It All Works Out in the End: The Experience of Researching Online Language Classes

It All Works Out in the End: The Experience of Researching Online Language Classes

Rebecca Lynn Chism, Carine Graff
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5826-3.ch004
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Qualitative research enables flexible designs unlike quantitative research, but those designs can be modified up to a point. It sometimes happens that the study at hand takes an unexpected turn of events and the researchers have then to find ways to cope with the changes. When the matter being investigated involves online surveys, there is even more leeway for uncertainty, as difficulties such as finding participants and time constraints may arise. This chapter presents a study conducted by two researchers in an American midwestern university and the challenges they encountered after answering a call for papers about technology and language learner psychology. They used an online survey to inquire about students' experience in an online language course. However, the lack of time intertwined with unexpected events involved readjustments and a need for more research and training. In the current article, the researchers share their project timeline, the issues they encountered, and offer some solutions.
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The Narrative

The narrative began in Fall 2017 when a Ph.D. candidate in the modern language department at a large, midwestern university visited an associate professor during her office hours to talk about research, deciding they should do something together. Different ideas were considered until the associate professor noticed a call for papers on the topic of technology and language learner psychology:

…although technology undoubtedly has a direct effect on the cognitive and psychological processes of language learners, research about such processes sorely lags their implementation. Hence, there is clearly a need to uncover how these learners are being affected by the technologies that are being practiced. This edited volume’s primary objective, then, is to provide a clearer picture of how technology influences the behavior and affects the mindset of second language learners (Zarrinabadi, 2017).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC): The use of online networking forums to engage in the construction of mutual understanding and information exchange.

Willingness to Communication (WTC): A gauge of one’s interest and initiative in engaging in conversation with others.

Integrated Performance Assessment (IPA): An instrument that encompasses the three modes of communication centered around an authentic cultural theme that allows learners to demonstrate their proficiency in the target language.

ACTFL Performance Descriptors: The articulation of levels of ability (novice, intermediate, advanced) in usage of the target language in the interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational modes of communication.

Learning Management System (LMS): Software that helps educational institutions to create and manage courses.

Growth Mindset: A set of beliefs held by an individual that supports the expansion and growth of one’s abilities and knowledge.

Information-Gap Activity: A task or assignment where participants lack information that requires communication with another to complete.

Internal Review Board (IRB): An administrative body created to protect the rights of human research subjects.

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