Identifying academicaly at-risk students in an English-as-a-Lingua-Franca university setting

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Harrington, M & Roche, T 2014, 'Identifying academicaly at-risk students in an English-as-a-Lingua-Franca university setting', Journal of English for Academic Purposes, vol. 15, pp. 37-47.

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This study examines the relationship between written academic English proficiency and academic achievement in an undergraduate English-medium university program in the Sultanate of Oman. The study aims to identify reliable measures for screening academically at-risk students in a time- and cost-effective manner. Three established measures of written English proficiency (academic writing, academic reading and recognition vocabulary) are examined as predictors of academic achievement as reflected in student grade-point average (GPA). Performance on the three tests by Year 1 (N = 174) Omani students in an English-as-a-Lingua-Franca (ELF) university program was correlated with their end of semester GPAs. The accuracy of the tests in classifying at-risk students was assessed with logit regression analyses and ROC curves using GPA cutscores. The best predictors of GPA were the academic writing and recognition vocabulary knowledge measures. The suitability of the latter as a screening tool in ELF higher-education settings is discussed. The study contributes to the growing interest in post-enrolment assessment as a practical means to ensure that admitted students have the linguistic resources needed to be successful academically.

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