Tài liệu English writing skills and critical thinking skills of freshman college students in the university of transport technology system in three provinces of vietnam basic for functional writing activity (sum)

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Thai Nguyen University Socialist Republic of Vietnam Batangas State University Republic of Philippines NGUYEN THANH TU ENGLISH WRITING SKILLS AND CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS OF FRESHMAN COLLEGE STUDENTS IN THE UNIVERSITY OFTRANSPORT TECHNOLOGY SYSTEM IN THREE PROVINCES OF VIETNAM: BASIS FOR FUNCTION AL WRITING ACTIVITY Speciality: English language and literature Ph.D DISSERTATION SUMMARY OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE THAI NGUYEN, 2014 The Dissertation was completed in: THAI NGUYEN UNIVERSITY Advisor: Matilda H.Dimaan.Ph.D. Reviewer No.1: ............................................. Reviewer No.2: ............................................. Reviewer No.3: ............................................. The Dissertation will be evaluated at the State Council held at: ……………………………………………………………………….. At: hour ... date ... month ...year 2014 Dissertation can be found at the libraries: - National library of Vietnam; - Learning Resource Center - Thai Nguyen University; - Library of International Training and Development Center; - Library of Batangas State University, Philippines. 1 The study of the English language has taken a multifaceted dimension and has span from the knowledge-based format to the skill- based format. It has also moved from theory to practice and much more as the business world has taken an aggressive position to demand the criteria for hiring their personnel to include certified demonstrable English language skill. Writing as an act is encoding an idea, a thought, a reflection; a process of putting one’s thought into words. And this would require that the words are organized to convey the idea, the way the writer would want the reader to receive the message and experience the writer’s concept. Thus the demand for writing is more rigorous than speaking. In writing, one must have an extensive vocabulary at once disposal to be able to use the right words corresponding to the idea or message. Thus the writer, must have a full grasp of the common meaning and special meaning and use of those words. The writer must also know how sentences are constructed in the English language so that these sentences become coherent and cohesive. Then comes the other fine details of grammar, syntax, morphology to further create a linguistic impact. The educational system with its language curricula considers this gradating degree of writing skills development where at the elementary levels, students are required to write formal themes compositions with a freedom of topic choice at the beginning and later a specific chosen topic given by the teacher as the basis. In the secondary level, writing skills are developed through essays and reaction papers. In the tertiary level, it is a blend of the secondary level materials as well as the writing of a thesis, a more extensive 2 type of writing piece that would cover an analytical step where an idea is expounded, from the information of previous literatures and moving forward to a proposed idea or concept and providing evidence for the new proposal. The process goes on and on in the tertiary and higher levels of education. Hence, cognitive skill is vital in each step of the writing skills development. As college teacher teaching Basic English, the author observed students have difficulty in writing longer composition. They tend to commit errors in the construction of sentences, failed to observed correct punctuations, and other aspects in mechanics of writing. Their levels of critical thinking in terms of cognitive, affective, and their disposition are needed to determine as they also play significant role to their learning. Thus, the theme of "English Writing Skills and Critical Thinking Skills of Freshman College Students in the University of Transport Technology System in Three Provinces of Vietnam: Basic for Functional Writing Activity" is choosen to study. The structure of dissertation include of 5 chapters 3 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION BACKGROUND OF STUDY: Writing as an act is encoding an idea, a thought, a reflection; a process of putting one’s thought into words. And this would require that the words are organized to convey the idea, the way the writer would want the reader to receive the message and experience the writer’s concept. Thus the demand for writing is more rigorous than speaking. In writing, one must have an extensive vocabulary at once disposal to be able to use the right words corresponding to the idea or message. Thus the writer, must have a full grasp of the common meaning and special meaning and use of those words. The writer must also know how sentences are constructed in the English language so that these sentences become coherent and cohesive. Then comes the other fine details of grammar, syntax, morphology to further create a linguistic impact. The educational system with its language curricula considers this gradating degree of writing skills development where at the elementary levels, students are required to write formal themes compositions with a freedom of topic choice at the beginning and later a specific chosen topic given by the teacher as the basis. In the secondary level, writing skills are developed through essays and reaction papers. In the tertiary level, it is a blend of the secondary level materials as well as the writing of a thesis, a more extensive type of writing piece that would cover an analytical step where an idea is expounded, from the information of previous literatures and 4 moving forward to a proposed idea or concept and providing evidence for the new proposal. The process goes on and on in the tertiary and higher levels of education. Hence, cognitive skill is vital in each step of the writing skills development. OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDIES This study addresed the following research questions: 1. What is the demographic profile of students in terms of 1.1 gender; 1.2 parent's educational attainment; 1.3 student's place of origin 1.4 type of school attended (high school); and 1.5 exposure to English media 2. What is the level of writing skills of students relative to: 2.1 discourse component (cohesion, coherence) 2.2 grammatical component; 2.3 mechanics; 2.4 morphology; and 2.5 syntax? 3. How do teachers assess the critical thinking skills of students? 4. How do students level of writing skills and teacher assessment of students’ critical thinking skills compare? 5 5. What functional writing activities may be proposed to enhance student's writing and critical thinking skills? SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY The results of the dissertation help students identify limitation in English writing skills and critical thinking skills in order to learn how to improve their language skills. Teachers of English are aware of the critical thinking skills and English writing skills students through the findings of the dissertation and their responsibility for designing a suitable activities to improve students’ skills. Findings of the dissertation will improve relevant data for administrators at University of Transport Technology System to design an effective curriculum for the students. SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY This study is focused on determining the level of students’ writing skills in terms of discourse components, grammatical components, mechanics, morphology and syntax as well as the level of students’ critical thinking skills. Responses of 306 first year students from University of Transport Technology system in three provinces in Vietnam and the respective English teachers of these students using the stratified random technique were analysed. The students were made to answer to a validated teacher made questionnaire designed to assess their level of writing skills while the teachers were asked to answer a survey cognitive skill assessment questionnaire where they rated, based on their perception, the critical thinking skill level of their students 6 These two questionnaires were the source of quantitative data that were analysed statistically. The study site were University of Transport Technology system in three provinces (Ha Noi, Thai Nguyen, Vinh Yen) in Vietnam and the study covered a period of six months from July to December 2013. Demographic information was gathered from the students and teachers through the questionnaires but their names were not revealed. The respondents were those currently enrolled in an English course. The teacher respondents were the respective teachers of the evaluated students as they were the ones assessed their students’ cognitive skills. The students’ respondents were limited only to those who were enrolled in their Basic English course in the stated covered period. Descriptive method of research was used in the study to determine the levels of writing and critical thinking skills of students. The study made used of teacher made test for student respondents and survey questionnaire for teacher respondents 7 CHAPTER II REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE AND STUDIES 2.1 REVIEW OF RELATED STUDIES This section present of some literature and studies related to the topic. 2.2 RESEARCH PARADIGM Figure 1. The Reasearch Paradigm Input Process Output A. Demographic profile of the respondents in terms of: 1. gender 2. parent's educational attainment 3. place of origin 4. type of high school attended 5. student's exposure to English media, B.. Respondent's level of writing skills relative to: 1. cohesion/ coherence 2. grammatical component a. mechanics Assessment made through: Teacher-made Test Survey Questionnaire b. morphology c. syntax D. Teachers assessment of the students' critical thinking skills in terms of: 1. cognitive skills 2. affective and 3. disposition Figure 1 Conceptual Paradigm of the Study sed Functional Writing Activities 8 CHAPTER III METHODOLOGY RESEARCH DESIGN This study made used of descriptive research design to describe the data and characteristics of the study. According to Arriola (2006) descriptive research aims to describe the present behaviour or characteristics of a particular population and the data are collected to describe persons, organizations, settings and phenomena. The study utilized a combination type of questionnaire the survey and test questions. The subjects’ answered to the questionnaire will constitute the data that will be analyzed statistically. Sampling will be purposive to include the target population consisting of students who were currently enrolled in a first year Basic English course and their respective teachers for the cognitive assessment of their students. RESPOND OF THE STUDY The subjects of this study composed of 306 first year English students and at least 20 first year English teachers from the three campuses of the University of Transport Technology System in the three provinces of Vietnam. In Hanoi Campus the total number of student population is 501 with seven English teachers and the student respondents of the study are 102, while in Thai Nguyen campus , the total student population is 499 with 6 English teachers and the student respondents used are 102. In Vinh Yen Campus the total student population is 500 with seven English teachers. The number of student respondents utilized in the study is 102. All 9 student respondents were currently enrolled in a first year English course and were cooperative in sharing their demographic profiles. RESEARCH INSTRUMENT The study made used of the following date gathering instruments in the conduct of the study. Teacher –made Test. This was used to determine the levels of student respondents performance in writing skills in terms of discourse components such as cohesion and coherence, grammatical component, mechanics, morphology and syntax. Survey Questionnaire. This was used to determine the teacher respondents perceptions as to the level of students’ critical thinking skills in terms of cognitive, affective, and disposition skills. DATA GATHERING PROCEDURES The questionnaires for both the teachers and students were conceptualized, designed for the purpose of the study. As soon as the final draft of the questionnaires were one, the students’ questionnaires were subjected to pilot testing to thirty first year college students who were not the respondents of the study to determine the strength and weaknesses of the instrument. Likewise the teacher questionnaires were given to twenty English teachers of Batangas State University with the adviser’s assistance for the comments and suggestions to further improve the instrument and or the degree of appropriateness of the items. The questionnaires were revised based on suggestions of English teachers. As soon as this was done, letters of requests were then sent to the panel members and expert on the field for them to validate the contents of the data gathering instruments. As soon as these 10 instruments were checked final copy of the questionnaires were then produced. Another letter of requests were then written and forwarded to the administrators of the universities for permission to administer the questionnaires to both teachers and students. With the approved letter of requests, test were administered to the 306 student respondents and 20 teacher respondents of the study in three universities namely Hanoi, Thai Nguyen and Vinhyen, the research environment of the study. The student respondents were given one hour to answer the test. When all the students were done in answering the tests, test questionnaires were retrieved same also with that of the teachers’ survey questionnaires. Students’ answers were checked per item so as with the responses of the teachers. These were then tallied then analysed and interpreted. STATISTICAL TREATMENT DATA For data analysis, SSPS software was used. The following statistical tools were utilized in the study: Cronbach alpha. This was used to measure internal consistency of the scores of the respondents. Correlation. This was performed to determine the relationship of the teachers’ assessment scores and the students’ skills. Mean. This was used to determine the average score of the students in the teacher -made- test Percentage. This was used to determine the magnitude of the frequency in relation to the whole responses. Ranking. This was used to determine the positional importance of responses. 11 CHAPTER IV RESULT AND DISCUSSION 1. Demographic Profile of Students The demographic profile of 306 student respondents in terms of gender, parents’ educational attainment, students’ place of origin, type of high school attended, and exposure to English media was determined using a survey questionnaire. As regard to the gender profile, majority of the respondents are males which comprise 98 percent or 300 of the 306 total population. There were only six female respondents or 2 percent. . In their parents’ educational attainmentmajority of the students’ parent have educational attainment in the “other” level or education higher than the tertiary with 48.0 percent. This is followed by tertiary with 41.5 percent and lastly by secondary 10.5 percent. For place of origin, the students come from at least 13 different places in Vietnam with majority or 20.3 percent coming from “Others” or different places in Vietnam, followed by Ha Noi with 16 percent, then by Nam Dinh with 4.6 percent, then by Vinh Phuc with 14.1 percent, then by Thai Binh with 11.8 percent, and the rest from the remaining 8 different places which indicates that the three University campuses under study cater to students coming from different places in Vietnam. As to type of school, majority come from public high school which comprise 287 of 306 respondents or 93.8 percent. Only 6.2 12 percent come from private high school. This indicates that the public high schools are the main institutions catering to the students In exposure to media 100 percent of the students have had exposure which indicates that the students are no longer foreign to the English language as the English media has now been ubiquitous and comes in various forms and means that the students got exposure through television, the internet or the foreign English movies, which are the rich sources of learning for new words to expand their vocabulary and the use of these words and their correct pronunciation. 2. Level of writing skills of students in Basic English The level of writing skills of the student respondents were determined using a teacher-made test based on five component skills such as discourse component in terms ofcohesion, coherence, grammatical component, mechanics, morphology, and syntax. For the discourse componentthe average score of correct items is 9.5 with a mean % score equivalent of 67.8 percent which is above 50 percent. This value has a percentile rank of 34.3 percent with a verbal description of average. This indicates that the level of writing skills of the student in terms of the discourse component is average for this set of student population. In grammatical component, the average score of correct items is 6.6 with an equivalent mean % correct score of 66.3 percent. This value is above 50 percent indicating better performance in this component skill area. The percentile rank is 35.3 percent with an equivalent description of “Average”. This indicates that the level of 13 the students’ writing skills in terms of its grammatical component is average for this population of students. The average correct score of the student respondents in mechanics on the other hand is 6.5 corresponding to a mean % correct score of 64.9 percent. This score is above 50 percent and indicates that more than half of the student population was able to respond correctly in these items. In terms of the morphology component, six sub-components were considered which include Morphemes, Homonym, Synonyms, Antonyms, Compound, Word constituents and Idioms. The average correct score for morphemes is 1.7 which has a mean % equivalent of 55.4 percent. For homonym, it can be noted that that the average correct score is 1.7 with a mean % equivalent of 58.3 percent. In the sub component Synonym, the average correct score is 2.0 corresponding to a mean % score of 65.5 percent. This value is above 50 percent and high compared to the values obtained for morphemes and homonym. In the case of the sub component Antonym, the average score is 1.7 and has a mean % score of 56.4 percent. This value is numerically close to the values for morphemes and homonym. For compound word constituents, it can be observed that that the average correct score is 1.8 with a mean % equivalent of 60.6 percent. In the sub component Idioms, the average correct score is 2.0 corresponding to a mean % score of 65.7 percent. This value is way above 50 percent and the highest among the different sub component scores. Looking at the total performance of the students under the component skill of morphology, the average score is 1.8 with a mean % score of 60.3 percent. The percentile rank is 25.8 14 percent corresponding to a verbal description of average. Thus, in general, the performance of the students in the component skill of morphology is average for this given population. For syntax, the average correct score is 5.4 with a mean % score equivalent of 54.1 percent. The corresponding percentile rank is 74.0 percent and its verbal description is average indicating that the students’ performance is in general, average for this given population. The standard deviation score is 9.7 percent and below the cut-off score for normally distributed curve indicating this population to be homogeneous and the results to be reliable. 3. Teachers Assessment of the Critical Thinking Skills of Students Thirteen from a list of 33 critical thinking skills are classified as Cognitive skills and twenty are classified under the Affective skills. 12 out of 33 items obtained an agree score of less than 50 percent. Five of these items belong to the Cognitive skills while the remaining seven items belong to the affective skills. The critical skill that most respondents agree garnering a score of 19 or 95 percent belongs to the cognitive skills classification. This is followed by four skills that rank 2 position and all belong to the affective skill classification. This reflects on the value that the respondents place on cognitive skills in the assessment of the students’ performance. Teacher respondents believe providing students with positive help will assist the students develop the skill. The evaluation of critical thinking skills according to the frequency of use as perceived by teacher respondents indicated that 15 the skills ranged in frequency from 2.20 to 3.95 with equivalent rating of rarely tooften respectively. There were ten skill items that were often practiced by the students. Five of these are cognitive skill and five are affective skills. This indicates that both types of critical thinking skills are equally well practiced by the students as perceived by the teacher respondents and implies further that teacher respondents believe that students have developed the skill in gaining full understanding of developing social skills and responsible behaviors. The same critical thinking skills were evaluated by the teacher respondents according to their degree of importance of which result ranged from 2.45 to 4.25 with equivalent ratings of less important to moderately important respectively. There were 10 out of 13 skill items belonging to the Cognitive skills that are considered moderately important. Similarly, there were 9 out of 20 skill items belonging to the Affective skills that are considered moderately important. 4. Relationship of the ratings on level of writing skill to the teachers’ assessment of critical thinking skills of students Majority of the p-values of the different mean combinations were greater than or equal to 0.05 with 104 combinations out of 165, indicating these means as not significantly different. This implies that these mean combinations that is critical thinking item skill x writing test component skill are statistically related. Less than half of mean combinations such as 61 combinations out of 165 have pvalues below 0.05, indicating these means are significantly different implying that these are not statistically related to each other. There 16 were 22 skill items that were found to show this pattern as shown by the shaded boxes. Eight of these belong to the cognitive skills and 14 belong to the Affective. For the mean combinations with values that are not significantly different, 25 out of 65 combinations or 38.5 percent are recognizable in the cognitive skills. For the affective skills, 36 out of 100 combinations or 36 percent are recognizable. This indicates that both the cognitive and the affective component of the critical thinking skills are equally related to the performance level in the different components of the writing skills Comparing the p-values below 0.05 among the different component skills of writing, it can be observed that the order from the least to the most number of items, are: Discourse, Grammatical, Mechanics, Morphology and Syntax. Thus, there are more statistically related items between the critical thinking skills and the three component skills of writing, namely: discourse, grammatical and mechanics. 5.Functional Activities that may be proposed to improve the Students’ Critical Thinking Skills. The proposed functional writing activities as the output of the study comprised set of exercises designed to improve the students’ critical thinking especially for this population of Vietnamese students based on criteria. These include writing skill components where the students showed poor performance; as well as having statistically significant relationship with critical thinking skills. 17 CHAPTER V SUMMARY, FINDING, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS SUMMARY This study aimed to assess the English writing skills and critical thinking skills ofFreshman college students in the University of Transport Technology in the three provinces of Vietnam with the end view of proposing a functional writing activity. This sought answers to the following questions: • What is the demographic profile of students in terms of: • gender • parents’ educational attainment • students’ place of origin • type of high school attended • exposure to English media? • What is the level of writing skills of students relative to: • discourse component (cohesion, coherence) • grammatical component • mechanics • morphology • syntax? 18 • How do teachers assess the critical thinking skills of students? • How do students level of writing skills and teacher assessment of students’ critical thinking skills compare? • What functional writing activities may be proposed to enhance student's writing and critical thinking skills? • The concepts to be included in the Conceptual Framework are the following: • English language skills • Writing skills • Critical thinking skills • Functional English Writing Activities The study made used of the descriptive method of research to determine the English writing skills and critical thinking skills of Freshman college studentsin the University of Transport Technology in the three provinces of Vietnam. There were 306 students and 20 teachers who were the respondents of the study. The statistical tools used were: T-test. FNDINGS 1. Demographic Profile of Students As regard to the gender profile, majority of the respondents are males which comprise 98 percent or 300 of the 306 total population. There were only six female respondents or 2 percent.
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