Need assessment is not a value-free process. It is influenced by the teacher’s view of what the course is about, the institutional constraints, and the students’ perception of what is being asked of them. The content and method of needs assessment should be evaluated as to appropriateness and effectiveness in achieving their purpose of identifying the needs of the students. Needs assessment should be viewed as an ongoing process both in its development and in its use.
Determining Goals and Objectives
Goals should be relizable. Richard (1990:3) gives the example of a goal stated as “Students will develop favorable attitudes toward the program.” He goes on pointed out, “However, while this goal might represent a sincere wish on the part of teachers, it should appear as a program goal only if it is to be addressed concretely in the program”. Nunan (1988b:60) has pointed out, “Objectives are really nothing more than a particular way of formulating or stating content and activities.” Thus how one conceptualizes and states objectives depends on how one conceptualizes the content of the course.
When a teacher conceptualizes content, he is figuring out which aspect of language and language learning he will include, emphasize, and integrate in his course. Teachers of courses whose content has already been specified will face different problem. They may find that the breadth of content is unrealistic for amount of time they have to teach it or that the way content has been defined is inappropriate for the purpose of the course.
Selecting and Developing Materials and Activities
Developing new material and activities for using them requires time and a clear sense of why they will be used, how, and by whom. For some teachers, material and activity is integrated into a method. For example, “language experience” approach (Rigg 1989) led the teachers to use authentic material as possible in their class. Developing materials requires time before, during, and after the course – for preparing, using, and modifying them, respectively. All materials are adapted or modified in some way.
Organization of Content and Activities
Two general, complementary principles of sequencing are building and recycling. In deciding how to sequence material, one considers building from the simple to the complex one. The principle of recycling material means that students encounter previous material in new ways, in new skill area, in a different type of activity, or with a new focus.
Evaluation means evaluation within the course, assessing students’ proficiency, progress, or achievement. Evaluation in course development also includes evaluation of the course itself. Was the course effective?, in what way?. Teachers must experiment with different methods of evaluation and monitor the success of each so as to maximize the effectiveness of their courses.
Consideration of Resources and Constraints
Resources and constraints are two ways of looking at the same thing. A required course book may be a constraint for one teacher and a resource for another. Teacher should teach courses not in the abstract but in the concrete of their constraint and resources.