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Managed enrollment vs. Open-entry Classes

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In which type of classes to you feel learners are more comfortable and learn best?
Managed Enrollment
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Joined: 09 Mar 2009
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 2:01 am    Post subject: Managed enrollment vs. Open-entry Classes Reply with quote

Hi all,
I'm getting my master's in ESL and working on a project proposing a curriculum for an adult education program that currently uses an open-entry enrollment system (students enter the classes at any time, no set enrollment period). My proposal is a managed enrollment program with a set enrollment period where new students can only enter a class at the beginning of a 12-week period.

My question is: what is your experience with these different enrollment types? My experience from volunteering in open-entry programs is that it is a bit chaotic in the classroom with new students coming in all the time, that teachers have to handle more administrative tasks during class time, and that it can be frustrating for the students to not have a sequenced syllabus. However, I'm not an experienced teacher, and I'd be glad to have any feedback from those who are.

Also, would any of you know (off the top of your heads) if any formal study of this has been done? I can't find any research or statistics besides anecdotes online.

Thanks in advance for any responses!
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Joined: 26 Oct 2004
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Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've not worked in an AE program, just at private language schools which had to have open enrollment simply as market expedient (asking students to wait months or even weeks to enrol could be inconvenient for them i.e. amount to losing income for the school). Arguably there were other advantages too, such as breathing fresh air into classes and recycling useful language (finding out about new people is a skill that will always come in handy!), and newcomers would have to accept that they might have missed a good lesson or two (I for one would always have some sort of rough syllabus sequence in note form at least, for the benefit of those with me from the very start - usually the majority by far, and in every sort of setting I'd imagine).

ELT is related to SLA studies, and I can't imagine many of those studies putting up with much less than optimal conditions for the main study group at least if not whatever control groups too (that is, the differences between SLA study and control groups would seem to be more in terms of type of instruction and things studied than in actually (actually alllowing) differing amounts of raw time spent in classrooms or wherever ostensibly studying - it would hardly be in SLA's interests to say that less teaching/student-bum-in-seat-time is more (as opposed to what type of teaching/learning)! Less power to the student, and more "assured" income for the ELT industry (which includes "academics")!).
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Joined: 05 Mar 2009
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Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The NPO I work with has an open enrollment. Usually what this amounts to is students register for the class and we have a waiting list when spots are full.

Some of our classes have a high turnover rate and some have a very low turnover rate. One class, I've only had 2 new students in the past 6 months. Another class, I've had new students bi-weekly, while losing most of the students that were there before. We're an NPO though and the students do not pay for the classes.

It does make it quite chaotic at times. It can be rough on the volunteer tutors, since their not sure what to prepare because they don't know who will come.

The way I dealt with it is to prepare for my dedicated students. If new students stick with the program, I will adjust for them as well.
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Joined: 18 May 2003
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Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 2:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've taught in an open-entry open-exit program for almost forty years. I guess you can say I'm used to it! Since our program is non-credit and free, students can leave at any time with no consequences. Having students come in during the semester can often add a spark, although there is the flip side that it can be harder to hold on to a new student. Given the choice, I like it the way it is, and I am not in favor of managed enrollment in our system. It was tried as an experiment at one school, and it was not successful. (We get money from the state for our daily enrollment; that may have been part of the problem.)
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Joined: 16 Apr 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't understand this topic. By 'managed enrollment' you mean the students pay up front i.e. a six-month contract? So the other means to pay if & when they attend?

P.S. I am curious as to why an 'inexperienced teacher' would be studying a masters degree in ESL? Seems more people want the masters than bother with the diploma, the natural progression, hmm! I guess some teachers are far more interested in the theory than the practice.
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Joined: 19 Aug 2009
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as Master's Degrees are concerned, they don't necessarily reflect a person's undergrad major. Maybe its a career change. I don't think getting qualifications before experience indicates a lack of interest in practice, necessarily.

As far as open versus managed enrollment is concerned, I'm of two minds. Some people have brought up very good points in terms of new life for the class and the opportunity to practice previously learned skills.

The obvious downside to open enrollment is teaching the verb 'to be' for the fifth time in the final month of the first year class, to which I'm sure many teachers here can relate.

I work for an NPO and our (free) classes are mostly for migrant workers, so open enrollment is sort of a necessary evil. I appreciate hearing the positive side of latecomers, because it can be hard to keep that in perspective sometimes.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 4:35 am    Post subject: Learner or Customer? Reply with quote

Fluffyhamster's comment about Open-Entry being "market expedient" is an important one - not just from the school's point of view, but from the customers. We always talk about ideal 'learners' and as teachers we often expect that 'students' want what's best for them academically. The truth is most people are customers much more than they are students.

Customers want very different things to an idealised 'student'. Customers want convenience, value for money, and to be treated 'special'. That last point is important, I think. Obviously Open-Entry courses allow more convenience, and can also lead to value for money, but more importantly having and sticking to fixed enrollment dates can create an impersonal atmosphere.

In ELT/TESOL we often talk about motivation and the effects it has on learning, and having Open-Entry classes are another way of adding to motivation. If they feel like you've catered to them personally, they'll start the course in a good mood. Indirectly, that will, hopefully, help them learn.

Beyond that, however, I think it can make it very difficult to guage learners' needs and learner relationships are bound to be less close and in some cases bumpy. The teacher will need to be very aware of the changing dynamics of the group of learners, of the changing language abilities, needs and learning styles. Many teachers will find themselves tailoring the course to the few students who have 'been there from the beginning' and not doing enough to cater to the new students who pop in, and will have to be very aware of themselves to avoid discriminating against 'the new guys' who 'have disrupted the pace of the class', etc.

I don't know of any formal study into it, however, and the only comment I could make in relation to any direct affect on language acquisition is: even if the learners have been with the class from the beginning, their language knowledge and skills, their moods, and even their learning styles are constantly changing. So a fixed class and an open class are going to require much the same from teachers - being aware of who the students are now!

Regarding the Master's thing... surely it depends on where you come from. The Cambridge DELTA and the Trinity Diploma TESOL are fantastic post-graduate diplomas in ELT/TESOL, but less common in the US, as far as I know, where an MA TESOL at an appropriate University would be the preferred post-graduate qualification. Surely 'the usual order' depends on the culture, the country, and even just the people.
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