Student academic language proficiency: an investigation into a non-first language developmental intervention by



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  • Student academic language proficiency: an investigation into a non-first language developmental intervention
  • by
  • Dr Cay van der Merwe, Central University of Technology, Bloemfontein and
  • Prof Driekie Hay, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein
  • SAAIR, Port Elizabeth
  • September 2009

  • UNIVERSITEIT VAN DIE VRYSTAAT • UNIVERSITY OF THE FREE STATE • YUNIVESITHI YA FREISTATA
  • Tel (051) 401 3971 • E-mail: hayd.rd@ufs.ac.za • www.ufs.ac.za
  • Introduction
  • English is the mother tongue of only 8,6% of South African students
  • As from Grade 4 for the majority of learners : no mother tongue instruction
  • Academic language proficiency level of 85% below Grade/K 12

  • UNIVERSITEIT VAN DIE VRYSTAAT • UNIVERSITY OF THE FREE STATE • YUNIVESITHI YA FREISTATA
  • Tel (051) 401 3971 • E-mail: hayd.rd@ufs.ac.za • www.ufs.ac.za
  • Implications for higher education
  • Students coming from a variety of educational backgrounds
  • Rote learning
  • Problems with note taking, synthesising, analysing, critical thinking, reasoning as vocabulary is lacking
  • Poor reading development levels

  • UNIVERSITEIT VAN DIE VRYSTAAT • UNIVERSITY OF THE FREE STATE • YUNIVESITHI YA FREISTATA
  • Tel (051) 401 3971 • E-mail: hayd.rd@ufs.ac.za • www.ufs.ac.za
  • Theoretical points of departure
  • educational viewpoint: collapse of the secondary school system
  • Moral / transformational viewpoint: social responsibility
  • Economical stance: costs of failure / shortages in the economy

  • UNIVERSITEIT VAN DIE VRYSTAAT • UNIVERSITY OF THE FREE STATE • YUNIVESITHI YA FREISTATA
  • Tel (051) 401 3971 • E-mail: hayd.rd@ufs.ac.za • www.ufs.ac.za
  • Most SA universities : UCT developed PTEEP
  • Tests among others: comprehension
  • Less than 50% : placed in an academic language proficiency course
  • Purpose of our paper is to share findings of an investigation into a non-first language development intervention

METHODOLOGY

  • Analyse UFS data of students from 2006/7, on
  • School-leaving outcomes
  • English proficiency test outcomes
  • English development course outcomes
  • End of first year results over all courses

3 TYPES OF DATA ANALYSES

  • Pre-test vs Post-test
  • Means
  • Students selected on basis of “vulnerability” by PTEEP (English Proficiency Test), were directed to English Development Course. After about 8 months, underwent similar English Proficiency test; outcomes compared by Student t–test for dependant samples - accounts for intracorrelation.
  • Result Significant (α=0.5) increase in means of pre-test to post test
  • But Means were 37% and 47%, whereas maximum scored by anyone in 2006/7 in PTEEP was 90%
  • And Comparisons of mean differences for particular constraints (e.g. vocabulary) weren’t available – could prove interesting.

3 TYPES OF DATA ANALYSES (cont..)

  • CORRELATIONS
  • Correlation matrix of 5 variables (not age) with 1st and 2nd Eng. Proficiency test scores of this group of about 200 students yielded……
  • - No significant correlation between 1st test score and end-of-year results, but
  • - Significant correlation between 2nd test score and end-of-year results.
  • - Bigger and significant correlation between
  • 2nd test score and score in English Development Course

Comparisons among 2006-2007 first-year intakes

  • The variables are:
  • PTEEP = Test in English for Educational Purposes (UCT)
  • Mark = Mark attained in an English development/basic Language course
  • Age = Age in years at enrolment (February)
  • Mscore = An aggregated/weighted total of school-leaving results
  • Enrol = Number of courses (subjects) for which a student enrolled
  • Passed = Number of courses passed during the first year.
  • Subj. Pass Ratio = Number of courses passed divided by number of courses enrolled.
  • Avg Percent = Average percentage attained over all courses at end of first year.
  • Race = African (Black) / White (Caucasian) / Coloured / Asian.

Comparisons among 2006-2007 first-year intakes (cont…)

  • Summarised statistics for these variables:

Race as a factor

  • One-way ANOVA’s on PTEEP; Mark (EngDevCourse), SubjPassRatio and AvgPercent.
  • All means differed significantly (α=0.05) over races.
  • Followed-up with post-hoc tests to see which differ.
  • Used Scheffe (conservative test) to see which races differ with regard to variables above.
  • .

Race as a factor

  • Example: Scheffe post-hoc table, variable PTEEP score (Marked differences are significant at p<.05000 )
  • African and White means differed significantly from each other and from Coloured and Asian groups (significantly higher mean scores) in PTEEP tests.
  • With end of year outcomes, the White students’ results differed significantly from the other 3 groups, but the paired comparisons for the latter means did not differ that much.
  • Race
  • {1}
  • {2}
  • {3}
  • {4}
  • M=47.658
  • M=66.116
  • M=58.581
  • M=57.560
  • African {1}
  •  
  • 0.0000
  • 0.0000
  • 0.0000
  • White {2}
  • 0.0000
  •  
  • 0.0000
  • 0.0000
  • Coloured {3}
  • 0.0000
  • 0.0000
  • 0.9700
  • Asian {4}
  • 0.0000
  • 0.0000
  • 0.9700

PTEEP scores cut-off points

  • Choice of cut-off level
  • ≤49% - must do English Development Course
  • ≥50% - don’t do English Development Course
  • Four categories: 0-44%; 45-49%; 50-54%; ≥55%
  • ANOVA’s on MARK (in English Development Course); SubjPassRatio; and AvgPercent showed highly significant (α=0.0001) mean differences. Post-hoc tests showed :

Test group versus control group

  • Compared outcomes for groups who tested below 50% in PTEEP, between those who did an English academic proficiency course and those who should have attended but (voluntarily) did not.
  • End-of schools results (composite) not applied in these analyses

Test group versus control group (cont’d…)

          • Distribution of two groups, in AvgPercent, for example.
  • Test group versus control group cont’d… Means of average percentage obtained differed significantly (*) between the two groups.
  • Variable
  • Mean ENProf
  • Mean NONE
  • t-value
  • df
  • p
  • Valid N ENProf
  • Valid N NONE
  • SbjPass Ratio
  • 0.6729
  • 0.6481
  • 0.8216
  • 721
  • 0.4116
  • 633
  • 90
  • Avg Percent
  • 50.6867
  • 46.3404
  • 3.0043
  • 740
  • 0.0028*
  • 648
  • 94

Essays

  • Voluntary essays on students’ own perceptions of benefits of development in academic English proficiency were very positive.
  • Extend qualitative investigations to systemic analysis, with random sample of essays and interviews as well.

CONCLUSION

  • Thank You
  • HE obliged to invest resources in English Academic Proficiency improvement.
  • Trade-off between burden of shouldering secondary education’s level shortcomings, taking decade at least, with Students’ success ….less attrition, efficient throughput, economic gain, less wastage and trauma.
  • Student academic language proficiency: an investigation into a non-first language developmental intervention
  • by
  • Dr Cay van der Merwe, Central University of Technology, Bloemfontein
  • Prof Driekie Hay, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein
  • SAAIR Port Elizabeth
  • September 2009



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