Goal Setting for Non-credit ESL Students

College:  School of Continuing Education, NOCCCD
Contact Name
: Valentina Purtell
Email vpurtell@sce.edu
Phone Number: (714) 484-7100

 What issue or concern is the intervention designed to address?
The intervention is designed to address the issue of adult students in the noncredit ESL program not having articulated a clear goal set for their educational path. Further, the intervention is designed to increase the number of ESL students who make individual appointments with academic/career counselors in the SCE Career and Counseling Center and increase students’ awareness of the School of Continuing Education (SCE) and North Orange County Community College District’s (NOCCCD) resources and programs.

What were the desired outcomes you expected from this intervention?
The desired outcomes that are expected from the intervention are that a meaningful number of ESL students will use SCE and NOCCCD resources and be more motivated and directed to complete Career Development and College Preparation (CDCP) sequences en route to the attainment of personal, vocational and academic goals. 

What data was collected to identify the issue or concern on your campus?
An intake specialist within the ESL department identified goal-setting intervention as a necessary component for the successful implementation of managed enrollment in a noncredit setting.

Summarize the research used to determine that this intervention should have been piloted:
While researching managed enrollment, the intake specialist consulted a variety of literature that pointed to the utility of implementing goal-setting strategies within ESL classrooms to enhance persistence.

The curriculum developer who wrote the goal-setting materials was informed by research on the concept of student investment and the attainment of long-term goals through the process of establishing short-term and intermediate-term goals:

Pittaway, D. (2004). Investment and second language acquisition. Critical Inquiry in Language Studies, 1(4), 203-218

Describe the Intervention:
The intervention consists of two primary components: a curricular unit on goal-setting and adult education, and intervention by counselors from the SCE Career and Counseling Center. More specifically, the curriculum was derived from EL Civics COAAP (Civic Objective & Additional Assessment Plan) 13.6 and 14.6, which provide language and literacy objectives as well as assessment guidelines. The curriculum and related content are designed to occupy approximately 30 instructional hours. Given these guidelines, a curriculum developer who works in the ESL department created two workbooks of lesson materials and worksheets. One workbook is designed for use in Beginning-level ESL courses, while the other is designed for Intermediate/Advanced ESL.

Additionally, the matriculation department at SCE has helped to organize field trips to the Career and Counseling Center or counselor classroom visits. Three sections of ESL classes participated in the Intervention: Beginning—Low ESL, Intermediate—Low ESL, and Advanced—Low ESL. The intervention can be summarized as a combination of counselor intervention coupled with a curricular focus on goal-setting and adult education supported by EL Civics.

What if any data have you collected to measure the effectiveness of the intervention?
Fall 2010 was the first phase of the implementation and we are therefore currently collecting data on the student cohort in each class (approximately 90 students in total from the Anaheim Campus) who participated in the intervention. The matriculation department is going to track, longitudinally, what courses students take and also the frequency of student-initiated counseling appointments.

Long term, students who receive the goal-setting curriculum will be tracked to collect persistence data: As a result of this curriculum, did more students finish the ESL sequence and transition to other SCE and NOCCCD programs?

Summary of findings based on data:
We are still in the first phase of implementation, so we do not yet have data on the longitudinal effects of the intervention. However, the early data we have indicates that a meaningful number of students are in fact making appointments to meet with a counselor. Further, one class (Beginning—Low) has completed the EL Civics unit with a 100% passing ratio for those who attempted the assessments. As of the time of this writing, the other two participating classes are still pending submittal of the completed curriculum.

Next steps:
How will you scale your program up to include a larger population?
The curriculum will be implemented in six additional classes (approximately 270 students) at SCE’s two other campuses (Cypress and Wilshire) for the Winter 2010 trimester. Going forward, the curriculum will be made available to all three of SCE’s campuses on an ongoing basis.  

How can this program be sustained if outside funding is no longer available?
If there is no funding support for EL Civics, the curriculum can be integrated into the core ESL program through our curriculum committee.

What have you learned about the effectiveness of this program?  
Through observation and dialogue we have learned that although ESL noncredit students may be informed of counseling and other student services through orientations or literature, an actual visit to the career center increases their comfort level to utilize campus resources and services. The face-to-face contact between student and counselor is key.  In addition, the faculty who have participated have enthusiastically embraced the curriculum and its objectives and have found ways to individualize it. Moreover, the notion of faculty actively discussing goal-setting strategies with students helps to foster students’ motivation to plan their future.

What improvements can you think of to strengthen the program?
From a curricular perspective, we will continue to collect feedback from instructors and students on the effectiveness of the curriculum. We will therefore demonstrate a commitment to curricular revision to ensure the needs of our students are met.