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LINGUIST List 21.3709

Mon Sep 20 2010

Diss: Applied Ling: Douglas: 'Non-Native English Speaking Students ...'

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        1.    Scott Douglas, Non-Native English Speaking Students at University: Lexical richness and academic success

Message 1: Non-Native English Speaking Students at University: Lexical richness and academic success
Date: 18-Sep-2010
From: Scott Douglas <sdouglasucalgary.ca>
Subject: Non-Native English Speaking Students at University: Lexical richness and academic success
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Institution: University of Calgary
Program: Graduate Division of Educational Research
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2010

Author: Scott Roy Douglas

Dissertation Title: Non-Native English Speaking Students at University: Lexical
richness and academic success

Dissertation URL: https://dspace.ucalgary.ca/handle/1880/48195

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics


Dissertation Director(s):
Hetty Roessingh

Dissertation Abstract:

Increasing numbers of students in both the K-12 and Post-Secondary educational
systems in Alberta do not speak English as their first language. However,
immigrants face multiple challenges to taking full advantage of the educational
opportunities afforded by their new home. This study focuses on one period of
those educational opportunities, undergraduate university education, and one set
of challenges, vocabulary and academic writing. The main objective of this study
was to measure the lexical richness non-native English speaking (NNES) and
native English speaking (NS) undergraduate students bring with them to
university in terms of lexical breadth and depth of knowledge, and compare these
measures to eventual undergraduate academic outcomes. To carry this out, the
Effective Writing Test (EWT) was used to compile a corpus of novice academic
writing. The NNES students in the study were academically competent, as shown by
their Grade 12 math marks. Nevertheless, the results showed that NNES students
came to university with less robust measures of lexical richness compared to
their NS counterparts. While NNES students eventually graduated from university
in higher numbers, they were faced with diminished academic outcomes in terms of
Grade Point Averages, Length of Program, Courses Attempted and Not Earned, and
Academic Standing. Using hierarchical regression analysis, a line was traced
from the initial measures of lexical richness, through EWT, and on to the
academic outcomes. Measures of lexical richness strongly predicted performance
on the EWT, and EWT results predicted eventual academic outcomes. The conclusion
of this study is that lexical richness plays a strong role in general
undergraduate writing assessment, and university level writing competence plays
an important part in academic success.
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