New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Early English Language Assessment to Improve First-Year Student Success
This research paper describes the implementation and initial results of an early English language assessment program that aims to improve the ability of first year engineering students to effectively complete all courses in their program. Increasing linguistic, cultural and educational diversity of our students has challenged accepted practices of recognizing needs and providing support for communication practices of first year engineering students. Two Canadian first year engineering programs decided to implement a post-enrollment screening for academic language in order to better recognize and support their first year students.
As an initial screening, the Diagnostic English Language Needs Assessment (DELNA) tool was used. This tool was jointly developed by the University of Auckland and the University of Melbourne in response to their diverse student demographic and the diagnostic inadequacy of major English language proficiency tests. The DELNA comprises a vocabulary section and a speed reading section that asks students to identify language that is out of place or makes no sense in the passage. The follow-up written diagnostic provides a finer grained analysis of student language use. Students in the lowest-performance band of the screening test were asked to complete this follow-up diagnostic that focuses on factors including content comprehension, lexicogrammatical accuracy, audience appropriateness, argumentation, and concision. Our universities chose to design a customized diagnostic specific to an engineering faculty rather than the arts and humanities focus of the follow-up DELNA diagnostic. This paper reports on our first trial of these two instruments, what analysis of the results of both the screening and the diagnostic revealed about our students and how we have used that information to support student success.
The screening results from the two institutions differed somewhat with approximately 30% of the first-year cohort at one institution placed in the lowest performance band, as compared to 12% at the other institution. Both schools found their students excelled in the vocabulary section, but struggled with the speed reading component. As well, noticeable differences were observed between students in the domestic and international cohorts. The paper will also present the relationship between performance on the DELNA screening task and the written diagnostic.
Kinnear, P., & Stickel, M., & Frank, B. M., & Kaupp, J. A. (2016, June), Early English Language Assessment to Improve First-Year Student Success Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26876
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