The value of Post-Entry Language Assessment (PELA): Outcomes from a first semester undergraduate subject
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This paper reports on the use of a post-entry language assessment (PELA), the Bond English Language Assessment (BELA), in a core first-year subject at Bond University. The aim was to identify undergraduate students with below satisfactory written communication skills at commencement of their university studies and provide intervention strategies at an early stage. Students considered to be displaying below satisfactory levels of academic writing on an online homework task were required to attend a meeting with a Learning Advisor to receive the 2% allocated to completing the task. At the end of the semester, students were invited to take the task again with a different question and a comparative analysis of performance was conducted. It was hypothesised that early intervention would contribute to students’ development of academic writing and their chances of success in the subject’s written assessment task, the Major Essay. It was also hypothesised that students who scored low on BELA would be at a higher risk of failing the Major Essay. Finally, it was hypothesised that students who did not participate in BELA 1, for reasons unknown, would be more inclined to fail or withdraw from the subject compared to students who completed the PELA. Although claims concerning the predictive validity of any language assessment are difficult to make due to the myriad factors at play (Murray, 2007; Read, 2008), partial support was determined for each hypothesis. More data, however, are needed to confirm these preliminary findings, particularly from the second BELA and to control for a range of possible confounding factors.
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