Interaction and task design in a collaborative learning environment: a case study of web conferencing in an introductory Chinese course
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 23:44 by Sijia Guo
This study aims to explore best practice in applying a task-based language teaching approach via a web conferencing tool, Blackboard Collaborate. From both interactionist and sociocultural perspectives on second language acquisition, learner-learner interactions provide opportunities for negotiation of meaning, which may facilitate their second language learning. Few studies have investigated the effect of task design in web conferencing-based environments on learners' interaction and collaborative language learning. The purpose of the current research was threefold: (1) to explore how the teacher and learners used multiple modes (video, audio, text chat, voting, raised-hand function, emoticons, and whiteboard) to make meaning in a webconferencing environment; (2) to examine whether learners engaged in negotiation of meaning in the completion of tasks in the web conferencing environment; and, (3) to evaluate the pedagogical values and limitations of the software in a beginner's online Chinese course and the tasks that were designed accordingly. There were two research stages in this study. In the first research cycle, eight elementary level students of Chinese conducted two online sessions-one jigsaw task and one information-gaptask-delivered by a web conferencing platform (Blackboard Collaborate). A mixed methods approach was adopted in that (a) the teacher's and learners' multimodal interactions were recorded and analysed quantitatively in order to illustrate participation patterns, and (b) Varonis and Gass's (1985) model was used to identify instances of negotiation of meaning in learner learner interactions through an interpretive analysis of the data. In the second research stage, Chapelle's (2001) six evaluation criteria for computer-assisted language learning task appropriateness and Wang's (2007) criteria for evaluating meaning focused video conferencing tasks were adopted and adapted to evaluate five tasks designed for an online environment in terms of practicality, language learning potential, learner fit, authenticity, and positive effects. Sixteen on-campus undergraduates who had enrolled for an introductory Chinese language course participated in the second study cycle. Five 1-hour online sessions were conducted fortnightly, including two jigsaw tasks, two decision-making tasks, and one information-gap task. Participants' interactions in the online sessions were recorded and transcribed in order to thoroughly investigate learners' negotiation actions in peer-to-peer interactions. Their experiences of using Blackboard Collaborate and activities for completing the tasks were recorded using in-depth interviews and pre- and post-session questionnaires. The designed collaborative tasks showed great pedagogical value in facilitating learners' SLA in an online environment. The findings, which were context specific, confirmed that the technical capacity of the web-conferencing tool, Blackboard Collaborate, was reliable and sufficient for supporting teacher-learners' multimodal interactions and learner-learner collaborative learning in the online environment. The data from this thesis provides important new insights into the aetiopathogensis of this newly characterised neoplasm.