Les facteurs affectant les taux de réussite des cours d’anglais et de sciences humaines des étudiants dans les programmes de formation technique
Robinson MacLean, Louise
A large percentage of Vanier College's technology students do not attain their College degrees within the scheduled three years of their program. A closer investigation of the problem revealed that in many of these cases these students had completed all of their program professional courses but they had not completed all of the required English and/or Humanities courses. Fortunately, most of these students do extend their stay at the college for the one or more semesters required for graduation, although some choose to go on into the workforce without returning to complete the missing English and/or Humanities and without their College Degrees. The purpose of this research was to discover if there was any significant measure of association between a student's family linguistic background, family cultural background, high school average, and/or College English Placement Test results and his or her likelihood of succeeding in his or her English and/or Humanities courses within the scheduled three years of the program. Because of both demographic differences between 'hard' and 'soft' technologies, including student population, more specifically gender ratios and student average ages in specific programs; and program differences, including program writing requirements and types of practical skill activities required; in order to have a more uniform sample, the research was limited to the hard technologies where students work hands-on with hardware and/or computers and tend to have overall low research and writing requirements. Based on a review of current literature and observations made in one of the hard technology programs at Vanier College, eight research questions were developed. These questions were designed to examine different aspects of success in the English and Humanities courses such as failure and completion rates and the number of courses remaining after the end of the fifth semester and as well examine how the students assessed their ability to communicate in English. The eight research questions were broken down into a total of 54 hypotheses. The high number of hypotheses was required to address a total of seven independent variables: primary home language, high school language of instruction, student's place of birth (Canada, Not-Canada), student's parents' place of birth (Both-born-in-Canada, Not-both-born-in-Canada), high school averages and English placement level (as a result of the College English Entry Test); and eleven dependent variables: number of English completed, number of English failed, whether all English were completed by the end of the 5th semester (yes, no), number of Humanities courses completed, number of Humanities courses failed, whether all the Humanities courses were completed by the end of the 5th semester (yes, no), the total number of English and Humanities courses left, and the students' assessments of their ability to speak, read and write in English. The data required to address the hypotheses were collected from two sources, from the students themselves and from the College. Fifth and sixth semester students from Building Engineering Systems, Computer and Digital Systems, Computer Science and Industrial Electronics Technology Programs were surveyed to collect personal information including family cultural and linguistic history and current language usages, high school language of instruction, perceived fluency in speaking, reading and writing in English and perceived difficulty in completing English and Humanities courses. The College was able to provide current academic information on each of the students, including copies of college program planners and transcripts, and high school transcripts for students who attended a high school in Quebec. Quantitative analyses were done on the data using the SPSS statistical analysis program. Of the fifty-four hypotheses analysed, in fourteen cases the results supported the research hypotheses, in the forty other cases the null hypotheses had to be accepted. One of the findings was that there was a strong significant association between a student's primary home language and place of birth and his or her perception of his or her ability to communicate in English (speak, read, and write) signifying that both students whose primary home language was not English and students who were not born in Canada, considered themselves, on average, to be weaker in these skills than did students whose primary home language was English. Although this finding was noteworthy, the two most significant findings were the association found between a student's English entry placement level and the number of English courses failed and the association between the parents' place of birth and the student's likelihood of succeeding in both his or her English and Humanities courses. According to the research results, the mean number of English courses failed, on average, by students placed in the lowest entry level of College English was significantly different from the number of English courses failed by students placed in any of the other entry level English courses. In this sample students who were placed in the lowest entry level of College English failed, on average, at least three times as many English courses as those placed in any of the other English entry level courses. These results are significant enough that they will be brought to the attention of the appropriate College administration. The results of this research also appeared to indicate that the most significant determining factor in a student's likelihood of completing his or her English and Humanities courses is his or her parents' place of birth (both-born-in-Canada or not-both-born-in-Canada). Students who had at least one parent who was not born in Canada, would, on average, fail a significantly higher number of English courses, be significantly more likely to still have at least one English course left to complete by the end of the 5th semester, fail a significantly higher number of Humanities courses, be significantly more likely to still have at least one Humanities course to complete by the end of the 5th semester and have significantly more combined English and Humanities courses to complete at the end of their 5th semester than students with both parents born in Canada. This strong association between students' parents' place of birth and their likelihood of succeeding in their English and Humanities courses within the three years of their program appears to indicate that acculturation may be a more significant factor than either language or high school averages, for which no significant association was found for any of the English and Humanities related dependent variables. Although the sample size for this research was only 60 students and more research needs to be conducted in this area, to see if these results are supported with other groups within the College, these results are still significant. If the College can identify, at admission, the students who will be more likely to have difficulty in completing their English and Humanities courses, the College will now have the opportunity to intercede during or before the first semester, and offer these students the support they require in order to increase their chances of success in their education, whether it be classes or courses designed to meet their specific needs, special mentoring, tutoring or other forms of support. With the necessary support, the identified students will have a greater opportunity of successfully completing their programs within the scheduled three years, while at the same time the College will have improved its capacity to meeting the needs of its students.
- Éducation – Essais