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Are lecturers' and students' needs different? A needs analysis for reading tasks in Flemish higher education


Are lecturers' and students' needs different? A needs analysis for reading tasks in Flemish higher education. Elke Peters & Tine Van Houtven. Lessius University ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Are lecturers' and students' needs different? A needs analysis for reading tasks in Flemish higher education

Are lecturers' and students' needs different? A
needs analysis for reading tasks in Flemish
higher education
  • Elke Peters Tine Van Houtven
  • Lessius University College, Antwerp
  • tine.vanhoutven_at_lessius.e

  • Project description
  • Background
  • Aim and research questions
  • Methodology
  • Results and interpretation
  • Conclusion

  • Language plays a key role in education.
  • Mastery of academic language is crucial.
  • But research has shown that many students,
    non-native as well as native speakers of Dutch,
    struggle with academic language upon entering
    Flemish university colleges.
  • poor command of Dutch and of academic Dutch in
  • Projects centering around the theme of (L1)
    language support ?
  • Project focusing on text competence/reading

  • Aim of our project is to provide an answer to
    this problem by
  • Determining required level of text competence
  • Carrying out a descriptive study into first year
    students reading skills and text competence
  • Comparing students existent level of
    reading/text competence with the required level
  • developing reading materials for four courses in
    four different curricula
  • In order to facilitate first-year students
    chances of achieving academic success

  • How?
  • Not one-size-fits-all-approach
  • Necessity of a large scale needs analysis in four
    different curricula.
  • the language learning needs of particular groups
    of learners or individuals () are learner- or
    group-specific, () are tied to local contexts
    and may change over time (Van Avermaet Gysen,
    2006 19)
  • What?
  • NA findings used in design and development of
    task-based reading support materials.

Background Long (2005)
  • Long (2005)
  • a number of methodological issues that need to be
    considered in learner needs analysis in terms of
    sources, methods, and source x method
  • The aim should be to obtain reliable, valid, and
    usable data about the tasks students need to
    carry out to be successful.
  • Van Avermaet Gysen (2006)
  • Take into account both subjective and objective

Background Long (2005)
  • A task-based needs analysis
  • Possible sources for a needs analysis
  • Literature, learners, teachers/applied linguists,
    domain experts, and triangulation.
  • Needs analysis should involve insiders/domain
  • Use of multiple sources add breadth/depth to the
  • Possible methods for a needs analysis
  • intuitions, (un)structured interviews,
    questionnaires, observation, tests, diaries, role
    plays etc. .
  • Unstructured interviews.
  • Questionnaires ascertain existing views, not
    creating new views often over-rated.
  • Use of multiple methods of data collection
  • A needs analysis time-consuming

Aim and research questions
  • Which reading tasks do we need to develop for
    first year students from four different
  • First-year students of four different curricula
    university colleges ? clearly-defined domain
    academic language proficiency
  • What is the required level of text competence?
  • What is the actual of first year students text
  • Is there a difference between the two?
  • Practical RQ in order to develop the reading

Aim and research questions
  • Which source(s) or method(s) or source x
    method-combinations is/are the most reliable and
  • As compared in four case studies (four different
    curricula and university colleges)
  • Methodological/evaluative RQ in order to /-
    corroborate Longs hypotheses

  • Four sources
  • Four methods
  • Triangulation of sources and methods
  • Same methodology in four case studies

  • PTHO ( Profiel Taalvaardigheid Hoger Onderwijs
    (Language Proficiency Higher Education))
  • Description of tasks students need to be able to
    carry out at the start of their academic career
  • Determining expected level of text competence
  • Students from 4 different curricula
  • First-year students
  • Third-year students
  • Convenient and purposive sample
  • Lecturers from 4 different curricula ( domain
  • Language experts ? methodological advice

  • Literature survey
  • Reading test
  • Questionnaire
  • Interview
  • Triangulation by sources methods

Method 1 Reading test PTHO
  • Target group Dutch as a foreign language
  • Based on needs analysis ? typical tasks a student
    needs to be able to carry out
  • N 176 (L1 Dutch 165 L2 Dutch 9)
  • Part 1 multiple choice questions
  • Questions reading-the-lines level (Alderson,
    2000) or descriptive level (Bogaert et al., 2008)
  • Part 2 summary
  • Read three texts on same topic
  • Write one summary reading-between-the lines
    level (Alderson) or upper-textual level (Bogaert
    et al.)

Method 1 Reading test PTHO results
  • Part 1 (multiple choice questions) high scores
  • Ceiling effect
  • Part 2 (summary)
  • 1/3 of students problematic
  • Difficulty with information processing ?
    functional reading
  • Wrong/incomplete account of information
  • Large differences in terms of educational program
    in secundary education/preparatory training
  • General gt technical gt vocational secundary
  • Problem areas were identified vocabulary, text
    cohesion and synthesis
  • Answer to RQ1 in terms of problem areas for each

Method 2 Questionnaire
  • Questionnaire tapped into
  • Types of reading texts
  • Strategy use
  • Orientation and planning (e.g. reading
  • Monitoring reading process (e.g. looking up
    unknown words)
  • Evaluating reading process (e.g. how difficult do
    you find ? linked to activities of different
    levels of information processing)
  • Possible, useful reading tasks
  • Closed questions with pre-specified response
    categories 1 open question
  • Questionnaire was piloted

Method 2 Questionnaire - example
  • Arrange in order of difficulty.
  • Visualize the structure (e.g. highlighting,
  • Detect the topic sentence in a section
  • Interpret charts and diagrams
  • Attain a high level of comprehension
  • Make comparisons and connections
  • Represent information schematically
  • setting course or handbook

Method 2 Questionnaire - results
  • Sources/participants
  • Students N 455 ? what do you think/do?
  • Lecturers N 97 ? what do students do/think?
  • Tasks with increasing text competence
  • Reading tasks were perceived more difficult by
    lecturers compared to the students
  • Answer to RQ1 in terms of problem areas,
    students strategy use, and useful tasks for each

Method 3 Interview
  • Semi-structured interview
  • Partially based on results reading test
  • Partially based on data of questionnaire
  • One-hour audio-taped interviews with
  • Lecturers in four different curricula
  • Students in four different curricula
  • 1st and 3rd year students in one curriculum
  • Nine interviews in total
  • All interviews were transcribed

Method 3 Interview - results
  • Information obtained about
  • Target reading tasks and implementation methods
    were identified
  • Students modified students answers supplied in
    questionnaires ? more in line with lecturers
  • Students contribute to means analysis (they
    provide useful information on learning styles,
    likes and dislikes, etc.)

  • Four case studies

Discussion RQ1
  • Differences in target reading tasks and
    implementation methods between the four curricula
    ? needs vary greatly
  • one-size-fits-all approach doesnt work
  • NA prerequisite for effective design of support
  • taking into account specificities of each course
    and curriculum
  • beneficial for both students and lecturers
    motivation gain an insight into their attitudes
    (what they think and do) ? self-knowledge ?
    level of awareness ?
  • combining and balancing needs of students,
    lecturers and language experts
  • Students tended to overestimate themselves in the
    questionnaires but counterbalanced in the

Discussion RQ2
  • Evidence of four case studies
  • Use of several methods and sources ? obtain more
    reliable data
  • Sources triangulation of sources
  • Lecturers (domain experts)
  • Methods triangulation of methods
  • Interviews ? semi-structured interview
  • BUT only because of the results of the reading
    test and questionnaire
  • Interview alone would not have sufficed
  • Our results tend to corroborate Longs findings
    but with regard to the method there is an if.

Discussion RQ2
Methods -
reading test PTHO - Language Proficiency Higher Education ? relevant tasks small sample unfeasible to test all relevant tasks
questionnaires - large sample normalized, quantifiable data issues of validity overestimation of oneself pre-specified anwering categories ? limit variety of responses interpretation differences between lecturers and students
semi-structured interviews - thorough coverage of the matter - target reading tasks and methodologies were identified time-consuming
  • NA
  • time-consuming undertaking, but prerequisite for
    design of support materials
  • multiple sources and methods ? should be
    carefully sequenced
  • Sources
  • insiders/domain experts informative source
  • 1st year students cant be the sole or principal
    source because they lack experience and
    understanding of present/future needs
  • Methods
  • interviews ? yield important information, but
    only because results of test and questionnaires
    could be used
  • questionnaires ? effective for ascertaining
    existing beliefs, not for creating new views

  • Alderson, J.C. (2000). Assessing Reading.
    Cambridge Cambridge University Press
  • Bogaert, N., Devlieghere, J., Hacquebord, H.,
    Rijkers, J., Timmermans, S. Verhallen, M.
    (2008). Aan het werk! Adviezen ter verbetering
    van functionele leesvaardigheid in het onderwijs.
    Den Haag Nederlandse Taalunie  Den
  • Long, M. (Ed.) (2005). Second Language Needs
    Analysis. Cambridge Cambridge University Press
  • Profiel Taalvaardigheid Hoger Onderwijs van het
    Certificaat Nederlands als Vreemde Taal.
    Downloaded from http//
    0Onderwijs.pdf on September 5 2008
  • Van Avermaet, P. Gysen, S. (2006). From needs
    to tasks Language learning needs in a task-based
    approach. In K. Van den Branden (Ed.), Task-Based
    Language Education (pp.17-46). Cambridge
    Cambridge University Press

  • OOF-comittee of the Association K.U.Leuven
  • Projectpartners
  • Katholieke Hogeschool Limburg, Katholieke
    Hogeschool Kempen, Katholieke Universiteit
    Leuven, Katholieke Hogeschool Leuven, GroepT,
    KATHO, Katholieke Hogeschool Mechelen,Katholieke
    Hogeschool Brugge-Oostende, Katholieke Hogeschool
    Sint-Lieven, Hogeschool Universiteit Brussel
  • If you have any questions, you can always send us
    an e-mail