Assessing the Effectiveness of Interactive and Collaborative Resources to Improve Reading and Writing in English

Assessing the Effectiveness of Interactive and Collaborative Resources to Improve Reading and Writing in English

Ana María Pinto Llorente (Pontifical University of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain), María Cruz Sánchez Gómez (University of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain) and Francisco José García-Peñalvo (Computer Science Department, University of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/IJHCITP.2016010105
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This paper presents a mixed research developed at the Pontifical University of Salamanca with students of intermediate level of English. It examines the effectiveness of the application of interactive and collaborative resources to improve reading and writing in English. Based on the overall evaluation of the blended course, most students believe that online glossary, online questionnaire, wiki and forum are good tools to improve their written skills. They are strongly aware of the necessity of improving these skills, and consider that the activities designed through these technological tools have allowed them to foster effective written communication in a variety of situations. Students also emphasize the potential of collaborative tools to communicate and develop collaborative learning. However, some students consider that there is a lack of privacy and fluency in communication, and believe that interactions are impersonal and disorganized, so they have had problems to do the activities and communicate suitably.
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Literature Review

The experience developed by Savignon & Roithmeier (2004) is focused on using forum as a tool to promote cultural exchange and to learn a second language (L2). This exchange takes place between students who were learning German in the USA, and students learning English in Germany. Students of both countries participate in different discussion topics during several weeks through forums. This study points out that there are evidences of collaborative dialogue, and cooperative construction of texts, as well as the use of asynchronous communication strategies to promote the exchange of knowledge and create a community of learning.

The study of Fitze (2006) also expresses the positive aspects of using forum to teach a foreign language. In this occasion it combines traditional and online instruction through an e-learning platform. The study concludes that there is a broader range in the vocabulary used, as well as a greater interaction and participation of students in written expression.

The study of Farabaugh (2007) is conducted at Cornell University in different literature courses. The Farabaugh study uses two versions of the wiki software: QwikiWiki and MediaWiki. The author concludes that this technology is a good tool to carry out reading and writing assignments that encouraged language awareness in the literary domain. The results also emphasize that this asynchronous tool is appropriate to improve writing skills, to extend group work outside the class, to promote collaborative writing, and to help students to create their own knowledge rather than just receiving it from teachers.

The study conducts by Kol & Schcolnik (2008) also focused on the use of forum in the teaching-learning process of English. Although the purpose of this research is to establish valid criteria to assess the contributions on the part of students, the research focuses on the use of forum for academic purposes. It emphasizes students' positive perceptions towards the use of this tool to improve written skills.

We also highlight the study of Lund (2008) in Norway about the use of wiki as a collaboration tool in teaching English. The results of the study show that wiki is an appropriate tool to promote collaborative and cooperative abilities in learning foreign languages.

In the research carries out by Franco (2008) the use of wiki is also emphasized. The study is developed in Brazil with students of intermediate level in English. The use of wiki is analysed to promote peer correction in a virtual group environment. The results confirm once again the positive attitudes of students towards the use of this resource in their progress in learning English.

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