EL/CIVICS Education

Developed by Caldwell Community College

Project Synopsis

This three-year project derived from a desire to teach the civic education skills that ESL learners need in order to contribute to and share in the local community. Civic education was defined to include a range of topics: government, citizenship, community resources, the legal system, American culture, consumer education, money management, personal information, parenting, employment, and forms.

Each year of the project is summarized below. For the lesson plans written or used each year, click on that year in the menu bar above.

Year 1

Instructors prioritized over 200 competencies identified by faculty, students, and others or gleaned from research on existing curricula. The competencies judged most needed in ESL/CIVICS education were developed into beginning level lesson plans. These lessons were field tested at pilot sites, evaluated by instructors and students, modified, and disseminated through ESL programs in North Carolina's community colleges as an adjunct curriculum to existing materials.

Year 2

The process was repeated in Year 2 to address intermediate levels of ESL instruction.

Year 3

In the final year of this project, cohort instruction (experimental group) with structured curricula and strong utilization of a staffed ESL listening lab was compared with traditional open entry/open exit classes (control group). The variables studied were student retention, student progress, and student satisfaction.

Students with a beginning level CASAS score had the option to join a cohort class. Cohort classes met twice a week for 8-weeks and students were required to attend listening lab a minimum of six hours a week. Instructional modules of 7-10 lessons were based on a student needs assessment. Students received certificates for each session completed. A satisfaction survey was administered at the end of each session.

Project coordinators found that cohorts resulted in significantly greater attendance and retention rates. CASAS scores were used to measure student progress. Even though the lessons did not specifically correlate to CASAS competencies, the cohort class showed a much larger increase in CASAS scores in two of the modules. By the end of the project year, cohort lessons were at the intermediate level. Student satisfaction surveys showed that the great majority of students were very pleased with the cohort classes.