Achievement Has Indeed Been A Tool Of Measurement Education Essay

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CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

Academic achievement has indeed been a tool of measurement in identifying a students' success in the academic world. Students who obtain higher CGPA are perceived to be better at school compared to others who do perform well. Various factors attributing to academic achievement have been noted for example non-academic factors which include social factors, socioeconomic, lifestyle, family background. On the other hand, focus has also been given on academic factors that influence students' academic achievement. Several factors are known to be associated with students' performance for example motivation, IQ, EQ, self efficacy and learning preferences.

Students' academic achievement at tertiary level can be linked with students' ability to understand reading materials in English. Since English is a second language in Malaysia, it is hardly practiced by certain communities as there a variety of languages that can be used depending on its reasons. Thus, some students face difficulties in understanding English. They are not sure of the best ways in acquiring the language and finally disliking the language after feeling demotivated. Learning strategies are today one of the important factors that leads to the success of language learning. As learners explore their own learning strategies, they will be able to pick tasks and activities which suit their learning preferences to make the process of language learning much more meaningful and effective. In addition, learning preferences are also known to affect on how students would act in groupwork, participate in classroom activities, relating to others, solving problems and learning the language (Nor Hidayah, 2008).

Learning preferences changes as learners experience and encounter new life and educational experiences (Diaz & Cartnnal, 1989 cited in Nor Hidayah, 2008). It was also found that teaching styles encourages the learners to adopt certain learning style in their own learning (Grasha, 1996; Dowdall, 1991 cited in Nor Hidayah, 2008). A study conducted by Yazici (2005) in University of Winconsin, USA, reported that learning preferences that do not match with teaching styles would lead to change in behavior and affect the students' level of motivation as well as their interest in learning English which will then result in bad performance in the subject. The research found that the situation resulted in a mismatched between learners' learning preferences with the activities or techniques used in their learning processes. The study also stated that, when learners and teachers do not choose the appropriate activities and techniques that match their learning preferences, this will then affect their performance in the subject and students are able to learn better when chosen the appropriate activities based on their preferences (Yacizi, 2005 cited in Nor Hidayah, 2008).

Statement of Problem

Regardless on the focus previous researchers had given towards the importance of learning strategies, there are still cases where teachers and students themselves are unaware of the learning strategies available or how they can utilize these learning strategies.

Students who learn English under the Malaysian education system studies the second language in schools for 11 years are known to perform well on the pencil and paper test, however may fail in other areas of language skills. Research has proven to show that students with weak language skills would face difficulties in reading textbooks, communicating, debating and to respond in written form in both written test and examinations (Azizah, 2008) thus affecting students' overall academic achievement.

Unfortunately today, not many teachers especially in Malaysia are aware about the importance to understand learners' learning strategies. This result in the failure of students' proficiency may it be in the aspect of writing, reading, listening and even speaking skills. Not being able to understand learners' needs demotivates them in learning or acquiring a second or a foreign language. This is most probably caused by the clash of teaching styles with learners' learning preferences.

The students' success in their academic achievement is not only determined by learning strategies. They are also determined by self efficacy. The higher the level of their self efficacy, the more confident they are in executing a task. However, given that most universities uses English as a medium of instruction and the vast selection of reading text in the second language, students' confidence are automatically lowered as they find themselves not being proficient enough where they would find themselves needing to write reports, assignments and give presentations in the target language which affects their academic achievement.

Therefore, due to claims related on language proficiency and the impact it has on academic achievement, this study aims at investigating the types of language learning strategies used by the American Degree Programme students of INTEC, UiTM Shah Alam and to be able to get an insight on respondents' level of college self efficacy. These two variables will be then investigated further to identify its influences on respondents' academic achievement. Since the respondents are students who are in preparation for international education, this study will be insightful as it will discuss on the respondents' learning strategies and how they confident they are when living in a new environment.

Research Objectives

The objectives for the study are to examine the relationship between Language Learning Strategies and Self Efficacy on academic achievement among the American Degree Programme students of INTEC, UiTM Shah Alam. The research objectives include:

to examine the learning strategies used by the respondents.

to examine the respondents' level of self-efficacy.

to examine the level of academic achievement among the respondents.

to examine the relationship between learning strategies and self efficacy on academic achievement.

to determine the contribution of each variant of independent variables towards academic achievement.

Research Questions

What are the learning strategies used by the respondents?

What is the level of college self-efficacy among the respondents?

What is the level of academic achievement among the respondents?

What is the relationship between learning strategies and self efficacy on academic achievement?

What is the contribution of each variant of independent variable towards academic achievement?

Significance of Study

The findings of this study shows significant important it holds on learning strategies and self efficacy in relation to students' academic achievement. Since the respondents of this study are students' preparing for overseas education and will soon find themselves in a new environment, the findings of this study will be able to assist lecturers and policymakers in finding alternatives in enhancing both students' learning strategies and self efficacy.

Process of Teaching and Learning at tertiary level

The findings obtained in the result section will be able to enlighten both students and educators on students' learning strategies. The findings will allow lecturers to understand the types of learning strategies that are adopted by their students. By understanding this aspect, lecturers can teach and train students on learning strategies that matches well with students' learning styles and embrace the positive relationships found between learning strategies and academic achievement. Lecturers can also benefit by being able to design tasks with various learning skills that will enhance students' performance in their academic achievement as commented by Oxford and Nyikos (1993),

"When language content is integrated with strategies for making

incoming material comprehensible, memorable, and retrievable,

students report that they better understand how to learn".

(as cited in Olah, 2006)

The findings from this study will also shed some light on the areas of students' self efficacy which needs to be enhanced. Since the American Degree Programme students only spend a short while at INTEC Campus which is from duration of 1 to 2 years and may have just adjusted themselves with their current life in campus, they may feel unprepared and anxious to face a new environment in the United States. Thus, the findings in this study which shows the relationship between self efficacy and academic achievement can help lecturers to further enhance students' self belief and confidence regarding college life.

Policymakers and Administration

Understanding that each learner is unique, policymakers can design curriculum and courses which encompasses various learning strategies in the syllabuses. In terms of self efficacy, policymakers and administrators should also be aware on students' level of self efficacy thus organize activities or events that will be able to boost students' self efficacy especially regarding their adjustment towards college life. Future research can also be conducted as different batches of students may have different levels of self efficacy.

Limitations of Study

This study poses several limitations. First, since this study focuses on a quantitative aspect thus no triangulation is made for this study. In addition, the return rate of questionnaire surveys are less than the total of subjects as there are certain factors that could not be avoided, such as student absentee. Secondly, the instrumentation used in this study is based on a self-report survey where respondents reflect on themselves. Thus there is a possibility of biasness in feedback received from the respondents. Finally, the respondents selected for this study only comprises of students from the American Degree Programme; thus the findings obtained in this study cannot be generalized to the whole population of INTEC, UiTM Shah Alam.

Definitions of Terms

1.6.1 Academic Achievement

Students' academic performance in the educational setting through self perception, teachers' observation and cumulative grade point average.

(White, 2004)

1.6.2 Learning Strategies

"Specific actions taken by the learner to make the learning process easier, faster, more enjoyable, more self-directed, and more transferable to new situations"

(Oxford, 1990 cited in Richards & Lockhart, 1994)

Conscious thoughts and action taken by the learner in order to accomplish a learning goal.

(Chamot, 2004)

Techniques, approaches or actions that assist students in order to facilitate learning and "recall both linguistic and content area information".

(Wenden, 1987 cited in Gregesan et. al, 2001)

Learning strategy is defined as "an attempt to develop linguistic and sociolinguistic competence in the target language - to incorporate these into one's interlanguage competence".

(Tarone 1983, cited in Tabanlioglu, 2003)

1.6.3 Self Efficacy

One's belief of their own capabilities to "organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations".

(Bandura, 1994)

"Personal beliefs about one's capabilities to learn or perform at certain designed levels"

(Zimmerman, 1998 as cited in Bembenutty, 2009)

1.6.4 College Self Efficacy

One's belief or degree of confidence in adapting oneself to college environment or completing a task related to college life.

(Barry & Finney, 2007)

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