There are a number of postgraduate students in the department studying for PhD and MPhil degrees in various areas of education.
Building and Validating a Conversational Entrainment Methodology to Objectively Quantify & Diagnose Sources of Social Communication Deficits in Children with Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Conversational entrainment is the subconscious coordination of communicative actions such as speech rate, speech rhythm between conversational partners. Entrained behaviour is crucial for conversational success. Past studies showed that poor entrainment skills cause social-interaction problems in adults with neurological disorders but the impact of poor entrainment on children with neurodevelopmental disorders is largely unknown. In the present study, we will compare the process of entrainment in adult-child interaction of typically developing children and children with neurodevelopmental disorders through a semi-structured conversational task. Result from the study help us to develop an entrainment metric to diagnose social communication deficits in children with neurodevelopmental disorders.
Exploring the relationship between teachers’ emotional intelligence and students’ language learning.Teaching involves great emotional labour as teachers navigate the emotional intricacies and what we know is emotional intricacies can come in three parts - teacher, student, and teacher-student. Teachers and students are intertwined in this bidirectional relationship where their actions and decisions can create a feedback loop which affects teacher-student relationships, classroom environment and dynamics, and student outcomes. However, existing literature that investigates this relationship has been scarce and the results were mostly mixed and inconclusive. Therefore, my research aims to investigate the relationship between teachers’ emotional intelligence and students’ academic achievement and/or language learning in the Malaysian secondary school context. This study will focus on unfolding this relationship further with hopes of discovering factors that support teachers and students' emotional well-being in Malaysia.
Supervisors: Dr Ashely Ng Yoon Mooi, Dr Michael Hall and the late Professor Ganakumaran Subramaniam Research topic: An investigation of education policy formulation and implementation: A case study of international schools in Sri Lanka. As a response for the legitimate concern of limited scope of research on international schools and to address the gap on the study of educational policy, this study has chosen to focus on the investigation of policy formulation and implementation in international schools . The purpose of the study is to examine the formulation and implementation of policies in international schools in Sri Lanka. From this perspective this case study serves the following goals: it provides data about policy formulation and implementation processes in international schools in Sri Lanka, about the actors’ involvement in effective policy implementation, what happens when policy enters the varied enactment environments. The role of policy actors within their contexts and the relationship between policy and practice.
Supervisors: Dr Csaba Z Szabo and Dr Jessica Price Research topic: Evaluating a Cognate List between English and Bahasa Malaysia, Mandarin, and Tamil to Support Teaching through the Medium of English. Vocabulary is an essential component of language acquisition. Despite the significance attached alongside studies suggesting that learners’ first language helps them to make important linguistic, lexical and conceptual connections between their more proficient languages and English, the ways to bolster vocabulary teaching and learning are often overlooked. Hence, this research aims to examine the quantity and quality of cognates between the Malaysian vernaculars and the 10,000 most frequent words of English. This is a controlled experimental study that utilises reaction time and eye-tracking technology to understand whether cognates are recognised by learners faster and more accurately. It is hoped that this research will contribute to theory-building in the Malaysian context.
Supervisors: Dr Lee Kean Wah and Dr Michael Hall Research topic: (CO)Construction of Global Citizenship Education in English Language Teaching Curriculum in Vietnam: A Critical Analysis English language teaching (ELT) curriculum has been prioritised in varied non-Western contexts as a major space to foster Global Citizenship Education (GCE), and global ELT textbooks have embraced global dimensions as the content carrier. However, it remains unclear how the major actors of ELT curriculum in non-Western contexts perceive and practice these GCE dimensions in the local discursive field. Therefore, this study aims to investigate how GCE is constructed in a global ELT textbook and how teachers and students in Vietnam co-construct this model. This study employs qualitative case study design and multiple data collection methods, including textbook analysis, interviews, and observations. Results of this study are expected to contribute to the body of GCE knowledge and call for transformations in ELT pedagogies and teacher training.
Supervisors: Dr Csaba Szabo and Dr Barry Lee Reynolds Research topic: Exploring the predictive and concurrent validity of the PTE-A for academic achievement: a dual-site study. Officially introduced in 2009, The Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE-A)’s results are increasingly recognised as the language entry requirement for international students to access their tertiary studies in universities and institutions of higher education (HE) where English is the medium of instruction. Therefore, this research project aims to examine:
Findings from this study are expected to contribute to further substantiate the importance of general academic English language proficiency in the case of students studying in English medium HE institutions, evaluate the effectiveness of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses from a language proficiency perspective and more significantly expand knowledge and empirical evidence concerning the correlations between the receptive vocabulary size of students and the four language skills and the vocabulary section of the PTE-A.
Supervisors: Dr Wei Keong Too and Dr Csaba Z Szabo Research topic: An empirical study of verifying the effectiveness of game video on Chinese ESL learners.My research will focus on the influence of "computer gameplay video watching" on second language acquisition, and whether the influence of the media has a more efficient and flexible way on learners' learning results. This study will review the process of computer gameplay video production, demonstrate the potential of game video, and argue the possibility of introducing this media into second language learning. According to some studies about computer games, computer games have an effective impact on second language acquisition. So if the content of computer games is transferred to the gaming video, does this positive effect still exist? This project adopts the mixed method in research design, combines the questionnaire, survey, and test results, use specific standards to recruit participants, uses data analysis software and empirical survey to obtain reliable research results. This study aims to explore the feasibility of gaming video as a language aid tool. The purpose of my paper is to explore whether gaming video can guide learners to achieve better language acquisition.
Measuring student and staff expectation toward the “international” quality of education at an International Branch Campus (IBC).Education is being internationalised and universities offering international education are preferred by students who can afford. However, what “international education” is differs between and within students and teaching staff, as documented in the literature. This gap is intensified in international branch campuses (IBC). My study looks at how students and staff at an IBC mediate their expectations of what international education should be. Mixed-methods data will be collected over several stages. This study hopes to bridge this gap between students, teaching staff, and the university. As a consequence, student dropouts can be kept to a minimum while increasing staff retention and job satisfaction.
Teachers’ Perspectives on the Impact of Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment Using Project Based Learning (PBL) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to Enhance the Academic and Social Outcomes of Students with Diverse Needs.There is a prominent interest in the current educational settings to investigate the impact of adopting new learning approaches on raising the achievement and full participation of learners with diverse needs. PBL & UDL are considered among the evidence-based 21st century learning approaches that are notably used in many mainstream classrooms nowadays. However, evidence for their effectiveness to enhance inclusive education for students with diverse needs is still limited. More research is needed to identify the most effective inclusive practices that can be adopted at both school and classroom levels to enhance the academic and social outcomes of students with diverse needs. This study aims to bridge the existing gap in the current research through exploring teachers’ perspectives (Syrian & Saudi Arabian Contexts) towards the impact of using PBL and UDL in their diverse classrooms and identifying the main factors that can facilitate the implementation process. It will also shed the light on any significant changes in teachers’ attitudes and willingness towards inclusive education after participating in a professional development training program to address the challenges they might encounter when integrating PBL and UDL. The results of the quantitative (Questionnaires) and the qualitative (Interviews, Portfolios & Classroom Observations) methods that will be used in this study will contribute to providing school leaders and policy makers more understanding of the impact of using PBL and UDL in enhancing good quality inclusive education for all learners.
Schools as Learning Organisations: Principals’ PerceptionsIn order to equip students with 21st century skills, many countries have undertaken education reforms. However, scholars claimed that without altering behaviours and beliefs, education reform efforts are unable to meet its goals. Therefore, they propose the concept of schools as learning organisations for better school reform. On the other hand, some researchers emphasise the importance of considering the structural and cultural aspects in its implementation in Asian countries. My research examines the applicability of this concept in Indonesian schooling context from the perspectives of school leaders. Sequential mixed-method design will be used in this study. Findings provide recommendations for policy makers and principals in Indonesia regarding the development of schools as learning organisations.
Leadership roles of principals in international secondary schools: Evidence from Malaysia.The growth of international schools in Malaysia has been significant and profound in recent years. With this increase in the number of international schools, a corresponding increase in the number of principals to lead these schools are required. Therefore, by understanding the leadership roles of principals in international schools in Malaysia, future principals intending to work in the international schools in Malaysia would have a better understanding of what is expected of them. Current and future international schools would also benefit from the findings as a match in the expectations would more likely extend the average tenure of an international school principal. Mixed Methods, using a sequential design comprising of two stages, was adopted. An electronic questionnaire survey was sent to all international school principals in Malaysia, followed by interviews with participants from three selected schools.
Supervisors: Dr Anne Goodith White and Dr Wong Tze Peng Research topic: Developing a taxonomic framework for creativity Creativity is a core skill necessary in the context of Industrial Revolution 4.0 and 21st century education. However, the mismatch in the area of creativity between higher education graduates and market demands has been extensively reported. A gap in the effort to promote creativity is the result of a lack of understanding of the phenomena and the absence of a pedagogical framework that may be used to support the development of creativity in higher education. My research explores the development of a taxonomic framework for creativity by using a multiphase, mixed-methods design. Data in this research is collected through the use of questionnaire, interviews, a series of creativity tasks and stimulated recalls. It is hoped that the taxonomic framework developed as a result of this research may be used for teaching, learning and assessment, in a way that may assist in designing curriculum and learning materials, as well as informing teaching methodology in higher education.
Supervisors: Dr Anne Goodith White and Dr Cynthia Yolanda Doss Research topic: Critical success factors in learning English pronunciation: A look through the lens of the learner.My project looks into the ways in which English pronunciation is being learnt in Vietnam, examining factors that may affect success in learning, ranging from motivation, attitudes, identity, learning skills and strategies to methodology, language models, learning goals, instructional contents and teaching techniques and activities. More importantly, it seeks insightful understanding of successful approaches to L2 pronunciation learning. All of these issues are explored through the eyes of the learner. A mixed method research design was employed, integrating questionnaire surveys and in-depth interviews, and the participants were selected using both human raters and a computer-aided rating scheme. This research is intended to disclose to L2 pronunciation researchers and teachers how learners perceive the available instruction and which strategies or techniques they prefer to use for learning. As a consequence, teachers can be more assured of the instruction they provide while learners can be better informed of useful measures they may adopt for their independent study as well as for higher achievement.
Supervisor: Dr Wong Tze Peng Research topic: The effects of a parent-mediated joint attention based early language intervention on children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) of Malay heritage in Malaysia.In early language intervention, parental involvement is important to help young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) establish joint attention (JA). However, parental beliefs and practices in establishing JA and participating in interventions can vary across cultures. This study aims to understand the effects of a parent-mediated JA-based language intervention on the social-communication development of preschool children with ASD of Malay heritage in Malaysia. Using a randomised control trial the effects of the Malay translated Hanen More Than Words (M-HMTW) programme are compared to a conventional one-to-one language intervention. Pre- and post-intervention data collected included the children’s JA, vocabulary, and early social-communication skills, as well as the maternal cultural perceptions. Findings provide implications for the feasibility of parent-mediated interventions in Malaysia.
Supervisors: Prof Ganakumaran Subramaniam and Dr Lucy Bailey Research topic: Behavioural and psychological indicators for the influence of teacher personality on communication apprehension among ESL learners. Communication Apprehension (CA) has been pointed out as one of the negative precursors that hinder language learners to acquire English Language. My research looks at CA of ESL learners in Malaysian primary school students during student and teacher interaction and the influences of personality types on the overall CA of these learners. primary. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods will be used in my research. Learners’ levels of CA will be identified through interviews and questionnaires. In order to gain a deeper understanding of the students’ CA, the communication tasks between teacher and student will be video recorded for behavioural observation using a mobile eye tracker. The finding of this study is hoped to provide insights of ESL learners’ CA in diverse classrooms and contribute towards the development of fundamental understandings of CA from a behavioural and psychological perspective.
Supervisor: Associate Prof. Dr Ashley Ng Yoon Mooi, UNNC Research topic: Early-Career Teacher Leadership Development The advocacy of teacher leadership bears the premise that the teacher leadership serves as a catalyst to promote teacher professionalism, school effectiveness, and student performance. However, the actual operationalisation of teacher leadership is contextual. Therefore, this research aims to investigate early-career teacher leadership development in public schools of northwest China, Gansu province. Conceptualised on the basis of theoretical foundation of leadership development model, this study specifically examines the school culture, leadership readiness, leading strategies and influential factors that facilitate or inhibit early-career teacher leadership development in China, with an explanatory sequential mixed-methods design.
An Investigation into the Role and Function of Three Refugee Learning Centres in Malaysia.Years may be spent in Malaysia for refugees in transition as they await to be resettled. In the meantime, to support young representative from refugee communities, community schools or learning centres are established, that act independently of any government oversight. This study used a multi-sited, critical ethnography, data collection techniques such as interviews, observations and a reflexive journal, and a two-layer inductive, deductive analysis to investigate the role and function of three refugee learning centres. Using a series of analytical lenses, three key functions were identified: (1) a place for the protection from symbolic and realistic threats, (2) a place for the facilitation of an imagined community for the construction of identity through language and faith, and 3) a place for acculturation. Each learning centre in this study is a complex ecosystem that plays a vital role in the lives of the communities they serve, and findings from this study will serve to provide a better understanding of why some minority or marginalised communities around the world seek to create schooling that more aligns with their own values.
Voices from the Vietnamese context: Flipped classroom model in an undergraduate Translation course. Taking cognisance of challenges of 21st century learning and the ubiquitous technologies available, a course applying the flipped classroom model with a detailed combination of in-class and out-of-class activities will be utilised to teach a Vietnamese-English Translation module. The project aims to:
(1) find out the effects of this combination towards improving learners’ academic achievements, (2) investigate learners’ attitudes towards this suggested model, and (3) explore challenges faced by Vietnamese learners from the perspective of Activity Theory.
About 40 English-majored junior students at a university in Vietnam will participate in the study. Both quantitative and qualitative data will be collected through questionnaires, pre/post - tests comparison and semi-structured interviews to ensure the reliability as well as the validity of the results. Analysis of these data could provide an in-depth insight into how to apply the flipped classroom model in translation education with a detailed instructional framework which is culturally appropriate and contextually relevant in the performance-oriented Vietnamese educational system.
Measuring Agile transformation in education: a culture-led, enhanced, comprehensive and flexible maturity model. The digital economy is driving technology-enhanced learning methods in formal education. Research has mapped how Agile software development models can be applied to discrete processes in an education setting, but has yet to outline a method through which entire education institutions can incorporate a flexible, non-linear, incremental framework for an Agile transformation. This study proposes a model to fill this gap, introducing and mapping an Agile Maturity meta-Model Index for Education (AMMIE) in a higher education setting. The research utilises a Delphi study among higher education professionals to consider the benefits to learners and educators of implementing AMMIE.
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