by teachers and students that were described in terms of problems impacting negatively the process of designing courses by teachers and the process of learning by students. Based on the findings of data analysis, the study offers a number of implications and suggestions that are of value for teachers who are involved in the process of course design and the institution where the study takes place. Teachers must have an active role in course design due to their direct contact with the learning situation. Teachers’ involvement in course design is considered as a major factor behind the stage of course implementation. For this, teachers need to be aware of the relationship between course design and its implementation and how they affect each other. Doubtlessly, teachers can play an active role in course design, yet the institution must provide external support such as professional development programs and establishing a professional curriculum committee in order to ensure the effectiveness of curriculum development.
EdD in TESOL