Forum on Curricular Issues


FOCI was founded by the curriculum team of Sabancı University School of Languages in May 2010.  The forum meets twice a year in different hosting universities to provide a forum for the curriculum teams of different university preparatory programmes in Turkey and Northern Cyprus to come together to discuss issues of common concern.  Nine of the 25 participating universities were state institutions; many more than in previous FOCI events and it is to be hoped that this trend continues.

The theme for FOCI-VI was “Flexibility within Limitations” and the event focused on the different reasons why some learners are unable to meet our expectations.  The forum explored issues regarding what can be done for these learners and questions such as:  

•Do we really consider the fact that everybody learns a language at a different pace while designing our mainstream and repeat programmes? 

•Is it possible to provide sufficient flexibility within the limitations of our programmes to ensure maximal success?

Three examples of points arising from the focus groups and discussion are as follows:

Individual Support 

It is important to analysing each individual’s reasons for failure in order to provide more individual support.  There is a role for more planned and scaffolded on-line support effort.  However, learners who have failed also need to feel involvement in their learning process and benefit from individual attention from their teachers in class and also, as far as possible, in smaller group or one-to-one tutorials. In fact identifying and supporting struggling students before they fail rather than after might be a more efficient use of our resources.


Of course motivation can be a big obstacle to learning in repeat groups and one suggestion was to consider establishing systems where failing students are combined into classes with learners who have experienced success coming up from the lower level.  Another popular idea was setting up peer experience-sharing sessions where ex-repeaters who have succeeded talk to learners in repeat classes.

Systemic/Institutional factors

Another point which raised more questions than answers was that maybe we should question our own role in learners’ failure as designers of curricula and assessment systems.  Are we failing to support them before they fail?  Does our approach to assessment focus on outcome or process? Is there a balance of assessment for learning as well as of learning?  What role can portfolio assessment play here?  Do modular systems in particular can contribute to exam-orientated practices?  We complain that learners are exam-focused, but then maybe we are too?

 You can find out more about FOCI and download documents and powerpoints from the event at this link: