Kate Dobson and I gave a presentation this november on qualitative means to needs analysis.

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Including Students’ Voices in Needs Analysis: The Case of “Feedforward” in an EAP Writing Course


Teachers understand the power of in-depth needs analyses; however, there is rarely time for open-ended conversations with students about their expectations and desires. The presenters will share a tested method to collect and analyze such data. Participants will leave with an understanding of applying this method in their own classrooms.

Session Description:

An invaluable aspect of course design is needs analysis, which allows teachers to understand what students already know and what they need to know. In practice, unfortunately, needs analyses often range from being completely ignored and relying heavily on institutionalized assumptions, on one end of the spectrum, to being overly quantified and impersonal on the other.

This 20 minute teaching presentation aims to give the participants a technique to collect rich qualitative feedback (or rather feedforward). This technique, which will be presented in detail, involves students brainstorming and writing brief expectation compositions at the beginning of the term. In turn, teachers can quickly and efficiently analyze the compositions and return to them later in the course in order to ensure students not only achieve institutional goals, but also meet personalized expectations. This “feedforward” offers teachers a connection between curricular objectives and real-life needs of students. The presentation will close by offering a validated empirical account of this method and the resulting influence on an EAP writing course in China. In the end, the presenters found this method to be a valuable component in their writing courses, yet applicable to any teaching context, due to its theoretical soundness and student empowerment.

Some Requests from the Presentation:

Resources not in ppt. -

  • Wang, J., Liang, S., & Guang-chun, G. (2008). Establishment of a medical academic word list. English for Specific Purposes. 27: 442-458
  • Gibson, W. J. & Brown, A.. (2009) Working with qualitative data. London: Sage
  • Dornyei, Z. (2007). Research methods in applied linguistics: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methodologies. Oxford: OUP

Jordan G.,
Nov 3, 2013, 1:18 PM