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New publication: English-medium instruction and impact on academic performance: a randomized control study

Bälter, O., Kann, V., Mutimukwe, C. & Malmström, H. (2023). English-medium instruction and impact on academic performance: a randomized control study. Applied Linguistics Review.

Open access at

Stakeholders and researchers in higher education have long debated the consequences of English-medium instruction (EMI); a key assumption of EMI is that student’s academic learning through English should be at least as good as learning through their first language (usually the national language). This study addressed the following question: “What is the impact from English-medium instruction on students’ academic performance in an online learning environment?” “Academic performance” was measured in two ways: number of correctly answered test questions and through-put/drop-out rate. The study adopted an experimental design involving a large group (n = 2,263) randomized control study in a programming course. Student participants were randomly allocated to an English-medium version of the course (the intervention group) or a Swedish-medium version of the course (the control group). The findings were that students enrolled on the English-medium version of the course answered statistically significantly fewer test questions correctly; the EMI students also dropped out from the course to a statistically significantly higher degree compared to students enrolled on the Swedish version of the course. The conclusion of this study is thus that EMI may, under certain circumstances, have negative consequences for students’ academic performance.

Teaching in English detrimental for Swedish students

A randomized control study performed at KTH with assistance from Chalmers has finally answered the question on how the teaching language affects the students’ learning, and it is not looking good for teaching Swedish students in English:,c3834271/

TEL group at NLASI 23 in Oulu, Finland

Olga presented Cultural differences in Students’ Privacy Concerns in LA across Germany, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and the US. Former TEL group member Chantal presented Online proctoring systems in higher education: Understanding stakeholders’ privacy perceptions and responsibilities with Olga as one of the co-authors. Olle held a workshop on developed together with Ric who cheered on remotely.

Paper published on the OneLearns program in Rwanda and Ethiopia


Our paper A Web-Based Program About Sustainable Development Goals Focusing on Digital Learning, Digital Health Literacy, and Nutrition for Professional Development in Ethiopia and Rwanda: Development of a Pedagogical Method has been published in JMIR Formative Research.

Background:East African countries face significant societal challenges related to sustainable development goals but have limited resources to address these problems, including a shortage of nutrition experts and health care workers, limited access to physical and digital infrastructure, and a shortage of advanced educational programs and continuing professional development.

Objective:This study aimed to develop a web-based program for sustainable development with a focus on digital learning, digital health literacy, and child nutrition, targeting government officials and decision-makers at nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Ethiopia and Rwanda.

Methods:A web-based program—OneLearns (Online Education for Leaders in Nutrition and Sustainability)—uses a question-based learning methodology. This is a research-based pedagogical method developed within the open learning initiative at Carnegie Mellon University, United States. Participants were recruited during the fall of 2020 from ministries of health, education, and agriculture and NGOs that have public health, nutrition, and education in their missions. The program was conducted during the spring of 2021.

Results:Of the 70 applicants, 25 (36%) were selected and remained active throughout the entire program and filled out a pre- and postassessment questionnaire. After the program, of the 25 applicants, 20 (80%, 95% CI 64%-96%) participants reported that their capacity to drive change related to the sustainable development goals as well as child nutrition in their organizations had increased to large extent or to a very large extent. Furthermore, 17 (68%, 95% CI 50%-86%) and 18 (72%, 95% CI 54%-90%) participants reported that their capacity to drive change related to digital health literacy and digital learning had increased to a large extent and to a very large extent, respectively.

Conclusions:Digital learning based on a question-based learning methodology was perceived as a useful method for increasing the capacity to drive change regarding sustainable development among government officials and decision-makers at NGOs in Ethiopia and Rwanda.