Web Based CALL: A Tool to Develop Writing Strategies among Tertiary Level Students

Web Based CALL: A Tool to Develop Writing Strategies among Tertiary Level Students

Revathi Viswanathan (B.S. Abdur Rahman University, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8519-2.ch008
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Strategy training forms part of skills training and in the ESL context such training has to be given considerable importance due to individual differences in students' learning styles. In the case of teaching writing skills to students, teachers can create awareness of various strategies among students by imparting training in various strategies. The tertiary level teachers of engineering colleges in India often prepare their students for industries, which includes training them in writing skills. Most of the universities which offer professional education have now integrated technological tools with teaching and that has facilitated the teaching and learning process. In this chapter the author would discuss her action research in which she offered strategy training related to writing skills to her students with the help of Wiki.
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Second language teachers consider various factors such as a suitable approach for conducting a training program, learners’ individual differences in learning styles, the opportunity created for using appropriate strategies while doing language tasks; and the consistent exposure given to a particular skill with the help of Web 2.0 technology in order to develop students’ proficiency in language skills. It is worthwhile to understand the significance of each factor mentioned above in the teaching and learning process. To begin with, for developing writing skills in students, teachers could either follow an ‘implicit approach’ or ‘explicit approach’ to offer training in strategies. The former approach advocates the integration of strategies in various tasks and training students in language skills without focusing mainly on their use of strategies. In the case of latter approach, students would be trained in language skills with specific reference to related strategies. Considering the features of these approaches, implicit approach does not aim at creating awareness of strategies to students. As a result, they are not exposed to varied real life contexts in which they would possibly use the strategies. On the other hand, while using the explicit approach, teachers would provide lots of real life situations for students to practice the use of various strategies. The most unique feature of this approach is that it provides a collaborative spirit between learners and the teacher, which motivates the learner to learn and practice strategies for developing self-reliance (Oxford, 1990). Teachers can assess the feasibility of delivering strategy training in their classrooms and accordingly follow a suitable approach.

With regard to the second factor, it must be stated that teachers have to be aware of the learners’ individual differences in learning style in order to create learning opportunities. According to Clark (2014) ‘Learning Style’ is referred to as “a student’s consistent way of responding to and using stimuli in the context of learning” (n.p). Clark further quotes Stewart and Felicetti (1992) to mention that learning styles are “educational conditions under which a student is most likely to learn” (n.p). This reiterates the need for knowing how students learn and the extent to which they retain knowledge. Teachers of this era are aware that students construct meaning while learning, form a concept, explore the way things work, and discover through self- enquiry. It is further evident that while some believe in doing group activities, a few are comfortable with working individually on a given task. Woolfolk (2004) defines learning preferences as “preferred ways of studying or learning, such as using pictures instead of text, working with other people versus alone, learning in structured and unstructured situation” (p. 603) and cognitive style of students as “different ways of perceiving and organizing information” (p. 603).

Haynes (n.d) specifies the importance of teaching to learners’ learning styles. She points out that some students participate effectively in oral discussions, a few enjoy graphical representations and a few others enjoy working in group activities.

Kilpatrick (2012) while presenting his research study relating to learning styles, sense of efficacy and self-theories of intelligence, quotes Pashler et al (2009) to discuss learning styles theories. It must be stated that these theories support the point that “students learn more efficiently when material is presented in a manner that is consistent with their learning styles as identified by various learning styles assessment instruments.” (p.9). It indicates the possibility of offering a curriculum that allows students to get individualized instruction that suits their individual abilities and learning styles and learn at their own pace. Diaz (1999) believed that students have learning preferences and that aids teachers in the planning of small-group and individualized instruction (Kemp, Morrison & Ross, 1998).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Learning Objects: They could be defined as resources that instructors make use of in order to facilitate learning. In an online learning environment the instructor would make use of technological resources such as YouTube videos, Podcasts to list a few, which are readily available in the web. It is worthwhile to mention that the learning objects can be integrated with other tools in a blended learning environment.

Writing Process: This includes three stages such as, Pre-Writing, While Writing and Post-Writing. In the Pre-Writing stage a learner plans his writing activity, brainstorms different ideas, and decides to carry out the writing task. In the While Writing stage he makes use of various strategies to complete the task and focuses on fulfilling the task requirements. In this stage, the learner reviews his own writing and redrafts the document in order to finalize the output. He then edits his document and prepares the final draft. In the Post-Writing stage, he either self-evaluates his document or shares it with his peers for them to review or offer feedback.

Strategy Training: It refers to the training offered to learners to facilitate their use of appropriate strategies while handling the skills-based tasks.

Learning Management System: It refers to either a software application or web-based technology that could be used for planning a course, implementing it and assessing the outcome of the learning process.

Learning Strategies: They refer to the learners’ approaches to learning. It is believed that good language learners make use of different approaches for mastering the language skills.

Learning Styles: They are referred to as approaches or ways of learning. In other words, it indicates the difference in learners’ learning patterns.

Wiki: It is one of the Web 2.0 technologies that functions as a web page. It provides work space for the users to share, contribute and edit their postings done online. It promotes synchronous communication and also serves as a Learning Management System.

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