Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Rater consistency and judgment in the direct assessment of second language writing ability within the certificates in spoken and written English
    Smith, David R ( 1998)
    The introduction of competency-based models of language and literacy education in Australia has, to a large degree, coincided with an increased emphasis on direct assessment as the most common means of evaluating second language writing ability within the Adult Migrant English Program. The key problem in directly assessing writing ability is having two or more raters arrive at a similar judgment or rating for the same piece of writing. While there is a long tradition of research on rater consistency and judgment in the holistic assessment of writing ability, similar research on the direct assessment of second language writing ability within the context of competency-based language and literacy education is almost non-existent. This study aims to determine the degree to which the performance criteria designed to assess second language writing ability within the Certificates in Spoken and Written English can ensure acceptable levels of rater consistency, and to describe the decision-making behaviours and strategies used by raters when reading for the purposes of assessment. The think-aloud verbal reports of six experienced ESL raters assessing three texts written by intermediate level adult ESL learners were transcribed and subjected to a rigorous interpretive analysis. In terms of rater consistency, analysis of raters verbal reports indicated that while there was generally a high degree of rater consistency at the overall performance or text level there was considerably tess agreement at the level of individual performance criteria. Analysis of the data revealed that raters adopted distinctive styles or approaches to reading for the purposes of assessment and that raters interpreted and applied the performance criteria statements in a range of different ways. These findings have significant implications not only for the development of competency-based assessment procedures but also for the training of raters. v11
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    The academic achievements of language centre students at a secondary college
    Warrick, Geoff ( 2001)
    What are the academic achievements of adolescent new-arrival English as a Second Language (ESL) students at secondary schools in Victoria, Australia? Research on Non-English Speaking Background (NESB) students in Australia has tended to neglect new arrival ESL students. To examine the academic achievements of this important subgroup of NESB students, the current study will highlight the academic achievements of a cohort of Victorian Language Centre students at a Secondary College over six years with interruption to schooling in their first language (L1) as the key variable linked to academic achievement in their second language (L2). Victorian Language Centres provide new-arrival ESL students with the English skills they need to start their secondary educations in L2. The current study examined the academic achievement of two groups of Language Centre students, those who completed their Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) and those who left the Secondary College prior to completing VCE. Their academic results were summarised into spreadsheets for quantitative analysis. Subsequent to the quantitative analysis interviews were conducted with four ESL students from the Language Centre currently completing their VCE studies to provide further insight into the factors that enabled them to do their VCE. Results indicate that the academic achievements of this cohort of ESL Language Centre students are poor and that interruption to education in Ll had a major impact on the students' ability to achieve academically at the Secondary College. The study suggests that L1 education is the key variable influencing the student's ability to acquire the academic language skills necessary to meet the academic demands of secondary education, particularly the VCE. Other factors such as support for learning and strong motivation were found to help students overcome difficulties encountered in their secondary education. However, students who were unable to overcome these difficulties left the College prior to completing VCE. It was concluded that the majority of Language Centre students faced uncertain economic futures once they left the Secondary College. The results of the study suggest that Language Centre students need more support and assistance to enable them to complete VCE or to access educational alternatives to the VCE. This study also suggests that more research into the effect of L1 education on L2 education be conducted as this was found to be the key variable in the students' ability to acquire the academic language skills necessary to meet the academic demands of VCE.
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    Seeing you seeing me : constructing the learners and their target language speakers in Korean and Australian textbooks
    Song, Heui-jeong ( 2006)
    To be successful in real-life communication with their target language (TL) speakers, language learners need to develop a sound knowledge of modern-day target language society, and an understanding of the beliefs and values most commonly shared by TL speakers. Such knowledge forms the basis of what Clark (1996) calls 'common ground', and is essential for interlocutors to exchange meanings. Removed from natural settings, textbooks are one of the principal resources for foreign language learners to construct a conception of their TL speakers in relation to themselves. This project examines the constructs of the learners' TL speakers provided in, respectively, a Korean language textbook for Australian beginner learners and an English language textbook for Korean beginner learners. By analysing how each presents the other set of people in terms of the attributes the other group assigns to itself in its own books, this study assesses how well each book assists their local learners to begin constructing sound common ground with their TL speakers. Analysis is made of the verbal and visual texts in each whole book with respect to topic and attributes; as well, using Gee's discourse analysis framework, close analysis and comparison is made of the information about the TL speakers and the learners themselves in the first three chapters of each book in relation to the three major beginner learner topics: Self-introduction, family and school. While there are a number of similarities in representation of the TL speakers by both sides, even this small examination shows glaring omissions and contradictions in the construct of the TL speakers proposed for the learners of each language compared to how their actual TL speakers project themselves. Furthermore, these differences would easily lead to confusion over meanings if used in real life. If such mismatches persisted over years of language learning, it can be predicted that learners would fail to create some elements of 'common ground' essential for them to understand what their TL speakers mean in interaction and be understood themselves.
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    The Problems of verbal interaction for victims of warfare trauma in the ESL classroom
    Santoro, Ninetta ( 1995)
    This thesis identifies and investigates the difficulties surrounding the participation in verbal interaction by victims of warfare trauma in the ESL classroom. The literature reviewed falls into three main categories; The Problems of Refugee Resettlement, Motivation and Anxiety in Language Learning and The Importance of Verbal Interaction in Second Language Learning. Case Study research methodology was chosen as the most appropriate framework on which to base this thesis and three ESL students were chosen as subjects. The findings of the research suggest that the problems associated with resettlement and prior experiences may have been contributing factors in the lack of motivation and high levels of anxiety experienced by each of the case study subjects. This in turn, may have affected their participation in verbal interaction in the classroom and ultimately, their acquisition of English.
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    The characteristics of exchange structure patterns of an adult low-level ESL classroom using a genre-based approach to the teaching of writing : a study of classroom discourse
    Suherdi, Didi ( 1994)
    This study is concerned with the characteristics of exchange structure patterns of an adult low-level English as a second language (ESL) classroom using a genre-based approach to the teaching of writing in an Australian context. To provide an appropriate system of analysis, Ventola's (1987; 1988h) system for analysing conversational structure in service encounter texts has been expanded to suit the characteristics of the data in the current study. Applying the expanded version of Ventola's system, the whole data have been segmented into exchanges. Two major categories of exchange structure patterns have been identified: non-anomalous, which comprises simple and complex exchanges, and anomalous, which comprises elliptical, defective, and broken exchanges. Using this exchange categorisation as a basis, the characteristics of the interactional patterns, the shifts of roles of information supplier, and the variability of language use in a genre-based approach classroom have been identified and explicated. Exchange structure patterns dominant in certain sub-stages vary in accordance with the variation of other factors. In conjunction with the shifts of roles of the information supplier, for example, in Sub-stage 1, in which the students were cast to serve the function of information supplier, B-event exchanges were dominant, Only a small number of A-event exchanges occur in this sub-stage. In contrast, in Sub-stage 2 and Rehearsal where the teacher served the function of information supplier, A-event exchanges were dominant.
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    Human capital : a case study of the AMEP
    McElgunn, Barry ( 1995)
    This study is an investigation of the Human Capital Approach to education in Australia. It examines whether or not the Commonwealth Government is steering education towards the incorporation of policies that invest greater emphasis and resources into human beings as contributors to economic productivity than it invests in their cultural and aesthetic value. The study incorporates the philosophies of the Human Capitalists and how successive Commonwealth and State Governments apply these philosophies in education policy formulation - particularly the provision of English language to adult migrants through the Adult Migrant Education Program in Victoria. The methodology used is a questionnaire of closed and open-ended questions distributed to AMEP teachers. The researcher duly followed up the questionnaire with interviews of four AMEP teachers in an endeavour to shed more light on the reasons behind the responses given by teachers in the questionnaire. The researcher undertook an analysis of the responses in order to investigate whether or not the Commonwealth Government gives primacy to economic objectives of the migration program over its social, cultural and linguistic objectives. The findings are that the AMEP teachers surveyed believe that the Commonwealth Government does emphasize economic objectives over all other objectives of the migration program. A Human Capital approach to education, reflected in the application of Economic Rationalism, is apparent in Australia's education system according to AMEP teachers surveyed and that such has been the case since the late 1970s. The literary works of Schultz, Smith, Dawkins, Piore, Crittenden, Benovat, Green, Pusey, Kennedy, Marginson and Grubb are included in this study. These works form the literature review of the Human Capital approach. As well, the Reports chaired by Karmel, Williams, Kirby, Fitzgerald and Campbell, and a variety of Commonwealth Reports and Working Party Papers into various aspects of education in Australia are represented in an investigation of the application of the Human Capital approach to education in Australia's main education policies. The findings of this research are that the Human Capital approach to education is influencing the AMEP and that this has wider implications for the national education system in Australia. Almost all AMEP teachers surveyed believe the AMEP no longer follows its own National Plan, in which it spells out its aims and objectives, but pursues the Commonwealth Government's primary objective of pursuing the economic aims and benefits of the migration program.
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    Learner access to language research
    Rowland, Luke Hennessy ( 2008)
    This is a study of how my class of learners perceived the relationships between English language learners, teachers, and researchers, during a five week Intensive Academic Preparation ELICOS course at an Australian university. As a starting point, it seizes on the fact that learners, unlike teachers and researchers, are rarely, if ever, encouraged to engage with language research as a potentially valuable resource for language learning. Noting the dearth of literature surrounding this topic specifically, this study focuses on the appropriateness of various practitioner inquiry models for a naturalistic exploration of my own classroom. The approach taken is one of Exploratory Practice, which is a set of guiding principles motivated by a strong ethicality towards learners and teachers. Using everyday pedagogical activities as data collection methods, such as group discussions and summaries as well as individual written pieces, this study reveals three important characteristics of my learners: a sense of pride in their personal knowledge of English language learning, an understanding of themselves as individuals within the language learning process, and a deep concern with the practical aspects of learning English. Meanwhile, my learners generally portray the relationships between learners, teachers, and researchers as hierarchical and unidirectional, with researchers and research on top. Overall, the study suggests that there is some value in providing access for my learners to language research, and in the conclusion to the study I make some recommendations for future research centring around ideas of learner identity, teacher/learner understandings of roles, and the place of the individual language learner within language learning.
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    Interactions between first and second language writing skills in Macedonian bilingual children in Australia
    Smilevska, Jovanka ( 2009)
    The theoretical belief arising from the interdependence hypothesis suggests that there is a common underlying proficiency in bilingual literacy development, particularly with respect to literacy skills, strategies and knowledge transfer across different languages. According to this view a strong establishment in one language not only develops skills in that language, but also facilitates the development of a second language. The aim of this research was to look at the interactions between literacy in Macedonian and English and to analyse the role of the first language literacy in second language acquisition in two dissimilar languages. Although the research explored the relationships between first language (Macedonian) and second language (English) writing skills, strategies and knowledge, the influence of motivation and the performance in English were also discussed. Namely this research investigated the skills and strategies that Macedonian bilingual children use for writing in Macedonian script and whether these strategies have a positive or negative transfer to English literacy. This research also analysed the writing behaviours, and attitude towards the two languages and how they affect the transfer of literacy skills and strategies. To address the aim of this research and gain an in-depth understanding about bilingual children's language acquisition and development a qualitative case-study method was employed. The subjects for this research were six nine year old children from a Macedonian/ English bilingual school. They were asked to write recounts in both languages, Macedonian and English, in order to investigate the transfer of skills, strategies and knowledge across both languages. The think-aloud protocols were used to look into the writing process and to categorise the types of writing strategies that the children can transfer from Macedonian to English literacy. This method was used to observe children's writing processes while writing and simultaneously discussing what thoughts were going through their mind. The childrens' attitudes towards learning in two languages were discovered by using semistructured interviews. The official results from the literacy assessment conducted at the school were also analysed and compared. The discussion of findings from the six children focussed on the transferable skills and strategies and the relationship between Macedonian and English writing. This research confirms that writing behaviours and strategies that the children displayed were consistent across both languages, even though the languages have different writing systems. In fact this research provided a better understanding of children's biliteracy development from an early age in a bilingual setting. Results of the study indicated that there is an interdependent ability between the first language and the second language writing and that there is a positive transfer of skills, strategies and knowledge from Macedonian to English. Therefore the conclusion is that the development of the stronger language literacy (Macedonian) facilitates literacy development in the second language (English) and that access to two languages from an early age and the possibility of learning those languages can facilitate literacy development.
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    Provision for longer term residents in the Adult Migrant Education Program : an historical overview from 1947 to 1990
    Martin, Shirley ( 1991)
    The aim of this study was to consider the reality of access of longer term resident adult migrants into English language learning opportunities in Australia across the period 1947 - 1990. Chapter 1 describes the background and justification of the research brief and refers to the processes and procedures taken in developing an analytical approach to the consideration of policy development and implementation. Chapter 2 outlines the range of available resource material while Chapter 3 provides a summary of the documentation. This summary is used to analyse the demands and the decisions and actions which impacted on access to the program. A set of basic assumptions is then developed and comments sought from a group of experts. A selection of indicative responses are examined in detail and the reliability of the assumptions is considered. In Chapter 4 the results of the findings are developed into a final statement. In doing so the researcher demonstrates the realities of policy development over a considerable period of time and shows that environmental factors play an important role in shaping the future from past and present experience. The study shows that the Adult Migrant Education Program was originally planned as an initial settlement program and at stages in the last forty years this focus has been restated. The concept of "longer term " residents did not exist in the early years of the program and the issue has emerged as an important factor in the discussions on equity of access to education.
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    Interactions between literacy in Korean and English in Korean immigrant children in Australia
    Yue, Hana ( 2008)
    Previous research has found that literacy skills, knowledge and strategies transfer across languages, and a strong establishment in one language facilitates development of a second language. This research is ultimately concerned with the interactions between literacy in different language contexts - Korean and English. That is, the research explored how bilingual children's literacy in the first language (Korean) affects the acquisition of a second language (English). To accomplish this objective, this study investigated the strategies that Korean bilingual children use for reading and writing in Korean script and whether these strategies have a positive or negative transfer to English. This research also exposed the reading and writing behaviours, and attitude towards the two languages and how they affect the transfer of literacy skills and strategies. The study was based on the qualitative case-study method with some additional quantitative measures, in search for in-depth understanding about bilingual children's language acquisition and development. The subjects for this project consisted of three Korean immigrant children aged eight to ten for the purposes of comparison. This research asked them to display their literacy experiences in both languages and their attitudes. The main precise method for reading was the running-records technique, which tests contextual reading accuracy and strategy use during which children read the appropriately leveled texts. Whether the texts are appropriate is decided by the error rate that is simply estimated by the number of words read incorrectly to the total number of words read. Reading data was analysed though the running records coding scheme and conventions. A running record was suitable for the research in terms of helping assess children's reading ability, and capture various reading behaviours and strategies use, based on the children's errors and self-corrections. To look into the writing process, think-aloud protocols were employed. This is defined as verbalising thought processes while reading or writing. Children's introspective verbal reports were coded and analysed through Arndt's (1990) modified version of the coding scheme developed by Perl (1981). The method helped the researcher discover the writing processes and interactions between the first and second languages. Discussion centred on the transferable strategies and the relationship between Korean and English reading and writing. The result was that the reading and writing behaviours and strategies that the children displayed were consistent across languages. All in all, this research provided a better understanding of Korean English bilingual children's biliteracy development. The research concluded that a positive transfer of strategies occurred from Korean to English, and accordingly Korean literacy had a positive effect on English literacy development.