The integration of content and English in the teaching of information technology subjects at polytechnics and community colleges in Malaysia

Wan Omar, Wan Nor Aishah (2016) The integration of content and English in the teaching of information technology subjects at polytechnics and community colleges in Malaysia. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

This mixed-methods study investigates the teaching of Iinformation Technology (IT) subjects at polytechnics and community colleges in Malaysia as the policy for the medium of instruction for Science, Mathematics and Technical subjects at primary and seconday education sector changed from Bahasa Malaysia to English in 2003 and back to Bahasa Malaysia again in 2009. However, as polytechnics and community colleges are under the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE), they are guided by the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education) (2015). The higher learning institutions in Malaysia do not clearly define English or Bahasa Malaysia as the only medium of instruction due to factors such as internationalization and the needs to be able to produce globally competitive graduates. Due to these factors, the use of English or bilingualism at higher education sector becomes necessary. This research provides an insight into the transition period when the polytechnics and community colleges started receiving the first batch of students who had gone through ETeMS in 2008, and therefore, the lecturers were required to teach Technical subjects through English. The objectives of the study are to investigate the attitudes and motivation levels of the lecturers at polytechnics and community colleges in Malaysia with regards to the policy of teaching IT subjects through English, to examine the strategies the lecturers used to upgrade their English and to explore the strategies the lecturers used to teach their subjects through English.

The quantitative data were collected via a survey during the first phase of the study. 211 out of 265 IT lecturers from polytechnics and community colleges across Malaysia had responded to the survey. The data from the survey provided information regarding the demography of the population, their attitudes and motivation towards the teaching of content subjects through English, as well as the strategies that they used in order to improve their own English so that they could teach their students better. The survey also gathered information regarding the lecturers’ experiences and the strategies they used when they had to teach their students through English. The findings from the survey were used to categorize the lecturers according to their motivation levels and teaching practice. In order to obtain lessons from best practices, a group of lecturers representing positive disposition were selected and finally, seven lecturers managed to participate in the observation sessions. The qualitative phase consisted of observation sessions and in-depth exploration of the lecturers’ background and experiences as well as the views concerning the teaching of IT through English. The teaching practice and strategies were then grouped, interpreted and rationalized through research lenses, which include CLIL, Multimodal approach and good teaching practices.

The findings revealed that the majority of the lecturers had positive attitudes and moderate to high levels of motivation with regards to the policy of teaching IT subjects through English. The majority of the lecturers received little training to upgrade their English level, especially while in-service, and they were not self-driven to pursue the upgrading of English through their own initiatives. Learning to upgrade English was mainly obtained through incidental learning. For the teaching strategies, about half of the lecturers used only English for certain functions of teaching IT such as when giving instruction, advice, explanation and introduction or conclusion. Some other lecturers used code-mixing and translation when giving instruction, advice, explanation and introduction or conclusion. The majority of the lecturers also used simple English and English Technical terms, and they also had the freedom to adapt their teaching strategies. The majority of them did not teach English to make the students understand the lesson on IT. Teachers’ personality including years of experience play a role in effective teaching. Teachers with more years of experience were observed to be more able to conduct student-centred and dialogic interactive teaching compared to new teachers. Nevertheless, new teachers could also steer away from being teacher-centred while teaching if they had the initiatives to upgrade their knowledge and skills.

Finally, recommendations were made in order to improve current teaching practices so that both lecturers and students were able to gain benefits. This requires not only the lecturers to be able to embrace change but also the commitment from MoHE, the polytechnic and community college policy makers and administrators as well as the positive attitudes of the students and the public. With the improvements in the teaching practices, it is hoped that polytechnics and community colleges will be able to produce quality graduates that meet the demands of the industries in Malaysia and worldwide.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Hood, Phillip
Ellison, Linda
Coyle, Do
Keywords: content and language integrated learning (CLIL), teaching and learning of English, mixed-methods research approach, polytechnics, community colleges, Malaysia
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Faculties/Schools: UNMC Malaysia Campus > Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Education
Item ID: 31475
Depositing User: WAN OMAR, WAN NOR AISHAH
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2018 07:29
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2018 16:48
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/31475

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