Materials evaluation and adaptation

Assessment description

Portfolio assessment (3 parts – 100%)

A portfolio assignment is aimed to provide you with an opportunity to showcase the theories you have learned and demonstrate the skills you have acquired in the course. The portfolio offers a meaningful setting for that, given that each part is linked to the others to form a cohesive whole. In this way you will be able to demonstrate what you have learned about ESP and perhaps use the portfolio in your future career as a testimony of your abilities. This assessment of portfolio addresses all learning outcomes of this module.


Although the portfolio would suggest continuous assessment and revisions, this being part of a summative assessment process, you will receive a grade for each part. Of course, you can continue to revise these to make improvements, but this will not affect the grade you get.


In the next section I will provide more details about each part of the portfolio.

Part 1: Needs analysis

Needs analysis is one of the most important concepts in ESP. Without needs analysis you will not be able to design an ESP course, or provide information for other important stakeholders (e.g., content departments, prospective employers). For this assignment you need to carry out a small scale needs analysis project for an English for Academic Purposes course. Whether you select the course to be general (EGAP) or specific to a particular field (e.g. engineering, business studies, medicine, etc.) is up to you. However, you should consider your own expertise and knowledge of the field before you choose your focus area.


Needs analysis has two parts: a) the context, and b) the prospective learners. First of all, you need to understand the field for which you are developing the course. In other words, if you are designing a course for first year students at the 。。。,then you need to learn what skills and language they are to master to successfully complete their studies. Luckily, you do not have to execute a complete needs analysis in this area as you can rely on research findings that have been carried out earlier. These can indicate the general language needs of a particular context from which you can deduct the local needs. This means that for the assignment you need to do a specific literature review for your chosen focus. Using the insights gained from the literature and your local knowledge, you will be in a position to determine what language skills and knowledge students would need.

Second, you need to discuss the prospective learners for whom the course is to be developed. Think about what information you need about their language needs (and wants), and what gap may exist between their current level of language and that of the target context. In order to find out this information you will need to design a small scale study involving human subjects. You are encouraged to design your research instruments (e.g., interviews, survey, etc.) involving potentially your peers at。。。 for this purpose, or if you have contacts in private language schools, then the students who study there. The sample size for the needs analysis


should be designed no larger than 20, ideally 10-20 students. There is no need to provide elaborate statistical analysis of your data (because you have not collected them yet); it should only serve the purpose to illustrate that a) you know how to collect data for a needs analysis project, and b) to provide carefully designed instruments for your future actions for an actual needs analysis. The decisions you have to make will include what research instrument to use (e.g. survey, interview, focus group discussion, etc.) and what questions to ask that will provide the information you need.[1]

The results of the needs analysis – a combination of target context and target learners – need to be written up in an essay of around 500 – 600 words (excluding the instruments which should be added as appendix). The word limit indicates that you have to be very straightforward in your writing. Do not write an elaborate introduction about what you intend to do in this assignment. I know why you are writing it and adding that paragraph means wasting 50-80 words. Be concise and to the point! Don’t try to ‘dress up’ your language unnecessarily.


Part 2: Materials evaluation and adaptation

Following the design of your needs analysis, it is time look at some teaching / learning materials that the target learners you identified in Part 1: Needs analysis be used to improve their knowledge / skills. However, carrying out a full scale materials analysis might be a daunting task. Therefore, for this assignment we will limit the focus to one material and one language skill only. You can choose if you want to focus on writing, speaking, listening, reading skills, or grammar/vocabulary as the area of work and then select a teaching material which claims to address that.

You need to evaluate the effectiveness of the material with the student group you specified in mind (Part 1: Needs analysis) and discuss why it would or would not meet their needs, and how the design reflects the theoretical principles of ESP pedagogy, with special reference to the chosen skill focus. This indicates that you will need to use the professional literature (the readings available for you on the Learning Mall) to justify your claims.

If the material is found in need of adaptation, which is most likely the case as materials always need to be adapted for particular student populations, you should indicate what parts need to be changed. For guidance on how to adapt materials you can use your class notes and the extra reading texts uploaded to the Learning Mall. The original and adapted materials are to be placed in the appendix of the assignment (you can use photos or screen shots for hard-copy materials).

The assignment is to be presented in an essay format which contains your analysis of the chosen material – with its merits and shortcomings with reference to the target learners and the professional literature, a discussion of what needs to be changed (materials adaptation), and those will be changed. I am interested here in your ability to discuss, argue, and give rationales for your decisions concerning the adaptation process. Word count – 1,000-1,500 words. Again, avoid flowery language; be concise, exact, to the point.



Part 3: Course design

Based on the results of the needs analysis, you are to design a short EAP course. You need to consider the content and the delivery of the course, i.e. what academic and language skills the learners need to focus on, their language needs and the specific genres / text types to be included.

This assignment is the capstone of the course. It brings together all the areas we discussed during the course and offers you a possibility to demonstrate your understanding of ESP and language teaching theories, course and curriculum design, and other linked areas, for example the use of technology in ESP.


There are a number of decisions you have to make when you write / plan this assignment:

  1. How long should the course be? The length (the number of contact hours) will certainly determine how much you can achieve. Be realistic; you cannot teach everything in a short time, therefore select the content / skills
  2. What delivery would you prefer? Should the course be intensive or extensive? Whether the learners are together for an intensive course or they come together from time to time over a period of time will allow you to either build on momentum in the course, or to set out-of-class activities / readings / homework assignments for the
  3. What should the focus / content area of the course be? Again, as it needs to be a short course, you have to select what you want to focus on. Consider Part 1, your needs analysis – what do your students need most?
  4. How to arrange, sequence content? What should the learners study first? How would you continue from there? What is the link between the different parts/stages of the course? Is there a logical development/learning path?
  5. What materials would you use for the course? Would this be a standard textbook which is available? Would it be material that you design to supplement an existing textbook (e.g. the current material does not provide adequate practice for oral communication)? Or would it be specialized material which target a very specific learner need (identified in Part 1). Mind you, for this part you may also use the insights from part 2 of the portfolio.
  6. What teaching methodology to use in the course? Would it be mainly information transfer? Or a more communicative language pedagogy?
  7. How do you know that the learners have made progress? Will there be any material that could provide feedback to the teacher on their progress? In other words, will the students be asked to produce language during the course that can be used for gauging their progress?


Your assignment can basically follow these steps, but you are free to design it in any way you feel fit.

A rationale for the design principles need to be written in an essay format (with the designed course as an appendix). Just like with the other parts of the portfolio, you need to use the professional literature to substantiate your argument. In other words, you need to use theories and research findings to support your decisions.

The word count – excluding the appendix – should be 2,000-2,500 words.



First thing to clarify is that this is a course design, the design for a whole course, not for a single lesson. So if your final essay somehow was about a single lesson, that would not be acceptable.

Another thing is that your course design should be linked to your previous two assignments, needs analysis and material adaptation. The design of this course should be catering to the needs of your students, and the chosen textbook should be adapted to serve their needs.

The following is some questions you can consider when you write up. Please note that this is just a road map, not the format of your sections.

  •  Introduction

Here, you introduce your course, what’s the name, who it is for, how long it will be (the contact hours, including how many hours in total and how many hours for each week if the class meets up weekly), what target skills are to be improved in this course, what textbook is used for this course, etc.

Note: When you describe the target skills, be specific. Avoid simply saying “writing skills”, “listening skills”, etc. These are broad and vague. Even if you are planning to improve their overall writing skills, give some examples of sub-skills of writing. You cannot teach broad writing skills every week. Also remember to relate back to the results of your previous assignments. Be brief and to the point.

  • The actual course design (please do NOT copy and paste this as your subtitle)

Here you are going to describe your course in detail. I don’t have a specific format to suggest. But you need to answer the following questions:

  1. Is the course intensive or extensive? This means whether they come together for an intensive course (for example 4 hours every day for 2 weeks) or whether they come for lessons from time to time (for example, 2 hours a week for a few months). How was this decision made? You need to describe students’ background information (e.g. their time availability), the school context,  etc. to answer this question. How this intensive or extensive course mode affects the contents arrangement? For example, for an extensive course, you may need to think more about after-class activities and homework.
  2. What’s the aim and objectives of the course? What’s the order of importance? How are these objectives decided? (Possible places for references)
  3. What’s the teaching pedagogy?(Possible places for references)
  4. How are the contents arranged? Where do you start and how do you progress? How are different stages linked to each other? Why are they arranged in such a way? (Possible places for references) Here you should also provide the course syllabus, with the topics for each session (or at least for each block) specified.
  5. What’s the delivery mode? Lecture style? Tutorial? Discussion? A combination of everything? If so, in what way are they combined? How was the decision made? (Possible places for references)
  6. What materials are used? Textbook, supplement materials, online resources, etc. If you have justified the use of a certain book in your assignment 2, you just need to briefly remind readers. For other new materials, you need to justify your choice.
  7. How do you know whether students are learning? How can students provide feedback to the teacher in regards to their progress or problems? Basically you need to describe the course assessment. Think about assessment design principles from another course (Possible places for references)

If the above questions have been satisfactorily answered, your final course design should also be satisfactory. But feel free to add more details as there must be other questions to consider for a course design, depending on the specific context.

A few more things:

  1. Refrain from using broad and vague terms, such as “various” and “several”. Give examples and be specific. I will give you an example to show why being specific is important. In the assignment 2, most students mentioned the book price. Apart from describing the price as appropriate, they also provided the actual price (such as RMB 50). Why? I think most of you would agree that simply saying the price is appropriate is not enough, you need to give me the specific price so I can agree or disagree with you on its appropriateness. The same applies to all the arguments you are making. Simply saying “it’s good/useful/effective….” is not enough, as this is an empty argument. Everything can be good/useful/effective in different ways and in different contexts. You need to provide evidence and examples of WHY it is good/useful/effective/etc.
  2. Think of this course as the course you are going to teach now. Everything has to be concrete enoughto be implemented. Some students only provided broad suggestions, such as “add more interactive activities” or “add more exercises”. If you were to teach tomorrow, I don’t think this is the preparation you would make because this is again empty suggestions. What kind of interactive activities? What kind of exercise?
  3. Organize your writing with clear and informative subtitles. Provide topic sentences for your paragraphs.



The marking scheme

  Knowledge and Understanding Intellectual Skills Transferable Skills
100% The best answer that could reasonably be expected from a student at the MA TESOL level under the conditions of Coursework.


Total coverage of the task set. Exceptional demonstration of knowledge and


appropriately grounded in theory and relevant literature.

Extremely original approaches or features of critical thinking in the conceptualisation of the research.

Extremely comprehensive and detailed research design. All the decisions are extremely well-argued and justified.

Extremely clear

exposition. Excellently

structured paper and logical

answer. Excellent

presentation, only the

most insignificant errors.



As ‘Outstanding’ but with some minor weaknesses or gaps in knowledge and understanding. As ‘Outstanding’ but with a slightly less  degree of critical thinking and with some minor gaps in research design and/or justification for the decisions made. As ‘Outstanding’ but

with some minor

weaknesses in

structure, logic and/or



‘Very Good’

Full coverage of the task set. Generally very good demonstration of

knowledge and

understanding but with

some modest gaps. Good grounding in theory.

Some original features and signs of critical thinking. Very good and generally detailed research design. Sound

justification for the decisions that have been made.

Generally clear

exposition. Satisfactory structure. Very good presentation, largely

free of grammatical and other errors.



As ‘Very Good’ but with more, or more significant, gaps in knowledge &

understanding and some significant gaps in grounding.

As ‘Very Good’ but research design and justification for the decisions made

contain some visible

weaknesses or ambiguities.

As ‘Very Good’ but with some weaknesses in exposition and/or

structure and a few

more grammatical and

other errors.


‘Competent Pass’

Patchy coverage of the

task set. Patchy knowledge and understanding with limited grounding in literature. Just meets the threshold level at the bottom end.

Rather limited original features or signs of critical thinking. Patchy research design

containing significant

flaws or ambiguities. Rather limited justification has been made. Just meets the threshold level at the bottom end.

Competent exposition

and structure. Competent presentation but some significant grammatical and other

errors. Just meets the

threshold level at the

bottom end.


‘Compensable Fail’

Some parts of the set task likely to have been

omitted. Major gaps in knowledge and

understanding. Some

significant confusion. Very limited grounding. Falls just short of the threshold level.

Little signs of originality or critical thinking. Research design and its justification fairly limited. Falls just short of the threshold level. Somewhat confused

and limited exposition.

Confused structure. Some weaknesses in

presentation and some

serious grammatical and other errors. Falls just short of the threshold level.



As ‘Compensable Fail’ but with major omissions

and/or major gaps in

knowledge and

understanding. Falls

substantially below the

threshold level.

As ‘Compensable Fail’ but major parts of research design and/or its justification may have been omitted. Falls substantially below the threshold level. As ‘Compensable Fail’

but with more serious

weaknesses in

presentation and/or

grammar. Falls

substantially below the

threshold level.


‘Extremely Weak’

Substantial sections of the task not covered.

Knowledge & understanding very limited and/or largely incorrect. No grounding in theory.

No originality or critical thinking. Research design

extremely weak or mostly omitted. No justification for the research design has been made.

Largely confused

exposition and structure. Many serious

grammatical and other




[1] Note that for any human subject related research, you will need to complete a process of ethical approval. However, since we cannot carry out the actual data collection in reality due to Covid-19, this process if not required this time.

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