VI. Academic Trajectories in an English Language Teaching Program: A Study of Students' Paths at the Autonomous University of the State of Hidalgo
Paredes Zepeda, Bertha Guadalupe
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RESUMEN DEL LIBRO: The research presented in the first part of a longitudinal study whose aim is to obtain a better understanding of students' academic behavior from the time they enroll the university until the conclusion of their studies, in other words, during their academic trajectory. Based on demographic particulars and students' perceptions of their experiences in terms of factors known to affect academic performance, the currents findings provide a profile of undergraduate students at an early stage of their studies in English Language Teaching Programs in public universities in Mexico. Data were collected by means of a questionnaire administered to 446 students at eight participating universities belonging to the states of Aguascalientes (UAA), Puebla (BUAP), Hidalgo (UAEH), the State of Mexico (UAEMex), Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala (UAT), Colima (UCOL), and Veracruz (UV). The questionnaire was constructed in keeping with the definition of academic trajectory, proposed by Cuevas (2001) in Fernandez, Peña, and Vera (2006), as "a set of factors and data that affect and account for the students' school behavior during their stay at the university. These factor can be either, psychological and sociological (qualitative), or they can provide more precise data (quantitative) about students' academic performance." An analysis of the study's data reflecting the aforementioned factors reveals that there are more similarities than differences among the student cohorts, including a strong consensus that students are pleased with their BA programs. The study's major findings suggest proposals for BA programs and university officials to consider in three broad areas. The recommendations respond to 1) students' interest and expectations about studying and working abroad; 2) students` neutral or mixed perceptions of tutorial programs vis-á-vis how well tutors respond to their academic and professional needs concerning, for example, the development of stress-management skills and good study habits, as well as what guidance they received related to personal concerns such as relationship issues; 3) students' views, evident in their perceptions of teachers' performance and other classroom realities on the importance of supportive and meaningful learning environments. The researchers conclude that follow-up and interventionist steps are warranted to address students' needs and, by doing so, to respond to universities' concerns about improving the quality of tertiary education in Mexico.