Pearson Longman January 2010 ESL Newsletter
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John Brezinsky
What Research Tells Us About Academic Preparation
John Brezinsky, Higher Education Marketing Manager

This month’s article presents the three major conclusions of what 20 studies tell us about preparing students for mainstream classes. Do you use all three in your classes?

1. Teach Fully-Integrated Academic Skills

Just as students need to read, write, listen, and speak in a mainstream classroom, so academic preparation should integrate all four skills. A complete curriculum includes training in general academic skills and then focuses in on how these skills are applied in reading textbooks, listening to lectures, writing essays, and speaking in presentations.

2. Use Online Software for Homework (and make it easy)

Using the newest tools available in online software consistently results in better learning outcomes than relying on pen-and-paper homework alone. The key to much of the success of online software is creating personalized experiences and encouraging student reflection. Experience shows that teachers and students are likely to actually use online software only if it is easy and does not add more work to a teacher’s schedule.

3. Use Authentic Texts and Tasks

The closer preparation comes to the real thing, the better. This applies across all areas of a program. Everything from the features of reading texts to the types of speaking assignments need to replicate what students will be expected to do.

The Newest Integrated Skills Series

These findings support the curricular design of Pearson Longman's newest series — Academic Connections and its online component MyAcademicConnectionsLab.

Take a look at this new series:


Aberson, C. L., D. E. Berger, M. R. Healy, and V. L. Romero. 2003. Evaluation of an interactive tutorial for teaching hypothesis testing concepts. Teaching of Psychology 30 (1):75–78.

Al-Jarf, R. S. 2004. The effects of Web-based learning on struggling EFL college writers. Foreign Language Annals 37 (1):49–57.

Bachman, L.F., & Palmer, A.S. (1996). Language testing in practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Breen, M.P. (1985). Authenticity in the language classroom. Applied Linguistics, 6(1), 60-70.

Caldwell, E. R. 2006. A comparative study of three instructional modalities in a computer programming course: Traditional instruction, Web-based instruction, and online instruction. PhD diss., University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Davis, J. D., M. Odell, J. Abbitt, and D. Amos. 1999, March. Developing online courses: A comparison of Web-based instruction with traditional instruction. Paper presented at the Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, Chesapeake, VA.
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Day, T. M., M. R. Raven, and M. E. Newman. 1998. The effects of World Wide Web instruction and traditional instruction and learning styles on achievement and changes in student attitudes in a technical writing in agricommunication course. Journal of Agricultural Education 39 (4):65–75.

DeBord, K. A., M. S. Aruguete, and J. Muhlig. 2004. Are computer-assisted teaching methods effective? Teaching of Psychology 31 (1):65–68.

El-Deghaidy, H., and A. Nouby. 2008. Effectiveness of a blended e-learning cooperative approach in an Egyptian teacher education programme. Computers & Education 51 (3):988–1006.

Frederickson, N., P. Reed, and V. Clifford. 2005. Evaluating Web-supported learning versus lecture-based teaching: Quantitative and qualitative perspectives. Higher Education 50 (4):645–64.

Gilliver, R. S., B. Randall, and Y. M. Pok. 1998. Learning in cyberspace: Shaping the future. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 14 (3):212–22.

Long, M., and H. Jennings. 2005. "Does it work?": The impact of technology and professional development on student achievement. Calverton, MD: Macro International.

Maki, W. S., and R. H. Maki. 2002. Multimedia comprehension skill predicts differential outcomes of Web-based and lecture courses. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 8 (2):85–98.

Midmer, D., M. Kahan, and B. Marlow. 2006. Effects of a distance learning program on physicians’ opioid- and benzodiazepine-prescribing skills. The Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions 26 (4):294–301.

O'Dwyer, L. M., R. Carey, and G. Kleiman. 2007. A study of the effectiveness of the Louisiana Algebra I online course. Journal of Research on Technology in Education 39 (3):289–306.

Sanz, C., & Morgan-Short, K. (2005). Explicitness in pedagogical interventions: Input, practice and feedback. In C. Sanz (Ed.), Mind and context in adult second language acquisition: Methods, theory, and practice (pp. 234-250). Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.

Schilling, K., J. Wiecha, D. Polineni, and S. Khalil. 2006. An interactive Web-based curriculum on evidence-based medicine: Design and effectiveness. Family Medicine 38 (2):126–32.

Spires, H. A., C. Mason, C. Crissman, and A. Jackson. 2001. Exploring the academic self within an electronic mail environment. Research and Teaching in Developmental Education 17 (2):5–14.

Suter, W. N., and M. K. Perry. 1997. Evaluation by electronic mail. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Mid-South Educational Research Association, Memphis, TN (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED415269).

Urban, C. Q. 2006. The effects of using computer-based distance education for supplemental instruction compared to traditional tutorial sessions to enhance learning for students at-risk for academic difficulties. PhD diss., George Mason University, Fairfax, VA.

Zacharia, Z. C. 2007. Comparing and combining real and virtual experimentation: An effort to enhance students' conceptual understanding of electric circuits. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 23 (2):120–32.

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