Edith Cowan University

PART 1: Background [see Arkoudis’ project]:

1. 2009 – 2012: Implementation of a Post-entry English language assessment (PELA):

a) Trialled range of English language tests in 2nd year unit in Bachelor of Business. Stakeholders, including leadership team at both university and faculty levels, academics and students, gained rapid and informative feedback. All were supportive of ongoing trials. Trials revealed some issues with English Language Proficiency, especially among students with English as an additional language.

b) Opted for simple written task and applied across faculty.

c) Trialled two approaches, one in-course and the other during Orientation Week, and opted for integration of PELA within courses.

d) PELA trials lead to university-wide application of PELA and development of ELP Policy.

2. 2013 2015: Development and enactment of English Language Proficiency (ELP) Policy:

a) Current Policy, updated in 2016:

English Language Proficiency and Development

All graduates are required to demonstrate appropriate levels of English Language Proficiency (ELP). Courses are expected to provide students with the opportunities to identify, develop and maintain appropriate levels of ELP.

1. The minimum English standard requirement for admission into any course is prescribed in the English Standards Policy. 

2. ELP will be contextualised in all courses to enable the students to develop the ELP required within the discipline and throughout the course of study. 

3. Moderation and external benchmarking will be undertaken to ensure appropriate standards of ELP are set and maintained. 

4. Students will be made aware of the standards of ELP required of graduates in their course and units and the responsibility they have in ensuring their ELP meets these standards. 

5. ELP feedback, together with recommended actions for assistance, will be provided in all assessments involving written forms of communication using the ECU ELP Measure.

6. All undergraduate coursework courses will contain a prescribed unit wherein a specific assessment will be made as to whether a student has or has not demonstrated within that unit the attainment of the ECU minimum standard of English language proficiency using the ECU ELP Measure. In order to pass the prescribed unit, a student must demonstrate the ECU minimum standard of ELP.

7. All commencing students will be required to complete the ECU post-entry language assessment (PELA).

8. Students identified in the PELA with less than satisfactory ELP will be to undertake an English language proficiency support program

9. Professional development will be made available to all teaching staff to enable them to provide appropriate assessment of students’ ELP and appropriate feedback. 

10. ECU will provide sufficient ELP support for students requiring additional assistance. Students requiring additional assistance will be referred to the support services and the assistance will be made known to students throughout their course. 

11. An ELP Annual Report showing the PELA results and results from the ELP prescribed units will be provided to Academic Board.

3. 2014 – 2015: University-wide project updating requirements specified within the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF):

a) Course Learning Outcomes updated and requirements for development and assessment of English language and academic skills requirements revised.

b) As ELP Policy was already in place, integrating language and academic skills was driven at course level [LINK: AH and JA paper], ensuring standards required by professional bodies or industry are met.

PART 2: Current university-wide approach [see Harris’ paper]

1. Start of course: PELA – short written task completed by all students within five weeks of commencement of course

a) PELA completed by all incoming students. Most complete task in a 1st year unit (undergraduate and postgraduate; or 2nd year articulation unit) within first four weeks of enrolment and receive feedback within a week. Course and unit coordinators receive results within a week and all stakeholders receive raw results as well as full analysis of results by the middle of semester. Results are linked to Marks Recording System which allows rapid generation of results and analysis of various aspects.

b) Students who do not complete the task are followed up by the School’s Associate Dean Teaching and Learning and asked to complete the task at additional sessions run out of class time.

c) There are currently no sanctions for not completing the task.

d) Learning consultants are actively involved in ‘PELA units’ and integrate language and academic skills where necessary.

2. Throughout course: ECU ELP Measure

a) The ELP Measure, designed to give consistent feedback on all written work, is a basic rubric that is returned with all written work. As a result, students receive feedback on every written assessment throughout their studies. The feedback shows their performance against the ECU standard. The aim is to encourage students to take responsibility for developing their English language skills. This allows students to demonstrate progression.

b) Course coordinators are encouraged to use more in-depth rubrics to evaluate discipline-based requirements.

c) Professional development was conducted for all teaching staff when it was introduced in 2014 and is now part of Induction Training. As well as ensuring consistency in completing the Measure, the training is used to raise awareness as to how best to develop English language and academic skills.

3. Mid-course: Prescribed units in which ELP is assessed

a) Assessment of ELP takes place in a 2nd year unit, generally within an exam paper.

b) There are implications for not reaching minimum threshold standards within this assessment. If students do not meet minimum standards, they receive an ‘incomplete’ result for that unit. They are then required to successfully complete work that is set by the school or course. For example, in the Business School, students are required to complete a series of modules contextualised to the course, developed in-house using Articulate Storyline. Students can complete these either online or in small groups. Being trialled in 2016 for 2017 implementation.

c) Results are noted within Gradebook (within the Learning Management System Blackboard) but, at this stage, linking results and subsequent action is not automated. Changes to recording systems are required for full application.

4. Capstone experience:

a) The capstone unit includes all requirements for successful completion of the course. Oral and written skills are assessed, along with discipline-based requirements as set out in specific Course Learning Outcomes.

b) The achievement of the Course Learning Outcomes relating to communication remains the critical place in each course where the ELP capability is assessed and students held accountable to the standard set.

PART 3: Issues

1. The university needs IT systems in place to support full operation of the ELP Policy. At this stage, it is difficult to monitor compliance.

2. Staff require more professional development and this is being addressed at both course and university levels.

3. Use of ELP Measure needs to be monitored to ensure full compliance by staff

PART 4: High impact practices

1. Raising awareness and ensuring comprehensive support from all stakeholders: The PELA trial initially raised staff and student awareness and further implementation was driven by the university’s leadership team, as well as a number of teaching academics and students. The length of time taken to fully implement the policy may seem long, but the approach was always tempered by gaining as much support as possible from all stakeholders. Staff and stakeholders are very positive about this initiative and very supportive and helpful in the implementation measures.

2. Consistent feedback: The PELA within weeks of enrolment and the ELP Measure, which gives feedback on all written work, offers consistent feedback to students and ensures ELP is included overtly in all courses.

3. Strong policy: The ELP Policy includes implications for not meeting minimum threshold standards. This is crucial as students are not able to successfully complete their studies as sanctions are in place.

4. Support: The university added a number of Learning Consultants and many integrate skills within key core units [see Harris’ and Ashton’s paper]. Best practice in the provision of language and academic skills support was followed, with Learning Consultants working closely with specific disciplines. In addition, professional development is in place for all staff.

5. Importance of personnel: The PELA team is small but highly effective and much of the support has been accomplished through individual contacts and service.

Dr Anne Harris

Chair ELP Committee 2013-2015

Edith Cowan University