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Developmental Variation in Predictors of Reading Comprehension amongst Maltese Students

Louisa Grech, John Everatt, Paul Bartolo, Liberato Camilleri

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This study examined cognitive and language skills that are predictive of reading comprehension in Maltese in typically developing students of different ages. A structured random sample of three different grade groups of Maltese state school students, aged between 9 and 12 years participated in this study. This sample was representative of the population. They were administered a Maltese Reading Comprehension test together with three word-level tests (Non-Word Reading, Digit Span, and Rapid Naming), and three understanding-level tests (Jumbled Sentences, Listening Comprehension, and Ravens Progressive Matrices). Statistical analyses indicated that Reading Comprehension scores were primarily related to scores on listening comprehension and syntactic awareness (Jumbled Sentences). However, the youngest students showed greater influence of word-level processes on reading comprehension in contrast to their older peers.

Assessment of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: A Case Analysis of a University in the South of Europe

Jin-Jy Shieh, Carmel Cefai

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The focus of assessment in higher education has been moving from assessment ‘of’ to assessment ‘for’ learning and teaching. This shift suggests that formative assessment with feedback can be more beneficial to learning and teaching than traditional summative assessment. In view of the tension that arises between the move towards formative assessment and the role of summative assessment, this study examines how the University under study seeks to balance these two aspects of
assessment. The study made use of interviews, questionnaires and documents to collect data. The participants are lecturers and students at the Faculty of Education. Five lecturers and 5 students were interviewed individually, while 15 lecturers and 29 students completed online questionnaires. The documents were obtained from the University’s website. The findings reveal that the university in question recognises the importance of formative assessment, and has established policies
and guidelines on the implementation of assessment of learning and teaching. Findings indicate that there is an imbalance between formative and summative assessment of learning and teaching, favouring the latter against the former. Although policy-makers, lecturers and students are aware of the importance of formative assessment, the traditional summative assessment is still the dominant assessment mode. Such a situation has caused challenges to the assessment policies, created struggles for lecturers and resulted in students’ dissatisfaction with the learning process.

Adopting Antonio Gramsci’s Conceptual Elaboration of Passive Revolution to Interpret Economic Development and Education in the History of a Unified Italy

Joseph Gravina

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Antonio Gramsci adopted concepts from others only to develop them further and not necessarily along the same path as in their original context. ‘Passive revolution’ assisted Vincenzo Cuoco to explain the short-lived top down democratisation of the Neapolitan State in 1799. Gramsci generalised it to explain the Italian Risorgimento and the bourgeois state it bore. He denoted it as ‘revolution without a revolution’ in contrast with post-1789 France. Besides state formation, Gramsci enriched passive revolution by associating it with the political subterfuges of ‘transformism’ and ‘technicisation’. He experimented with the term further by expanding its historical limits to embrace the Fascist regime and, economically, Fordist inroads from across the Atlantic. This paper focuses on these (and other) fundamental stages in the narrative of the Italian political state and economic development accompanying it. Therein, the concept of hegemony – arguably Gramsci’s most evocative – is added in order to meaningfully contextualise the social formation and social relations within. In this case, a ‘negative’ reading of passive revolution portrays it as a failure of hegemonic strategy; the people are not successfully educated and
absorbed within bourgeois universal values. Consequently, besides broad socio-pedagogic dynamics, the formal education institution and private institutions double their effort to educate hegemonic leadership in political and socio-economic terms. This role as expressed by the main legislative acts created by the Piedmontese, the Fascists, the Christian Democrats and one of Berlusconi’s governments is analysed in order to indicate the deliberate links set between formal education and the economy through the identification of specific goals promoted by these institutions, and, throughout, how passive revolution can assist in meaningfully explaining such developments.

Translanguaging Practices in the Teaching of French as a Foreign Language in Malta

Anne-Marie Bezzina

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This study reviews beliefs related to translanguaging activities in the French as a Foreign Language (FFL) classroom and suggests cultural reasons why some condemn the concomitant use of previously learnt languages with the target language in FFL learning contexts. A corpus analysis of two Maltese FFL teachers’ recorded lessons attempts a structural categorisation of translanguaging instances according to the classification of classroom translanguaging in Causa (1998). It sheds light on the functions that translanguaging is made to fulfil in the Maltese FFL classroom, in comparison to those proposed mainly in Maarfia (2008). The results are compared to Maltese FFL teachers’ statements about their views on translanguaging in a recently administered questionnaire (Bezzina, 2016). Basic statistics reveal that the target language is often far from being the dominant language in the FFL classroom, and that learner talk is hardly encouraged in any language. Observations are interpreted in the light of possible practical factors of influence on translanguaging in the FFL classroom, as proposed in Molander (2004).

Phonological Awareness and Visual Perceptual Processing Skills of Maltese Children with Down Syndrome. How is Reading Intervention Affected?

Loredana Muscat

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The association between Phonological Awareness (PA) and reading in Down Syndrome (DS) has been questioned throughout the years. Studies have shown that PA does develop. However, several impairments have been identified. Conversely, Visual Perceptual Processing Skills (VPPS) in children with DS has been recognised as being a strength. Children with DS have been described as being visual learners and in consequence children with DS have been exposed primarily to visual methods of reading instruction. This study investigates the development of PA and VPPS in ten Maltese-speaking students with DS, with the aim of identifying the development of these skills in the Maltese language. Ten students with DS were compared to reading age matched typically developing (TD) students. Results showed that there was no overall significant difference between the results of TD students and students with DS in PA. In contrast, the group of students with DS obtained very low scores in VPPS tasks. The results suggest that the visual method of reading instruction should not be used as the only method of reading training with students with DS. Students with DS should be exposed to both a phonological method and a visual method of tuition to develop their reading abilities.


Speaking for Ofosu: Immigrant Experience, Multiculturalism and the Psychological Trauma of Migration

Yonah H. Matemba

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There is no abstract available for this commentary.

The Ghost in the Machine. A Structurational Interpretation of Maltese Policies on ICT and Education

Patrick Camilleri

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There is no abstract for this commentary.

Seminar Report

Teachers, Teaching, and the Relevance of Educational Research: Reflections from the Front Line

Roseline Sultana

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There is no abstract for this seminar report.