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Report on Academic Specialist Visit to Turkey: February 8-21, 1999

By J.D. Brown, University of Hawaii at Manoa


About the Specialist

James Dean ("JD") Brown was educated at California State University Los Angeles (BA French), University of California Santa Barbara (BA English Literature), and University of California Los Angeles (MA TESL and PhD in Applied Linguistics). For two years, he was senior scholar in the UCLA/China Exchange Program at Zhongshan University in the People's Republic of China. For three years, he was an assistant professor at Florida State University and Academic Coordinator for the FSU/ARAMCO MA Program which was delivered on site in Saudi Arabia. Currently Professor on the graduate faculty of the Department of ESL at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. In 1992, he was a Fulbright scholar at Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio de Janeiro. He has been invited to conduct workshops and teach courses in places as divers as Brazil, Cuba, Egypt, France, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Thailand, Turkey, Venezuela, and the former Yugoslavia. He has served on the editorial boards of the TESOL Quarterly and JALT Journal, as well as on the TOEFL Research Committee, the TESOL Advisory Committee on Research, and the Executive Board of TESOL. In addition to numerous book chapters and articles in TESOL Quarterly, TESOL Newsletter, Language Learning, Language Testing, Modern Language Journal, System, JALT Journal, The Language Teacher, and RELC Journal, he has published he has published nine books, among them: Understanding Research in Second Language Learning: A teacher's guide to statistics and research design (Cambridge, 1988); The Elements of Language Curriculum: A systematic approach to program development (Heinle & Heinle, 1995); Testing in Language Programs (Prentice-Hall, 1995); Language Testing in Japan (with Yamashita, JALT, 1995); and New Ways of Classroom Assessment (edited for TESOL, 1998).

 

Areas of Specialization

J.D. Brown's areas of specialization include language testing, curriculum design, program evaluation, and research methods.

 

Trip Report

In brief, I did workshops of various lengths ranging from 2 to 8 hours on the relationship of language testing and curriculum design issues in Istanbul (at Istanbul Technical University and Marmara University), in Kaiseri (at Erciyes University), and in Ankara (at the BUSEL Program of Bilkent University and the ELT MA Program of the same university). I also did a plenary speech, a workshop, and a panel discussion on similar topics at the Fourth International ELT Conference at Bilkent University in Ankara.

This was my second trip to Turkey for the USIS, and as such, it was very constructive in a special way. During my previous trip (in November 1996), I had provided guidelines for curriculum development including descriptions of how to start and maintain six basic curriculum elements: needs analysis, objectives, testing, materials development, teaching, and program evaluation. This trip, what I found at most of the places I visited was a great deal of energy and enthusiasm for ongoing curriculum development projects. As a result, the workshops on this trip tended to be more consultative than last trip. We often spent time looking at what they had been doing and discussing ways to improve what they were doing as well as further steps that might be taken in developing their curriculum. One common theme was that all stages and components of curriculum development are loaded with political elements--elements that must be taken into account if curriculum development is to succeed. It was in this area that the discussion was most fruitful and productive from my point of view. It is also in this area that I learned the most from my hosts about the particular political problems and solutions used in Turkish language teaching institutions. In short, I would say that the workshops, discussions, and even shared meals were all very productive learning experiences for me and my hosts at the various institutions.

The one institution that was not already involved in curriculum development projects was Erciyes University in Kaiseri, where the audience was drawn from the university, as well as a wide variety of high schools and other language teaching institutions in the area. Here, I found some enthusiasm for the ideas of curriculum development that I presented, but also considerable resistance to those ideas from a small group of teachers who seemed to feel that organized curriculum development was hopeless because of lack of money, lack of time, and prescribed textbooks. Though I addressed their objections as constraints that must be dealt with, I dont think I did much to change the views of that small minority. However, the discussion was lively and made me think about new sets of problems that I have never previously considered. It is hard for me to assess the impact of my presentations in Kaiseri. Seeds may have been planted with some of the less vocal teachers (especially teachers at the university) that will blossom into curriculum projects similar to those I found in Istanbul and Ankara. I hope so.

Several of the key administrators, especially at Bilkent university, specifically said that they wanted to try a number of the new ideas that I left behind and then wanted me to come back to evaluate what they had done and suggest yet further directions they might head. They did not give specifics about how that might be accomplished. However, I do intend to keep in touch with them by e-mail and look forward to the possibility of doing anything I can to help my Turkish language teaching colleagues in their curriculum development projects.

 

Suggested Bibliography

Alderson, J. C., & Hamp-Lyons, L. (1996). TOEFL preparation courses: A study of washback. Language Testing, 13, 280-297.

Bailey, K. M. (1996). Working for washback: A review of the washback concept in language testing. Language Testing, 13, 257-279.

Brown, J. D. (1988). Understanding research in second language learning: A teacher's guide to statistics and research design. London: Cambridge University Press. 218 pages. [Hardcover ISBN 0-521-30524-1; Paperback ISBN 0-521-31551-4]

Brown, J. D. (1989). Improving ESL placement tests using two perspectives. TESOL Quarterly, 23(1) 65-83. [An earlier version appeared in 1988 University of Hawaii Working Papers in ESL, 7(1), 239-260.]

Brown, J. D. (1995). The elements of language curriculum: A systematic approach to program development. New York: Heinle & Heinle Publishers. 262 pages. [ISBN 0-8384-5810-6]

Brown, J. D. (1996). Testing in language programs. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Regents. 324 pages. [ISBN 0-13-124157-5]

Brown, J. D. (1997). Do tests washback on the language classroom? TESOLANZ Journal, 5, 63-80. [An earlier version appeared in 1997 under the title "The washback effect of language tests" in University of Hawaii Working Papers in ESL, 16(1), 27-45.]

Brown, J. D. (Ed.). (1998a). New ways of classroom assessment. Washington, DC: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. 384 pages. [ISBN 0-939-791-72-2]

Brown, J. D. (1998b). Language testing: Purposes, effects, options, and constraints. TESOLANZ Journal, 6, 13-30.

Brown, J. D., & Hudson, T. (1998a). The alternatives in language testing: Advantages and disadvantages. University of Hawaii Working Papers in ESL, 16(2), 79-103.

Brown, J. D., & Hudson, T. (1998b). Alternatives in language assessment. TESOL Quarterly, 32(4), 653-675.

Carroll, J. B., & Sapon, S. M. (1958). Modern language aptitude test. New York: The Psychological Corporation.

Cronbach, L. J. (1988). Five perspectives on validity argument. In H. Wainer & H. I. Braun (Eds.), Test validity (pp. 3-17). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Gates, S. (1995). Exploiting washback from standardized tests. In J. D. Brown & S. O. Yamashita (Eds.), Language testing in Japan (pp. 101-106). Tokyo: Japanese Association for Language Teaching.

Heyneman, S. P., & Ransom, A. W. (1990). Using examinations and testing to improve educational quality. Educational Policy, 177-192.

Hughes, A. (1989). Testing for language teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kellaghan, T., & Greaney, V. (1992). Using examinations to improve education: A study of fourteen African countries. Washington, DC: The World Bank.

Kleiman, L. S. & Faley, R. H. (1985). The implications of professional and legal guidelines for court decisions involving criterion related validity: A review and analysis. Personal Psychology, 38, 803-833.

Messick, S. (1980). Test validation and the ethics of assessment. American Psychologist, 35, 1012-1027.

Shohamy, E. (1992). Beyond performance testing: A diagnostic feedback testing model for assessing foreign language learning. Modern Language Journal, 76(4), 513-521.

Shohamy, E., Donitsa-Schmidt, S., & Ferman, I. (1996). Test impact revisited: Washback effect over time. Language Testing, 13, 298-317.

Wall, D. (1996). Introducing new tests into traditional systems: Insights from general education and from innovation theory. Language Testing, 13, 234-354..


 

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