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Title: The PTE academic and outer circle students : assessing proficiency in English, ownership of English, and academic performance at UK universities
Author: Wilson, Roy
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2016
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This mixed methods study explores the relationship of an academic English language proficiency test - the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTEA) - to the academic performance of its test takers at university. The particular focus is on the English language proficiency and academic performance of students from the “outer circle” (Kachru, 1985), many of whom have an accompanying ownership of English (Norton, 1997, Widdowson, 1994; Higgins, 2003). The implications of this proficiency and ownership of English for admissions, test performance and academic performance, are explored in the two strands of the study. The first strand uses mixed methods including statistical analysis of a large data set of PTEA test scores; analysis of university admissions policy documents; and thematic analysis of interview and survey data. The second strand of the research uses interviews (tutorials) to investigate the interpretability of the test for four individuals from the outer circle (Anglophone West Africa), in particular, looking at what can be inferred from the PTEA score profiles about their English language proficiency at university. The strand investigates whether the test served any purpose for the evaluation of these four individuals’ English language proficiency. The study indicates that there are some statistically significant differences in the proficiency of test takers from the outer circle as compared to the expanding circle (as expressed through mean test scores) according to nationality sub-groups and L1s. Ownership of English is a theme manifested in the educational and social background of the survey and case study participants emerging from thematic analysis of the data. Regarding inferences from test scores, the PTEA score profiles for the four cases do, to some extent, match their actual experiences at university regarding linguistic difficulties encountered on their courses. The case study also reveals other important factors in academic performance which are related to language proficiency but are also part of the adjustment to university experienced by all students including acquisition of academic skills and academic literacy. The study makes a contribution to the study of World Englishes and language testing, in particular the legitimacy of the English of test takers from the outer circle and how they are viewed and processed in the admissions system to UK universities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council ; University of Warwick ; Pearson (Firm)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: LB Theory and practice of education ; PE English