The language demands of the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education Mathematics Examination

Victoria Wambua, Joanna Masingila, Zack Mbasu, Louise C Wilkinson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

This paper reports the results of a mixed-methods study of the KCSE mathematics examination, a high-stakes test taken by students upon the completion of secondary education. The examination is given in English. The general research question is: Do examinations such as the KCSE mathematics assessment measure knowledge of the content area independent of advanced knowledge of English? The statistical analyses (correlation and regression) revealed that English scores predicted students’ mathematics scores. Linguistic analysis of the English language requirements of the test revealed that the test items require a specialized knowledge of English including: (1) general academic and mathematics-specific vocabulary items; (2) a higher frequency of informational words as the means to achieve more concise expression; and (3) complex syntax, which allows embedding of complex ideas into fewer words. These features are components of the mathematics register. The findings contribute to a broader understanding of the relationships among English language, mathematics learning, and assessment in Kenya; the findings suggest implications for educational practice.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages525
Number of pages533
StatePublished - Oct 15 2015
EventThe 3rd Annual Kenya International Conference on Education - Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya
Duration: Jul 14 2015Jul 16 2015
http://cuseinkenya.syr.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/ICE-2015.pdf

Conference

ConferenceThe 3rd Annual Kenya International Conference on Education
CountryKenya
CityNairobi
Period7/14/157/16/15
Internet address

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    Wambua, V., Masingila, J., Mbasu, Z., & Wilkinson, L. C. (2015). The language demands of the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education Mathematics Examination. 525. Paper presented at The 3rd Annual Kenya International Conference on Education, Nairobi, Kenya. http://cuseinkenya.syr.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/ICE-2015.pdf