Learning Strategies Of American Degree Programme Students English Language Essay

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CHAPTER 3

METHODOLOGY

Introduction

This chapter focuses on the methodologies being used to carry out the research. and explains on the research design used for this study, the population and also samples participating in this research, the types of instrumentation being used for data collection, the collection of data and finally the data analysis procedures.

3.1 The Research Design

This study is a correlational study which adopts a quantitative approach. This research is designed to investigate the types of learning strategies and students' college self efficacy in relation to their academic achievement by students' of the American Degree Programme of INTEC, UiTM. This study adopts and adapts two different questionnaires as instruments in collecting the data for the research. A research framework is presented as following:

Learning Strategies

Memory Strategies

Cognitive Strategies

Compensation

Strategies

Metacognitive

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Strategies

Affective Strategies

Social Strategies

College Self-Efficacy

Course Self Efficacy

Roommate Self Efficacy

Social Self Efficacy

Academic

Achievement

(CGPA)

Figure 3.1

Research Design Framework

This research design looks at the correlation between two or more variables and the relationship it has with one another. According to Fraenkel and Wallen (2008), correlational research is also known as 'associational research' which investigates the possibility of two or more variables (p. 238).

Frankael and Wallen (2008) further claims that correlational research are referred to as a part of descriptive research as it describes the relationships between each variables. However, the relationship described is fairly different from descriptions found in other types of research thus correlation coefficient is used to describe to what extent do these two or more variables relate to one another (p. 238). Hence, in this study correlation coefficient was used to identify predictors among language learning strategies and college self-efficacy that influences students' academic achievement.

Population and Samples

The population selected for this research consists of 319 students from the American Degree Programme of Intec, UiTM. INTEC is known for being apart of UiTM as history traces back to 1983 when UiTM was given the responsibility to prepare 'overseas bound students' with knowledge and skills that were required before continuing their education abroad. The International Education Centre or INTEC was formerly known as Pusat Pendidikan Persediaan (PPP). The national economic slowdown in 1997 forced the centre to only concentrate on two programmes which focused on the United States and Germany. In 2000, the centre changed its name to Overseas Preparatory Programme (OPP) or Program Persediaan Luar Negeri (PPLN). In November 2001, the centre had another change when it became known as the International Education Centre (INTEC). Up to date, there are 10 different programmes offered by the centre. These programmes are; American Degree Foundation Programme (ADFP) and American Credit Transfer Programme (ACTP), A-Level (United Kingdom), A-Level (Germany), A-Level (Medicine), Australian Matriculation Programme (AUSMAT), Russian Programme, Korean Programme, French Programme, Middle-East Programme (MEP) and Look East Policy Programme (Japanese In-Plant) (Intec, 2010). 

3.2.1 American Degree Foundation Programme (ADFP) & American Credit Transfer Programme (ACTP)

The American Degree Programme consists of two clusters which are the American Degree Foundation Programme (ADFP) and the American Credit Transfer Programme (ACTP). These two programmes were developed by the International Education Centre to ensure students' entry into high prestige American university by students' first year (ADFP) or the second year (ACTP).

The statistics obtained at the registrar office of INTEC showed that 319 students under the American Degree Programme. There were 144 students under the American Degree Foundation Programme (ADFP) and 175 students studying under the American Credit Transfer Programme (ACTP) (Intec, 2010).

Sampling

The samples are selected based on random sampling to enable each candidate of an equal chance in being selected in this study. Cluster random sampling selects groups rather than individuals as samples in a study and gives an advantage as it is less time consuming (Fraenkel & Wallen, 2008 p. 95). In this study, 285 students from the American Degree Programme at INTEC, Shah Alam were selected as respondents in this study.

These students were selected due to its total population which is bigger compared to the total population of other groups available. The students were also selected as these two groups were the only groups that fitted the requirements needed by the researcher where the groups chosen had to have Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) which is similar to the Malaysian GCPA system.

3.3 Instrumentation

3.3.1 Questionnaire

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Since this research's main objectives are to investigate learning strategies and college self efficacy, two different instruments were used for this research. Both instruments are well established and have been used widely by other researchers in the field of Language Learning and Self Efficacy. The questionnaire consisted of 3 sections. Section A looks at the demographic profile of the respondents whereas Section B looks at respondents' language learning strategies and finally section C focuses on the respondents' college self efficacy.

First, Oxford's 1990 Strategy Inventory Language Learning (SILL) was used to measure students' learning strategies. This inventory was chosen as it has been used widely and focuses on ESL/EFL learners. Oxford and Burry Stock (1995) reports the widely usage of the inventory in an estimation of 40-50 major studies which includes both dissertations and thesis (as cited in Olah, 2006). This is supported by Olah (2006) claiming that continuation use of SILL in various researches, along with its high degree of validity and reliability, makes it the only instrument to be used widely and is an accepted instrument available to access respondents' learning strategies. Olah futher commented one of the reasons SILL is recognized as the best way in discovering students' ESL learning strategies is that the instrument is a 'self assessment based questionnaire' where students will be able to reflect upon themselves thus giving honest feedback regarding ways used in learning. The breakdown of Oxford's SILL is shown below.

Table 3.1: Oxford's 1990 Strategy Inventory Language Learning (SILL).

Learning Strategies

Items

Memory Strategy

I think of new relationships between what I already know and the new things I learn in English

I use new English words in sentences so I can remember them.

I connect the sound of a new English word and an image or picture of the word to help me remember the word.

I remember a new English word by making a mental picture of a situation in which the word might be used.

I use rhymes to remember new English words.

I use flashcards to remember new English words.

I physically act out new English words.

I review English lessons often.

I remember new English words or phrases by remembering their location on the page, on the board, or on a street sign.

Cognitive Strategy

I say or write new English words several times.

I try to talk like native English speakers.

I practice the sounds of English.

I use English words I know in different ways.

I start conversations in English.

I watch English language TV shows spoken

in English or go to movies spoken in English.

I read for pleasure in English.

I write notes, messages, letters, or reports in English.

I first skim an English passage (read over the passage quickly) then go back and read carefully.

I look for words in my own language that are

similar to new words in English.

I try to find patterns in English.

I find the meaning of an English word by dividing it into parts that I understand.

I try not to translate word for word.

I make summaries of information that I hear or read in English.

Compensation Strategy

24. To understand unfamiliar English words, I

make guesses.

25. When I can't think of a word during a

conversation in English, I use gestures.

26. I make up new words if I don't know the right

ones in English.

27. I read English without looking up every new

word.

28. I try to guess what the other person will say

next in English.

29. If I can't think of an English word, I use a

word or a phrase that means the same thing.

Metacognitive Strategy

30. I try to find as many ways as I can to use my

English.

31. I notice my English mistakes and use that

information to help me better.

32. I pay attention when someone is speaking

English.

33. I try to find out how to be a better learner of

English.

34. I plan my schedule so I will have enough time

to study English.

35. I look for people I can talk to in English.

36. I look for opportunities to read as much as

possible in English.

37. I have clear goals for improving my English

skills.

38. I think about my progress in learning English.

Affective Strategy

39. I try to relax whenever I feel afraid of using

English.

40. I encourage myself to speak English even

when I am afraid of making mistakes.

41. I give myself a reward or a treat when I do

well in English.

42. I notice if I am tense or nervous when I am

studying or using English.

43. I write down my feelings in a language diary.

44. I talk to someone else about how I feel when I

am learning English.

Social Strategy

45. If I do not understand something in English, I

ask the other person to slow down or say it

again.

46. If I have the chance, I ask English speakers to

correct me when I talk.

47. I practice English with other students.

48. If I have the chance, I ask for help from

English speakers.

49. I ask questions in English.

50. I try to learn about the culture of English

speakers.

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The inventory is divided into six different constructs with fifty items measuring six different learning strategies. The constructs are memory strategies (9 items), cognitive strategies (14 items), compensation strategies (6 items), meta-cognitive strategies (9 items), affective strategies (6 items) and social strategies (6 items). All of these items are answered on a 5 likert-scale which ranges from 1 to 5. 1 is the most negative feedback which is 'never or almost never true of me' and 5 is most positive which is 'always or almost always true of me'.

The second inventory used in this research focused on accessing respondents' self efficacy. In this section, Solberg, O'Brian, Villareal, Kennel & Davis's (1993) inventory was adapted and adopt according to the local context. The questionnaire comprises 3 categories; Course Self Efficacy (7 items) which accesses respondents' belief in accomplishing tasks related to their course; Roommate Self Efficacy (4 items), which looks at respondents' belief in being able to associate well with their roommates and Social Self Efficacy (9 items), which measures respondents' belief in socializing with others in campus.

The items in the questionnaire is answered based on 10 point Likert-Scale with 1 being 'not confident at all' and 10 as 'extremely confident'. Similarly to SILL, the College Self Efficacy is also a self assessment based questionnaire where participants are able to reflect and give honest feedbacks regarding their believes on college life.

Table 3.2: College Self-Efficacy Inventory (CSEI) by Solberg, O'Brian, Villareal, Kennel & Davis (1993 as cited in Barry and Finney, 2007).

Domains

Items

Course Self-Efficacy

Manage time effectively.

Research a term paper.

Do well on your exams.

14. Take good class notes.

17. Understand your textbooks.

18. Keep up to date on your assignments/projects.

19. Write course papers.

Roommate Self-Efficacy

Divide chores with others you live with.

15. Get along with others you live with.

16. Divide space in your residence.

20. Socialize with others you live with.

Social Self-Efficacy

Make new friends at college.

3. Talk to university staff.

5. Ask a question in class.

6. Participate in class discussion.

7. Get a date when you want one.

10. Join a student organization.

11. Talk to your professors/lecturers.

12. Join an intramural sports team.

13. Ask a professor/lecturer a question.

Validity and Reliability

Though the questionnaires are well established and are widely used throughout the study of English language learning, the questionnaires had been adopted and adapt to fit the Malaysian context. In order to ensure that the questionnaires are valid and reliable, the Cronbach Alpha value of each questionnaire was calculated using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) 16.0. The values are shown as following.

Strategy Inventory Language Learning

Domains No of items Cronbach's Alpha

Memory Strategies 9 .70

Cognitive Strategies 14 .70

Compensation Strategies 6 .60

Metacognitive Strategies 9 .81

Affective Strategies 6 .60

Social Strategies 6 .72

College Self Efficacy

Domains No of items Cronbach's Alpha

Course Self Efficacy 7 .81

Roommate Self Efficacy 4 .65

Social Self Efficacy 9 .84

Table 3.3: Reliability of Items in Questionnaire

Thus, the reliability analysis carried out shows that most items in the questionnaires are of high reliability with a range from 0.7 to 0.9 with exception of Compensation and Affective Strategies for SILL and Roommate Self Efficacy for CSE with a range of .60 to .65. Eventhough three domains report of low Cronbach's Alpha value, it is still acceptable in research as many other researchers regard an alpha of .60 or higher as sufficient to justify using a scale (Bartee, Grandjean & Bieber, 2004).

In addition, Lowenthal (2001) reported that although a Cronbach's Alpha of .07 is considered as an acceptable value for psychometric constructs, the items' alpha coefficient can be lower if the construct has less than 10 items and there is 'evidence of validity and justified theoretical and practical reasoning' for the addition of the items (as cited in Siti Sabariah, Zalilah, Norlijah, Normah, Maznah, Laily, Zubaidah, Sham & Zabidi Azhar, 2006). This is further supported by Parmjit, Puzziawati and Teoh (2009) stating that once number of items are increased, the Cronbach's alpha increases will also increase (pg 228).

Data Collection

The data for this research was collected based on students' schedule focusing only on specific faculties due to size of population. The questionnaires were administered and collected by the researcher on the same day. Since two types of questionnaire will be used in gathering the data for the research and with the amount of questions for each questionnaire, the researcher allocated time at two different weeks in order to allow the samples to respond to the questionnaires.

The questionnaires were administered in two weeks considering the amount of classes visited throughout the collection of data. Since the American Degree Programme consisted of two different groups, ADFP and ACTP, the first week of data collection was used to collect data from the ADFP groups. The second week was then focused on collecting data from the ACTP groups. The researcher took time to assist respondents with items that were less understood and waited for the questionnaires to be returned in order to receive a high rate return.

Data Analysis Procedures

The data collected throughout this research will be analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software version 16.

Various analyses were used in order to obtain information for this study. Descriptive statistics and frequencies were used in order to find the mean and standard deviation for respondents' demographic profile and also on both types of learning strategies and college self-efficacy domains used by the respondents. Coefficient correlation was the used to analyze the relationships between each independent variable (language learning strategies and academic achievement) towards the dependable variable which is the respondents' academic achievement. Finally, multiple regression was used in order to analyze the contribution of each independent variable towards respondents' academic achievement.