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What Do Teachers Really Want from Coursebooks

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While publishers conduct a lot of researches on students’ needs and desires, those who play the key role in teaching process are often left without any attention. The people are teachers. As Masuhara states, if some glossy colorful textbooks appeal to students and due to the fact seem to be perfectly designed for their needs, all that does not mean the teachers are satisfied with the materials. Engaging, inspiring, flexible, and effective book which does not demand much extra material to create – this is how Masuhara describes the ideal coursebook. Unfortunately, even nowadays, teachers still have to deal with the coursebooks that often do not meet their expectations, thus require a huge amount of extra work. That is why Masuhara emphasizes the big importance of studies on teacher needs and wants.

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What “needs” depend on?

In the chapter, Masuhara gives a description of the types of needs and divides them accordingly to what they refer to. To make researches on needs, the investigator should identify the following:

  • Whose needs he/she takes into consideration (ownership of needs).
  • What kind of needs he/she is trying to identify (kinds of needs).
  • Where the researcher gets the needs from (sources of needs).

That is why, as the writer states, the issue of teachers’ needs should be considered and taken into account while conducting the research. What is more, it will be wrong for the researcher to rely mostly on the questionnaires on learners’ needs which were filled by teachers.

What influences the teachers’ needs?

The author provides the reader with several aspects that can influence instructors’ necessities:

  • Teachers’ own perceptions of administrative needs they have to follow.
  • Teachers’ awareness of learners’ needs.
  • The way teachers perceive learners’ needs.
  • Teachers’ own desires and wants.

What are the types of teachers’ needs?

According to the way the teachers’ needs are identified, there are the following types of the needs:

  • Self-perceived needs which teachers themselves can report.
  • Needs perceived by others of which teachers are not aware, but other specialists can identify.
  • Objectively-measured needs which are identified and interpreted by scientists.

The researches based on the mentioned needs can become extremely useful in materials development making them more effective.

What are the two essentially different approaches to textbook designing?

The writer mentions two main kinds of developing coursebooks for teaching purposes which are:

  • Creating flexible textbooks that presume exploitation by the users.
  • Creating well-structured textbooks that rarely need to be supplemented with additional materials and which provide security for classroom management.
  • In order to find out what kind of approach is better in every particular case, the researches on teachers’ needs should be conducted.

 What are steps of coursebooks design?

Comparing the ideal and actual state of things of materials design, it becomes obvious that the most important steps of the process are not accomplished by teachers but performed by publishers.

Why there is the division between the producers and users of coursebooks and how can we overcome it?

The author states that due to such actual teachers’ attitude towards coursebook design when instructors rely on producers and do not take part in the process, there is the division between them and the producers. Publishers cannot be fully aware of every aspect of the teaching process; only the teachers are those who know such things. According to the author’s point of view, the state of things like this negatively impacts on the effectiveness of textbook design. Masuhara mentions ten case studies in which teachers were controlling coursebook design through materials development. This is how the division between the producers and users of the coursebooks can be overcome.

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In what ways teachers can get more power to control coursebook design?

  • Publishing magazines and journals where teachers can share their opinion on certain coursebooks and read reviews.
  • Availability of checklists and frameworks that allow systematic selection of materials.
  • Increasing in the reports on materials developing projects all over the world.
  • Teachers should create their own evaluation criteria they can implement to coursebooks.

Why the task of successful communication between materials producers and users is hard to accomplish?

  • There is not enough literature on needs analysis, market research, and materials trialing.
  • Questionnaires are not always effective in needs analysis researches.

Why questionnaires often fail to give truthful information for the researches?

  • Questions offered there can be vague and not specific.
  • Teachers perceive questionnaires as additional labor that brings not much reward and are not interested in filling them, and often give irrelevant or incorrect information.
  • Questionnaires do not often take into consideration teachers’ needs and wants.

How to involve teachers in coursebooks design process?

  • It will be useful to organize evaluation meetings for teachers where the newest coursebooks are presented, and where they can discuss and evaluate the books’ activities.
  • Teachers can collaborate with publishers and create the coursebooks they need by themselves to publish.
  • Educational institutions can encourage teachers to conduct evaluation and selection of coursebooks.
  • Teachers should keep records how they use a coursebook (e. g. what parts of it they do not include while teaching).
  • Provide re-evaluation of the materials.

Reflection

I find the chapter to be very useful because the writer turns the readers’ attention to the topic that is not widely discussed and often neglected. However, the issue of teachers’ involvement in coursebook design is one of a big importance because for teachers, a coursebook is often a main part of their courses. What I like most of all in the article is that the author offers solutions to the problem of the low level of instructors’ involvement to coursebook design. To my mind, they are quite realistic to refer to and can help to decrease the level of teachers’ dissatisfaction of coursebooks. On the whole, the chapter is quite successful, especially, in stimulating specialists to new researches in coursebook design field.

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