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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Shifting ground: finding a feminist research voice through an evaluation of an ESL curriculum Mackie, Ardiss Emilie


This study addresses the problem of evaluating one's own work, in this case a task-based ESL (English as a Second Language) for Business curriculum, using a participatory model of evaluation. Participatory evaluation allows for the traditional roles of researcher and researched to be reversed if participants so choose. The study also focusses on the process of change in researcher perspective towards feminist research themes that I experienced, and the link between these themes and the evaluation study. The participants in the evaluation study included 11 adult ESL students, their ESL instructor and Business professor, their course advisor, and myself. In the evaluation study, student and staff participation preferences resulted in traditional forms of data collection, namely questionnaire, interview, and discussion. An analysis of these uncovered specific issues related to the ESL for Business Curriculum such as student and staff difficulties in working with a new program. Also emerging from the student and staff data were findings related to the discrepancy between task-based curricula and the real life tasks of studying in content courses: students preferred teacher-fronted instruction in the ESL support course which was also the type of instruction in the Marketing course. My reflections on participation in this model of evaluation revealed powerful, personal connections to the evaluation process. Alternative sources data in the form of creative texts (poetry and autobiography) were included to express the personal dimension of the study. The study weaves themes such as vulnerability, living within the hierarchy, contradiction, and the power of the personal with the shift from a traditional research perspective to an alternative one embracing feminist principles.

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