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Evaluating business English

July 28, 2007

Hello again,
Business English students need to justify the time and money they invest in language courses. This means that evaluation is extremely important as a means...

...of showing both learners and their sponsors what value they have obtained from the course.

Kirkpatrick's Four Level Evaluation Model (1994) provides a useful framework for schools to measure the effectiveness of their programs. Level One measures the learner's reactions to the course. It is important to be aware of your students’ perceptions of the course because people learn better when they react positively to the learning environment. To measure their reactions, you need a questionnaire that covers the facilities, materials, schedule, friendliness of staff: all the ingredients that combine to contribute to the learning experience.

Level Two addresses the question: did the participants learn anything? To measure this you will need pre- and post-course testing. Pre-testing will identify the gaps in their knowledge and allow specific learning targets to be set. Post-course testing will show how far these targets have been met. It is important to help learners be realistic here. Learning takes place at different rates so the setting of achievable goals is crucial.

Level Three involves testing the students’ capabilities to perform the skills learned in real life rather than in the classroom. To test this, you may need to ask for feedback from an employer. Alternatively, you could have some role-play or simulation exercises where you assess how capable the students are of putting their learning into practice.

Level Four is concerned with the final results. It measures wider impacts such as monetary advantage, efficiency, morale, teamwork. You might therefore try to find out if, by following the course, the students have attained their wider goals: getting a promotion at work; feeling more confident in their work tasks. Collecting, organizing and analyzing level four information can be more difficult than the other three levels, but the results are worthwhile in helping you to plan further programs.

To summarize: reaction informs you how well the learners responded to your course and overall learning environment; learning tells you how well the course worked in helping students to meet specific targets. The performance level informs you how effectively the learning can be applied to the learner's life as an employee. And, finally, impact informs you of how the course benefited the participants in their wider goals.

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  1. ruth Says:

    I often hear people say "When you have a business class that doesnt mean that you teach business but you teach the language", yet in a real practice on my experience I have found that I also need to know the field of the people I teach. What do you think about that?


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