Integrating a Learning Management System into a Writing Course: Achievement, Attitudes, and Strategies

Integrating a Learning Management System into a Writing Course: Achievement, Attitudes, and Strategies

Mehrak Rahimi (Shahid Rajaee Teacher Training University, Iran) and Seyed Shahab Miri (Middle East Technical University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8519-2.ch020
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In this chapter the impact of using a leaning management system (LMS) to manage homework assignments on students' achievement in a letter writing course was investigated. Additionally, the relationship between students' attitudes toward the online system and their motivated strategies for learning was investigated. Two groups of students participated in the course. The experimental group used the LMS as the homework assistance to submit their homework for one semester. The control group did and delivered their homework using paper-and-pencil approach. The result of the data analysis revealed that the experimental group outperformed the control group in the writing post-test. Further, the students were found to have positive attitudes toward using technology to manage their homework and this attitude was found to be related to their motivated strategies for learning. The motivated strategies were found to be related to achievement in writing, while attitudes towards the system were not.
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The aim of any educational system is to promote teaching effectiveness to guarantee a better leaning outcome. Teachers, teaching approaches and styles, individual and contextual factors, and instructional materials are among the variables that have been the foci of the mainstream education research in the last decades for their possible effects on promoting learning outcome.

One contentious issue in the domain of teacher policy is homework (Falch & Rønning, 2011) and its role in students’ learning. On the one hand it is believed that homework is a key element in students’ learning as “homework is the main intersection between home and school” (Falch & Rønning, 2011, p. 2). On the other hand, it is suggested that homework is ineffective in raising achievement due to the fact that most of the time it is boring and/or too demanding (Sharp, 2002).

The moderate version of this stand, however, seems to focus on the way homework is assigned to students; and how it is done and delivered back to the teacher. Where to do the homework (e.g., home or school) and how to do it (e.g., individually or in pair/group) are among the important issues the experts consider when they underscore the educational values of homework. Further, students’ ability, their motivation towards the mastery of the subject matter, the quality of instruction, and amount of instructional time, especially time spent on doing homework, are key factors to be considered when the effect of homework on achievement is examined (Keith & Benson, 1992).

One way to make homework more beneficial and helpful is using technology to ease the whole process of doing homework, delivering it and receiving the teacher or peers’ feedback on it. It is suggested that students’ constructive engagement in doing the assignments and teachers’ appropriate feedback heighten students’ attitudes towards and willingness to do the homework (Keyvanpanah & Sharifi, 2011). Further, students’ self-efficacy and self-regulation beliefs and strategies play an important role in increasing their sustained effort and motivation to do the homework and learning outcome (Bembenutty, 2009). In other words “assignments [which are] completed on regular basis are expected to result from student’s higher academic self-efficacy which eventually leads to higher academic achievement” (Mehmood, Ahmed, Sultana, & Irum, 2012, p. 700).

Self-efficacious students believe that homework completion would lead to successful learning outcomes. High self-efficacy and high expectations of success would lead to persistence, using different strategies, or seeking help when faced with difficult homework tasks. Self-regulated learners monitor their work, which provides internal feedback on progress (Ramdass & Zimmerman, 2011, p. 198).

In the same vein, there are certain reasons why students lose their interest in doing homework and subsequently they do not continue delivering assignments. This happens when the homework is cognitively difficult for students; the students do not have any support but their parents at home to help them do the homework; the instruction for doing homework is not clear; the students are under the pressure of time to do and deliver the homework; and after homework submission they do not received any feedback from their teacher (e.g., Sharp, 2002; Trautwein, 2007; Patall, Cooper, Robinson, 2008). Many teachers and experts have shown interest to ease the whole process of homework completion and submission and arising students’ interest in completing their homework.

Key Terms in this Chapter

EFL: A setting in which English is neither widely used for communication among the nation, nor is it used as the medium of instruction.

Achievement: How much a language learner has successfully learned with specific reference to a particular course (Richards & Schmidt, 2002 AU82: The in-text citation "Richards & Schmidt, 2002" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Online Homework Assistance: An online platform that manages the submission and scoring of homework.

Writing Process: Process writing as a classroom activity incorporates four basic writing stages-planning, drafting (writing), revising (redrafting), and editing- and three other stages externally imposed on students by the teacher, namely, responding (sharing), evaluating, and post-writing” ( Seow, 2002 , p. 316).

LMS: A software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, and reporting of training programs, classroom and online events, e-learning programs, and training content” ( Nair & Patil, 2012 , p. 379).

Homework: Tasks assigned to students by school teachers that are meant to be carried out during non-school hours” ( Cooper, 1989 , p. 7).

Motivated Strategies for Learning: Students’ motivational orientations and their use of different learning strategies for a college course ( Pintrich et al., 1991 , p. 3).

Attitude: A learned predisposition to respond in a consistently favorable or unfavorable manner with respect to a given object” ( Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975 , p. 6).

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