Year

2017

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Department

School of Education

Abstract

Student competence in English is fundamental to national development and the achievement of sustainability in Thailand. Thai educational institutions are concerned with current literacy levels and have attempted to increase student literacy, especially in English. One of the primary causes of this situation is a lack of proficiency in teachers of English.

This research study investigated the possible reasons why Thai pre-service English teachers may not be adequately prepared to teach English grammar. In particular, the study proposed that Thai pre-service English teachers, who have studied English grammar implicitly through communication in their previous studies, could benefit from being assessed by a contextualized diagnostic assessment. The aim of the study was to develop a computer-based contextualized diagnostic English grammar assessment for Thai preservice teachers enrolled in the English programme at the Education Faculty of Northern University, Thailand. To achieve this aim, numerous theories were analysed to assess the feasibility of this aim. Rea-Dickins’ five factors of grammar testing was used as a framework for the development of the diagnostic assessment tool.

The diagnostic English grammar assessment was developed in a contextualized form. Each test section was integrated within a communicative context in the form of a dialogue using a particular grammatical structure so that all test-takers were to solve grammar problems interactively using dialogues that pose grammar problems as the task content. The contextualized form of the diagnostic test in this study was designed to fit one major theme: the lives of pre-service teachers, and was divided into seven situations and 105 test items. All of these situations formed a connected story that was integrated within seven grammar sections. In this study, the English grammar competence of pre-service teachers was identified by matching each wrong answer that a test-taker selected with a code representing the individual grammar content. The content of the English Grammar Curriculum for pre-service teachers enrolled in the English programme of the Education Faculty at Northern University, Thailand, was analysed to determine the scope of the test. Multiple steps were involved in constructing the diagnostic English grammar assessment in this thesis, including test content analysis, creation of the test context, matching the xii grammar content area codes and the zero scores for each test item of an individual testtaker, two pilot tests and analysis of the validity and reliability of the test.

The study aimed to investigate if pre-service English teachers were adequately prepared for the task of explicit grammar teaching prior to entering Thai schools. This study focused on the target population of the 90 fourth-year pre-service English teachers studying in the English programme at the Faculty of Education, Northern University, Thailand. The study involved the development of a diagnostic English grammar assessment employing a computer programme that can be used to reliably evaluate English grammar competence of pre-service English teachers. The computer marked the test items automatically and provided class scores and individual profiles for pre-service teachers that indicated the respondent students’ strengths and weaknesses in English grammar.

The test results provided class scores and individual profiles for pre-service teachers that indicated the respondent students’ strengths and weaknesses in English grammar. Importantly, the findings revealed that only eight out of 87 pre-service teachers from the school of Education in Northern University met the necessary criteria to be able to teach grammar, with the highest scores achieved by the pre-service teachers at 77 (73%) and the lowest scores at 27(25 %).

A computer-based contextualized diagnostic English grammar assessment tool, such as the one presented in this study, could function as a quality control (QC) for pre-service teachers. On examination, if a particular student’s grammar competence does not meet the standard, remedial courses may be provided so that they can be better equipped to teach grammar more effectively.

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