An investigation into designing online language learning materials to support the academic reading of international Masters degree students
Hu, Jie (2010) An investigation into designing online language learning materials to support the academic reading of international Masters degree students. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.Full text not available from this repository.
Official URL: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/record=b2341121~S15
This thesis provides a case study of a new approach to courseware design described as
a mixed approach. This mixed approach is based on orientation to a problem (or
opportunity) and rounds of design, implementation and evaluation. The mixed
approach is informed by principles of being iterative, understanding the perspective
of users, listening to feedback, being stakeholders, and involving users from the
commencement and draws on an understanding of instructional design, user-centred
design and participatory design.
The context in which the study took place is the support of international students with
English as a second or foreign language following Masters degree programmes at an
Institute of Education within a local university. Courseware was developed which
aimed to develop students’ reading skills and fluency in reading academic texts. The
context is a topical issue, with increasing numbers of international students coming to
study in universities in the UK.
In the orientation phase of the courseware development, the nature and scope of the
problem were explored through interviews with students and tutors. A wider
orientation to the problem was then achieved through a review of learning theory
(general orientation), reading and language issues (linguistic orientation) and the main
ICT themes (applied orientation). Drawing together the orientation enabled the design
and development of the first version of the courseware 2006-2007. This was evaluated
through mixed methods: interviews with users (n=6), observations and computer test
scores. Interviews, however, were the primary source. Data was coded and aggregated,
then compared and contrasted. It was found that students reported positively on their
use of the courseware product (titled CAR 1), however suggestions for improvement
were made including providing more guidance and more explicit reading skills
support. The courseware was adapted in line with this feedback and further evaluated (2007-2008). The revised product (CAR 2) was more positively received. A key
difference between the two versions was the adoption of an explanation, practice,
feedback model in CAR 2.
Issues relating to the design of courseware are discussed. Two models of courseware
development are provided. The first is a prescriptive framework set out the steps to be
undertaken when following the mixed model. The second is a holistic model
developed after the study which sets out the various factors which came together to
shape the design and implementation of the courseware. It was found that the design
is not ‘value free’ but shaped by the context and by the designer’s past experiences
and tacit beliefs about teaching and learning.
Issues relating to the development of reading skills are discussed throughout the thesis,
though it is stressed that the trials were too short and the methodology was not
appropriate for identifiable gains in reading fluency to be evidenced. The mix of
cultural and social problems, language processing problems, L2 acquisition and
training background problems, support problems which students faced are, however,
described. The research showed that there were particular features of academic texts
which students should not be assumed to understand. It was also found that some
tutors felt that the language demands were too intense for some students. As regards
the courseware, students felt that it was useful in supporting the development of
reading skills. They valued the explicit teaching of skills and strategies and modelling
of strategies such as skimming, scanning and speed reading. Useful features, or
affordances, within the courseware were interactive feedback, easy access to several
authentic texts, repeated practice, and links to opportunities for further study.
However, the courseware needed to be integrated more fully into the course
programme, and there needed better branching so that users could follow personal
routes to and through material. Context remained important and online support might
only mitigate the structural difficulties which international students’ face.
Recommendations are made towards better support for international students.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education|
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Computer-assisted instruction, Reading -- Aids and devices, English language -- Study and teaching -- Foreign speakers, Students, Foreign -- Great Britain, Graduate students -- Great Britain|
|Official Date:||August 2010|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Institute of Education|
|Supervisor(s)/Advisor:||Hammond, Michael, 1956- ; Barnes, Ann, 1964-|
|Sponsors:||Sidney Perry Foundation ; Churches' Commission for International Students ; Professional Classes Aid Council ; Coats Foundation|
|Extent:||xviii, 363 leaves : ill.|
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