Academic Achievement

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Academic Achievement
This unit will help you: use your prior knowledge to help you understand what you are reading; practice reading for a specific purpose; make decisions about the relevance of a text in terms of reading purpose; read selectively in order to use appropriate information from the text.

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The topic of this unit concerns factors that may lead to improvement in academic performance among students. It is based on three major research projects carried out in the United States.

The influence of class size on academic achievement (157–159)

Task 1: Predicting text content
Think about what factors can have an influence on the academic achievement of the students in a school, college, or university. Look at the following list of possible influences and rate the ideas on a scale of 1–5 (1 = very little influence, 5 = very strong influence). Influence on academic performance Resources available (e.g., computers, laboratories, textbooks) Teacher level (qualifications, experience, etc.) Student motivation Rating


Add and rate some of your own ideas. Then compare your list and ratings with a partner.

Focus task
Your reason for reading Text 1-1 is to get some background information to help you write the following essay. English for academic study 18

Academic Achievement


Task 2: Reading for a purpose
2.1 Look carefully at the title of Text 1-1. Do you think that the text will be useful for writing an assignment about academic achievement? Share your conclusions with another student. Read the introduction to Text 1-1 (lines 1–66). As you read, try to make up your mind about how useful this text might be for your purpose. When you have finished reading, circle and complete the following sentence.


Task 3: Reading selectively
3.1 Read the subheading (lines 67–68) and think about your own opinion on the issue. Do you think that smaller class sizes help to improve academic performance? Circle your answer then write one reason for your choice below.


Below are some notes that have been made by another student on Text 1-1. Read lines 67–117 and check the points mentioned in the text. a) b) c) d) e) f) g) Reading & Writing


Read lines 69–72. What does anecdotal mean? Try to guess the meaning of this word by looking carefully at the whole sentence. If the ideas in this paragraph are anecdotal, think about how seriously you should take them into account when writing your assignment.



Read lines 97–117 and underline specific information from this paragraph that you might use to help in the completion of the Focus task. Think about:

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how useful you think this paragraph might be in relation to the Focus task; whether you think the sources are reliable.

With a partner, compare and justify your choice of information for all four questions.

Task 4: Identifying the writer’s purpose
4.1 Read lines 118–192 and decide on the main functions of this section of text from the choices given below. For each choice, rate the function from 0–5 depending on how sure you are (5 = very sure). Study tip It can be very helpful to recognize why the writer has written a text, or a section of a text, i.e., what the function of the text is.

Function a) To persuade the readers to accept a certain point of view. b) To explain the importance of using research data instead of anecdotal explanations. c) To evaluate the importance of the research carried out into the effect of classroom size on academic achievement. d) To describe the research method used in various parts of the US into the effect of classroom size on academic achievement. 4.2 What is the function (or functions) of Figure 1: Milestone studies in class size (page 159)? a) to summarize the content of the text b) to outline the content of certain relevant research c) to explain the importance of the STAR project d) to compare the data from research about class size...
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