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Are lecturers' and students' needs different? A needs analysis for reading tasks in Flemish higher education Elke Peters & Tine Van Houtven Lessius University.

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Presentation on theme: "Are lecturers' and students' needs different? A needs analysis for reading tasks in Flemish higher education Elke Peters & Tine Van Houtven Lessius University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Are lecturers' and students' needs different? A needs analysis for reading tasks in Flemish higher education Elke Peters & Tine Van Houtven Lessius University College, Antwerp &

2 Outline Project description Background Aim and research questions Methodology Results and interpretation Conclusion TBLT 2009 2

3 Introduction Language plays a key role in education. Mastery of academic language is crucial. –But research has shown that many students, non-native as well as native speakers of Dutch, struggle with academic language upon entering Flemish university colleges. –poor command of Dutch and of academic Dutch in particular Projects centering around the theme of (L1) language support  Project focusing on text competence/reading skills TBLT 2009 3

4 Project Aim of our project is to provide an answer to this problem by Determining required level of text competence Carrying out a descriptive study into first year students’ reading skills and text competence Comparing students’ existent level of reading/text competence with the required level developing reading materials for four courses in four different curricula In order to facilitate first-year students’ chances of achieving academic success TBLT 2009 4

5 Project How? –Not “one-size-fits-all-approach” –Necessity of a large scale needs analysis in four different curricula. “the language learning needs of particular groups of learners or individuals (…) are learner- or group- specific, (…) are tied to local contexts and may change over time” (Van Avermaet & Gysen, 2006: 19) What? –NA findings used in design and development of task-based reading support materials. TBLT 2009 5

6 Background: Long (2005) Long (2005) –a number of methodological issues that need to be considered in learner needs analysis in terms of sources, methods, and source x method combinations. –The aim should be to obtain reliable, valid, and usable data about the tasks students need to carry out to be successful. Van Avermaet & Gysen (2006) –Take into account both subjective and objective needs. TBLT 2009 6

7 Background: Long (2005) A task-based needs analysis Possible sources for a needs analysis: –Literature, learners, teachers/applied linguists, domain experts, and triangulation. –Needs analysis should involve insiders/domain experts –Use of multiple sources: add breadth/depth to the analysis Possible methods for a needs analysis: –intuitions, (un)structured interviews, questionnaires, observation, tests, diaries, role plays etc.. –Unstructured interviews. –Questionnaires: ascertain existing views, not creating new views; often over-rated. –Use of multiple methods of data collection A needs analysis = time-consuming TBLT 2009 7

8 Aim and research questions Which reading tasks do we need to develop for first year students from four different curricula? –First-year students of four different curricula & university colleges  clearly-defined domain = academic language proficiency What is the required level of text competence? What is the actual of first year students’ text competence? Is there a difference between the two? –Practical RQ in order to develop the reading materials TBLT 2009 8

9 Aim and research questions Which source(s) or method(s) or source x method- combinations is/are the most reliable and informative? –As compared in four case studies (four different curricula and university colleges) –Methodological/evaluative RQ in order to +/- corroborate Long’s hypotheses TBLT 2009 9

10 Methodology Four sources Four methods Triangulation of sources and methods Same methodology in four case studies TBLT 2009 10

11 Sources PTHO (= Profiel Taalvaardigheid Hoger Onderwijs (Language Proficiency Higher Education)) –Description of tasks students need to be able to carry out at the start of their academic career Determining expected level of text competence Students from 4 different curricula: –First-year students –Third-year students –Convenient and purposive sample Lecturers from 4 different curricula (= domain experts) Language experts  methodological advice TBLT 2009 11

12 Methods Literature survey Reading test Questionnaire Interview Triangulation by sources & methods TBLT 2009 12

13 Method 1: Reading test PTHO Target group: Dutch as a foreign language Based on needs analysis  typical tasks a student needs to be able to carry out N = 176 (L1 Dutch = 165; L2 Dutch = 9) Part 1: multiple choice questions –Questions = “reading-the-lines” level (Alderson, 2000) or descriptive level (Bogaert et al., 2008) Part 2: summary –Read three texts on same topic –Write one summary = “reading-between-the lines” level (Alderson) or upper-textual level (Bogaert et al.) TBLT 2009 13

14 Method 1: Reading test PTHO: results Part 1 (multiple choice questions): high scores –Ceiling effect Part 2 (summary) –1/3 of students = problematic Difficulty with information processing  functional reading Wrong/incomplete account of information –Large differences in terms of educational program in secundary education/preparatory training General > technical > vocational secundary education –Problem areas were identified: vocabulary, text cohesion and synthesis Answer to RQ1 in terms of problem areas for each curriculum TBLT 2009 14

15 Method 2: Questionnaire Questionnaire tapped into –Types of reading texts –Strategy use Orientation and planning (e.g. reading title/images/…) Monitoring reading process (e.g. looking up unknown words) Evaluating reading process (e.g. how difficult do you find … linked to activities of different levels of information processing) –Possible, useful reading tasks Closed questions with pre-specified response categories + 1 open question Questionnaire was piloted TBLT 2009 15

16 Method 2: Questionnaire - example Arrange in order of difficulty. -Visualize the structure (e.g. highlighting, annotating) -Detect the topic sentence in a section -Interpret charts and diagrams -Attain a high level of comprehension -Make comparisons and connections -Represent information schematically * setting: course or handbook TBLT 2009 16

17 Method 2: Questionnaire - results Sources/participants: –Students: N = 455  what do you think/do? –Lecturers: N = 97  what do students do/think? Tasks with increasing text competence Reading tasks were perceived more difficult by lecturers compared to the students Answer to RQ1 in terms of problem areas, students’ strategy use, and useful tasks for each curriculum. TBLT 2009 17

18 Method 3: Interview Semi-structured interview –Partially based on results reading test –Partially based on data of questionnaire One-hour audio-taped interviews with –Lecturers in four different curricula –Students in four different curricula 1st and 3rd year students in one curriculum Nine interviews in total All interviews were transcribed TBLT 2009 18

19 Method 3: Interview - results Information obtained about … Target reading tasks and implementation methods were identified Students modified students’ answers supplied in questionnaires  more in line with lecturers’ opinions Students contribute to ‘means analysis’ (they provide useful information on learning styles, likes and dislikes, etc.) TBLT 2009 19

20 Discussion TBLT 2009 20 Four case studies Reading test  identify problem areas Questionnaire  identify problem areas, students’ strategy use, useful tasks Interview  indentify target reading tasks and implementation methods Design support materials

21 Discussion: RQ1 Differences in target reading tasks and implementation methods between the four curricula  needs vary greatly –one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work –NA = prerequisite for effective design of support materials –taking into account specificities of each course and curriculum –beneficial for both students’ and lecturers’ motivation + gain an insight into their attitudes (what they think and do)  self-knowledge  ; level of awareness  combining and balancing needs of students, lecturers and language experts –Students tended to overestimate themselves in the questionnaires but counterbalanced in the interviews TBLT 2009 21

22 Discussion: RQ2 TBLT 2009 22 Evidence of four case studies –Use of several methods and sources  obtain more reliable data –Sources: triangulation of sources Lecturers (domain experts) –Methods: triangulation of methods Interviews  semi-structured interview –BUT only because of the results of the reading test and questionnaire –Interview alone would not have sufficed Our results tend to corroborate Long’s findings but with regard to the method there is an “if”.

23 Discussion: RQ2 TBLT 2009 23

24 Conclusion NA time-consuming undertaking, but prerequisite for design of support materials multiple sources and methods  should be carefully sequenced Sources insiders/domain experts: informative source 1st year students: can’t be the sole or principal source because they lack experience and understanding of present/future needs Methods interviews  yield important information, but only because results of test and questionnaires could be used questionnaires  effective for ascertaining existing beliefs, not for creating new views TBLT 2009 24

25 References Alderson, J.C. (2000). Assessing Reading. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Bogaert, N., Devlieghere, J., Hacquebord, H., Rijkers, J., Timmermans, S. & Verhallen, M. (2008). Aan het werk! Adviezen ter verbetering van functionele leesvaardigheid in het onderwijs. Den Haag: Nederlandse Taalunie Den Long, M. (Ed.) (2005). Second Language Needs Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Profiel Taalvaardigheid Hoger Onderwijs van het Certificaat Nederlands als Vreemde Taal. Downloaded from rdigheid%20Hoger%20Onderwijs.pdf on September 5 2008 rdigheid%20Hoger%20Onderwijs.pdf Van Avermaet, P. & Gysen, S. (2006). From needs to tasks: Language learning needs in a task-based approach. In K. Van den Branden (Ed.), Task-Based Language Education (pp.17-46). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press TBLT 2009 25

26 Acknowledgements OOF-comittee of the Association K.U.Leuven Projectpartners –Katholieke Hogeschool Limburg, Katholieke Hogeschool Kempen, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Katholieke Hogeschool Leuven, GroepT, KATHO, Katholieke Hogeschool Mechelen,Katholieke Hogeschool Brugge- Oostende, Katholieke Hogeschool Sint-Lieven, Hogeschool Universiteit Brussel If you have any questions, you can always send us an e-mail: – – TBLT 2009 26

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