EFL Students’ Proficiency Outcomes: What do Epistemological Beliefs Have to Offer?
Keywords: Epistemological Beliefs, EFL Students, Language Proficiency Outcomes
Tarbiat Modares University,
Mohammad Nabi Karimi
Ramin Akbari holds a Ph.D. in TEFL and is currently working as an assistant professor in post-graduate university of Tarbiat Modares, Tehran, Iran. His main areas of research include L2 Teacher Education, Critical Pedagogy, Reflective Teaching and Qualitative Research. He has published widely on these issues in well-accredited journals like System, Modern Language Journal, TESOL Quarterly. He has also co-authored a book on Teacher Education in the Middle East with Christine Coombe.
Mohammad. N. Karimi holds a Ph.D. in TEFL and is currently working as an assistant professor in Kharazmi University, Tehran, Iran, where he teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate students. His main areas of research include Academic Reading, Teachers and Learners’ Cognitions and Beliefs System. He has published on these issues in academic journals including Journal of Teaching Language Skills (JTLS), TESL-EJ, Australian Journal of Teacher Education, etc.
Personal epistemology, defined as a person’s implicit beliefs and assumptions regarding the nature, acquisition, structure, sources, and justification of knowledge, is believed to be of paramount importance in predicting a variety of other learners’ beliefs, behaviours and valued academic outcomes in mainstream education; the concept, however, has been ignored in ELT. Given the dearth of research on this area in EFL/ESL contexts, the present study aimed at investigating EFL students’ personal epistemology with reference to their proficiency outcomes. 164 university English majors participated in the study. These participants were all applicants of the MA entrance exam for English-related programs. Their scores on the general English proficiency component of the test as part of the MA Matriculation Exam served as the measure of their proficiency. Epistemic Beliefs Inventory (EBI), developed by Schraw, Bendixen, & Dunkle (2002) was used to measure the participants’ epistemological beliefs. The findings of the study indicate that students who hold more sophisticated beliefs achieved a higher proficiency as measured by the entrance test. When the participants’ language proficiency outcomes were assessed against sub-constructs of epistemological beliefs, robust correlations were found between entrance test scores and the beliefs in each of the five dimensions of epistemological beliefs inventory.