Computers and Independent Study: Student Perspectives

Computers and Independent Study: Student Perspectives

Huw Jarvis (University of Salford-Greater Manchester, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-994-6.ch023
OnDemand PDF Download:


This chapter reports on a quantitative study that examines how language students make use of an extensive range of computer-based materials (CBMs) in a language resource centre (LRC) and elsewhere for self-study purposes. Students were asked to indicate the extent to which they make use of CBMs in and outside of an LRC and whether such materials help with their language studies. The study suggests that an LRC offers more than the sum of its parts and therefore should not be put under threat on the basis that materials can and are being accessed anywhere and anytime. The data also reveal that many students, particularly Asian students of English as a Second Language (primarily from China), view a wide range of CBMs as helping with their language studies, and it is suggested that the practices and perceptions of these students may offer insights for all language learners and providers.
Chapter Preview


Language resource centers (LRCs) have come to be a prevalent feature in a wide range of contexts in schools, colleges, and universities, or higher education institutions (HEIs). The resources in such centers will typically include paper-based materials such as reference and self-study books, as well as technology-based provisions such as TVs, videos, DVDs, and, above all, computers and computer-based materials (CBMs). But first, let us define what is meant by CBMs.

Figure 1 (Jarvis, 2004) provides an overview for conceptualizing CBMs in languages.

Figure 1.

A classification framework for CBMs

The types of CBMs that arise out of such a framework have been used in previous studies (Jarvis, 1997, 2004) and typically include the software applications listed in Section 3 of the questionnaire used in this study (see Appendix 1). This includes, among other things, Microsoft Office Suite as well as more language-specific programs. Such CBMs can be seen as tool-based or tutorial-based (Levy, 1997; Taylor, 1980). The former does not have an explicit teaching function; in this sense, the material is neutral and has any number of applications in educational contexts and beyond. In contrast, tutorial-based material has a clear and explicit application to teaching and learning; the material is used in a tutorial capacity for language learning, and such material will frequently, but not always, provide feedback to the student; it can be seen as supplementing and\or replacing some teaching. Inevitably there is, of course, an overlap between these notions with, for example, a word processor that is usually viewed as a tool, but its spell and grammar check have a tutorial role for language students. The Web is usually viewed as a tool that allows students to access information, but some Web-based materials explicitly focus on providing language practice for students and can thus be viewed as having a tutorial function.

While LRCs provide a range of self-study materials, it would be fair to assert (and this is supported by the data in this study) that it is computers and CBMs that dominate. Indeed, arguably they have become the defining characteristic of such centers. In many educational contexts around the globe, it would be difficult to imagine a resource center without CBMs. LRCs are often the showpiece of institutions, and it is the computer facilities and the CBMs they support that provide the kudos.

The advantages of LRCs in general and CBMs in particular are frequently discussed in terms of learner strategies, learner training, and learner autonomy (Pujola, 2002; Smith, 2003). Learner training is about becoming an efficient and effective learner by developing appropriate strategies for learning, whereas learner autonomy is concerned with the capacity to take charge of one’s own learning and can be traced back to the Council of Europe’s Modern Languages Project established in 1971, and to the work of Holec (1981) and others (Dickenson, 1987; Little, 1989). Leaner strategies, to a certain extent at least, can be viewed as the realization of these notions, and for obvious reasons, resource centers have always been seen as critical to this. In predominantly predigitalized medium days, such centers tended to be referred to as self-access centers, but as digitalized media have become more dominant, this term appears to have been replaced with LRCs, and it is the Internet that allows such digitalized media to be available anywhere and anytime. Whereas self-access centers were often the only place where students could access self-study materials in any quantity or variety, this is clearly no longer the case.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Editorial Advisory Board
List of Reviewers
Table of Contents
Norbert Pachler
Rita de Cássia Veiga Marriott, Patricia Lupion Torres
Rita de Cássia Veiga Marriott, Patricia Lupion Torres
Chapter 1
Pascual Pérez-Paredes, Maria Sánchez-Tornel
The research we report is a pilot study carried to test English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students’ reception of an electronic foreign language... Sample PDF
Understanding E-Skills in the FLT Context
Chapter 2
Antônio Carlos Soares Martins, Junia de Carvalho Fidelis Braga
The discussions presented herein emerged from two empirical studies in progress:“Online Learning Communities in the Realm of Complexity” and “The... Sample PDF
The Emergence of Social Presence in Learning Communities
Chapter 3
CALL as Action  (pages 39-52)
Vilson J. Leffa
The objective of this chapter is to offer a new approach for research in Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL). It starts with the assumption... Sample PDF
CALL as Action
Chapter 4
Vera Lucia Menezes de Oliveira e Paiva, Adail Sebastiao Rodrigues-Junior
This pedagogical and methodological chapter aims at contributing to increasing Web teachers’ awareness of the different ways teachers and students... Sample PDF
Investigating Interaction in an EFL Online Environment
Chapter 5
Euline Cutrim Schmid
This chapter discusses the concept of integrated CALL by drawing upon data collected for a PhD research project that investigated the impact of... Sample PDF
Interactive Whiteboards and the Normalization of CALL
Chapter 6
Alexandra Okada
This chapter presents new methodologies designed to facilitate language acquisition in open learning communities via open educational resources and... Sample PDF
OpenLearn and Knowledge Maps for Language Learning
Chapter 7
Ria Hanewald
This chapter provides an overview of the field of digital objects and repositories. It introduces the concepts of digital objects and repositories... Sample PDF
Learning Objects: Projects, Potentials, and Pitfalls
Chapter 8
Patrica Lupion Torres, Rita de Cassia Veiga Marriott, Andreia Ferreira Ramos
This chapter presents the experience of production and use of learning objects (LOs) for English-language learning at the Pontificia Universidade... Sample PDF
English-Language Teaching with Learning Objects at PUCPR
Chapter 9
Zhuo Li, Feng Liu, Jeff Boyer
The purpose of this chapter is to investigate the present use of e-gaming in language acquisition along with its potential and challenges. We review... Sample PDF
Amusing Minds for Joyful Learning through E-Gaming
Chapter 10
Jowati Juhary
This chapter analyses the challenges in adapting a non-language learning courseware (NLLC) for a military learning environment. The National Defense... Sample PDF
A Non-Language Learning Courseware and its Challenges
Chapter 11
Marcus Vinicius dos Santos, Isaac Woungang, Moses Nyongwa
The increasing importance of e-learning has been a boosting element for the emergence of Internet-based educational tools. As we move into the... Sample PDF
A Pliant-Based Software Tool for Courseware Development
Chapter 12
Aysegül Daloglu, Meltem Baturay, Soner Yildirim
This chapter outlines how the constructivist approach can be implemented in Web-based vocabulary teaching, characteristics of effective Web-based... Sample PDF
Designing a Constructivist Vocabulary Learning Material
Chapter 13
Yasunori Nishina
This chapter suggests an effective method for lexical studies using Moodle within the framework of data-driven learning based on parallel... Sample PDF
A Lexical Study Based on Corpora, DDL, and Moodle
Chapter 14
Vander Viana, Sonia Zyngier
Like the advent of the telescope, computers today can provide ways of looking into language patterns that cannot be seen with the naked eye. From... Sample PDF
EFL through the Digital Glass of Corpus Linguistics
Chapter 15
Jing Wang
This chapter introduces a series of studies carried out with intermediate learners of Chinese regarding the reading of authentic e-materials with... Sample PDF
Electronic Strategies to Improve Chinese Reading Skills
Chapter 16
Margaret Murphy, Cristina Poyatos Matas
This chapter argues that politeness is an important component of e-mail language. Many people are uncertain about how to make their e-mail polite... Sample PDF
Politeness in Intercultural E-Mail Communication
Chapter 17
Neny Isharyanti
Studies in computer-mediated communication (CMC) have shown that it has the potential to provide opportunities for ESL learners to actively... Sample PDF
Interactional Modifications in Internet Chatting
Chapter 18
Sedat Akayoglu, Arif Altun
This chapter aims at describing the patterns of negotiation of meaning functions in text-based synchronous computer-mediated communication by using... Sample PDF
The Functions of Negotiation of Meaning in Text-Based CMC
Chapter 19
Esrom Adriano Irala, Patrica Lupion Torres
This chapter belongs to the context of the computer-mediated communication (CMC) for language teaching and learning. Since the introduction of this... Sample PDF
The Use of the CMC Tool AMANDA in the Teaching of English
Chapter 20
Christine Rosalia, Lorena Llosa
This chapter reports on an instrument that was developed to formatively assess the quality of feedback that second language students give to one... Sample PDF
Assessing the Quality of Online Peer Feedback in L2 Writing
Chapter 21
Betty Rose Facer, M’hammed Abdous, Margaret M. Camarena
As part of an initiative to enhance the humanities’ use of emerging technologies, the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Old... Sample PDF
The Impact of Academic Podcasting on Students' Learning Outcomes
Chapter 22
Mahieddine Djoudi
The use of the mobile devices in language learning has been developed at a very high speed in the last years. Thus, we are witnessing many research... Sample PDF
Listening Comprehension of Languages with Mobile Devices
Chapter 23
Huw Jarvis
This chapter reports on a quantitative study that examines how language students make use of an extensive range of computer-based materials (CBMs)... Sample PDF
Computers and Independent Study: Student Perspectives
Chapter 24
Renata Chylinski, Ria Hanewald
This chapter reports on a study undertaken on the impact of pedagogical and technological innovations in language teaching and language learning... Sample PDF
Creating Supportive Environments for CALL Teacher Autonomy
Chapter 25
Mar Gutiérrez-Colon Plana
Many language teachers, students, and institutions of virtual learning environments are well acquainted with the feelings of loneliness and... Sample PDF
Frustration in Virtual Learning Environments
Chapter 26
Sarah Guth, Corrado Petrucco
This chapter describes how the social software tools that characterize Web 2.0, such as wikis and blogs, can be used as a valid substitute for more... Sample PDF
Social Software and Language Acquisition
Chapter 27
Bryan Carter, Dayton Elseth
Within academia, distance learning as an approach to education has its share of skeptics. Regardless of how some feel about the methodology, it has... Sample PDF
The Usefulness of Second Life for Language Learning
Chapter 28
Irene Mamakou
Interest in the integration of language learning with knowledge/content construction is growing around the world. In this line, an instructional... Sample PDF
Project-Based Instruction for ESP in Higher Education
Chapter 29
Ma Camino Bueno Alastuey
The adaptation to the European Space of Higher Education and to the new demands of the labor market has produced a shift in university education... Sample PDF
WebCT Design and Users' Perceptions in English for Agriculture
Chapter 30
Heli Simon, Päivö Laine, Ann Seppänen, Ana Barata, Carlos Vaz de Carvalho
This chapter presents the tutoring methodology adopted in an e-learning language course for students in vocational training and higher education as... Sample PDF
The LAFEC Experience for Language Skills Acquisition
Chapter 31
Christian Swertz, Rosa Schultz, Katharina Toifl
This chapter reports the concept development and evaluation results from the project LANCELOT (LANguage learning with CErtified Live Online... Sample PDF
Language Teaching in Live Online Environments
Chapter 32
Astrid Gesche
This chapter provides a basis for thinking about the dynamics and boundaries of foreign language learning in virtual learning communities of the... Sample PDF
Adapting to Virtual Third-Space Language Learning Futures
Chapter 33
Chaka Chaka
This chapter explores aspects of portable handheld language learning that are likely to benefit many mobile assisted language learning (MALL)... Sample PDF
Portable Handheld Language Learning from CALL MALL to PALL
About the Contributors