Academic journal article International Journal of Education

Investigation of the Predictive Validity of Communication Skills Examination on University Students' Overall Academic Performance in Tanzania

Academic journal article International Journal of Education

Investigation of the Predictive Validity of Communication Skills Examination on University Students' Overall Academic Performance in Tanzania

Article excerpt

Abstract

This article is about the Predictive Validity of the University Communication Skills (CS) examination on the Students' Overall Academic Performance. It is based on the study which was conducted at the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA). The objectives of the study were: firstly, to determine the extent to which the CS examination predicts the overall performance expressed in terms of the University GPAs; secondly, to identify whether the predictive validity varies by sex, type of school, and type of degree programme; and thirdly, to examine whether the CS examination is a better predictor for the university GPAs than students' entry qualifications. The respondents were 358 finalists from six programmes selected randomly out of the 20 degree programmes at SUA. The findings indicated that the University CS examination positively predicted the overall students' performance expressed in terms of GPAs (r=0.416, p< 0.01). Furthermore, the predictive validity of the CS examination scores on the University GPAs varied by sex and was higher for males (r=0.483, p<0.01) than females (r=0.272, p<0.01). Moreover, the CS examination scores predicted the University GPAs better than the students' university entry points. However, the type of school attended at both CSEE and ACSEE levels and type of degree programme enrolled at SUA had insignificant influence on the predictive validity of the CS examination.

Keywords: predictive validity; communication skills examination; academic performance; Tanzania

1. Introduction

Literature on language policy indicates that after independence in 1961, Tanzania adopted a form of bilingual education in which Kiswahili would be used as the medium of instruction in the school career alongside English (Tibategeza, 2009; Neke, 2003). In 1967, Kiswahili was declared a national language and a language of instruction in primary schools while English was declared a co-official language and it was supposed to be taught as a compulsory subject in all primary schools (Mlama and Materu, 1978). In addition, English was also declared a language of instruction at post primary school levels, including the university.

Studies indicate that there is a link between academic achievements and proficiency in the language of instruction. For example, the poor performance of secondary school students in their national examinations in Tanzania has always been attributed to their low proficiency in the language of instruction, which is English (Malekela, 2003; Rubagumya, 1990; Mvungi, 1980). This implies that, one of the major factors which determine students' success in academic is proficiency in the language of instruction, which facilitates communication between teachers and students. In other words, if students do not have adequate communication skills, effective learning cannot take place (Fakeye and Ogunsiji, 2009; Neke, 2003). This view is supported by Malekela (2003), who argued that if the learner is handicapped in the language of instruction, learning may not take place since both the instructor and learners will not be communicating.

If we look at the history of Tanzania, the country is a multilingual society with about 120 different ethnic groups speaking different languages. Malekela (2003) observed that very few Tanzanians (less than 10 percent of the population) who have been through formal schooling have learned English. The majority of the students start learning English for the first time as a 'subject' at primary school level, then as a subject as well as language of instruction at secondary school level and thereafter. A few would have had an exposure to English language as a medium of instruction from pre-primary school level and thereafter and yet very few would have had the exposure to English language from home and thereafter throughout schooling time. Therefore, it is not surprising to find that most of the students enrolled in Tanzanian universities experience communication problems as the language of instruction is solely English (Mohamed, 2006; Malekela, 2003; Ishumi, 1994). …

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