Jul 28, 2009

PETALING JAYA: The Public Services Department (PSD) is offering 12 post-graduate scholarships under the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Scholarship Programme.

The scholarships are divided into six places each for Master’s and PhD in the fields of Science and Technology, Economics and Law, said a press statement from the department.

“The scholarships are meant for candidates with excellent academic and non-academic (extra-curricular activities) achievements to pursue post-graduate studies either locally or overseas,” the statement added.

Priority would be given to candidates who have achieved excellent results in their undergraduate and Master’s degrees; and have abilities such as speaking several languages, are active in community activities, possessing special skills, and ability to produce creative and innovative works.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Scholarship Programme’s allowances are better than those offered under other scholarships, while fees are paid straight to the university.

The application closing date is Aug 24.

Application forms can be downloaded from www.jpa.gov.my or http://esita.jpa.gov.my.

For more information, call the PSD hotline 03-8885 3436/3892 or visit the counter at: Human Capital Development Division (Bahagian Pembangunan Modal Insan), Fifth Floor, Block C 1, Parcel C, Public Ser- vices Department, Putrajaya; from 8am to 1pm, and 2pm to 5pm.

## Tuesday, July 28, 2009

## Saturday, July 25, 2009

### The 9th International Conference on Information (ICI9)

An Open Invitation from OUM to explore the frontiers of education in the 21st century.

Date: 12 - 13 August, 2009

Venue: Legend Hotel, KL

To be Officiated by: YB Dato' Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, Minister of Higher Education, Malaysia

Technologies have transformed the world we know, including the way we learn and educate future generations. This conference offers a rare opportunity to researchers, academics and educationists to share ideas, network and to explore the power of the Internet and emerging technologies to build dynamic learning environments.

Individuals and organizations interested to participate in the conference are advised

to register latest by 31st July 2009.

See ad below: (Click to enlarge)

For details: http://ici9.oum.edu.my/

Date: 12 - 13 August, 2009

Venue: Legend Hotel, KL

To be Officiated by: YB Dato' Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, Minister of Higher Education, Malaysia

Technologies have transformed the world we know, including the way we learn and educate future generations. This conference offers a rare opportunity to researchers, academics and educationists to share ideas, network and to explore the power of the Internet and emerging technologies to build dynamic learning environments.

Individuals and organizations interested to participate in the conference are advised

to register latest by 31st July 2009.

See ad below: (Click to enlarge)

For details: http://ici9.oum.edu.my/

### What are the differences between one-tailed and two-tailed tests?

When you conduct a test of statistical significance, whether it is from a correlation, an ANOVA, a regression or some other kind of test, you are given a p-value somewhere in the output. If your test statistic is symmetrically distributed, you can select one of three alternative hypotheses. Two of these correspond to one-tailed tests and one corresponds to a two-tailed test. However, the p-value presented is (almost always) for a two-tailed test. But how do you choose which test? Is the p-value appropriate for your test? And, if it is not, how can you calculate the correct p-value for your test given the p-value in your output?

What is a two-tailed test?

First let's start with the meaning of a two-tailed test. If you are using a significance level of 0.05, a two-tailed test allots half of your alpha to testing the statistical significance in one direction and half of your alpha to testing statistical significance in the other direction. This means that .025 is in each tail of the distribution of your test statistic. When using a two-tailed test, regardless of the direction of the relationship you hypothesize, you are testing for the possibility of the relationship in both directions. For example, we may wish to compare the mean of a sample to a given value x using a t-test. Our null hypothesis is that the mean is equal to x. A two-tailed test will test both if the mean is significantly greater than x and if the mean significantly less than x. The mean is considered significantly different from x if the test statistic is in the top 2.5% or bottom 2.5% of its probability distribution, resulting in a p-value less than 0.05.

What is a one-tailed test?

Next, let's discuss the meaning of a one-tailed test. If you are using a significance level of .05, a one-tailed test allots all of your alpha to testing the statistical significance in the one direction of interest. This means that .05 is in one tail of the distribution of your test statistic. When using a one-tailed test, you are testing for the possibility of the relationship in one direction and completely disregarding the possibility of a relationship in the other direction. Let's return to our example comparing the mean of a sample to a given value x using a t-test. Our null hypothesis is that the mean is equal to x. A one-tailed test will test either if the mean is significantly greater than x or if the mean is significantly less than x, but not both. Then, depending on the chosen tail, the mean is significantly greater than or less than x if the test statistic is in the top 5% of its probability distribution or bottom 5% of its probability distribution, resulting in a p-value less than 0.05. The one-tailed test provides more power to detect an effect in one direction by not testing the effect in the other direction. A discussion of when this is an appropriate option follows.

When is a one-tailed test appropriate?

Because the one-tailed test provides more power to detect an effect, you may be tempting to use a one-tailed test whenever you have a hypothesis about the direction of an effect. Before doing so, consider the consequences of missing an effect in the other direction. Imagine you have developed a new drug that you believe is an improvement over an existing drug. You wish to maximize your ability to detect the improvement, so you opt for a one-tailed test. In doing so, you fail to test for the possibility that the new drug is less effective than the existing drug. The consequences in this example are extreme, but they illustrate a danger of inappropriate use of a one-tailed test.

So when is a one-tailed test appropriate? If you consider the consequences of missing an effect in the untested direction and conclude that they are negligible and in no way irresponsible or unethical, then you can proceed with a one-tailed test. For example, imagine again that you have developed a new drug. It is cheaper than the existing drug and, you believe, no less effective. In testing this drug, you are only interested in testing if it less effective than the existing drug. You do not care if it is significantly more effective. You only wish to show that it is not less effective. In this scenario, a one-tailed test would be appropriate.

When is a one-tailed test NOT appropriate?

Choosing a one-tailed test for the sole purpose of attaining significance is not appropriate. Choosing a one-tailed test after running a two-tailed test that failed to reject the null hypothesis is not appropriate, no matter how "close" to significant the two-tailed test was. Using statistical tests inappropriately can lead to invalid results that are not replicable and highly questionable--a steep price to pay for a significance star in your results table!

Deriving a one-tailed test from two-tailed output

The default among statistical packages performing tests is to report two-tailed p-values. Because the most commonly used test statistic distributions (standard normal, Student's t) are symmetric about zero, most one-tailed p-values can be derived from the two-tailed p-values.

Below, we have the output from a two-sample t-test in Stata. The test is comparing the mean male score to the mean female score. The null hypothesis is that the difference in means is zero. The two-sided alternative is that the difference in means is not zero. There are two one-sided alternatives that one could opt to test instead: that the male score is higher than the female score (diff > 0) or that the female score is higher than the male score (diff < 0). In this instance, Stata presents results for all three alternatives. Under the headings Ha: diff < 0 and Ha: diff > 0 are the results for the one-tailed tests. In the middle, under the heading Ha: diff != 0 (which means that the difference is not equal to 0), are the results for the two-tailed test.

Note that the test statistic, -3.7341, is the same for all of these tests. The two-tailed p-value is P > |t|. This can be rewritten as P(>3.7341) + P(< -3.7341). Because the t-distribution is symmetric about zero, these two probabilities are equal: P > |t| = 2 * P(< -3.7341). Thus, we can see that the two-tailed p-value is twice the one-tailed p-value for the alternative hypothesis that (diff < 0). The other one-tailed alternative hypothesis has a p-value of P(>-3.7341) = 1-(P<-3.7341) = 1-0.0001 = 0.9999. So, depending on the direction of the one-tailed hypothesis, its p-value is either 0.5*(two-tailed p-value) or 1-0.5*(two-tailed p-value) if the test statistic symmetrically distributed about zero.

In this example, the two-tailed p-value suggests rejecting the null hypothesis of no difference. Had we opted for the one-tailed test of (diff > 0), we would fail to reject the null because of our choice of tails.

The output below is from a regression analysis in Stata. Unlike the example above, only the two-sided p-values are presented in this output.

For each regression coefficient, the tested null hypothesis is that the coefficient is equal to zero. Thus, the one-tailed alternatives are that the coefficient is greater than zero and that the coefficient is less than zero. To get the p-value for the one-tailed test of the variable science having a coefficient greater than zero, you would divide the .008 by 2, yielding .004 because the effect is going in the predicted direction. This is P(>2.67). If you had made your prediction in the other direction (the opposite direction of the model effect), the p-value would have been 1 - .004 = .996. This is P(<2.67). For all three p-values, the test statistic is 2.67.

Source: http://www.ats.ucla.edu/stat/mult_pkg/faq/general/tail_tests.htm

What is a two-tailed test?

First let's start with the meaning of a two-tailed test. If you are using a significance level of 0.05, a two-tailed test allots half of your alpha to testing the statistical significance in one direction and half of your alpha to testing statistical significance in the other direction. This means that .025 is in each tail of the distribution of your test statistic. When using a two-tailed test, regardless of the direction of the relationship you hypothesize, you are testing for the possibility of the relationship in both directions. For example, we may wish to compare the mean of a sample to a given value x using a t-test. Our null hypothesis is that the mean is equal to x. A two-tailed test will test both if the mean is significantly greater than x and if the mean significantly less than x. The mean is considered significantly different from x if the test statistic is in the top 2.5% or bottom 2.5% of its probability distribution, resulting in a p-value less than 0.05.

What is a one-tailed test?

Next, let's discuss the meaning of a one-tailed test. If you are using a significance level of .05, a one-tailed test allots all of your alpha to testing the statistical significance in the one direction of interest. This means that .05 is in one tail of the distribution of your test statistic. When using a one-tailed test, you are testing for the possibility of the relationship in one direction and completely disregarding the possibility of a relationship in the other direction. Let's return to our example comparing the mean of a sample to a given value x using a t-test. Our null hypothesis is that the mean is equal to x. A one-tailed test will test either if the mean is significantly greater than x or if the mean is significantly less than x, but not both. Then, depending on the chosen tail, the mean is significantly greater than or less than x if the test statistic is in the top 5% of its probability distribution or bottom 5% of its probability distribution, resulting in a p-value less than 0.05. The one-tailed test provides more power to detect an effect in one direction by not testing the effect in the other direction. A discussion of when this is an appropriate option follows.

When is a one-tailed test appropriate?

Because the one-tailed test provides more power to detect an effect, you may be tempting to use a one-tailed test whenever you have a hypothesis about the direction of an effect. Before doing so, consider the consequences of missing an effect in the other direction. Imagine you have developed a new drug that you believe is an improvement over an existing drug. You wish to maximize your ability to detect the improvement, so you opt for a one-tailed test. In doing so, you fail to test for the possibility that the new drug is less effective than the existing drug. The consequences in this example are extreme, but they illustrate a danger of inappropriate use of a one-tailed test.

So when is a one-tailed test appropriate? If you consider the consequences of missing an effect in the untested direction and conclude that they are negligible and in no way irresponsible or unethical, then you can proceed with a one-tailed test. For example, imagine again that you have developed a new drug. It is cheaper than the existing drug and, you believe, no less effective. In testing this drug, you are only interested in testing if it less effective than the existing drug. You do not care if it is significantly more effective. You only wish to show that it is not less effective. In this scenario, a one-tailed test would be appropriate.

When is a one-tailed test NOT appropriate?

Choosing a one-tailed test for the sole purpose of attaining significance is not appropriate. Choosing a one-tailed test after running a two-tailed test that failed to reject the null hypothesis is not appropriate, no matter how "close" to significant the two-tailed test was. Using statistical tests inappropriately can lead to invalid results that are not replicable and highly questionable--a steep price to pay for a significance star in your results table!

Deriving a one-tailed test from two-tailed output

The default among statistical packages performing tests is to report two-tailed p-values. Because the most commonly used test statistic distributions (standard normal, Student's t) are symmetric about zero, most one-tailed p-values can be derived from the two-tailed p-values.

Below, we have the output from a two-sample t-test in Stata. The test is comparing the mean male score to the mean female score. The null hypothesis is that the difference in means is zero. The two-sided alternative is that the difference in means is not zero. There are two one-sided alternatives that one could opt to test instead: that the male score is higher than the female score (diff > 0) or that the female score is higher than the male score (diff < 0). In this instance, Stata presents results for all three alternatives. Under the headings Ha: diff < 0 and Ha: diff > 0 are the results for the one-tailed tests. In the middle, under the heading Ha: diff != 0 (which means that the difference is not equal to 0), are the results for the two-tailed test.

Note that the test statistic, -3.7341, is the same for all of these tests. The two-tailed p-value is P > |t|. This can be rewritten as P(>3.7341) + P(< -3.7341). Because the t-distribution is symmetric about zero, these two probabilities are equal: P > |t| = 2 * P(< -3.7341). Thus, we can see that the two-tailed p-value is twice the one-tailed p-value for the alternative hypothesis that (diff < 0). The other one-tailed alternative hypothesis has a p-value of P(>-3.7341) = 1-(P<-3.7341) = 1-0.0001 = 0.9999. So, depending on the direction of the one-tailed hypothesis, its p-value is either 0.5*(two-tailed p-value) or 1-0.5*(two-tailed p-value) if the test statistic symmetrically distributed about zero.

In this example, the two-tailed p-value suggests rejecting the null hypothesis of no difference. Had we opted for the one-tailed test of (diff > 0), we would fail to reject the null because of our choice of tails.

The output below is from a regression analysis in Stata. Unlike the example above, only the two-sided p-values are presented in this output.

For each regression coefficient, the tested null hypothesis is that the coefficient is equal to zero. Thus, the one-tailed alternatives are that the coefficient is greater than zero and that the coefficient is less than zero. To get the p-value for the one-tailed test of the variable science having a coefficient greater than zero, you would divide the .008 by 2, yielding .004 because the effect is going in the predicted direction. This is P(>2.67). If you had made your prediction in the other direction (the opposite direction of the model effect), the p-value would have been 1 - .004 = .996. This is P(<2.67). For all three p-values, the test statistic is 2.67.

Source: http://www.ats.ucla.edu/stat/mult_pkg/faq/general/tail_tests.htm

### Acing your Qualifying Exam: Strategies for Success in any Department

Graduate students in a myriad of departments at UC Davis: engineering, physical sciences, agricultural and biological sciences, as well as the arts, humanities and social sciences are united by the common thread of the dreaded qualifying exam. For many graduate students this is one of the most uncertain, stressful, and time consuming aspects of their graduate education. This exam, may be written or oral or both, or follow any format according to the specific requirement of the graduate program.

Although the content and structure of qualifying examinations varies widely by discipline, this information focuses on universal "strategies for success" that will be valuable to graduate students in all departments. This information will help to demystify the qualifying exam, and empower graduate students with the skills and strategies to feel confident and prepared when the time comes for their exam. In addition, this information is a resource for graduate student advisors to better achieve their mentoring goals.

The following are the “Five Golden Rules” of qualifying exam preparation.

1. Understand the qualifying exam.

2. Know your examiners.

3. Prepare early.

4. Reduce your stress.

5. Have an exam day plan.

Students who follow these “golden rules” in combination with close consultation with their advisor, and committee members will be superbly prepared for success on their qualifying exam.

So, where and when do you start? Ideally you should start with golden rule #1 about 6 months before your qualifying exam. However, graduate students often begin preparation 3 or fewer months in advance and also have good success.

Golden Rule #1: Understand the qualifying exam.

It may sound simplistic, but understanding what the qualifying exam is, how it works, and its format is absolutely imperative to its successful completion. By graduate school, most graduate students are truly “professional students.” That is, they are experts at essay, multiple choice, and short answer tests, quizzes, and assignments. However, few graduate students are well practiced at oral examination. That is one of the reasons why the qualifying exam is so scary.

To abide by golden rule #1 you will need to obtain the following information:

1. How much time does the exam usually take?

2. What is the format of the exam?

3. How is your performance assessed?

The best way to obtain this information is from a variety of sources. First and foremost ask your advisors for their input. Next ask these questions to all of your committee members, especially your chair. Cross check their answers to see if all of your committee members are on the same page when it comes to the time, format, and assessment. If not, then you may want to let your committee chair know so he or she can set the tone for your committee.

Next, you should ask these questions to other graduate students in your department who have recently passed their qualifying exam.

After you have mastered the time, format, and assessment of the qualifying exam you will have a complete understanding of what it is you are about to undertake. Next you are ready for golden rule #2.

Golden Rule #2: Know your examiners.

The members of your qualifying exam committee are the gatekeepers of you advancing to candidacy. If you invited professors to serve on your committee, then be sure that you know them well, and have at least taken one course from them.

As these people will be spending a few hours with you discussing your discipline, and your research during your exam, you should spend some time researching each of your committee member’s scientific backgrounds. This will make you familiar with their expertise, research, teaching, and even a bit of their personality. You should research the following:

1. What is your committee member's academic training? Where did they get their degrees, and in what departments?

2. What are your examiners publications? What topics do they write about? In what journals do they publish papers?

After you have thoroughly researched all of your committee members, and have verified that they are all suitable and applicable for your committee (if you haven't already) you should meet with them.

Try to meet with them in person several times before the exam, as this will let you get to know them better, their style of questions, and their personality. When you meet with them you should ask each of them the following questions:

1. What is their philosophy towards the examination?

2. Does your lab/department have a book of commonly asked oral exam questions?

3. What types of questions do they usually ask?

As a result of your background research and your meetings with committee members, you should be able to obtain a good sense of where each of your committee members is coming from, what they expect from you, and what types of questions they might ask you.

This information is invaluable. It will help to put you at ease with their personalities, and can help you anticipate possible questions they may ask you.

Golden Rule #3: Prepare early and systematically.

So how do you prepare for a qualifying exam? Clearly, what to study varies according to your department and research field, but below are strategies that apply to any department.

Be systematic in your study approach. What does it mean to be “systematic”? It simply means to organize the topics that you will study from general to specific as this is often how your exam questions will progress, and it is the best way to re-learn material.

Begin your systematic studying 6 months in advance. However, do not stress out if all you have to study is 3 or even 2 months. As long as you are systematic in your preparation, you will be in good shape.

1. First, review the basics of your field. You can achieve this by reviewing all of your past lower division courses. You can use your old notes, text books, exams, and lab write ups. Focus on the main themes and concepts. You may think that you have forgotten everything, but it will begin to come back to you and be familiar.

2. Next, review the specifics of your field. This means reviewing all of the material covered in any of upper division or graduate level courses. Again, focus on the major themes and concepts. However, if there are details that relate to your research or your field of study, then focus on those as well.

3. Now, Prepare and practice your dissertation research proposal. Often your dissertation proposal is formulated under guidance from your advisor. This would include a thorough literature review, research objectives and hypotheses, methodology, and expected results. The exam candidate is at an advantage here because at your qualifying exam, you will (or should be) the expert on your research topic. Therefore, any questions that your committee has about your research proposal you will be able to answer.

A great strategy for practicing your dissertation research proposal is to explain your research to others. Begin with those in your department, because they will have general knowledge of your research, and will be able to give you scientifically based critiques. Then, the greatest test of your ability to clearly explain your research is to present it to people outside of your field of study. This could include your friends in other departments, parents, or grandparents. The more that you talk about your research and answer questions about it, the more prepared and confident you will become for your qualifying exam.

4. Next, prepare your “how I came to be here speech.” Again, all departments are different and you should consult with your advisor and committee chair to see if this applies to you, but most qualifying exams begin with some sort of “how I came to be here speech.”

Basically the speech is a warm up for you, and if you prepare for it, you can hit a grand slam! Your committee may ask, “How did you come to be before us today” or “Why did you decide to get your PhD”, or “Why did you chose your topic of study.” The beauty of all of these questions is that there is no wrong answer. The answer is all up to you, and it gives you a chance to tell the committee about yourself, perhaps things they never knew before (where you grew up, childhood experiences, and inspiring events in your life). You also should think of the “how I came to be here” speech as a platform for you to plant seeds for further questions from your committee members. Any information which you give them in this speech may prompt additional questions from them, so be sure to mention things that you would be happy to discuss further.

5. Prepare for anticipated questions. After you have reviewed the general and specific topics in your field, interviewed and met several times with your committee members, and have prepared your research proposal, you will have covered all of the potential topics that are game for your qualifying exam. As such, you should begin to generate anticipated questions.

It is a little bit like predicting the future, but using what you have learned about the format and types of questions asked during exams, you should be able to come up with a few hundred potential questions.

6. Set up a practice qualifying exam. Setting up a practice qualifying exam is an easy way to give you a taste of what to expect on exam day. Enlist the help of your colleagues, fellow graduate students, or even friends or family. Present to them your “how I came to be here speech,” and your research proposal. Have one of them keep time for you, so you can adjust the length of your speech and proposal accordingly come exam day. Have them each ask you several of the “anticipated questions” that you have already formulated and even ones that they come up with themselves. Also ask them fore critiques on your speech, volume, body language…anything that you could work on before your oral exam. Also, try to conduct your mock exam in the same room in which you will have your qualifying exam.

7. Review recent scientific journals. As the date of your qualifying exam approaches, be sure to read the latest editions of the most important research journals in your field and sub-field. Being informed about the latest research and discoveries in your field may be useful when answering your examiners questions. Also, as your committee members often read these same journals and they may draw some of their questions from recent journal articles.

Golden Rule #4: Reduce your stress.

The qualifying examination is clearly one of the most stressful events in a graduate student’s academic experience. This is very common as the exam is often shrouded in mystery, is an unfamiliar test format, and can be “high stakes”.

If you have prepared systematically, you are in great shape and should be confident that you are well prepared to succeed in your qualifying examination. If your stress levels are severe or debilitating you should seek help immediately. However, for minor stress, the following tips can help calm your nerves, and increase your confidence.

1. Schedule your exam at a time and location for your comfort. If you are a morning person then schedule your exam during the morning or in the afternoon if you are an afternoon person. Talk to your committee several months in advance about scheduling a time, and they may be more flexible to accommodate your needs.

2. Decide in advance:

a. How will you respond to off the wall questions? Off the wall questions include those from “left field,” or those that you have not anticipated. Expect that you will get a few of these, and create a plan about how you will respond to them. Perhaps you can ask your committee member to repeat, or clarify the question. Take a few moments to think about it. It is OK if there are a few seconds of silence. Restate the question out loud so that you can make sure you understood the question as it was asked. Then go for it! You are well prepared to answer.

b. How will you respond to questions that you do not know? It is almost inevitable that you will be asked a question or two during your examination that you do not know the answer to. So it is best to prepare ahead how you will answer it when it is asked. Do not try to “fake” your way out of it. It is best to be honest and say that you don’t know. Some possible answers include:

* “I don’t have that information at this time. I would obtain that information from…”

* “That is a good question, and I am not sure about the answer. However, I would find the answer by…”

* “I am not sure what the answer is, but if I was to make a hypothesis based on my knowledge it would be….”

By having a plan for what to do, you will reduce your stress level if and when a questions is asked that you do not know the answer to.

3. The week before.

a. Reconfirm the date and location of the qualifying exam room with all your committee members. This way you can touch base one last time with all of them before the big day. You can rest assured that everyone is clear on the day, time, and place.

b. Visit the exam room and check that the keys fit, the lighting, heating, air-conditioning, are all functional and ready to go. This will help alleviate any of the nagging “what if’s” about your exam day.

Golden Rule #5: Have an exam day plan.

It will help you immensely if you have a plan, and know what to expect on your exam day.

1. The morning of:

a. Dress appropriately. This is usually professional or business dress. Look good…Feel good.

b. Eat a small meal. Even if you are nervous, try to eat a small meal. Your exam may be upwards of 3 hours, so you really need to fuel your brain and body.

c. Drive or have someone drive you to your exam. Try to avoid biking or public transportation if you can.

d. Get to the exam room early, at least 30 minutes before your exam is scheduled to begin. Open the door, turn on the lights, heat or AC, and set up any audio visual equipment that you may need. After that do not wait in the room, go for a walk and watch your time. Be back to your exam site at 5 minutes before your exam.

2. During your exam:

a. Understand the time constraints of the exam. Use your watch to keep abreast of time and pace your self accordingly. Speak slowly, and clearly. Do not cut off any of your examiners when they are speaking (as they are using up time that could be filled with more questions for you).

b. At the break, leave the exam room and go for a brief walk, or stretch outside, in another hallway, or in the restroom. You are half way there!

c. At the end of the examination, be sure to thank all of your examiners politely for their time, consideration, and efforts.

After your exam try to take some time to celebrate with family and friends. It is a big accomplishment, and you should reward yourself for your efforts.

In conclusion, while the qualifying exam is an often a stressful experience for graduate students, there are universal strategies that can be employed, regardless of the field of study. It is my hope that the “Five Golden Rules” of qualifying exam preparation will help all graduate students, regardless of their department or program, to succeed on their qualifying exam.

Written by Rhea Presiado, UC Davis Professors for the Future, using exam preparation material from Dr. Louis Grivetti, UC Davis, Department of Nutrition. Please contact Rhea Presiado at rsmuchow@ucdavis.edu or Dr. Grivetti at legrivetti@ucdavis.edu for additional information.

Source: http://gradstudies.ucdavis.edu/students/qualifying_exam.html

Although the content and structure of qualifying examinations varies widely by discipline, this information focuses on universal "strategies for success" that will be valuable to graduate students in all departments. This information will help to demystify the qualifying exam, and empower graduate students with the skills and strategies to feel confident and prepared when the time comes for their exam. In addition, this information is a resource for graduate student advisors to better achieve their mentoring goals.

The following are the “Five Golden Rules” of qualifying exam preparation.

1. Understand the qualifying exam.

2. Know your examiners.

3. Prepare early.

4. Reduce your stress.

5. Have an exam day plan.

Students who follow these “golden rules” in combination with close consultation with their advisor, and committee members will be superbly prepared for success on their qualifying exam.

So, where and when do you start? Ideally you should start with golden rule #1 about 6 months before your qualifying exam. However, graduate students often begin preparation 3 or fewer months in advance and also have good success.

Golden Rule #1: Understand the qualifying exam.

It may sound simplistic, but understanding what the qualifying exam is, how it works, and its format is absolutely imperative to its successful completion. By graduate school, most graduate students are truly “professional students.” That is, they are experts at essay, multiple choice, and short answer tests, quizzes, and assignments. However, few graduate students are well practiced at oral examination. That is one of the reasons why the qualifying exam is so scary.

To abide by golden rule #1 you will need to obtain the following information:

1. How much time does the exam usually take?

2. What is the format of the exam?

3. How is your performance assessed?

The best way to obtain this information is from a variety of sources. First and foremost ask your advisors for their input. Next ask these questions to all of your committee members, especially your chair. Cross check their answers to see if all of your committee members are on the same page when it comes to the time, format, and assessment. If not, then you may want to let your committee chair know so he or she can set the tone for your committee.

Next, you should ask these questions to other graduate students in your department who have recently passed their qualifying exam.

After you have mastered the time, format, and assessment of the qualifying exam you will have a complete understanding of what it is you are about to undertake. Next you are ready for golden rule #2.

Golden Rule #2: Know your examiners.

The members of your qualifying exam committee are the gatekeepers of you advancing to candidacy. If you invited professors to serve on your committee, then be sure that you know them well, and have at least taken one course from them.

As these people will be spending a few hours with you discussing your discipline, and your research during your exam, you should spend some time researching each of your committee member’s scientific backgrounds. This will make you familiar with their expertise, research, teaching, and even a bit of their personality. You should research the following:

1. What is your committee member's academic training? Where did they get their degrees, and in what departments?

2. What are your examiners publications? What topics do they write about? In what journals do they publish papers?

After you have thoroughly researched all of your committee members, and have verified that they are all suitable and applicable for your committee (if you haven't already) you should meet with them.

Try to meet with them in person several times before the exam, as this will let you get to know them better, their style of questions, and their personality. When you meet with them you should ask each of them the following questions:

1. What is their philosophy towards the examination?

2. Does your lab/department have a book of commonly asked oral exam questions?

3. What types of questions do they usually ask?

As a result of your background research and your meetings with committee members, you should be able to obtain a good sense of where each of your committee members is coming from, what they expect from you, and what types of questions they might ask you.

This information is invaluable. It will help to put you at ease with their personalities, and can help you anticipate possible questions they may ask you.

Golden Rule #3: Prepare early and systematically.

So how do you prepare for a qualifying exam? Clearly, what to study varies according to your department and research field, but below are strategies that apply to any department.

Be systematic in your study approach. What does it mean to be “systematic”? It simply means to organize the topics that you will study from general to specific as this is often how your exam questions will progress, and it is the best way to re-learn material.

Begin your systematic studying 6 months in advance. However, do not stress out if all you have to study is 3 or even 2 months. As long as you are systematic in your preparation, you will be in good shape.

1. First, review the basics of your field. You can achieve this by reviewing all of your past lower division courses. You can use your old notes, text books, exams, and lab write ups. Focus on the main themes and concepts. You may think that you have forgotten everything, but it will begin to come back to you and be familiar.

2. Next, review the specifics of your field. This means reviewing all of the material covered in any of upper division or graduate level courses. Again, focus on the major themes and concepts. However, if there are details that relate to your research or your field of study, then focus on those as well.

3. Now, Prepare and practice your dissertation research proposal. Often your dissertation proposal is formulated under guidance from your advisor. This would include a thorough literature review, research objectives and hypotheses, methodology, and expected results. The exam candidate is at an advantage here because at your qualifying exam, you will (or should be) the expert on your research topic. Therefore, any questions that your committee has about your research proposal you will be able to answer.

A great strategy for practicing your dissertation research proposal is to explain your research to others. Begin with those in your department, because they will have general knowledge of your research, and will be able to give you scientifically based critiques. Then, the greatest test of your ability to clearly explain your research is to present it to people outside of your field of study. This could include your friends in other departments, parents, or grandparents. The more that you talk about your research and answer questions about it, the more prepared and confident you will become for your qualifying exam.

4. Next, prepare your “how I came to be here speech.” Again, all departments are different and you should consult with your advisor and committee chair to see if this applies to you, but most qualifying exams begin with some sort of “how I came to be here speech.”

Basically the speech is a warm up for you, and if you prepare for it, you can hit a grand slam! Your committee may ask, “How did you come to be before us today” or “Why did you decide to get your PhD”, or “Why did you chose your topic of study.” The beauty of all of these questions is that there is no wrong answer. The answer is all up to you, and it gives you a chance to tell the committee about yourself, perhaps things they never knew before (where you grew up, childhood experiences, and inspiring events in your life). You also should think of the “how I came to be here” speech as a platform for you to plant seeds for further questions from your committee members. Any information which you give them in this speech may prompt additional questions from them, so be sure to mention things that you would be happy to discuss further.

5. Prepare for anticipated questions. After you have reviewed the general and specific topics in your field, interviewed and met several times with your committee members, and have prepared your research proposal, you will have covered all of the potential topics that are game for your qualifying exam. As such, you should begin to generate anticipated questions.

It is a little bit like predicting the future, but using what you have learned about the format and types of questions asked during exams, you should be able to come up with a few hundred potential questions.

6. Set up a practice qualifying exam. Setting up a practice qualifying exam is an easy way to give you a taste of what to expect on exam day. Enlist the help of your colleagues, fellow graduate students, or even friends or family. Present to them your “how I came to be here speech,” and your research proposal. Have one of them keep time for you, so you can adjust the length of your speech and proposal accordingly come exam day. Have them each ask you several of the “anticipated questions” that you have already formulated and even ones that they come up with themselves. Also ask them fore critiques on your speech, volume, body language…anything that you could work on before your oral exam. Also, try to conduct your mock exam in the same room in which you will have your qualifying exam.

7. Review recent scientific journals. As the date of your qualifying exam approaches, be sure to read the latest editions of the most important research journals in your field and sub-field. Being informed about the latest research and discoveries in your field may be useful when answering your examiners questions. Also, as your committee members often read these same journals and they may draw some of their questions from recent journal articles.

Golden Rule #4: Reduce your stress.

The qualifying examination is clearly one of the most stressful events in a graduate student’s academic experience. This is very common as the exam is often shrouded in mystery, is an unfamiliar test format, and can be “high stakes”.

If you have prepared systematically, you are in great shape and should be confident that you are well prepared to succeed in your qualifying examination. If your stress levels are severe or debilitating you should seek help immediately. However, for minor stress, the following tips can help calm your nerves, and increase your confidence.

1. Schedule your exam at a time and location for your comfort. If you are a morning person then schedule your exam during the morning or in the afternoon if you are an afternoon person. Talk to your committee several months in advance about scheduling a time, and they may be more flexible to accommodate your needs.

2. Decide in advance:

a. How will you respond to off the wall questions? Off the wall questions include those from “left field,” or those that you have not anticipated. Expect that you will get a few of these, and create a plan about how you will respond to them. Perhaps you can ask your committee member to repeat, or clarify the question. Take a few moments to think about it. It is OK if there are a few seconds of silence. Restate the question out loud so that you can make sure you understood the question as it was asked. Then go for it! You are well prepared to answer.

b. How will you respond to questions that you do not know? It is almost inevitable that you will be asked a question or two during your examination that you do not know the answer to. So it is best to prepare ahead how you will answer it when it is asked. Do not try to “fake” your way out of it. It is best to be honest and say that you don’t know. Some possible answers include:

* “I don’t have that information at this time. I would obtain that information from…”

* “That is a good question, and I am not sure about the answer. However, I would find the answer by…”

* “I am not sure what the answer is, but if I was to make a hypothesis based on my knowledge it would be….”

By having a plan for what to do, you will reduce your stress level if and when a questions is asked that you do not know the answer to.

3. The week before.

a. Reconfirm the date and location of the qualifying exam room with all your committee members. This way you can touch base one last time with all of them before the big day. You can rest assured that everyone is clear on the day, time, and place.

b. Visit the exam room and check that the keys fit, the lighting, heating, air-conditioning, are all functional and ready to go. This will help alleviate any of the nagging “what if’s” about your exam day.

Golden Rule #5: Have an exam day plan.

It will help you immensely if you have a plan, and know what to expect on your exam day.

1. The morning of:

a. Dress appropriately. This is usually professional or business dress. Look good…Feel good.

b. Eat a small meal. Even if you are nervous, try to eat a small meal. Your exam may be upwards of 3 hours, so you really need to fuel your brain and body.

c. Drive or have someone drive you to your exam. Try to avoid biking or public transportation if you can.

d. Get to the exam room early, at least 30 minutes before your exam is scheduled to begin. Open the door, turn on the lights, heat or AC, and set up any audio visual equipment that you may need. After that do not wait in the room, go for a walk and watch your time. Be back to your exam site at 5 minutes before your exam.

2. During your exam:

a. Understand the time constraints of the exam. Use your watch to keep abreast of time and pace your self accordingly. Speak slowly, and clearly. Do not cut off any of your examiners when they are speaking (as they are using up time that could be filled with more questions for you).

b. At the break, leave the exam room and go for a brief walk, or stretch outside, in another hallway, or in the restroom. You are half way there!

c. At the end of the examination, be sure to thank all of your examiners politely for their time, consideration, and efforts.

After your exam try to take some time to celebrate with family and friends. It is a big accomplishment, and you should reward yourself for your efforts.

In conclusion, while the qualifying exam is an often a stressful experience for graduate students, there are universal strategies that can be employed, regardless of the field of study. It is my hope that the “Five Golden Rules” of qualifying exam preparation will help all graduate students, regardless of their department or program, to succeed on their qualifying exam.

Written by Rhea Presiado, UC Davis Professors for the Future, using exam preparation material from Dr. Louis Grivetti, UC Davis, Department of Nutrition. Please contact Rhea Presiado at rsmuchow@ucdavis.edu or Dr. Grivetti at legrivetti@ucdavis.edu for additional information.

Source: http://gradstudies.ucdavis.edu/students/qualifying_exam.html

## Friday, July 24, 2009

### ONE AND TWO-TAILED t-TESTS

July 24, 2009

A one- or two-tailed t-test is determined by whether the total area of a is placed in one tail or divided equally between the two tails. The one-tailed t-test is performed if the results are interesting only if they turn out in a particular direction. The two-tailed t-test is performed if the results would be interesting in either direction. The choice of a one- or two-tailed t-test effects the hypothesis testing procedure in a number of different ways.

TWO-TAILED t-TESTS

A two-tailed t-test divides a in half, placing half in the each tail. The null hypothesis in this case is a particular value, and there are two alternative hypotheses, one positive and one negative. The critical value of t, tcrit, is written with both a plus and minus sign (± ). For example, the critical value of t when there are ten degrees of freedom (df=10) and a is set to .05, is tcrit= ± 2.228. The sampling distribution model used in a two-tailed t-test is illustrated below:

ONE-TAILED t-TESTS

There are really two different one-tailed t-tests, one for each tail. In a one-tailed t-test, all the area associated with a is placed in either one tail or the other. Selection of the tail depends upon which direction tobs would be (+ or -) if the results of the experiment came out as expected. The selection of the tail must be made before the experiment is conducted and analyzed.

A one-tailed t-test in the positive direction is illustrated below:

The value tcrit would be positive. For example when a is set to .05 with ten degrees of freedom (df=10), tcrit would be equal to +1.812.

A one-tailed t-test in the negative direction is illustrated below:

The value tcrit would be negative. For example, when a is set to .05 with ten degrees of freedom (df=10), tcrit would be equal to -1.812.

Comparison of One and Two-tailed t-tests

1. If tOBS = 3.37, then significance would be found in the two-tailed and the positive one-tailed t-tests. The one-tailed t-test in the negative direction would not be significant, because was placed in the wrong tail. This is the danger of a one-tailed t-test.

2. If tOBS = -1.92, then significance would only be found in the negative one-tailed t-test. If the correct direction is selected, it can be seen that one is more likely to reject the null hypothesis. The significance test is said to have greater power in this case.

The selection of a one or two-tailed t-test must be made before the experiment is performed. It is not "cricket" to find a that tOBS = -1.92, and then say "I really meant to do a one-tailed t-test." Because reviewers of articles submitted for publication are sometimes suspicious when a one-tailed t-test is done, the recommendation is that if there is any doubt, a two-tailed test should be done.

Source: http://www.psychstat.missouristate.edu/introbook/sbk25m.htm

A one- or two-tailed t-test is determined by whether the total area of a is placed in one tail or divided equally between the two tails. The one-tailed t-test is performed if the results are interesting only if they turn out in a particular direction. The two-tailed t-test is performed if the results would be interesting in either direction. The choice of a one- or two-tailed t-test effects the hypothesis testing procedure in a number of different ways.

TWO-TAILED t-TESTS

A two-tailed t-test divides a in half, placing half in the each tail. The null hypothesis in this case is a particular value, and there are two alternative hypotheses, one positive and one negative. The critical value of t, tcrit, is written with both a plus and minus sign (± ). For example, the critical value of t when there are ten degrees of freedom (df=10) and a is set to .05, is tcrit= ± 2.228. The sampling distribution model used in a two-tailed t-test is illustrated below:

ONE-TAILED t-TESTS

There are really two different one-tailed t-tests, one for each tail. In a one-tailed t-test, all the area associated with a is placed in either one tail or the other. Selection of the tail depends upon which direction tobs would be (+ or -) if the results of the experiment came out as expected. The selection of the tail must be made before the experiment is conducted and analyzed.

A one-tailed t-test in the positive direction is illustrated below:

The value tcrit would be positive. For example when a is set to .05 with ten degrees of freedom (df=10), tcrit would be equal to +1.812.

A one-tailed t-test in the negative direction is illustrated below:

The value tcrit would be negative. For example, when a is set to .05 with ten degrees of freedom (df=10), tcrit would be equal to -1.812.

Comparison of One and Two-tailed t-tests

1. If tOBS = 3.37, then significance would be found in the two-tailed and the positive one-tailed t-tests. The one-tailed t-test in the negative direction would not be significant, because was placed in the wrong tail. This is the danger of a one-tailed t-test.

2. If tOBS = -1.92, then significance would only be found in the negative one-tailed t-test. If the correct direction is selected, it can be seen that one is more likely to reject the null hypothesis. The significance test is said to have greater power in this case.

The selection of a one or two-tailed t-test must be made before the experiment is performed. It is not "cricket" to find a that tOBS = -1.92, and then say "I really meant to do a one-tailed t-test." Because reviewers of articles submitted for publication are sometimes suspicious when a one-tailed t-test is done, the recommendation is that if there is any doubt, a two-tailed test should be done.

Source: http://www.psychstat.missouristate.edu/introbook/sbk25m.htm

## Monday, July 20, 2009

### 2nd PhD Colloquium Centre for Graduate Studies, Open University Malaysia 18 – 19 July 2009 - Part 2

The second QE started at 11.45am. The presenter was a PhD student Jeffrey Tan from Singapore and his research topic is: "Effects of Online Social Networking on Personal Effectiveness in Private Institutions of Higher Learning in Singapore".

The 2 external examiners were having discussion with Prof. Ghazali prior to the start of the proposal defense

Part of the participants who attended the QE session

Proposal defense presentation by Jeffrey Tan

The examiner was very generous in giving him 45 minutes to present his proposal. Overall his presentation was quite good and that he was well prepared for proposal defense.

There were 2 external examiners during the QE chaired by Prof. Ghazali, the program coordinator of OUM for PhD(BA). About 30 students turned up for he QE to pick up a point or two for their future QE.

The 2 external examiners were having discussion with Prof. Ghazali prior to the start of the proposal defense

Part of the participants who attended the QE session

Proposal defense presentation by Jeffrey Tan

The examiner was very generous in giving him 45 minutes to present his proposal. Overall his presentation was quite good and that he was well prepared for proposal defense.

There were 2 external examiners during the QE chaired by Prof. Ghazali, the program coordinator of OUM for PhD(BA). About 30 students turned up for he QE to pick up a point or two for their future QE.

## Sunday, July 19, 2009

### 2nd PhD Colloquium Centre for Graduate Studies, Open University Malaysia 18 – 19 July 2009 - Part 1

July 19, 2009 by Richard Ng

Some 100 PhD students attended the 2-day colloquium held at OUM Main Campus from 18 to 19 July 2009. A few experienced Professors have been invited to give special talk on Data Analysis, Data Collection, Thesis preparation and software tools that can assist them in their studies.

A few students were also presenting their thesis proposal defense to see if they are qualified to proceed to the next level of their studies. I happened to be there today and attended 2 QEs - one by a Masters degree student Ng Man Sang and the other one by a PhD student from Singapore Jeffrey Tan.

Some 100 PhD students attended the 2-day colloquium held at OUM Main Campus from 18 to 19 July 2009. A few experienced Professors have been invited to give special talk on Data Analysis, Data Collection, Thesis preparation and software tools that can assist them in their studies.

A few students were also presenting their thesis proposal defense to see if they are qualified to proceed to the next level of their studies. I happened to be there today and attended 2 QEs - one by a Masters degree student Ng Man Sang and the other one by a PhD student from Singapore Jeffrey Tan.

## Saturday, July 11, 2009

### PPSMI -- 20 questions on the UPSI study on the teaching of Maths and Science in English

Jul 11, 2009 Posted by Azly Rahman

Below is a Bahasa Melayu version of the UPSI (Universiti Perguruan Sultan Idris) study on the teaching of science and mathematics in English.

Think of the following questions as you read the summary. I invite comments as well.

1. Who sponsored the research?

2. What methodology is used?

3. What is the nature of the sampling strategy?

4. How is the data triangulated to check for validity and reliability?

5. What are the strategies of data gathering used?

6. How complex is the analysis, given that the questions are simple (the questions asked are not higher order questions nor phenomenological)?

7. What paradigm governs this research?

8. What theory informs the process and premises of data interpretation?

9. What dimensions of race, gender, class, and ethnicity, school culture, curricular design, ecology of the child, etc. is at play here?

9. How are recommendations made in vis-a-viz influencing factors and political demands?

10. Who are the researchers? What political affiliation do they hold, if any? How political is the institution?

11. How does the institution influence the reporting and next, public sharing of the findings?

12. How conclusive, as claimed, is the finding? Why does the finding warrant such a political decision?

13. How will policy-makers use findings?How has it been used now and will continue to be used?

14. What long-term consequence will this brief and inconclusive study have on the politics of education, race, teacher professionalism, human capital development, and national preparedness on globalization as well?

15. Is there a qualitative/discursive dimension of this research available in order for another set of findings to be be compared to; dimensions such as narratives, ethnographic observation, document and conversational analysis, etc.?

16. Is there a follow up study on teaching strategy, teacher qualification, etc.?

17. What is the level of competency desired as baseline and what set of rubrics is used to define competency?

18. Since the beginning of the implementation of the program, has the Teacher Education Research Unit of the Ministry of Education develop a cumulative research strategy (say, over a five-year period) to collect baseline data on the multidimensional aspects the effectiveness of the strategy?

19. How is ideology tied to this research agenda?

20. What premises inform the claim of neutrality of this research? In other words, what is this study neutral against, if any?

THE STUDY

Kajian PPSMI oleh UPSI

Kajian dijalankan oleh sekumpulan penyelidik dari Fakulti Sains Kognitif dan Pembangunan Manusia, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris Tanjung Malim yang diketuai oleh Profesor Emeritus Isahak Haron anjuran Yayasan Kajian dan Strategi Melayu.

Kajian tersebut membabitkan hampir 4000 murid tahun 5 di 68 buah sekolah rendah di Semenanjung Malaysia antara tempoh Februari 2007 dan Januari 2008.

Kajian UPSI tersebut adalah berkaitan dengan PPSMI dalam menjawab beberapa isu Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran berikut:

1. Sejauh manakah guru menggunakan Bahasa Inggeris sebagai bahasa pengantar Sains dan Matematik ?

Kajian dari sample yang berlainan pelajar sekolah rendah sepanjang 2003-2007 mendapati:

i. Lebih 85% pelajar melaporkan guru mengajar Sains dan Matematik dengan campuran Bahasa Inggeris dan Bahasa Melayu . Ini adalah kerana guru-guru ingin membantu murid-murid yang lemah Bahasa Inggeris memahami apa yang diajar.

ii. Hanya 02% guru menggunakan Bahasa Inggeris sepenuhnya.

iii. Dan 05% menggunakan Bahasa Malaysia sahaja.

2. Sejauh manakah pelajar sukar mempelajari Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris ?

Berdasarkan sampel Januari 2008:

i. 83% murid pelbagai kaum menyatakan sukar belajar Sains dalam Bahasa Inggeris.

ii. 87.2% di kajian di kalangan pelajar Melayu mengatakan sukar belajar Sains dalam Bahasa Inggeris.

iii. 65%kajian di kalangan pelajar Melayu mengatakan sukar belajar Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris.

Berdasarkan sampel Februari 2007:

i. 70-80 peratus pelajar Melayu sekolah kebangsaan masih menghadapi masalah mempelajari Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris walaupun telah menggunakan Bahasa Inggeris sejak tahun 2003.

3. Adakah mempelajari Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris meningkatkan pembelajaran dan prestasi Matematik pelajar ?

Kajian Sampel murid Tahun 5 Januari 2008 mendapati:

i. Skor prestasi Matematik pelajar-pelajar berkenaan adalah rendah iaitu 7.89 daripada skor maksimum 20.0.

ii. Skor murid Melayu (7.66) adalah lebih rendah dari skor murid Cina (13.0) dan India (8.21)

iii. Peratus murid Melayu yang memberi jawapan tepat adalah lebih rendah dari murid Cina dan India terutama dalam soalan yang memerlukan murid memahami ayat atau arahan dalam Bahasa Ingerís.

iv. Murid Melayu lemah dalam operasi asas dengan hanya 58.2 peratus yang mampu menjawabnya.

v. Dalam asas darab hanya 53.9 peratus murid Melayu mampu menjawab berbanding murid Cina 80 peratus boleh menjawab dengan betul.

vi. Dalam asas bahagi yang memerlukan membaca ayat dalam Bahasa Ingerís , hanya 14 peratus dan 35 peratus sahaja murid Melayu yang mampu memberi jawapan yang betul.

4. Adakah mempelajari Sains dalam Bahasa Inggeris meningkatkan pembelajaran dan prestasi Sains pelajar ?

i. Prestasi am Sains murid semua keturunan adalah rendah dengan skor hanya 4.28 daripada maksima 14.00.

ii. Skor murid Melayu lebih rendah (4.11) dari skor murid Cina (7.22) dan India (4.64).

iii. Kira-kira 83 peratus murid Tahun 5 dari semua keturunan mendapati sukar mempelajari Sains dalam Bahasa Inggeris dengan peratusan tertinggi di kalangan murid Melayu (84 peratus).

iv. Hampir 83 peratus murid Melayu tidak faham pengajaran guru Sains dalam Bahasa Inggeris.

5. Adakah pengajaran Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris membantu meningkatkan pembelajaran dan prestasi pelajar dalam Bahasa Inggeris ?

i. Prestasi am Bahasa Inggeris murid Tahun 5 dari semua keturunan adalah amat rendah dengan skor 11.97 daripada skor maksimum 31.0. Skor murid Melayu hanya 11.87. Skor murid Cina (21.77) dan India (16.14).

ii. Kira-kira 73.7 peratus murid Tahun 5 dari semua kaum menyatakan sukar mempelajari Bahasa Inggerics dengan peratus tertinggi ialah murid Melayu (81.4 Peratus).

iii. Lebih 75 peratus murid Melayu tidak faham pengajaran guru Bahasa Inggerís.

Below is a Bahasa Melayu version of the UPSI (Universiti Perguruan Sultan Idris) study on the teaching of science and mathematics in English.

Think of the following questions as you read the summary. I invite comments as well.

1. Who sponsored the research?

2. What methodology is used?

3. What is the nature of the sampling strategy?

4. How is the data triangulated to check for validity and reliability?

5. What are the strategies of data gathering used?

6. How complex is the analysis, given that the questions are simple (the questions asked are not higher order questions nor phenomenological)?

7. What paradigm governs this research?

8. What theory informs the process and premises of data interpretation?

9. What dimensions of race, gender, class, and ethnicity, school culture, curricular design, ecology of the child, etc. is at play here?

9. How are recommendations made in vis-a-viz influencing factors and political demands?

10. Who are the researchers? What political affiliation do they hold, if any? How political is the institution?

11. How does the institution influence the reporting and next, public sharing of the findings?

12. How conclusive, as claimed, is the finding? Why does the finding warrant such a political decision?

13. How will policy-makers use findings?How has it been used now and will continue to be used?

14. What long-term consequence will this brief and inconclusive study have on the politics of education, race, teacher professionalism, human capital development, and national preparedness on globalization as well?

15. Is there a qualitative/discursive dimension of this research available in order for another set of findings to be be compared to; dimensions such as narratives, ethnographic observation, document and conversational analysis, etc.?

16. Is there a follow up study on teaching strategy, teacher qualification, etc.?

17. What is the level of competency desired as baseline and what set of rubrics is used to define competency?

18. Since the beginning of the implementation of the program, has the Teacher Education Research Unit of the Ministry of Education develop a cumulative research strategy (say, over a five-year period) to collect baseline data on the multidimensional aspects the effectiveness of the strategy?

19. How is ideology tied to this research agenda?

20. What premises inform the claim of neutrality of this research? In other words, what is this study neutral against, if any?

THE STUDY

Kajian PPSMI oleh UPSI

Kajian dijalankan oleh sekumpulan penyelidik dari Fakulti Sains Kognitif dan Pembangunan Manusia, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris Tanjung Malim yang diketuai oleh Profesor Emeritus Isahak Haron anjuran Yayasan Kajian dan Strategi Melayu.

Kajian tersebut membabitkan hampir 4000 murid tahun 5 di 68 buah sekolah rendah di Semenanjung Malaysia antara tempoh Februari 2007 dan Januari 2008.

Kajian UPSI tersebut adalah berkaitan dengan PPSMI dalam menjawab beberapa isu Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran berikut:

1. Sejauh manakah guru menggunakan Bahasa Inggeris sebagai bahasa pengantar Sains dan Matematik ?

Kajian dari sample yang berlainan pelajar sekolah rendah sepanjang 2003-2007 mendapati:

i. Lebih 85% pelajar melaporkan guru mengajar Sains dan Matematik dengan campuran Bahasa Inggeris dan Bahasa Melayu . Ini adalah kerana guru-guru ingin membantu murid-murid yang lemah Bahasa Inggeris memahami apa yang diajar.

ii. Hanya 02% guru menggunakan Bahasa Inggeris sepenuhnya.

iii. Dan 05% menggunakan Bahasa Malaysia sahaja.

2. Sejauh manakah pelajar sukar mempelajari Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris ?

Berdasarkan sampel Januari 2008:

i. 83% murid pelbagai kaum menyatakan sukar belajar Sains dalam Bahasa Inggeris.

ii. 87.2% di kajian di kalangan pelajar Melayu mengatakan sukar belajar Sains dalam Bahasa Inggeris.

iii. 65%kajian di kalangan pelajar Melayu mengatakan sukar belajar Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris.

Berdasarkan sampel Februari 2007:

i. 70-80 peratus pelajar Melayu sekolah kebangsaan masih menghadapi masalah mempelajari Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris walaupun telah menggunakan Bahasa Inggeris sejak tahun 2003.

3. Adakah mempelajari Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris meningkatkan pembelajaran dan prestasi Matematik pelajar ?

Kajian Sampel murid Tahun 5 Januari 2008 mendapati:

i. Skor prestasi Matematik pelajar-pelajar berkenaan adalah rendah iaitu 7.89 daripada skor maksimum 20.0.

ii. Skor murid Melayu (7.66) adalah lebih rendah dari skor murid Cina (13.0) dan India (8.21)

iii. Peratus murid Melayu yang memberi jawapan tepat adalah lebih rendah dari murid Cina dan India terutama dalam soalan yang memerlukan murid memahami ayat atau arahan dalam Bahasa Ingerís.

iv. Murid Melayu lemah dalam operasi asas dengan hanya 58.2 peratus yang mampu menjawabnya.

v. Dalam asas darab hanya 53.9 peratus murid Melayu mampu menjawab berbanding murid Cina 80 peratus boleh menjawab dengan betul.

vi. Dalam asas bahagi yang memerlukan membaca ayat dalam Bahasa Ingerís , hanya 14 peratus dan 35 peratus sahaja murid Melayu yang mampu memberi jawapan yang betul.

4. Adakah mempelajari Sains dalam Bahasa Inggeris meningkatkan pembelajaran dan prestasi Sains pelajar ?

i. Prestasi am Sains murid semua keturunan adalah rendah dengan skor hanya 4.28 daripada maksima 14.00.

ii. Skor murid Melayu lebih rendah (4.11) dari skor murid Cina (7.22) dan India (4.64).

iii. Kira-kira 83 peratus murid Tahun 5 dari semua keturunan mendapati sukar mempelajari Sains dalam Bahasa Inggeris dengan peratusan tertinggi di kalangan murid Melayu (84 peratus).

iv. Hampir 83 peratus murid Melayu tidak faham pengajaran guru Sains dalam Bahasa Inggeris.

5. Adakah pengajaran Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris membantu meningkatkan pembelajaran dan prestasi pelajar dalam Bahasa Inggeris ?

i. Prestasi am Bahasa Inggeris murid Tahun 5 dari semua keturunan adalah amat rendah dengan skor 11.97 daripada skor maksimum 31.0. Skor murid Melayu hanya 11.87. Skor murid Cina (21.77) dan India (16.14).

ii. Kira-kira 73.7 peratus murid Tahun 5 dari semua kaum menyatakan sukar mempelajari Bahasa Inggerics dengan peratus tertinggi ialah murid Melayu (81.4 Peratus).

iii. Lebih 75 peratus murid Melayu tidak faham pengajaran guru Bahasa Inggerís.

*Sumber: Suara Keadilan 24-31 Dis 2008*
Subscribe to:
Posts (Atom)