Postgraduate Use of English at Dhurakij Pundit University/Findings
CHAPTER IV: FINDINGS & DISCUSSIONS
This chapter presents the findings of the research; it, then, presents the discussions of the research findings. The topics under this chapter are the following:
- General Information about Respondents
- Respondents’ Perceptions of Their Identity and the Thai Academic Community
- Respondents’ Perceived English Ability
- Respondents’ Perceived Level of English Use in Their Graduate Study
- Respondents’ Perceived Level of English Use Within Their Academic Community
- Respondents’ Perceived Problems in Their Use of English
- Respondents’ Perceived Coping Ability
- Respondents’ Perceived Support Needed from the University
- Results of the focus-group discussions
The questions to be discussed are:
- How did the post-graduate students perceive their own English ability?
- What were their conceptions of the Thai academics?
- Across the four skills, namely, listening, speaking, reading, and writing, what are the students’ levels of use with other members of the Thai academic community?
- What were their challenges or difficulties of English use?
- How well or effective could they cope with the problems?
- Were there any relationships between the students’ personal factors and their use of English, perceived English ability, and reported problems in language use?
- Was the support they receive from the university adequate?
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT RESPONDENTS[edit | edit source]
118 MBA students and 13 DBA students participated in this study; 59.50 percent (78) were female. The tables present the general information of the respondents.
Most students were between 26-30 years old. Only two of them were aged above 41 years old. The data also show the age difference between the two programs. As one might expect to see happen, MBA students were younger than DBA students.
- Occupational Background
|3||Employees of Private Organizations||46||35|
|4||State Enterprise Employees||12||9|
|5||Teaching Professional (Private)||4||3|
|6||Teaching Professional (Public)||5||4|
Forty six or 35 percent of them were employees of private organizations.
- Overseas Training Experience
In terms of their overseas training, it was found that their level was low.
Of the total respondents of 130, only 24 (19%) said they have experienced training in the foreign setting. The majority of them, 106 or 81%, said ‘NO’.
The number of the participants who have experienced English language training overseas was low too. Of the total number of respondents, only 5 of them (4%) said they have done so. The majority of them said they never had such the experience (125 or 96%).
RESPONDENTS’ PERCEPTIONS OF THEIR IDENTITY AND THE THAI ACADEMIC COMMUNITY[edit | edit source]
In an effort to find out the respondents' perception of the role of English within the Thai academic community, the open-ended question was asked, which was, ”What do you think are the qualifications of Thai academics in business administration field?”. Below are the results.
Inaddition to other qualifications such as knowledge and skills in management and theoretical knowledge, many of them also mentioned the English ability.
|Program||English Proficiency Was Mentioned||English Proficiency Was Not Mentioned||Total|
|MBA||31 (30%)||74 (70%)||105 (100%)|
|DBA||6 (55%)||5 (45%)||11 (100%)|
|Total||37 (32%)||79 (68%)||116 (100%)|
Based on the table above, it was found that only 31 MBA students (30%) mentioned English proficiency as a part of the qualifications of Thai academics. However, 6 DBA students or as high as 55 per cent mentioned it.
The next question asked in this section was whether or not they considered themselves academics in the field of business administration. They were also asked to provide a reason.
|Program||Member of the Academic Community||Not a Member||Total|
|DBA||6 (55%)||5 (45%)||11 (100%)|
Fifty-five percent (6) of the DBA students perceived themselves as Thai academics. For the MBA students, however, the percentage was much lower or at 30%.
The last question of this section asked them about their perception of themselves as part of the Thai academic community.
|Program||Member of the Academic Community||Not a Member||Total|
|MBA||58 (60%)||39 (40%)||97|
|DBA||7 (70%)||3 (30%)||10 (100%)|
|Total||65 (61%)||42 (39%)||107|
In response to the question “Do you consider yourself being part of the Thai academic community?” the majority of the student participants (61%) answered “YES.” Only 42 of them or 39 percent said "NO".
RESPONDENTS’ PERCEIVED ENGLISH ABILITY[edit | edit source]
The student participants were asked to assess their English proficiency, skill by skill, followed by their overall self-assessment; a Likert-Type scale, ranging from 1 (very weak) to 5 (excellent) was used. The responses were categorized; each range has the following meaning:
Results of English proficiency's self-assessment. (N = 131)
The above table shows the respondents’ rating of their English proficiency. In general, the respondents rated themselves as having a 'fair' level of proficiency.
Perceived Listening Ability Level Frequency Percent Excellent 2 1.5 Good 22 16.8 Fair 68 51.9 Weak 24 18.3 Very Weak 14 10.7 Total 130 99.2
In terms of the student participants’ listening ability, most of them (51.9) rated their listening ability as being ‘fair’. Up to 29 percent said that theirs was weak and very weak.
Perceived Speaking Ability
Level Frequency Percent Excellent 1 .8 Good 12 9.2 Fair 69 52.7 Weak 36 27.5 Very Weak 11 8.4 Total 129 98.5
Most of them rated their speaking ability as ‘fair’; only 10 percent (13) said their speaking ability was good and excellent.
Perceived Reading Ability Level Frequency Percent Excellent 5 3.8 Good 40 30.5 Fair 64 48.9 Weak 14 10.7 Very Weak 7 5.3 Total 130 99.2
Perceived Writing Ability Level Frequency Percent Excellent 2 1.5 Good 23 17.6 Fair 57 43.5 Weak 37 28.2 Very Weak 11 8.4 Total 130 99.2
For their writing ability, it was found that the majority of the respondents said theirs was ‘fair’.
The students were also asked to rank the four skills. The first was the important of skills for their education. Of the total of 123 students, 112 (91%) were MBA students; 11 (9%) were DBA students.
Skills Percent Listening 72 Speaking 68 Reading 63 Writing 49
Skills Percent Listening 78 Speaking 77 Reading 54 Writing 42
They also said that their weakest skill was
Program Weakest Skill Total Listening Speaking Reading Writing MBA 34 (30%) 43 (37%) 1 (1%) 38 (33%) 116 DBA 3 (25%) 1(9%) 8 (67%) 12 Total 37 (29%) 43 (34%) 2 (2%) 46 (36%) 128
For DBA students, 67 percent of them (8 out of 12) reported that their weakest skill was writing; 25 percent (3) said that it was the listening skill. For MBA students, the speaking skill was mentioned as their weakest (37%).
With regard to their reported best skill, it was found that:
Program Best Skill Total Listening Speaking Reading Writing MBA 25 16 61 (53%) 14 (12%) 116 DBA 2 2 7 (59%) 1 (9%) 12 Total 27 18 68 (54%) 15 (12%) 128
In sum, it was found that…
Male and Female: Not Sig.
SEX N Mean S.D Perceived English Ability Male 42 3.00 .79 Female 71 2.76 .76
RESPONDENTS’ USE OF ENGLISH IN THEIR GRADUATE STUDY[edit | edit source]
This aspect od English use was investigated by having the respondents answer the close-ended question: Please identify the extent of your use of English in your graduate study.
Five options were given for them to choose from: Never (0%), Occasionally (1-20%), Sometimes (21-50%), Often (51-80%), Always (81-100%).
The respondents’ answers were averaged, and the meanings of their score were interpreted based on the following criteria:
- Level of English Use in Graduate Study
Most of the respondents moderately used English in their graduate study (M = 3.00). Like other graduate students (e.g. the study by Prinyajarn and Wannaruk, 2008,), the subjects of this study have limited opportunities to use and practice English in their graduate study.
This finding was in line with what Prinyajarn and Wannaruk (2008) have pointed out that, for graduate students in science and technology, reading is their main concern. They need reading skills to read texts or related articles for their courses and research work.
- Level of English Use Within the Academic Community
- Level of English Use in the Workplace
RESPONDENTS’ PERCEIVED LEVEL OF ENGLISH USE WITHIN THEIR ACADEMIC COMMUNITY[edit | edit source]
The question to determine their English use within the academic community is: How often do you use English in your academic community? The results were as follows:
The mean of the 130 respondents who answered this question was 2.47, which was considered to be the use at the ‘low’ level. Only 13 per cent or 17 of them said they often or always used English in the community. The majority said they sometime or occasionally used it.
- The use of English in the community of the two programs: MBA and DBA, was found to be similar. In other words, their use was not significantly differ from one another's.
RESPONDENTS’ PERCEIVED DIFFICULTIES IN THEIR USE OF ENGLISH[edit | edit source]
In terms of their perceived difficulties in English use, the following findings were revealed:
Overall, the respondents had problems communicating in English; the level of difficulties was moderate. They difficulties spanded across the four macro-skills.
Moreover, it was also found that their perceived problems are positively correlated with each other. The correlations were found to be significant.
This confirms that the problems are across the four skills.
This is not sig. Program (N) Mean SD Sig Perceived Difficulties in English Use MBA (118) 3.28 .65 Not Sig
DBA (13) 3.38 .73
Both groups has similar problems using English (M = 3.28).
RESPONDENTS’ PERCEIVED COPING ABILITY[edit | edit source]
Another aspect of the analysis was to investigate their perceived coping ability, how well could they cope with the demand of English.
- Coping Ability
|Listening and Speaking||131||3.20||Moderate|
|Reading and Writing||131||3.30||Moderate|
It was found that their coping ability was at the moderate level (M=3.26). It was also found that MBA and DBA students did not differ in their coping ability.
|Coping Ability (Listening & Speaking)||MBA||118||3.19||.69|
|Coping Ability (Listening & Speaking)||DBA||13||3.55||.55|
|Coping (Reading & Writing)||MBA||118||3.28||.61|
|Coping (Reading & Writing)||DBA||13||3.44||.63|
Male and female sig at the .05 level
Construct Sex N Mean SD Sig Support Level Male 43 3.64 .73 .05 Female 78 4.02 .66 Coping Ability Male 43 3.43 .55 Not Sig Female 78 3.17 .64
In terms of their ability to cope with the demand of English ability and skills, male and female students did not differ in their perceptions. However, in terms of their support needed from the institution, female and male students differed, and the difference was significant at the .05 level of significance.
This difference is similar to a study by Hong (2007) who found that female Tibetan students were prefer dependent style of learning. This suggests that females need more support.
In terms of language learning strategies, Madeline and Oxford (1988) have reviewed the roles of gender in second language learning, pointing out that females tend to use more social learning strategies from males
RESPONDENTS’ PERCEIVED INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT[edit | edit source]
This construct was determined from their responses to the following items:
- I would like the university to help me develop my knowledge and English language skills.
- My English language skills and ability are adequate; I do not need help from the university.
- The university should try harder to help me improve my English language skills.
- My English language ability is adequate to support my study and work in Thailand.
- Overall, I have received adequate support to develop my language skills.
They were asked to identify their attitudes towards each of the items above, ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree.
Overall, they received the high level of support from the institution.
RESULTS FROM THE ROUNDTABLES[edit | edit source]
Two roundtables were conducted in August 2009, and the title of which was English for Graduate Study: What, Why, and How Much?
The first roundtable was conducted on 2 August 2009, participated by five MBA students, facilitated by the researcher. The second one was organized on 9 August 2009, participated by 4 DBA students, also, facilitated by the researcher.
- Summary of the Roundtables
Both graduate programs, MBA and DBA, were the Thai ones, the language of instruction was Thai, including their lecturers and supervisors. This fact might be the cause of the low level of English use. Both groups, however, mentioned that their ajarns (teachers or professors) required them to use the textbooks written in English. So reading was the important skills.
One MBA participant (MBA 1) said:
ในความเข้าใจนะค่ะ ภาษาอังกฤษในระดับบัณฑิตศึกษาเนี่ย ส่วนใหญ่จะเน้นทักษะทางด้านการอ่านมากกว่า เพราะว่าเท่าที่เรียนมาหนังสือหรือ textbook ที่เราใช้ส่วนใหญ่ที่อาจารย์เค้าใช้ก็จะเป็นภาษาอังกฤษ ถึงแม้ว่า การเรียนการสอนจะเป็นภาษาไทยแต่ว่า text จะเป็นภาษาอังกฤษ อาจารย์ก็จะอิงจากใน text ซะส่วนใหญ่ คิดว่าทักษะทางด้านอื่นที่สำคัญ สำหรับระดับบัณฑิตศึกษา เพราะทักษะอย่างอื่น อย่างการพูด การเขียนคงไม่ ได้ใช้เท่าไหร่
[My impression is that postgraduate English, mainly, is mainly about the use of reading skills. So far, the textbooks our ajarns (lecturers) have used are written in English. Even though, the instruction is in Thai, but the texts are in English. Ajarns use them as their references. Other skills such as speaking and reading are rarely used.]
For DBA 1, reading skills were very important for the study at the doctoral level:
ภาษาอังกฤษในระดับบัณฑิตศึกษาในความคิดของฉันนะค่ะ ก็คือคิดว่าเป็นการใช้ภาษาอังกฤษที่มีทักษะที่ดี ทั้ง การฟัง พูด อ่าน และเขียน ก็คือการเรียนระดับนี้ คิดว่าการอ่านเป็นสิ่งที่สำคุญที่สุดนะค่ะ เพราะว่าอย่างตอนนี้ที่ เรียนอยู่ DBA ค่อนข้างที่จะอ่าน Journal ค่อนข้างเยอะ ถ้าไม่มีทักษะการอ่านที่ดีนะค่ะ รวมถึงการเขียนที่ดี ก็ จะไม่สามารถที่จะเขียนงานวิจัยหรือว่ารายงานออกมาได้ดีนะค่ะ
[In my opinion, graduate-level English requires students to have skills in their use of English, across the four skills, listening, speaking, reading, and writing. I think at this level, reading skills are very important. As an DBA candidate, I have to read alot of articles from journals in English. Without good reading and writing skills, it would be difficult to produce good research reports or theses.]
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS[edit | edit source]
This is the summary of the findings. Use of Macro-Skills
|1||Use of Listening Skills with Other members of the Thai Academic Community||2.16/5.00||.67||Low|
|2||Use of Speaking Skills with Other members of the Thai Academic Community||1.91||.64||Very Low|
|3||Use of Reading Skills with Other members of the Thai Academic Community||2.58||.74||Moderate|
|4||Use of Writing Skills with Other members of the Thai Academic Community||2.12||.78||Low|
- In terms of their use of English skills (macro skills), it was found that the most used skills reported were the reading skills. This finding was not a surprise. The information from the two focus group seminars confirms this quantitative finding.
- The use of writing and speaking skills were found to rank lower. Again the findings were consistent with those from the focus group seminars.
Perceived Language Problems
|1||Problems in the Use of Listening Skills||3.25||.83||Moderate|
|2||Problems in the Use of Speaking Skills||3.35||.75||Moderate|
|3||Problems in the Use of Reading Skills||3.24||.71||Moderate|
|4||Problems in the Use of Writing Skills||3.31||.71||Moderate|
- The subjects said they had moderate level of language problems across the four macro-skills.
Perceived Language Coping Ability
The means was 3.26 with SD of .60. Their language-coping ability was moderate.
Perceived Support Needed from the University The mean was 3.87 (SD =.70). Their level of institutional support was high.