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The effects of a goal-oriented syllabus on college-bound English as a second language (ESL) students
Kauffman, Donna Carey
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The purpose of this study was to propose optimal syllabus component guidelines for college-preparatory English as a Second Language (ESL) courses. The procedural problem of this study was to analyze the effects of specificity of syllabus content on college-bound ESL student performance. The population of this study consisted of 25 students enrolled in a Low Intermediate writing class at a mid-sized university's English language institute. Thirteen students were randomly assigned to an experimental group and twelve students to a control group. The experimental group was four males and nine females with the average age of 22.8 years. Nationalities were Japanese (4), Korean (4), Bolivian (1), Moroccan (1), and Venezuelan (1). In the control group were two males and ten females with an average age of 21.81. Nationalities were Japanese (5), Korean (4), Ecuadorian (1), Jordanian (1), and Panamanian (1). Students in the experimental group were assigned a highly-specific CourseBuildingâ ¢ syllabus consisting of course goals, and performance objectives, student deliverables at the beginning of the Fall term. Students in the control group were given a non-specific Institute syllabus consisting of homework assignments and due dates. In addition to the independent variable of specificity of syllabus content, as illustrated by the CourseBuildingâ ¢ and Institute syllabi, three dependent variables were also examined. The first was student performance in ESL as measured by the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and class grades. The second was student and instructor perception of necessity and importance of syllabus components as measured by scores on the researcherdeveloped Syllabus Analysis Scale (SAS) and by structured interviews of students and instructors. The third dependent variable was student satisfaction with the course, as measured by the SAS and interviews. The study revealed the following statistically significant outcomes at the p<.05 level: that students in the experimental group felt that the course met their needs better than did the students in the control group; and that students in the experimental group reported using their syllabus less often than did the students in the control group. From non-significant findings and interview and class observation results, it was concluded that students desire a high degree of syllabus-component specificity. Data from the SAS' scale revealed that a combination CourseBuildingâ ¢/Institute syllabus best suited the needs of the students.
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