«Item type text; Electronic Dissertation Authors Goertler, Senta Publisher The University of Arizona. Rights Copyright © is held by the author. ...»
Much of the literature discussed in Chapter II forms the basis for this study in terms of its theoretical framework and research design. Most prior studies within the interactionist framework have focused on non-native speaker – native-speaker (NNS-NS) dyads rather than on learner-learner interactions, and were not a required component in a foreign language class. Studies investigating the benefits of learner-learner interactions in a CMC context have generally focused on differences in language learning opportunities and contexts between CMC and F2F interactions. The changed role of the teacher in a CMC setting and its relationship with students’ learning opportunities have not been sufficiently considered. Few studies of corrective feedback and CMC within an interactionist framework have investigated a variety of data sets to provide a more detailed view of the nature and the potential outcomes of interaction, especially with CMC that involves the teacher. And fewer studies still have been conducted on the interactions that occur and the resources that are consulted in the physical environment while chatting as part of a lab session of a foreign language course.
The purpose of this study is multifaceted, and since research on this topic is limited, it is also explorative in nature. First and foremost, this study seeks to explore the role of the teacher during CMC both in the physical and in the virtual environment. As a pioneer study, I sought the most natural setting for the teacher. As discussed in Chapter two, asynchronous CMC or any form of CMC involving tandem learning does not generally encourage an active role of the teacher. Therefore I decided to conduct this study in a SCMC environment in which students chatted with other students in the presence of the teacher. I also decided to use in-class activities to ensure that students would participate. Furthermore, I observed the classes to analyze the kinds of interactions in the physical environment in order to make suggestions for changes in activity design if used from remote locations, i.e., distance learning, in the future.
The focus of the investigation is on the teachers’ use of corrective feedback and its effect on the learners. Traditional frameworks of error categorization and corrective feedback categorization are challenged. Since this study aims to understand the choices made by the instructor, I decided to use an error categorization system that is often used by teachers for the correction of essays, so that errors are coded from the perspective of the teacher rather than from the perspective of a linguistic analysis (see Appendix 1 for Error Correction Sheet). The use of CMC may make a new categorization of feedback moves necessary. As discussed in Chapter two, delayed conversation and the option of multiple simultaneous conversation threads may encourage different and even new forms of feedback. In addition, as a written yet spontaneous medium, chat may encourage new corrective feedback conventions such as a repetition marked with a special symbol to indicate an error. As discussed by Smith (2001) and by Fernandez-Garcia and MartinezArbelaiz (2002), the negotiation of meaning sequence that had previously been identified by Gass and Varonis (1985) may not require all steps during CMC. The analysis of this dissertation data will, on one hand, attempt to revise the current analysis practices of error correction, and, on the other hand, provide recommendations for effective use and implementation of CMC activities by the teacher for teacher training.
This research study is further intended to explore relationships between error type and corrective feedback type, and between corrective feedback type and instances of uptake. Since research on corrective feedback remains controversial, it is important to understand which errors receive what kind of feedback and whether or not such feedback is effective.
I will also analyze the teachers’ turns to better understand their purpose in the discourse. Since few studies have reported if and how the teacher interacts with the students during CMC activities, it is important to understand the teachers’ postings.
Information about the timing, the purpose, and the nature of teachers’ postings can provide recommendations for teacher training and the implementation of CMC in language programs.
Finally, this study aims to describe the events in the physical space that accompanied the virtual interactions in order to provide recommendations for curriculum and activity design utilizing CMC through remote access.
3.2 Methodological Overview The study includes five phases (see table 3.1.). First, data from a background study which collected chat transcripts in similar classes over a period of three years were analyzed to find effective ways of categorizing errors and corrective feedback in chat transcripts (see sample chat transcript in Appendix 2). The chat transcripts under investigation were samples from five teachers chatting in German-as-a-foreign-language classes at the University of Arizona. The primary purpose of this phase was to categorize and identify participation and corrective feedback styles used by a variety of teachers using chat as part of their German classes. This information was then used in the training of teachers involved in the semester-long study of this dissertation project as will be discussed later. The courses in the main study were similar to the classes in the background study, providing relevant examples which could be used for training purposes.
The second phase was the development and the piloting of research instruments.
During the summer semester prior to data collection, the surveys, the activities, and the tests were piloted with a group of students similar to the target audience. After a first round, all of the instruments were revised, but after a second round, only the survey was revised. The purpose of the pilot study was to ensure that the questionnaire was easy to understand and elicited authentic answers according to students’ perspectives.
Furthermore, the pre- and post-test had to be reliable, needed to assess students’ usage of the major grammatical structures covered in third-semester German classes, and had to take no more than one hour to administer. This phase also helped to ensure that the instructions of the activities were easy to follow, and that the students were engaged for 20 minutes while completing the chat activities.
The third phase was the administration of the pre-survey (see Appendix 3) and the pre-test (see Appendix 4) at the beginning of the semester of the main study during one fall semester. The purpose of the pre-instruments was to establish a baseline of the students’ language ability, as well as their experience with and their attitude towards corrective feedback, language learning, and technology. During this phase, the teachers were also trained on the technology used and instructed on how to implement the activities. The purpose of the training was to familiarize the teachers with the software so that they would be in the position of handling the implementation of the activities from a technological standpoint. They were also provided with a manual (see Appendix 5) that outlined instructions for the daily procedures, instructions on using the software, sample teacher interactions, descriptions of all activities (see Appendix 6), a copy of all instruments, worksheets for trouble-shooting the server, and important contact information to refer to in case problems should occur during chatting. Since the purpose of this study was to explore how teachers use chat in the classroom, no specific guidelines on participation or corrective feedback style were given. Examples from the
chat transcripts from the background study were presented to the teachers, such as:
The fourth phase of this study was the chat phase, during which the teachers and the students engaged in weekly 20-minute chat sessions, completing self-report forms after each session. During this phase I observed each of the two classes once a month.
The purpose of the observation was to capture the student-student and student-teacher interactions in the physical space, and to learn more about the use of resources by the students during these sessions.
The fifth phase was the post-instrument phase, during which the post-survey (see Appendix 7) and the post-test (see Appendix 8) were administered. The post-test was administered to measure gain in language skills of the structures under investigation. The survey’s purpose was two-fold—to measure change in attitude, and to allow the students to evaluate the experience. Also during this phase, I conducted several informal conversations with the teachers. The purpose of the conversations was to help me understand the motivation behind the interaction patterns they chose to implement.
3.3 Research Questions Since the role of the teacher in CMC has not been previously explored, my research questions are broad in scope, addressing various facets of the teacher’s role in classroom-based CMC. The research questions have already been stated in Chapter I, and
are briefly reviewed at this point:
(1) How do two case study teachers participate in foreign language classroom chatting?
(b) What form does corrective feedback take during chatting in this study?
Question 1 was addressed with the help of the chat transcripts. In the background study, a chat sample was examined to establish common participation and corrective feedback patterns. Then, the styles were categorized (more details in section 3.8.3.c), and those categories were applied in the analysis of the chat transcripts for the fourth phase.
The teacher’s definition of her role was taken from the chat transcripts and the informal conversations. Feedback style patterns were then established for the teachers involved.
(2) What influence do corrective feedback styles have on students’ learning, as
(a) language production during the chat as measured through word count;
(b) learner uptake as measured by evidence of correction uptake within the
The second question was addressed with the help of the transcripts and pre- and post tests from phases three to five. The question explores if possible which type of corrective feedback is most effective. Since opportunities for output have been found to be beneficial for language learning, analyzing the amount of language produced in relation to teacher style is important. Ene et al. (2005) found that an explicit feedback style had a silencing effect, i.e., decreased opportunity for student output, but also led to greater uptake, presenting both detrimental and beneficial effects. Uptake in this study, is defined as self-correction within the same transcript. It is assumed that the correct use of a form after receiving correction on that form is an indicator of learning. However, as previously mentioned, caution must be expressed in relation to the long-term effect of such learning, I also utilized the gain scores of the achievement tests to measure effectiveness of feedback styles. One of the issues in corrective feedback studies has been the lack of agreement on what can be considered evidence of language learning. To address this, I decided to utilize several common forms of evidence for this study.
Dominant teacher feedback styles were identified and differences (or lack thereof) in gain scores on the tests, word counts, and uptake measures between the groups were established using statistical analysis where possible.
To answer the third question, the transcript data from the main study were used to identify patterns between errors and consequential moves in the SCMC. From each class six case study subjects were selected based in the total amount of time chatting. In the transcripts of these students, first, all errors were categorized. Then, I analyzed which error types were treated, how they were treated, and which error types resulted in error uptake by others.
The fourth question investigates the learners’ and teachers’ perceptions about the teacher’s role and how well they match with actual practice.
(4) (a) How do students perceive the teacher’s role in the chat room and in the physical space? (b) How do these perceptions correspond with actual practices?
In this phase, comments from the surveys and from the informal interviews were analyzed in relation to the qualitative analysis of the transcripts and the classroom observations.
The fifth question is particularly interesting for program administrators wondering if SCMC activities could be scheduled outside of class time and/or from remote locations.
(5) (a) Which parts of the interaction are happening in the physical space and not in the virtual space? (b) What modifications would have to be made when moving SCMC activities to a remote location?