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Frontiers of Education in China

ISSN 1673-341X (Print)
ISSN 1673-3533 (Online)
CN 11-5741/G4
Postal Subscription Code 80-979


, Volume 14 Issue 4

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Research article
Writing Proficiency in Preservice EFL Teachers:A Discourse-Analytic Study in the Chinese Mainland
Front. Educ. China. 2019, 14 (4): 517-550.
Abstract   PDF (623KB)

The study investigates writing proficiency in preservice English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers characterized by selected discourse features inherent in their writing performance. Eighty-one preservice EFL teachers from a key normal university in the Chinese mainland participated in the study. The discourse-analytic approach was adopted to provide evidence underlying teachers’ writing performance. The results suggest that 11 out of 19 features selected are informative of preservice EFL teachers’ writing performance in that they can successfully differentiate EFL teachers at various levels of proficiency. These findings have implications for the professional preparation and development of preservice EFL teachers and provide insight into the development of language assessment for this population.

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Readability Formula for Chinese as a Second Language: An Exploratory Study
SOH Kay Cheng
Front. Educ. China. 2019, 14 (4): 551-574.
Abstract   PDF (564KB)

Textbook writers, Chinese language teachers, and test designers need to ensure readability of the texts they use or intended to use. They often resort to “expert judgements” based on professional experience rather than apply objective measures. This happens because there is a lack of suitable readability formulas like those established for English. Moreover, in the Singaporean context where Chinese language is taught at a lower level (referred to as a Second Language or Mother Tongue Language), readability formulas developed for Chinese as a First Language for use in, for example, the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, are not suitable for use in Singapore (and other places where Chinese is learned as a heritage language). The present study made use of extant Chinese language textbooks as the source of data and created three readability formulas for Chinese as a Second Language. Predicted grade levels were then compared with the original grade levels of 100 selected texts at Primary 1 to Secondary 4 levels. The formula for the full text was found to be most effective when compared with the two for shorter versions of the texts. Prediction was more accurate when applied to the texts for Primary 1–6 students than to the texts for Secondary 1–4 students. The formula was found to be convenient to use as it entailed just three language features which could be easily hand-calculated, i.e., the number of Chinese characters, the number of words, and the average sentence length. Practical use and limitations of the formula are discussed.

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Development and Validation of an Instrument to Measure STEM Undergraduate Students’ Comprehensive Educational Process
ZHUANG Tengteng, CHEUNG Alan C. K., LAU Wilfred W. F., TANG Yipeng
Front. Educ. China. 2019, 14 (4): 575-611.
Abstract   PDF (444KB)

This study reports the development and validation of an instrument, “Undergraduate STEM Educational Process Questionnaire” (USEPQ) to assess the learning experiences of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-major undergraduates from the perspective of a conceptualized comprehensive STEM educational process framework that consists of key essentials such as course learning and instruction, educational environment, assessment methods, and unique STEM attributes. Exploration Factor Analysis and Confirmatory Factor Analysis performed on independent samples indicate that the finalized 9-factor, 41-item USEPQ possesses a stable factor structure and sound psychometric properties. The factors of the validated scale are Classroom Instruction of Courses, Support from Faculty Members, Alternative Assessment Methods, Cooperative Learning, Resources and Service, Academic Competition, Cross-discipline Features of Program Courses, Connectedness of Program Courses, and Examination Difficulty.

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Measuring Teacher Sense of Efficacy: Insights and Recommendations Concerning Scale Design and Data Analysis from Research with Preservice and Inservice Teachers in China
MA Kang, Robert TREVETHAN, LU Shuhong
Front. Educ. China. 2019, 14 (4): 612-686.
Abstract   PDF (839KB)

In this study, issues concerning the design of scales for measuring teacher sense of efficacy (TSE) are first identified with particular attention to the Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale (TSES). Psychometric issues concerning analysis and reporting of TSE data are subsequently identified. Recommendations are offered about all identified issues, and these recommendations are taken into account when obtaining and analyzing TSE data from Chinese mainland preservice and inservice teachers. Exploratory factor analyses yielded a single factor for both samples as well as for four subgroups within the inservice teacher sample. Results also provided insights about scale design as well as the TSES being limited for capturing the breadth of TSE. Suggestions are made for improvements in the assessment of TSE.

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5 articles