Revisiting Gaps in the CALL Literature

Revisiting Gaps in the CALL Literature

Joy Egbert (Washington State University, Pullman, USA), Seyed Abdollah Shahrokni (Washington State University, Pullman, USA), Xue Zhang (University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong), David Herman (English Language Fellow Program, Taiwan), Intissar Yahia (Washington State University, Pullman, USA), Adnan Mohamed (Washington State University, Pullman, USA), Faraj M. Aljarih (University of Benghazi, Libya), Chioma Ezeh (Washington State University, Pullman, USA), Nataliia Borysenko (Washington State University, Pullman, USA) and Sonia Lopez-Lopez (Washington State University, Pullman, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1282-1.ch001

Abstract

The body of research on CALL tasks and topics grows daily; however, a number of areas remain underrepresented in the literature. While there are many gaps in the CALL research to address, this chapter updates an earlier focus on 8 gaps, chosen because of their perceived importance in language teaching and learning. In presenting the gaps, each section in this chapter: 1) provides a rationale for exploring the topic, 2) briefly reviews studies that typify the extant research in the focal area, and 3) provides recommendations for future research. This chapter encourages all stakeholders in CALL to join in the rigorous and multi-perspective exploration of these and other under-addressed areas and strengthen the use of CALL for language learning and teaching.
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Morphology

The first focus of this chapter is the gap in the CALL research on the topic of morphology (the study of word parts and word formation).

Rationale

Morphology plays an important role in language learning. Published studies in areas other than CALL (see, for example, Foorman, Petscher, & Bishop, 2012; Goodwin, Huggins, Carlo, August, & Calderon, 2013; Kieffer & Lesaux, 2012) showed that if ELLs learn how to use morphological strategies, it is possible for them to comprehend the meaning and syntactic structures of new words by identifying the base, the meaning of any affixes, and the grammatical functions of suffixes. As Goodwin et al. (2013) note, “the more they know regarding the many functions of morphemes such as the lexical (un + friendly) or syntactic information (ly) communicated through roots (friend), suffixes (ly), and prefixes (un), the more these English language learners can determine the meaning of unknown words and complicated syntactical structures within English text” (p. 1389). Including studies published between 1981 and 2010, Goodwin and Ahn’s (2010) meta-analysis showed that morphological interventions had a statically significant effect on language learning. However, the morphology studies did not include CALL.

Non-CALL studies indicate the significance of morphology for language learning. They provide a strong argument in favor of incorporating morphology tasks in CALL settings due to the benefits of language learning. However, CALL research does not currently integrate morphology-based tasks among its topics; data on practices, effectiveness, and benefits is lacking in the CALL literature despite the wide availability of morphology software (e.g., Root to Words, http://www.lumoslearning.com/llwp/educational-app-listings-for-students/prefix-and-suffix.html).

Although morphology is a significant part of vocabulary (e.g., 60% of English words are derived words), it remains understudied in CALL research. This is quite obvious from meta-analyses of CALL studies. For example, Grgurovic, Chapelle, and Shelley (2013) summarized 37 CALL studies published from 1970 to 2006 in foreign and second language settings. The results showed that CALL has a positive impact on language learning; however, the analysis did not include studies about morphology.

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