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Abdessattar Mahfoudhi & Prof John Everatt: Assessment of Literacy Difficulties in Bilingual College Students

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Assessment of Literacy Difficulties in Bilingual College Students

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Abdessattar Mahfoudhi & Prof John Everatt: Assessment of Literacy Difficulties in Bilingual College Students

  1. 1. Assessment of Literacy Difficulties in Bilingual College Students Abdessattar Mahfoudhi a, b & John Everatt c a Australian College of Kuwait b Center for Child Evaluation & Teaching, Kuwait c University of Canterbury, New Zealand ©Eaquals Eaquals International Conference | Madrid | 11-13 April 2019 #eaquals19madrid
  2. 2. Outline • Rationale • Definitions • Purpose of the Study • Methods • Results and Discussion • Implications for Testing and Teaching ©Eaquals #eaquals19madrid
  3. 3. Rationale • Serve Language Learners beyond the regular language foundational courses • Struggling L2 leaners are often considered low-achievers (one homogenous group) • Students with language-based learning difficulty, such as dyslexia need a special teaching approach • Need to identify them to better serve them (inclusive practices) ©Eaquals #eaquals19madrid
  4. 4. Literacy Difficulties in Bilingual and Multilingual learners • Definitions • Bilingual: In this study, we restrict our attention/definition to speakers of two languages and who are also to some varying degrees bi- literate ©Eaquals #eaquals19madrid
  5. 5. Literacy Difficulties in Bilingual and Multilingual learners • Definitions • Literacy difficulties: Difficulties in reading (word level, reading comprehension, spelling and related language skills, including phonological awareness, morphological awareness, syntactic awareness and vocabulary knowledge) • These cover the main reading difficulties : Word level, Reading Comprehension, and a mixture of both ©Eaquals #eaquals19madrid
  6. 6. Teasing out L2 delay and Literacy Learning Difficulty • L2 or a general language-based problem? • More difficult if the two languages are typologically different and have different orthographies ©Eaquals #eaquals19madrid
  7. 7. Teasing out L2 delay and Literacy Learning Difficulty • Assessment needs to include both languages (L1 is important) • History of language and literacy development in L1 ©Eaquals #eaquals19madrid
  8. 8. Purpose of the Study • Develop a bilingual battery of tests to assess college students’ needs in literacy to better serve them and provide a screener for literacy difficulties ©Eaquals #eaquals19madrid
  9. 9. The Context of this Study • Kuwait: Arabic is the main language of communication and the mother tongue of the majority of the College student population • Education: 2 types of schools : mainly in Arabic or mainly in English—2 main types of bilinguals/bi-literate: ©Eaquals #eaquals19madrid
  10. 10. The Context of this Study • Mainly literate in Arabic (including academic oral language) • Mainly literate in English (including academic oral language) • There is a small minority of balanced bilingual and bi-literate students ©Eaquals #eaquals19madrid
  11. 11. Method: Tests Included • Tests included based on research evidence of their importance in development of Arabic as a First Language and English as a First Language as well as English as a Second Language in Arabic speakers: • reading measures, • language measures, • and listening comprehension measures ©Eaquals #eaquals19madrid
  12. 12. Method: Tests Included • There is cross-linguistic evidence that the main causes of literacy difficulties (mainly dyslexia) are language-based skills (measures) and are manifested in both L1 and L2: • phonological processing, decoding, morphological and syntactic processing (Ganschow and Sparks, 2000) ©Eaquals #eaquals19madrid
  13. 13. Test Development and Standardization • Two batteries of tests were developed: one in Arabic and one in English • Piloted on a sample of the target population Foundation and Year 1 students in representative colleges in the country • Revised the tests based on results: deleted items that had low Item-Total Correlation ©Eaquals #eaquals19madrid
  14. 14. Test Development and Standardization • Reordered items based on difficulty • Deleted tests that had low reliability (alpha) • Administered the revised tests on a larger sample in the main universities in the country (in humanities, sciences and engineering schools) ©Eaquals #eaquals19madrid
  15. 15. Test Development and Standardization • Extracted norms (at this stage for Arabic as data for English are being collected) using Z scores ©Eaquals #eaquals19madrid
  16. 16. Results: Arabic Standardization Data items alpha N* Mean SD Semantic Reasoning 33 .72 465 17.19 4.63 Comprehension Fluency 50 .88 465 47.60 3.11 Spelling 25 .74 464 18.60 3.34 Non-Word Reading 22 .64 464 11.86 3.51 Syntactic Knowledge 24 .74 464 15.49 3.85 Morphological Awareness 28 .89 438 9.71 6.06 Orthographic Discrimination 50 .86 433 39.14 7.06 Lexical Decisions Words 75 .91 449 67.73 7.44 Lexical Decisions Non-Words 75 .95 449 57.29 13.44 N* refers to students who report No Problems in literacy or maths and who do not have a diagnosed LD as far as we know, but excludes those who report Low use of Arabic
  17. 17. Typical Vs. LD (Pilot Data) compared to Standardization Data items Controls (N=130) LD (N=26) t-test p-value Standard Data Semantic Reasoning 33 16.60 14.20 .01 17.19 Spelling 25 16.90 13.31 <.001 18.60 Non-Word Reading 22 10.42 9.33 .05 11.86 Syntactic Knowledge 24 14.56 12.35 .001 15.49 Morphological Awareness 28 8.78 3.31 <.001 9.71 Comprehension Fluency 50 46.52 45.46 .05 47.60 Orthographic Discrimination 50 40.15 34.54 <.001 39.14 Lexical Decisions Words/ Word Understanding 75 67.47 63.79 .05 67.73 Lexical Decisions Non-Words 75 57.48 42.81 <.001 57.29 Pilot data contrasting LD with non-LD students (most significant are shaded) – and standardisation means included for inspection
  18. 18. Typical Vs. LD (Pilot Data) compared to Standardization Data 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 Word Understanding Spelling Non-Word Reading Syntactic Knowledge Morphological Awareness Controls LD Stand
  19. 19. Typical Vs. LD (Pilot Data) compared to Standardization Data 20 30 40 50 60 70 Comprehension Fluency Orthographic Discrimination Lexical Decisions Words Lexical Decisions Non- Words Controls LD Stand
  20. 20. Results: Arabic Data • At risk profiles were those who had some tests between 1 and 2 SD below the mean compared to the typical students who did not report any history of LD in the questionnaire • Exemplars of risk profiles + recommendations for intervention
  21. 21. Arabic Data: At-Risk Profiles -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 ex1=High At-Risk
  22. 22. Arabic Data: At-Risk Profiles -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 ex2=Med At-Risk
  23. 23. Arabic Data: At-Risk Profiles -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 ex3=Low At-Risk
  24. 24. Arabic Data: At-Risk Profiles -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 ex4=Weakness
  25. 25. Results: English Pilot Data items alpha N Mean SD Word Understanding 50 .89 60 25.50 9.10 Comprehension Fluency 30 .89 60 23.10 5.68 Spelling 33 .87 60 21.50 6.10 Non-Word Reading 18 .72 60 10.95 3.49 Syntactic Knowledge 24 .83 60 13.43 4.89 Morphological Awareness 34 .91 55 23.13 7.74 Phonological Awareness 22 .71 60 14.92 3.80 Reading Comprehension 14 .66 58 4.98 2.86
  26. 26. Implications for Teaching • Better services: • In subjects taught in L2: accommodations, language support • In L2 classes (e.g. English for Academic Purposes): multi-sensory structured language teaching in groups or tutorials, explicit teaching of strategies (see Sparks & Miller, 2000 for second language; the project in the UK by Mortimore et al. 2012) ©Eaquals #eaquals19madrid
  27. 27. Implications for Testing • Better Assessment • Use the right tests depending on the needs and the background of the student • First bilingual battery : need more work to make good use of it ... ©Eaquals #eaquals19madrid
  28. 28. Thank you!
  29. 29. References • Ganschow, L. and Sparks, R. (2000). Reflections on Foreign Language Study for Students with Language Learning Problems: Research, Issues, and Challenges. Dyslexia, 6, 87-100. • Mortimore, T. et al. (2012). Dyslexia and Multilingualism: Identifying and supporting bilingual learners who might be at risk of developing SpLD/dyslexia. Research Project Report • Sparks, R. and Miller, K. (2000) Teaching a Foreign Language Using Multisensory Structured Language Techniques: Methodology and Research. Dyslexia 6, 124-132. ©Eaquals #eaquals19madrid

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