The effectiveness of intensive English language programs: preparing international students linguistically, academically, and culturally for academic studies
Pond, Maxine Lister
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The goal of this problem of practice institutional research study was to determine the effectiveness of the contracted intensive English language program (IEP) to prepare students for academic work. A further goal of the study was to consider the effect of culture on academic performance in the first two semesters of academic study. Problem of practice research was used because it is useful in providing institutions with information and analysis pertaining to their particular context. The study used a quantitative research approach using institutional and program historic, secondary data to examine the relationship between intensity of IEP participation and academic GPA in students’ first and second semester of study at Montana State University (MSU). Univariate, bivariate and binary logistic regression analyses were conducted. GPA was the outcome variable. Predictor variables included factors related to participation in ACE/MSU such as entering and exiting program level, graduating or not graduating, and adjustment to the U.S. American academic culture. Variables that measured cultural background were country of passport and four of Hofstede’s (2001) dimensions, Power Distance Index (PDI), Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV), Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI), and Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS). Confounding variables major field of study and cohort were considered. Results from the study indicated that a higher percentage of students who had adjusted to the academic culture (never failed a class) achieve a High GPA than students who failed one or more classes in IEP. Results also indicated that students who graduated from the IEP achieved High GPA at about the same rate as direct-entry students. The findings showed that the institutional IEP was effective in preparing students for academic studies. The research also suggested that students at the institution from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were not well-prepared for academic success at the institution. Another outcome of the study revealed a strong, conceptually negative relationship between score for PDI and High GPA in the first and second semesters. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have high PDI scores. Implications from the findings and recommendations for future research and for institutional program and policy changes were given.