Predictors of English Reading Comprehension and Performance in College-level Composition among Generation 1.5 Students

Predictors of English Reading Comprehension and Performance in College-level Composition among Generation 1.5 Students

Barsony, Ildiko, 2016


Generation 1.5 students, foreign-born children of first-generation immigrants, complete some or most of their K-12 education in the United States. Their oral communicative competence may be advanced, but their academic language proficiency may still be underdeveloped when they enter college. In 2013, SB1720 made placement testing optional for most Florida public high school graduates, including generation 1.5 students, making them eligible to enroll directly in the college-level English Composition 1 (ENC 1101) course. In order to succeed in this course, generation 1.5 students may need additional support appropriate to their unique needs.

This study first described the literacy backgrounds of 107 generation 1.5 students at Miami Dade College. Then, guided by the interdependence hypothesis, the common underlying proficiency model of bilingual proficiency, and the compensatory model of second language reading, it examined the relationship between the predictor variables (native language literacy, English language knowledge, and pre-ENC 1101 coursework) and the criterion variables (English reading comprehension and ENC 1101 performance).

Nearly a quarter (23.6%) of the MDC students who completed the initial literacy survey belonged to the generation 1.5 group. English language knowledge was significantly and positively correlated to both reading comprehension (p < .001) and ENC 1101 performance (p < .05). The negative correlation between pre-ENC 1101 coursework and reading comprehension (p < .001) was also statistically significant, but native language literacy was not significantly correlated to either English reading comprehension or ENC 1101 performance. The results of the regression analyses showed that English language knowledge accounted for nearly 50% of the variance (p < .001) in generation 1.5 students’ English reading comprehension; however, none of the independent variables contributed to a significant amount of variance in ENC 1101 performance in the regression model. This study contributed to the literature that aims to provide a better understanding of the numbers, the literacy foundations, and the instructional needs of generation 1.5 college students. While the findings did not fully support the theories that framed the study, future studies should continue to focus on generation 1.5 students producing academic texts in higher education institutions.

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