Reflection on Forum on Curricular Issues (FOCI) XIX by Bahar Hasırcı and Ebru Yamaç
a. Brief information about the event:
The event took place at Istanbul Aydın University, Bahcelievler Campus. The organizers were fromSabancı University ( Jonathan Smith, Funda Akguk (İzmir University of Economics) and William Kerr (Koc University). There were 36 participants representing 23 different university from Istanbul, İzmir and Ankara.
The event took 2 full days (Thursday & Friday, 9-10.05.2019) with presentations from 2 universities and forum discussions.
The theme of the event was “Realistic Curriculum Goals: Where are we now and where do we want to be?”.
b. Highlights from the event:
The forum focused on 3 main themes:
1. Identifying realistic exit-level curriculum themes
2. Ensuring consistent attainment of overall curriculum outcomes
3. Overcoming obstacles to common curriculum goals presented by different levels.
Most participants agreed that CEFR is a good guide in formulating goals, but YOK and academic needs are the main decision making areas for schools. Learners’ previous learning experiences (weak starters) pose a great challenge in covering the aims set and the aims become “unrealistic” or “unachievable”. Therefore, the schools experience “desired outcomes vs. achieved outcomes”. Input fails to become “intake” as students progress across the levels.
Pacing and timing are the biggest challenges and requires effective planning and administration and execution while achieving the set outcomes. Teaching towards an exam might keep teachers on track but it may be counter-productive as well.
Zero Beginners pose the greatest challenge in reaching exit-level outcomes at all levels. Progression across levels were also discussed and CEFR division causes a problem. Schools have divided courses into 5, 4, 3 levels. There are different paths but all schools suffer from lack of time, and low success rates. Different models were discussed. A 3-level system with 13-week courses (across university) looked logical to all members. This school said that the whole university semesters were 13-week long as opposed to 16-week 2 semesters and a short summer school. The role undergrad English was emphasized a few times in the FOCI. All agreed that UG curriculum needs to support prep level exit goals more explicitly.
At the end of 2-days, most participants repeated used the word “simplify” as a solution for many things without lowering the standards.