[Assessment 1116] Intensity of Instruction and funding of adult ESL programs

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JoAnn (Jodi) Crandall crandall at umbc.edu
Tue Feb 5 16:30:58 EST 2008

Hi, everyone. It has been interesting reading the postings today and want
to respond to some of them now. I just learned from Forrest that his
Internet Service Provider is down, but he expects to be back on line
either tonight or tomorrow. He'll add his comments later.

In the meantime, let me respond to a couple of themes that have emerged in
the discussion.

Jackie asked what we meant by "intensity of instruction" and Marie
provided a definition from an excellent publication from the Center for
Applied Linguistics which analyzes the effects of instructional hours and
intensity of instruction on NRS level gains in listening and speaking.

In our study, we define "intensity of instruction" as the number of hours
per week and differentiate it from "duration" which is the total number of
hours for the program.
We think both intensity and duration are important. It is important to
have enough hours per week of instruction, but also important that there
be enough weeks. Programs in the 5 community colleges we studied varied
from 3 to 20 hours per week of instruction, with 10 hours/week considered
"semi-intensive" and 20 hours/week as "intensive" instruction.

As Jim so eloquently put it, there are some basic reasons why programs
might not offer as many hours of instruction per week as they want to,
with funding being at the root of many of the reasons.

Forrest and I would be interested in knowing how many hours per week your
various programs meet (and for how many weeks) and how you determined that
schedule. Have you tried more intense programs for shorter periods of
time? What has been the impact on attendance?

Have any of you provided adult ESL/ESOL programs that charge a fee? We
were surprised to learn of such a program at Bunker Hill Community
College. They provide free adult ESOL and also a fee-based program in an
attempt to accommodate more learners. They found that at least some
learners were able to pay the fee and thus they were able to serve more

We'd also like to know if your programs are open-entry/open-exit, with
learners coming to class when they can and sometimes leaving for several
classes before they return, or if you have tried some kind of "managed
enrollment" with attendance expectations of those who are enrolled in your
classes. Several community colleges have experimented with this approach
and have found it effective. I know that Forrest will have more to say
about this.

I have to go teach, but when I return, I'd like to talk a bit about issues
surrounding literacy and prior education.

Jodi Crandall