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Negative Transfer In Maltese Students’ Writing In English

George Camilleri

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The influence of the mother tongue on the learning of other languages is a widely researched phenomenon. The operation of transfer is today a commonly acknowledged feature in second language acquisition. In the Maltese context, this field of inquiry addresses, among other issues, the learning of English by native Maltese speakers. In this paper, I describe briefly my recent research in the field, and propose a number of views and insights into how negative transfer operates in L2 acquisition in formal schooling at secondary level in Malta.

Changing Practice In Dealing With The Sec Examination Course Work Through Action Research

Jacqueline Rotin

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The changes that were implemented in the course work part of the SEC examination of Home Economics in 1997 meant that teachers had to find ways of guiding students in building up a portfolio with tasks which they had to work out using different investigative techniques. Teachers were also given the responsibility of assessing and marking the students’ work at the end. Dedicating time for course work in the classroom by integrating it with the rest of the programme of work, as well as teaching students how to make use of different methods of research through experiential learning was important. The need for assessment criteria which are less vague and more clear for teachers and moderators to interpret also emerged, mainly as a result of problems that were encountered during the marking and moderation process because of the different ways in which the criteria were interpreted by teachers and the moderator. Finally, this article also presents the reader with an account of the experience of teachers who tried to be researchers in their own practice. While proving to be an enriching experience for teachers, it was also realised that the school in which the action research project was carried out lacked the structural and cultural framework within which action research projects could be carried out.

Translating The Avant-Garde Into Esperanto

Raphael Vella

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How important is the “public” in contemporary works of art? Should we expect artists to communicate with or educate their audience? Whenever the public is brought up in debates about funding for the arts, the selection of appropriate memorials for urban spaces or art education, discussions often focus on the “difficulty” or élitism of avant-garde art and the need to transform art into an instrument of cultural stability and understanding. This paper deals with some prominent cases that have dealt with these issues in the last quarter of a century, and argues that Jean-François Lyotard’s thought provides us with a valid defence of avant-garde experimentation in the arts. The last part of the paper argues that the various calls for public relevance often oversimplify the notion of the “public” by not taking into account the heterogeneous nature of postmodern societies.

Flexible Learning: The Complementary Dimension In Future Education

Philip Bonanno

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Challenges facing higher education and training institutions in an information society are highlighted. The psychosocial aspects of learning are analysed in relation to the use of ICT. Fundamental shortcomings of collaborative virtual learning environments are discussed and the need to adopt ‘Blended’ approaches when introducing technology-enhanced learning experiences is suggested. Neurocognitive characteristics of young learners immersed in a digital culture are reviewed to identify underlying principles for an innovative pedagogy – ‘Flexible Learning’. The characteristics of Flexible Learning are discussed and an innovative ‘Programme in Flexible Learning’ is proposed. Using the SWOT analysis model, a concluding section discusses the strategy to be adopted for promoting ‘Flexible Learning’ as a solution to the challenges encountered by Institutions of Higher Learning.

Pupils’ Understanding Of Probability & Statistics (14-15+) Difficulties And Insights For Instruction

Frank Bezzina

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This study highlights pupils’ common errors and misuses of probability and statistics. Four hundred pupils, aged 14-15+, attending a number of Maltese non-selective (mixed-ability) schools were given a ‘Probability & Statistics’ test. Interviews were also conducted to inform and interpret the results of the written test.

The report highlights pupils’ difficulties in the drawing of simple inferences from tables and statistical diagrams, in understanding ‘equally likely’ situations, in categorising data, in distinguishing between bar charts and histograms, in finding probability for simple and combined events, in summarising data and in choosing a suitable average. Faulty intuitions (e.g. the ‘gambler’s fallacy’, the law of averages) and misconceptions (e.g. the ‘sample space’ misconception) were also evident.

The implications for teaching in the light of the present findings are discussed.