At-Risk Students' Response to Learning Mathematics and Science in a Second Language

By Arshad A.Samad, Rohani Ahmad Tarmizi, Sharifah Md Nor, Kamariah Abu Bakar, Wan Zah Wan Ali, Ramlah Hamzah, Abd. Rasid Jamian, Norhayat Marzuki, Siti Suria Salim and Othman Mohamed.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The Malaysian government recently reverted to the English language as the medium of instruction in its education system for important content subjects such as Mathematics and the Sciences. This policy decision was made in the midst of widespread concern over the perceived falling standards of English language proficiency after the country had used Malay, the native language of the majority Malays, as the medium of instruction for almost two decades. This year marks the first year high school students will sit for the national standardized examinations in English. Dissenters to this policy shift in the language of instruction fear that many will suffer as a result of this change. In this study, the self reports of academically high and low performing students are compared in terms of their ability to perform language related tasks in Malay and the English language. Using the Chi-square statistic, the results of the yes-no responses given by the students indicate that while high performing students report no major difficulties in either language, responses from the low performing students indicate otherwise. Additionally open-ended responses to learning Science and Mathematics in a second language are also qualitatively analysed in order to obtain a more comprehensive view of the challenges these students may face. Several implications based on these results are also discussed.

Keywords: Teaching English as a Second Language, At-Risk Students, Teaching and Learning

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp.341-348. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 658.409KB).

Dr. Arshad A.Samad

Lecturer, Faculty of Educational Studies, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia

Dr. Arshad Abd. Samad completed his high school education at the Malay College, Kuala Kangsar, Perak. He holds a doctoral degree from Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA which he received in 1999 and Master and Bachelor degrees from Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA. He was appointed as a lecturer with University Putra Malaysia in 1990 after serving as a teacher at the Raja Ali Secondary School in Kampung Batu in Kuala Lumpur from 1985. Currently he is a senior lecturer and serves as the Head of Department at the Department of Language and Humanities Education, Faculty of Educational Studies, Universiti Putra Malaysia. He is involved in research and publication in the field of Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), especially in grammar instruction, language acquisition and testing. He is also involved in various levels of consultancy work including programme evaluation of several local universities as well as for government and private agencies. Among his publications are Essentials of Language Testing for Malaysian Teachers (2002) dan Perspectives of Grammar in Education (2003).

Assoc. Prof. Rohani Ahmad Tarmizi

Head of Laboratory of Innovational Methods in Mathematics Education, Institute for Mathematical Research, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia

Dr. Sharifah Md Nor

Lecturer, Faculty of Educational Studies, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia

Dr. Kamariah Abu Bakar

Professor, Dept. Science and Technical Education, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia

Dr. Kamariah Abu Bakar currently is professor in science education at Faculty of Educational Studies, Universiti Putra Malaysia.

Wan Zah Wan Ali

Lecturer and research associate, Faculty of Educational Studies and Institute for Mathematical Research, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia

Dr. Wan Zah curenntly is associate professor in educational technology at Faculty of Educational Studies and associte researcher at Institute for Mathematical Research.

Dr. Ramlah Hamzah

Universiti Putra Malaysia, Selangor, Malaysia

Dr. Abd. Rasid Jamian

Universiti Putra Malaysia, Selangor, Malaysia

Norhayat Marzuki

Universiti Putra Malaysia, Selangor, Malaysia

Siti Suria Salim

Lecturer, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia

Conference Attended/Participated (2004) National Conference on Graduate Research in Educatian 2004 (GREDuc 2004). Writer& Presenter. Tittle: The Preparedness of Teacher towards The Implementation of Smart School Approach.11th July 2004. Resident Hotel Uniten Bangi, Selangor. Co writers: Prof.Sharifah Md. Nor Nasional Forum of The Family with Special Needs 2004. Participant.24th July. 2004.Malaya University Kuala Lumpur. National Seminar on Education Among At-Risk Children. Participant.19th February 2005.Country Height Sports Living Club, Kajang, Selangor Research (2004)(On-Going) Research Title Year Start Sponsor/Cost Status Teachers Craft Knowledge 2003 IRPA/RM250,000.00 Member Indicator as Complements to University Entrance Requirement 2003 IRPA/RM226,000.00 Member An Examination of Teaching Practices, Learning Needs and Climate of At-Risk Students Dec. 2003 IRPA/RM279, 000.00 Member

Dr. Othman Mohamed

Universiti Putra Malaysia, serdang, selangor, Malaysia


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