Teacher Reflections: Teaching Article Use to Graduate Students

by Chitra Varaprasad 
Centre for English Language Communication 
National University of Singapore

Many studies have highlighted students’ problems with article use among international students, particularly students from China (Chuang, 2005; Deng et al., 2010; Milton, 2001; Papp, 2004). This paper reports on the impact of an approach to teaching article use to post graduate students (mainly students from China) at the National University of Singapore. The study had several objectives. Firstly, it set out to explore the extent to which article usage was a problem for these doctoral students. Secondly, having decided to experiment with a “learner-centred” approach to article use, it also set out to assess the impact of such an interventionist approach on students’ learning. Towards this end, the study also obtained information about students’ perceived self-efficacy about their ability to use articles before and after the training. A careful analysis of both numerical and descriptive data showed that the approach used resulted in improvement in students’ understanding of article use although the extent of improvement was varied across students. The outcomes from the study augur well for “learner-centred” approaches. It clearly showed that getting students to take responsibility for their learning was a good pedagogical practice.

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