Thursday, October 01, 2009

Some data on my SSLW project (Part I)

Looking at the results of my survey "English Writing and Futher Study Abroad."

n = 76 Chinese university students, so this is by no means a huge sample. Also, note that these students are among the "best and brightest" in the entire country -- most of them either scored in the top 100 or so among millions of other students in their province taking the college entrance exam, or performed so well in high school that they were invited to join an honors program at a top university without taking the exam. These are the kinds of students who are almost inevitably going on to grad school.

75% are in their second year of university (although many of those identified this year as their "first" year, because they spent one year at a mainland university before beginning year 1 of a 3-year Bachelors' degree in Hong Kong).

25% currently attend one particular "top 3" university in China, and it is those 19 students I want to focus on in the follow-up interviews. 67% currently attend a university in Hong Kong, and the rest attend other universities in China.

Take a look at this (click for a closer look)

49% are seriously interested in attending grad school in North America, and 42% are "maybe" interested. Only 2 of the 76 students have no interest in studying in North America. (3 are already in grad school there.) Ambitions are high - 91% have some interest.

Surprisingly, 70% of these students had taken an English writing course in college or high school. I suspect this data is skewed by the high number of students in this special mainland-HK program. They are given lots of English instruction in preparation for entering an English-medium university. I don't think I want to emphasize this in my write-up; I will mention who the students are (as above), but this statistic doesn't really seem all that important. (Maybe it is?)

This is interesting, too - click for a closer view.
I asked the students what kind of writing they felt their English classes in the past had prepared them for. As I expected, the highest percentage (58.9%) said standardized English writing tests in China. I was kind of surprised that the next highest number (they could choose more than one) was English for "real-world" uses such as emails and letters -53.4% said that. Writing for foreign standardized tests wasn't too low (42.5%), and the lowest two were writing in English for academic purposes in university in either China or an English-speaking country. Only 34.2% of students felt their English classes had prepared them for the writing they need to do in Chinese universities, and only 32.9% felt prepared for writing in an English-medium university in an English-speaking country.

I'm now reading responses to the question:

In your opinion, is there a difference between the English writing you do (or have done) at your Chinese university and the English writing you would need to do in your future study at a North American University? What, if anything, is the difference?

We'll see what comes up!