REVIEW OF UQ ENGLISH LANGUAGE POLICY & PROVISION 2010 commissioning of an external review Campus-wide consultative process: call for submissions, survey and key personnel interviews Inclusive definition of EL proficiency from the Good Practice Principles for English Language Proficiency for International Students in Australian Universities (AUQA/DEEWR 2009): The ability of students to use the English language to make and communicate meaning in spoken and written contexts whilst completing their university studies. Application of GPPs to both international and domestic NESB and ESB students for purposes of the review.
REVIEW OUTCOMES Adequacy of current ELP entry requirements Students not accessing EL support available Concerns about particular student cohorts Current support provision Patterns of areas of concern emerging from submissions: Reports developed for review suggested no serious ELP performance problems but identified some cohorts needing greater attention refreshment of the student profile to better integrate international and domestic student populations re-alignment of ELP definitions and data for planning, programming and monitoring Analysis of data has facilitated: GPPs grouped into five themes: 1&2 – University-wide strategy, policy & resourcing; 3&4 – Prospective students and entry standards; 5,6 & 7 – Curriculum design and delivery; 8 & 9 – Transition and social and academic interaction; 10 – Quality assurance
UQ ELP REVIEW AGAINST GPPS Principle 1: Ensuring students ELP is sufficient to participate in studies effectively Principle 2: Resourcing adequate to meet students needs throughout studies Principle 3: Students responsible for developing ELP and are advised of this early Principle 4: Entry pathways ensure students can participate effectively Principle 5: ELP as a graduate attribute Principle 6: ELP integrated in curriculum Principle 7: ELP needs to be diagnosed and addressed early with ongoing self- assessment Principle 8: International students supported from outset to adapt to academic, sociocultural and linguistic environments Principle 9: International students social interaction on/off campus encouraged and supported Principle 10:Use of evidence to monitor and improve ELP development activities
ELP REVIEW PHASE 2 Phase 2 in 2012 will focus on: Admission equivalence issues, including for domestic NESB students Requirements for different disciplines Post enrolment language assessment (PELA) Staff development
A university-wide approach to English Language Proficiency Neil Murray Senior Consultant English Language proficiency
Drivers Good Practice Principles for English Language Competence for International Students in Australian Universities The expectation of the project Steering Committee is that universities will consider the Principles as they would consider other guidelines on good practice. As part of AUQA quality audits universities can expect to be asked about the way they have addressed the Principles, just as they are likely to be asked by AUQA auditors about their application of a range of other external reference documents for the university sector (2009: 27). AUQA s Affirmation (October 2009) AUQA affirms UniSAs recognition that English language proficiency for students is a significant and immediate issue that needs to be addressed, and supports timely conclusion of the current discussion about the implementation of the English language proficiency project, including the testing of student proficiency and where required the provision of additional support and guidance for students http://www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au/resources/documents/Investigation_into_ho w_universities_deal_with_international_students.pdf ELP model approved by Academic Board March 2011
A common understanding What is English language proficiency? Shared language A conceptual framework Academic proficiency (academic literacy) Professional proficiency (Professional communication skills) General proficiency
Needed to articulate a framework/approach which is systematic, flexible and sustainable Systematic, integrated, equitable, defensible Flexible in terms of discipline-specific needs Sustainable business case
Post-entry English language assessment in Australian universities: issues and prospects Catherine Elder, University of Melbourne firstname.lastname@example.org AIEC, Adelaide October 20111
OVERVIEW Review state of PELA at Australian universities Note issues arising from current situation Propose future actions
Principle 7 Assessment of language development needs Students English language development needs are diagnosed early in their studies and addressed, with ongoing opportunities for self assessment. Example of good practice The university encourages and supports international students (and others) to undertake a diagnostic assessment of their development needs for English language proficiency at a very early stage of their studies. The university offers students opportunities to self assess their language skills throughout their studies and to undertake developmental activities in response to the needs they identify.
How prevalent is post-entry language assessment (PELA) in Australian universities? Data gathered as part of a study conducted in 2011 at UoM (Knoch et al. 2011) reveals that Of 38 Australian universities surveyed 9 (23%) not using PELA 8 (21%) not using PELA but reviewing policies with a view to introducing PELA 9 (23%) have small Faculty-based PELA initiatives 13 (34%) have university wide policy
Target population Status of test Skills assessed Mode of delivery Reporting of test results Interface with language development How is PELA implemented across different university contexts?
Target population All incoming students International students only EAL students, whether international or domestic Particular at risk groups (e.g., below 7 on IELTS or equivalent admission test, below 35/50 on end-of-school English/ESL exam, Foundation students) Faculty-specific policies Issue: negative perceptions of PELA by targeted students
The thing I have found with DELA is that they are really resistant to do it; particularly local students (native speakers), they feel that it is aimed at international students...even international students will not want to do it. They say well I got in here, why should I sit this test (representative – Commerce Student Centre). [I think that universal testing is better for a whole lot of reasons. Its face validity is better and also there has been so much emphasis on capturing at risk students, this university is supposed to be a university of excellence. How is it identifying which student might want to improve or excel in their English - its a sort of remedial model, all this (DELA). So I am very much in favour of universal testing for that reason. (representative of Faculty of Education)
Status of assessment PELA is optional for all (see GP Principle 3 re student responsibility) PELA is mandated for all students PELA Is mandated for particular student categories Status of PELA differs from faculty to faculty Issues: - How to communicate purpose of PELA as aid to language development? (Read, 2008) - What incentives for participation in cases where PELA is optional? - How to reconcile notions of compulsion and compliance with notion of PELA as facilitative? - What sanctions (if any) to impose on non-compliant students where PELA Is mandatory?
Assessment design Skills assessed language macro-skills such as reading, listening, writing (speaking less common due to high costs) writing only language macro-skills plus sub-skills (e.g., vocabulary and grammar) language AND numeracy skills screening tasks (indirect measures) only or in combination with other skills Issues: -Different constructs at different institutions – academic language proficiency, academic literacy/ies/ communication skills? (Murray, 2010) - Limited validity evidence in many cases, including lack of empirical basis for cut-scores (Davies, & Elder, 2004; Elder & von Randow, 2009)
Test delivery and reporting DELIVERY Pencil and paper Online (majority) with or without automated scoring (Repeated) access from home without identity check Test delivered in laboratory/classroom with identity check REPORTING No scores but recommendation regarding support needs sent to student and Faculty representative Score with descriptive profile and advice re language development Writing sample made available if requested Advisor works through results with student Issues: -Timing of assessment - how early in the academic year? -How diagnostic and userfriendly are the reports offered to students? (Alderson, 2005, Knoch, forthcoming)
Interface with language development PELA results used to direct students to: - credit bearing courses as part of their degree program - supplementary short courses targeting particular skills - discipline-specific tutorials - one-on-one feedback on essays/assignments - self-access materials PELA results used to stream students into groups Issues: -How suitable are available development options to diverse population of students? How tailored to particular assessment profiles? -Should language development courses be mandatory? What sanctions for non-compliance if so? -How much language development is enough? Who decides? -Are available language development options effective? What evidence?
(…) how do you manage support for the whole cohort of students that will be tested? At the moment the support that is offered varies from faculty to faculty and is quite variable. Some of them direct students to the ASU and coursework subjects and some have own arrangements. Again its that follow up – what do the students do with this information? Theres no coordinated approach to the follow up (ASU representative) It seems a lot of the language support stuff looks like it is aimed at international students rather than just being like, short courses - first year students -how to get along in your courses, or something like that. There needs to be different marketing around it (student advisor – Commerce student Centre)
PROSPECTS Form cross-university consortium to pool information and resources in relation to PELA Establish principles and guidelines for PELA design and delivery Set up mechanisms for ongoing evidence-based evaluation of PELA assessment tools and associated language development options Consider options and modes for self-assessment in the context of tertiary study
REFERENCES Alderson, J.C. (2005). Diagnosing foreign language proficiency: the interface between learning and assessment. London: Continuum. Davies, A. & Elder, C. (2004) Validity and validation in language testing. E. Hinkel, Editor, Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning, Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ (2005), pp. 795–813. Elder, C., Knoch, U., & Zhang, R. (2009). Diagnosing the support needs of second language writers: Does the time allowance matter? TESOL Quarterly 43.2:351-359. Elder, C., & Von Randow, J. (2008). Exploring the utility of a web-based English language screening tool. Language Assessment Quarterly, 5(3), 173-194. Knoch, U. (forthcoming) An examination of stakeholder views of diagnostic feedback. Assessing Writing. Knoch, U. Elder, C. & McNamara, T. (2011). Report on the feasibility of introducing the Academic English Screening Test (AEST) at the University of Melbourne. Language Testing Research Centre, University of Melbourne Murray, N. (2010). Considerations in the post-enrolment assessment of English language proficiency: reflections from the Australian context. Language Assessment Quarterly 7 (4): 343-358. Read, J. (2008) Identifying academic needs through diagnostic assessment. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 3: 180-190..
UQ ENGLISH LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY INITIATIVES IN PRACTICE Christine Bundesen, Director Institute of Continuing & TESOL Education, The University of Queensland (ICTE-UQ)
EAC-PHARMACY SUPPORT COURSE ICTE-UQ UQ PHARMACY
EAC-PHARMACY CONCURRENT SUPPORT COURSE Co-curricular and skills-based course materials and exercises aligned with assessment tasks Key objectives of course: Identify students whose communication skills are likely to put them at risk of failure Provide engaging, discipline-relevant language support Enhance first year experience of students and facilitate transition to second year studies Student reflective data + three direct measures : self-evaluated language competency (4.4 to 6.7/10 in 2008, 5.3 to 7.0/10 in 2010) number of students predicted to fail semester 2 oral exam consistently reduced from 7-35% to around 1% greater commitment/attendance = higher academic achievement across first year assessment Indirect measures from focus group data & reflections: new friendships & peer networking trust in academic processes improved confidence Potentially greater retention & employment opportunities
DEGREE CREDIT-BEARING EL COURSES? English language proficiency development through enhanced integration into degree program credit-bearing curriculum – an area which UQ has not to date actioned in any strategic or comprehensive way. Should UQ be giving serious consideration both for courses at levels above English language entry requirements and/or for discipline-specific English courses for designated degree programs? If so, Cumulative and summative assessment for credit-bearing English courses to be applied in line with policies and procedures for any UQ program. Whole-of-university consistency for credit points to be determined across all programs. Decision to be made at whole-of-university level as to whether courses would be mandatory or voluntary.
PELA & GRADUATE EXIT TESTING In Australia language competence of international students at universities has recently come under intense scrutiny, media attention and public debate. Catalysts have been published research reports on EL proficiency of graduates for DIAC skilled migration & DEEWR research showing employers value graduate attributes including language competence. Post-enrolment English Assessment (PELA) and graduate exit testing are not yet common practice within Australian universities but are increasing in frequency. Good Practice Principles focus on university responsibility to ensure students have English competence to undertake studies, provision of adequate English support throughout student lifecycle, and place responsibility on students to continue language development during studies. No PELA currently at UQ but under consideration for Phase 2 of EL Policy Review in 2012.
GRADUATE EXIT TESTING First semester 2008 UQ introduced a university-funded voluntary Graduate Exit IELTS test for UG and PG students. Mixed views in English language academic community on Exit Testing as positive or negative initiative and on value of mandatory versus voluntary Exit Testing. Exit testing is not currently widespread in Australia but anecdotal evidence suggesting this may change as AUQA/TEQSA quality audits demand evidence of improved graduate EL competency. Exit Testing from perspective of both institution and student are ways in which a university can specifically show evidence of meeting GPPs #5 and #10. Exit Testing can provide students with externalized evidence of language competence to employers or for migration purposes. PELA is another source of evidence of how a university can specifically show evidence of meeting GPP #10.
ICTE-UQ GRADUATE EXIT TESTING RESEARCH Intended ICTE-UQ research to investigate English proficiency progress from entry to exit through UQ Graduate Exit IELTS test scores. Almost 2000 students have taken voluntary UQ Graduate Exit IELTS test between 2008-2011. Purposes of research: consider EL proficiency of test takers compared to entry thresholds investigate whether exit scores affected by discipline, pathway, or nationality analyse number of students scoring higher, same or lower than program entry requirement determine if patterns emerge re most/least problematic EL macroskill analyse cross-correlations of data for UG versus PG students and programs Research findings in part will inform the way forward for UQ in tandem with the implementation of the recommendations of the ELP Review.
UQ ENGLISH POLICY & PRACTICE Thank you. Christine Bundesen