A Comparative Evaluation of the Translation Programs at Bachelor's Level in Iran, England and Turkey based on CIPP Model

Document Type : Original Article

Authors

1 Assistant Professor, Department of English Language, Faculty of Humanities, Qaemshahr Branch, Islamic Azad University, Qaemshahr, Iran

2 Assistant Professor, Department of English Language, Faculty of Humanities, Tonekabon Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tonekabon, Iran

10.22034/ijce.2022.266842.1272

Abstract

Little is known about the quality of technical translation courses offered in English departments in Iran and even less about the efficacy of the revised BA level translation curriculum which was put into practice since 2016. Among the possible ways to evaluate such a program, the researchers adopted a comparative perspective to the courses offered at BA level in Islamic Azad University and other foreign departments, namely, Çankaya University in Turkey, Leicester University and Newcastle University in the UK. To adopt an objective perspective to the study of the potentials of these four programs, Stufflebeam’s model including Content, Input, Process, and Product (CIPP) was selected mainly due to its comprehensiveness and administrative orientations. In addition, this study was conducted via implementing content analysis to qualitative data officially issued by these universities. The major findings of this study were (1) unlike other three universities, the graduate program at Islamic Azad University lacks a balance between interpretation and translation; (2) the graduate translation programs in foreign departments lean toward the students interest and needs, especially in terms of including practical English translation and interpretation courses and consider providing career-oriented courses of either interpretation or translation; (3) the foreign departments, particularly, British departments provided out-of-campus authentic translation or interpretation experience on job market. The findings of the study implied that majors revisions are needed to make the current program more compatible with prospect students' future career path.

Highlights

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Keywords

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Article Title [فارسی]

ارزیابی تطبیقی دوره‌های کارشناسی مترجمی در ایران، انگلستان و ترکیه بر اساس مدل سیپ

Authors [فارسی]

  • سعید رنجبر 1
  • رامین راحمی 2
  • داود مشهدی حیدر 2
1 استادیار، گروه زبان انگلیسی، دانشکده علوم انسانی، واحد قائم شهر، دانشگاه آزاد اسلامی، قائم شهر، ایران
2 استادیار، گروه زبان انگلیسی، دانشکده علوم انسانی، واحد تنکابن، دانشگاه آزاد اسلامی، تنکابن، ایران
Abstract [فارسی]

اطلاعات بسیاری از کیفیت دروس ترجمه تخصصی که در گروه‌ زبان انگلیسی در دانشگاههای ایران ارئه می‌شود در دسترس نیست و آگاهی ما از کارایی برنامه‌درسی جدید دوره‌ی کارشناسی ترجمه زبان انگلیسی - که از سال 1394 به اجرا درآمده است - نیز از آن هم کمتر می باشد . از بین روش‌های گوناگونی که برای ارزیابی برنامه‌ های آموزشی وجود دارد، پژوهشگران حاضر از منظری تطبیقی به بررسی برنامه‌درسی رشته مترجمی زبان انگلیسی در دانشگاه آزاد اسلامی پرداخته و آن را با برنامه‌درسی سه دانشگاه جانکایا ترکیه، و دانشگاه های لیسستر و نیوکاسل انگلیس مقایسه‌ کردند. برای پرهیز از جانبداری هم چنین پژوهشگران این ارزیابی را با بهره گیری از الگوی سیپ - به دلیل جامعیت و وجه عملی این مدل - انجام دادند . داده‌های کیفی مشتمل بر اسناد رسمی منتشر شده از سوی دانشگاه‌های منتخب و روش تحلیل آنها، تحلیل محتوا بود . یافته ها نشان دادند : (1) برعکس سه دانشگاه منتخب، برنامه‌درسی دانشگاه آزاد اسلامی از تعادل چندانی بین ترجمه شفاهی و کتبی پیروی نمی کند؛ (2) برنامه‌درسی دوره کارشناسی در دانشگاه های خارجی به نیازها و علائق دانشجویان و به‌ویژه به واحدهای عملی ترجمه - شفاهی و کتبی - بیش‌تر از دروس نظری بها داده و به انطباق دروس با نیاز بازار کسب‌وکار توجه دارند؛ (3) دانشگاههای منتخب - به‌ویژه دانشگاه های بریتانیایی -، می‌کوشند تا فرصت کسب تجارب واقعی خارج از دانشگاه را برای دانشجویان فراهم‌ آورند. یافته‌های پژوهش مبین آن است که باید تغییراتی اساسی در برنامه جاری تربیت مترجم در دانشگاه‌های ایران - برای سازگاری بیشتر با آینده شغلی دانشجویان - صورت پذیرد. 

Keywords [فارسی]

  • الگوی سیپ
  • دوره کارشناسی
  • فارغ‌التحصیلان
  • دروس ترجمه تخصصی
  1. Introduction

              It is currently recognized that commitment to education must include evaluation and documentation of the content and quality of learning. It could be the reason why evaluating higher education academic programs are rapidly gaining significance as the principal gauge of effectiveness (Banta, et al., 2009).  In addition, this has to be followed by using such information to progress the educational services being offered.  The revised curriculum of English translation for BA level was acted by the Supreme Council of Culture and Higher Education in 2017 in Iran. Due to its recency of implementation, little, if any, is known about its effectiveness, strength and weaknesses. Achieving the appropriate quality of the undergraduate programs in English translation requires its repeated evaluation and discovering its shortcomings and deficiencies since such educational programs should be designed so that they can train the current students as future specialists (Jain & Prasad, 2018). High-quality education is achieved when the students have reached the desired competency, as stated in the curriculum. In other words,   educational programs should have to end in the graduates who are interested in improving knowledge and enjoy sufficient up-to-date experience and skills (Barrett, et al., 2006).

There have been several studies probing the quality of English instruction in Iran, in general. For example, Nezakat-Alhossaini & Ketabi (2013) found that there have to be revisions in such programs in terms of course content, qualifications for instructor employment, and study hours. However, few attempts have been made to apply Stufflebeam’s model including Content, Input, Process, and Product (CIPP) in English departments in Iran. One of these scarce examples is the one done by Karimnia & Kay (2015) to evaluate TEFL undergraduate programs, the results of which demonstrated the necessity of revising the teaching materials along with the TEFL program itself, the lack of emphasizing learning strategies, and the necessity of focusing on teaching specific courses. Foroozandeh, et al. (2008) also reported the results of a large-scale survey predicated on the CIPP model and reported that the translation curriculum of English translation needs to undergo substantial changes. Another study conducted in English departments in Iran was by Kaveh & Karimnia (2015), which focused on MA level translation courses at Islamic Azad Universities. They concluded that making revisions in terms of the materials being taught at these courses is a must. Birjandi & Nosratinia (2009) conducted an evaluation of postgraduate translation courses in Iranian English departments based on the CIPP model and concluded that "the first and most important aim of establishing this program" which is "training the expert translators skilled in the fields of Humanities and Social Sciences, etc. to the great extent is ignored" (p. 37). In one of the most recent studies on BA-level translator training in Iran, Davari et al. (2021) concluded that the 2017 program was considerably improved in terms of integrating up-to-date courses, paying attention to applied and local needs, Persian language and new technologies, and introducing various new references; nevertheless, it is deficient in terms of a number of courses, the syllabi,   proposed sources and   prerequisites. They warned that such shortcomings result in challenges in the process of program implementation.

It seems that there has been little concern about evaluating and assessing English translation programs, in general, and relatively, BA level courses have not been seriously and critically evaluated. It may be argued that absence or scarcity of evidence on the efficacy of current translation education and the quality of undergraduate English translation programs in Iran demands further efforts for evaluating the quality of translation education programs in English departments. It is an undeniable fact that academicians as well as administrators at any level, say, department heads, faculty deans, and even educational policy-makers, are poorly fed in terms of the required information on the quality of translation programs. A large body of research, either small-scale or large-scale, is needed to help responsible educational administrators develop and maintain high-quality English translation programs nation-wide. Keeping this rationale in mind, the researchers conducted a small-scale comparative study of BA level English specialized translation courses in a number of English departments in Iran and the selected ones in Turkey and England. The rationale behind the selection of a university in Turkey was the fact that the cultural context and socio-political background of these two neighboring countries in terms of modernization and the emergence of modern universities are similar. In addition, the undergraduate programs in terms of the number of years and semesters dedicated to higher education studies are similar. The rationale behind selecting Leicester University and NewCastle University was that even though they follow a different higher education system, they pursue the same goals as the universities in Iran and Turkey. Accordingly, it would be of great benefit if the pros and cons of the different systems which pursue the same mission as the Iranian universities are identified so that they can inspire possible future changes in undergraduate translation curriculum in Iran. It is noteworthy that even though the translation courses in Leicester University and Newcastle University are offered for other languages than those practiced in Iranian departments of English included in this study, the findings would be justifiable according to the fact that not the content of the courses in terms of medium of communication, but the themes and course objectives were investigated.

 

 

  

  1. Research Method

 

        This study may be best classified as a comparative-descriptive research in which specialized translation courses offered at BA level a Islamic Azad University, in particular, are compared and contrasted with those of Çankaya University in Turkey, Newcastle University, and University of Leicester in England (Appendix A). The main rationales behind choosing these universities were mainly the accessibility of the detailed information to the researchers. Furthermore, the researchers considered the fact that one of them, Çankaya University, is a middle-eastern university located in an Islamic country with a similar context to that of Iran and provides a good example for comparing specialized translation courses in a context where English is considered as a foreign language. Moreover, Leicester University and Newcastle University were selected as a European point of reference in which a relatively different decentralized educational system is implemented.

                The required data were collected via researching the websites of these universities. In addition, having reviewed previous studies using either CIPP framework or comparative perspective, the researchers finally extracted four clusters of information based on which further evaluation and discussion of results were done. With regard to the context of the courses, the objectives and instructional goals stated in these programs were reviewed. Furthermore, the number of languages included in the course and mode of translation/interpretation were also considered accordingly. The content and material presented in these departments were discussed under the input cluster. The length of the program, measured by the number of credits, and the status of a course in terms of being obligatory or optional were included in the process cluster. With regard to the product of the programs the balance between the theoretical and practical courses was considered. Overall, the main concern was to decipher the main objectives of the programs offered in these four contexts and to discover the existing similarities and differences.

 

  1. Findings

 

            Context Analysis

The analyses of the collected qualitative data began with comparing and contrasting the goals of the courses offered at these departments as defined under the contextual aspect of the CIPP framework. The courses covered in this research are offered under the titles of English Translation at Islamic Azad University, English Translation and Interpretation in Çankaya University, Modern Languages and Translation at Leicester University and Modern Languages, Translation and Interpretation at Newcastle University.

 

Table 1

Context of BA Programs at Çankaya University, Islamic Azad University, Leicester University and Newcastle University

 

Year

Çankaya University

Islamic Azad University

Newcastle University

Leicester University

Goals

 

Training translators or interpreters

Training translators (in humanities and social sciences)

Training translators and interpreters in modern languages (European and Asian languages)

Training translators and interpreters in modern languages (European and Asian languages)

Years

1

General courses in English/Turkish and courses of translation studies

General English courses

·         Interpretation and translation courses

·         Mix of optional courses

General language proficiency courses and theoretical translation courses

 

2

·         Specialized translation and interpreting courses.

·         Obligatory internship

Specialized translation courses

·         Interpretation and translation courses

·         Mix of optional courses

General language proficiency courses and a variety of theoretical translation or interpretation courses

 

3

·         Specialized translation and interpreting courses.

·         Obligatory internship

Specialized translation and interpreting courses

A year of working or studying abroad where a target language is practiced

A year of working or studying abroad where a target language is practiced

 

4

Specialized courses of translation or interpretation

Specialized translation and interpreting courses

·         Interpretation and translation courses

·         Mix of optional courses including a dissertation

General language proficiency courses and a practical translation and interpretation courses or a dissertation

Terms

 

8 regular fall and spring terms as well as 2 summer internships

8 regular fall and spring terms

6 terms on campus and 2 terms working or studying abroad

6 terms on campus and 2 terms working or studying abroad

Courses

1

8 theoretical courses (24 units)

11 theoretical courses (22 units)

2 theory-practice courses (14 units) and optional theoretical courses

5 theoretical courses (15 units)

 

2

8 theoretical courses (24 units)

13 theoretical courses (26 units)

2 theory-practice courses (14 units) and optional theoretical courses

11 theoretical courses (20 units)

 

3

8 theoretical courses (24 units) and 1 practical course (5 units)

14 theoretical courses (28 units)

Internship and practicum

Internship and practicum

 

4

9 theoretical courses (26 units) and 1 practical course (5 units)

14 theoretical courses (28 units)

2 theory-practice courses (14 units) and optional theoretical courses

1 theoretical and 3 practical courses (including a thesis) (8 units)

 

As it is reflected in the course description publicized by Newcastle University (Table 1), the department aims at developing translation and interpretation skills of the students (Newcastle University, 2020). In addition, it seems that the orientations of the specialized courses are literary translation, film translation and media translation (see Appendix). Moreover, the courses are planned so that the students have an opportunity to continue their practical interest in translating to and from a variety of languages such as French, German and Spanish, as the major European languages and Chinese and Japanese, as the major Asian languages, as well. There are general courses in each of these languages so that the students can pursue their interest in one or a few of these languages. Similarly, the courses offered at Leicester University are following the same trend (Leicester University, 2020). The exception, however, is the distribution of languages. French, Italian and Spanish are offered as European languages in Leicester University and Arabic and Chinese as Asian languages. However, the specialized translation courses offered at Leicester University are broader in their scopes as compared with those presented in Newcastle University (see Appendix).

                 Similar to the Leicester University and Newcastle University, Çankaya University is also interested in developing the practical translation and interpretation skills of the students rather than their theoretical repertoire of knowledge (Çankaya University, 2020). Both general and specialized translation courses are offered in the curriculum. A review of the course descriptions shows that the translation courses mainly target at developing medical text, literary text, social sciences text, science and technology text, and legal text translation. In addition,   the interpretation courses aim at developing conference interpretation, and society and disaster interpretation.   The non-specialized courses introduced in this department are narrower in scope in comparison to the Leicester University and Newcastle University; that is, the courses at Çankaya University are intended to develop the students' general proficiency in English only and there is no choice of other languages. Besides, the content is designed so that they acquire the required language skills such as English grammar, Turkish grammar, listening and note-taking skills, English oral skills, summarizing translation, translation technologies, and official correspondence (Çankaya University, 2020).

The English departments at Islamic Azad University, similar to those in Çankaya University, are contextually defined according to the nation-wide program acted by the Supreme Council of Culture and Higher Education (Supreme Council of Culture and Higher Education, 2017). Accordingly, the goal is to teach English language skills to the students and develop their body of knowledge regarding the principles and techniques of English translation. The specific goals of the departments, in accordance with this document, would be training students to be prospect translators of texts within the fields of social sciences and humanities in particular and other text types in general (see Appendix). As it is stated in this official document, the goals are broader than what are offered at Çankaya University, Leicester University and Newcastle University.

 

Input Analysis

With regard to the input, it has to be stated that there seems to be a balance between the theoretical courses and practical courses at Çankaya University, Leicester University and Newcastle University, as shown in Table 2.

Table 2

Courses of BA Programs at the Selected Universities

 

 

 

Optional courses

Language-related courses

Translation-related courses

Interpretation-related courses

 

Languages

Fields

Units

Percent

Units

Percent

Units

Percent

Units

Percent

Çankaya University

1

9

-

-

18

17

60

58

19

18

Leicester University

5

4

10

21

14

30

16

34

7

15

Newcastle University

5

4

16

24

8

12

21

32

21

32

Islamic Azad University

1

9

10

9

22

21

38

36

10

9

 

As it is shown in Table 2, the variety of languages offered in a language translation program for BA students at Leicester University and Newcastle University are considerable more than the Iranian and Turkish universities which focus on English only. This would certainly deprive the students of developing skills in more than one language. However, the scope of translation courses in Leicester University and Newcastle University are limited in comparison to Iranian and Turkish universities where the students cover nine different fields of specialized translation over four years. It seems that including more modern theoretical aspects in all three foreign departments studied in this research and discussing globalization/localization and other modern theories of translation in separate courses in English departments is paving the way for developing a better theoretical understanding of translatology and translation studies as an academic field (see Appendix). The interesting point about Leicester University and Newcastle University is that they provide a sabbatical leave in year three of their programs which require the students to undergo authentic experiences while working with other departments in other countries than their home departments. Since a variety of languages are offered in these departments, students are obliged to work with a department offering courses in the target language(s) in other countries and hold their practicums there. Furthermore, Newcastle University, and specially Leicester University, are seriously and systematically interested in meeting their students' needs in terms of the translation of the text types they are specializing at (see Table 1 and Appendix). Çankaya University, however, is stricter in terms of imposing a preplanned and centralized program on students, similar to the procedure followed at Islamic Azad University. There is a little room for students to pursue their interest in contrast with Leicester University and Newcastle University, and there is no room for sharing training courses with other foreign departments, as depicted in Table 2.

 

Process Analysis

With regard to the process adopted in the four departments, the length of the programs was considered first. All four departments offer four-year programs. Similarly, the program at Islamic Azad University lasts for four years. However, the seminal difference between the Leicester University and Newcastle University, on one hand, and Islamic Azad University and Çankaya University, on the other hand is that the former ones offer a one-year sabbatical in the third year in which the students are not focusing on any theoretical aspects of translation but are engaged with translation practice. Thus, it may be best argued that the Iranian and Turkish departments are most similar.

    In terms of course structure, Newcastle University and Leicester University offer three main types of courses: obligatory courses including theoretical courses (34 percent), language proficiency courses which are optional (33 percent) and practical one-year sabbatical (33 percent). However, it seems that the opposite is true for Çankaya University. A content analysis of the program shows that 21 percent of the courses is theoretical, 14 percent of the courses is proficiency-related and 65 percent is practical. The program also includes 2 summer internships. But in the program at Islamic Azad University, which follows the official program assigned by the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, 40 percent of the courses are practical, 28 percent is theoretical and 44 percent is proficiency-related. A comparison of course distribution in these four departments is shown in Figure 1. As shown in Figure 1 and Table 2, the distribution in Leicester University and Newcastle University is more balanced than that in the departments in Iran and Turkey. However, the figure shows a significant difference between the Iranian and Turkish translation curricula, despite the fact that both of them are focusing on English translation only, unlike Leicester University and Newcastle University which give a choice of multiple languages. While Iranian program heavily invests on proficiency development, the one at Çankaya University emphasized practical translation and interpretation courses. The difference may be even more eye-catching if the two summer internship courses in the third and fourth years are reconsidered.

 

 

   

Figure 1

Distribution of course types at the selected Universities

Product Analysis

With regard to product analysis, specialization of the programs was considered and compared. A content analysis of the programs offered at Leicester University and Newcastle University revealed that the specialization of the courses was limited in terms of the subjects included in yearly programs (see Table 3). The results reported in Table 3 reveals that both programs focus mainly on literary translation, media translation and drama translation. By contrast, the programs offered at both Çankaya University, and Islamic Azad University include a variety of specialized translation topics such as literary translation, political text translation, economic text translation, and legal text translation, to name a few. However, despite the aforementioned similarities, Çankaya University focus on medical text translation more heavily whereas the program at Islamic Azad University includes Islamic text translation and mass media translation which are absent in the program at other departments  

      Furthermore, it has to be noted that Leicester University and Newcastle University try to offer a variety of languages to their students to help them graduate as a multilingual translator rather than a bilingual one. However, it is the opposite for the graduates from Çankaya University and Islamic Azad University where the graduates are bilingual. This is especially significant when it comes to professional opportunities and future career path of the graduates. The interesting point is that Leicester University and Newcastle University are focusing on major languages of both European and Asian contexts.

 

Table 3

Distribution of the courses at Çankaya University, Islamic Azad University, Leicester University and Newcastle University according to their fields

 

 

Çankaya University

Islamic Azad University

Newcastle University

Leicester University

Translation

Humanities (politics, economics, etc.)

6

4

9 (plus additional optional courses)

9 (plus additional optional courses)

Islamic texts

-

8

Journalistic texts

-

2

Idioms and culture-specific items

-

2

Literary texts

3

2

Legal documents

6

2

Commercial correspondence and contracts

6

2

Annotated translation

-

2

Scientific texts

3

-

Interpretation

Consecutive interpreting

3

2

9 (plus additional optional courses)

7 (plus additional optional courses)

Simultaneous translation

6

2

Audio-visual products

-

2

 

                In addition to specialization, the balance between translation and interpretation courses was also considered for product analysis (see Table 3). Leicester University and Newcastle University offer a balance between translation and interpretation. Furthermore, they aim at helping the candidates win opportunities either way. Çankaya University, however, has a different solution. The students are given a choice in the fourth year of program to settle on either translation or interpretation. That is, the practical courses are optional so that the students can choose the ones they are interested in based on their future career path. Contrary to the other three departments, the program at Islamic Azad University is heavily emphasizing translation since only six units are allotted to practical interpretation only. This section also includes the results of the evaluation of the assessment procedures adopted to assess the learners' achievements after the courses, as shown in Table 4. Based on the findings, it may be argued that Leicester University and Newcastle University adopt a variety of approaches to evaluate their students' translation and interpretation competence and achievements and specifically invest on alternative assessment methods to have a more skill-based, competency-based and vocation-oriented assessment of their learners. However, the Iranian and Turkish universities are similar in terms of their dependence on more traditional approaches to assessment of their learners' product.

 

Table 4

Types of Assessment at Çankaya University, Islamic Azad University, Leicester University and Newcastle University

 

                                                               Types of Assessment

 

Formative only

Summative only

Summative (primary) and formative (secondary)

Formative (primary) and summative (secondary)

Alternative (e.g. essay project, dossier, thesis)

Çankaya University

-

10

83

12

 

Leicester University

-

Study abroad

18

26

Thesis, dossier

Newcastle University

-

Study abroad

14

28

Thesis, group assessment, dossier, essays

Islamic Azad University

-

6

64

12

-

 

 

  1. Discussion

         Considering the importance of program evaluation in education with regard to monitoring the achievements, strength and weaknesses (Jain & Prasad, 2018), and witnessing the recent modifications made in undergraduate English translation curriculum by the Supreme Council of Culture and Higher Education in 2017, it seems to be necessary to evaluate translation courses offered by different English departments. Although there are many models and approaches fit such an evaluation, CIPP model, put forward by Stufflebeam (2002, 2005), was selected as the theoretical framework of this study, mainly because of its contextual sensitivity (Stufflebeam & Shinkfield, 2007) and managerial orientations (Crabb & Leroy, 2012; Stufflebeam & Zhang, 2017).

                This research adopted a comparative view to the evaluation of the under-graduate English translation program at Islamic Azad University and contrasted the current program with Leicester University, Newcastle University, and Çankaya University. Furthermore, this comparative approach was based on a well-defined model for the sake of objectivity. With regard to the context of the programs, the results showed that Leicester University, Newcastle University as well as Çankaya University were rather similar in terms of developing both theoretical knowledge and practical efficiency of the students while emphasizing their future career path. Moreover, there was a balance between translation and interpretation skills in their programs. However, it is worth mentioning that Leicester University and Newcastle University emphasized multidimensionality of goals which were absent at both Islamic Azad University and Çankaya University; second, they embedded a sabbatical year which indulge their learners in translation market far from their home university and help them develop a sound view of their career path, interests and future priorities and objectives. Although the latter dimension is to some extent met at Çankaya University in summer programs, it does not seem to be as comprehensive as that of Leicester University and Newcastle University. With this regard, the program at Islamic Azad University is poor since not only are such dimensions seriously ignored but also the balance between the translation and interpretation skills hardly exists in the context of the program assigned by the Supreme Council of Culture and Higher Education. This seems to be inherited from the previous program which forms the basis of the revised one released in 2017 since previous studies such as Birjandi and Nosratinia (2009) and Davari et al. (2021) have already emphasized it, too.

                With regard to the input of the programs, it has to be cited that the investigated universities are rather similar. All universities initiate their practical and specialized courses after their students are sufficiently familiar with the target language and preliminary theoretical concept. However, the variety of languages covered is the big difference between Leicester University and Newcastle University on one hand and Çankaya University and Islamic Azad University on the other hand. The programs in Iran and Turkey are developed with one target language only whereas those of Leicester University and Newcastle University include four options of foreign languages (two European and two Asian). In addition, the results showed that the non-practical courses in non-Iranian programs are either subject-related or proficiency-related whereas the program assigned by the Supreme Council of Culture and Higher Education contains some general courses including about one-fifth of the program which do not directly contribute to the expertise of translation.

                A further issue that needs to be highlighted regarding the input of the program is the existence of the optional courses which offer the students a choice of meeting their interests, needs and future occupational priorities. Leicester University and Newcastle University both provide options not only in the number and the language(s) the students can cover, but also in the variety of subjects they can choose to enrich their theoretical background, for example, linguistics-related, translation-theory-related, and proficiency-related courses. In the same vein, Çankaya University provides two streams of interpretation courses and translation courses for the fourth-year students to help them select either of paths which best meets their needs and interest. However, the translation program at Islamic Azad University does not provide the students with a variety of options neither in proficiency-related courses nor in translation/interpretation-related courses.   

With regard to the findings reported above, it may be argued that the time allotted to practical/specialized English translation courses poorly matches the required material expected to be presented or simply covered during the course. In addition, the educational setting of practical English translation courses may not be considered an ideal one for the undergraduate students. Accordingly, there seems to be a need for making a modification in terms of course requirements, especially, in terms of the re-organization and revision of English translation course content and instructional objectives as well as the difficulty level of lessons so that more market-oriented and business-oriented courses, and opportunities are available for the undergraduate students. An additional point which was highlighted in this study was the emphasis on teaching translation skills in BA-level specialized courses rather than interpretation skills. Regrettably, the current common courses for teaching specialized translation skills and the textbooks as well are mainly based on deductive and product-oriented teacher-centered methods in accordance to which the BA-level students are mainly concerned about their translation skills rather than their learning the targeted specialized interpretation skills and strategies per se.

Based on the findings of this study and as acknowledged by Ediger (2006), it is vital that course objectives be stated meticulously and prudently so that both learners and teachers are able to access and understand what is going to be finally achieved. It is unquestionable that declaring general (long-term) and specific (short-term) objectives greatly backs the academic achievement (Darussalam, 2010) and curbs the observed discontent with the context and input of the current English translation courses. What was observed in this study supports previous researchers' emphasis (e.g. Ringsted, et al., 2001) in that the absence of a uniform instructional method and clear educational objectives may lead to pitiable educational achievements. It seems that this is true for the translation programs the objectives of which are not well-defined, well-introduced and well-understood by the instructors and the students. That is, it is not clear what the program is contributing to – promotion of translation skills or interpretation skills – and what specific occupational needs of the students are going to be met.

In this comparative study of English translation and interpretation courses offered at Leicester University, Newcastle University, Çankaya University and Islamic Azad University, it may be concluded that the courses are vulnerable to ineffectiveness in terms of mal-developing translation skills. In terms of the evaluation of the product of the courses at English department, it may be argued that the absence of learning opportunities for authentic practices for developing translation and interpretation career-oriented skills is the main difference between the program at Islamic Azad University and other ones studied in this research. Furthermore, it has to be noted that English translation/interpretation skills are not authentically evaluated in the BA-level program, either.

The findings of the present study are comparable to those reported by Foroozandeh et al. (2008). They also reported the results of a large-scale survey planned predicated on the CIPP Model proposed by Stufflebeam (2002, 2005). Their study was an attempt to evaluate the MA-level English translation curriculum in different English departments, whereas the present research focused on BA-level English translation program. Interestingly enough, the concluding points Froroozandeh et al. (2008) reported about MA curriculum of English translation seem to support the findings of this study, too.  The findings of this study are in fact in line with those of their study and the results reported by Davari et al. (2021) in that: the officially prescribed English translation curriculum (a) requires revision, at least, in accordance with the stakeholders' needs and interests, (b) has to be modified in terms of its delivery with regard to the available academic settings; and (c) has to be upgraded in terms of its screening procedures.

Furthermore, the study at hand resembles the one conducted by Keyvanfar (1999), also evaluating the BA-level translation curriculum in seven English departments of the Islamic Azad University located in Tehran province using quantitative data rather than qualitative ones, as used in this study. Although the instruments and the scopes of this study were rather different from those of Keyvanfar, the concluding points seem to be in agreement. Although, based on her evaluation, she concluded that an over-all pattern of enhancement was observable in the students' English proficiency and translation skills, the curriculum failed to achieve its pre-defined instructional objectives, to name the most prominent ones, (1) attaining general and balanced English proficiency in all four language skills, (2) mastering the translation skills required for translating different text genres mainly due to the shortage of adequate authentic opportunities. Considering the fact that the general proficiency of the students was not included in the scope of this study, it can be argued that the findings of this study may justify hers in terms of the findings of the study about the translation and interpretation in terms of the courses being distributed in an unbalanced way in this program and the lack of out-of-campus experiences available to the students at Islamic Azad University. 

Replicating Keyvanfar's (1999) study, Rahmani (2007) evaluated English translation curriculum in six departments of Islamic Azad University in Tehran province. His research revealed that the curriculum was successfully implemented in spite of the fact that there were a few problems which required the policy-makers' attention. This seems to contradict the findings of the study in terms of its insistence on making sound revisions based on the modern translation programs at other departments. However, this contradiction may be rooted in several factors. First and foremost, in his study, success was defined as achieving general proficiency and mastery of translation skills whereas this study views success as meeting the needs and interests of the students who are seeking future success in a relevant career after graduation.

As stated by Foroozandeh et al. (2008, p. 79), the studies by Keyvanfar (1999) and Rahmani (2007) are “valuable as the first steps toward recognizing the necessity of evaluation in the Iranian higher education context”. Akin to Foroozandeh et al. (2008), Stufflebeam's (2002, 2005) CIPP model was implemented in the study at hand to address not only goal-based but also process-based questions with regard to English translation curriculum at Islamic Azad University and at three other universities in foreign countries. However, unlike their research the during-program comparative evaluation conducted in this study was at BA-level English translation program from a comparative view, i.e. the scope was broader. In spite of these facts, the findings are interestingly similar, and if Keyvanfar's (1999) arguments are also considered, it has to be argued that the revised curriculum is best considered as a superficial restoration of the same old curricular structure which entails partial, if any, and unsatisfying improvement in terms of instructional achievements.

 

  1. Conclusion

 

In comparison with a number of past studies in Iran using Stufflebeam's (2002, 2005) CIPP model, such as Foroozandeh et al. (2008), the study at hand approached the BA-level translation/interpretation courses to conduct a goal-based process-based during-program comparative evaluation in spite of being small-scale. Although previous studies evaluated the curricular product or the program's achievement as effectiveness, impact, and sustainability, as well as transportability, using an after-delivery survey design, the findings were mainly comparable to this one. Shortly, it was found that the necessity of a substantial revision which has to be made in the BA-level specialized translation courses is not debatable.

Accordingly, it can be inferred that being compared with modern programs at other departments worldwide, both the English translation curriculum at BA level and its content need to be at the heart of an urgent revision. Into the bargain, as stated earlier, mastery of English translation and interpretation is basically dependent on practice, the authentic form of which is to a great extent neglected. This, however, may be due to several reasons; first, the temporal aspect of the curriculum which does not fit the authentic instructional activities required for the populated specialized translation classes; second, lack of instructional resources such as appropriate technological aid and instructional techniques; and third, lack of interesting and motivating material and content. So, any prospect attempts for revising the existing English translation/interpretation courses have to include a thorough analysis of the students' needs.

As it was echoed in the findings of this comparative study, considerable revisions have to be made in the undergraduate English translation curriculum; for instance, the roles of the instructors need to be redefined as authentic activity providers, strategy instruction facilitators, and translation/interpretation course mentors. Based on what was discussed above, the major implication of this study is that the current BA-level English translation and interpretation courses are in dire need of a number of substantial revisions to further fit the needs and interests of the students. The main recommendations and pedagogical suggestions might be concerned with improving and revising in the instructional objectives and content (material), in addition to instructional methods. Furthermore, the other implication emerged from the findings of this study was improving assessment dimensions of the BA-level English translation and interpretation courses. Additionally, as indicated by the participants concerning the disgruntlement with the context of the BA-level English translation program, further rearrangement of the curriculum is needed in terms of time of instruction and out-of-campus practicum. It is also suggested that further connections with job market be established so that the students can spend some time as a practicum or internship in real-world translation business and job market. The last but not the least, it is recommended that a larger number of optional courses be offered at undergraduate level so that the students can pursue either translation or interpretation field based on their interests and future career paths.

This study suffered from a number of limitations. Considering the fact that the researchers conducted a small-scale study and collected data from few departments, further studies are needed to encompass a larger number of departments worldwide and stakeholders at those departments, as well. There is also a need to adopt a comparative analysis, surveying the perceptions of the stakeholders from different departments. Further studies are needed via a questionnaire and an interview, and a number of variables such as BA-level students' competence must be included. Moreover, a self-reported questionnaire or a proficiency test may be used to pinpoint these variables in translation program evaluation.

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Volume 5, Issue 2
May 2022
Pages 1831-1849
  • Receive Date: 10 January 2021
  • Revise Date: 08 June 2021
  • Accept Date: 09 March 2022
  • First Publish Date: 11 March 2022