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Title: Qualitative%20Inquiry%20

Qualitative Inquiry Digital EFL Learning A
Theory-Driven QI in Response to Recent Paradigm
Shifts in TESOL and on the Internet
  • Chin-chi Chao
  • Associate Professor
  • National Chengchi University
  • ????????????

Presented at the National Chung Cheng University,
December 30, 2008.
  1. Paradigm shift in TESOL more open to QI
  2. Paradigm shift on the Internet Web 2.0
  3. The case of a theory-driven QI
  4. The contributions of QI

1. Recent Paradigm Shift in TESOL
Recent Debate ? Paradigm Shift
  • Applied Linguistics (Special issue, 1993),
  • Modern Language Journal (1994),
  • TESOL Quarterly (1997),
  • Paradigm Shift Understanding and Implementing
    Change in Second Language Education (Jacobs
    Farrell, 2001).
  • The Social Turn in Second Language Acquisition
    (Block, 2003),
  • Cognitive and sociocultural perspectives Two
    Parallel SLA Worlds? (Zuengler Miller, 2006)

Key components of the PS Jacobs, G. M.,
Farrell, T. S., (2001).
  • Focusing greater attention on the role of
    learners rather than the external stimuli
    learners are receiving from their environment.
    Thus, the center of attention shifted from the
    teacher to the student. This shift is generally
    known as the move from teacher-centered
    instruction to learner-centered or
    learning-centered instruction.
  • Focusing greater attention on the learning
    process rather than on the products that learners
    produce. This shift is known as a move from
    product-oriented instruction to process-oriented
  • Focusing greater attention on the social nature
    of learning rather than on students as separate,
    decontextualized individuals.

  • Focusing greater attention on diversity among
    learners and viewing these differences not as
    impediments to learning but as resources to be
    recognized, catered to and appreciated. This
    shift is known as the study of individual
  • Focusing greater attention on the views of those
    internal to the classroom rather than solely
    valuing the views of those who come from outside
    to study classrooms, evaluate what goes on there
    and engage in theorizing about it. This shift led
    to such innovations as qualitative research -
    with its valuing of the subjective and affective,
    of the participants' insider views and of the
    uniqueness of each context.
  • Along with this emphasis on context came the idea
    of connecting the school with the world beyond as
    a means of promoting holistic learning.

  • Helping students to understand the purpose of
    learning and develop their own purposes.
  • A whole-to-part orientation instead of a
    part-to-whole approach. This involves such
    approaches as beginning with meaningful whole
    texts and then helping students understand the
    various features that enable to texts to
    function, e.g., the choice of words and the
    text's organizational structure.
  • An emphasis on the importance of meaning rather
    than drills and other forms of rote learning.
  • A view of learning as a lifelong process rather
    than something done to prepare for an exam.

8 Changes as Part of the Paradigm Shift in Second
Language Education
  • Learner autonomy
  • Cooperative learning
  • Curricular integration
  • Focus on meaning
  • Diversity
  • Thinking skills
  • Alternative assessment
  • Teachers as co-learners (Jacobs Farrell, 2001)

Paradigm Shift Observed by 2006 Zuengler
Miller, 2006
  • Ontological basic questions about the
    nature of reality (Denzin Lincoln, 1998, p.185)
  • Cognitive vs. Sociocultural Understanding of
  • Positivists vs. Relativists over how to construct
    SLA theory

Traditional Scientific Understanding
  • establishment of laws or patterns
  • that exist across contexts,
  • as a deductive system of reasoning
  • that is rule-based
  • and thus independent of the forces
  • (Linda Watkins-Goffman, 2006, p.2)

Contrasts between positivism and post-positivism
(Jacobs Farrell, 2001)
Positivism Post-Positivism
Emphasis on parts and decontextualization Emphasis on whole and contextualization
Emphasis on separation Emphasis on integration
Emphasis on the general Emphasis on the specific
Consideration only of objective and the quantifiable Consideration also of subjective and the non-quantifiable
Reliance on experts and outsider knowledge--researcher as external Consideration also of the "average" participant and insider knowledge--researcher as internal
Focus on control Focus on understanding
Top-down Bottom-up
Attempt to standardize Appreciation of diversity
Focus on the product Focus on the process as well
Sociocultural Perspectives on LL
  • View language use in real-world situations as
    fundamental, not ancillary, to learning.
  • Language not as input, but as a resource for
    participation in daily activities
  • Participation as both the product and process of
    learning (Zuengler Miller, 2006)

The Changing Focus of Research
  • It is about
  • the attempt to adapt the self into a new context
    and a new world
  • the struggle for participation in a new social
  • participation as a metaphor for learning a new
  • participation as described by the individuals
    narrative can be interpreted as a metaphor for
    acquiring a new identity
  • NOT just
  • in the usual sense where the lexical,
    grammatical, and semantic systems are learned or
    acquired (Watkins-Goffman, 2006,p. 1)

4 QIApproaches
12 QI Characteristics
2. Paradigm Shift on the Internet
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Networks of Personalized Learning
  • Blogs
  • Podcasts
  • MySpace
  • Flicker
  • RSS
  • Delicious

Tools for Collaborative Language Learning
  • Skype
  • Google Talk
  • Chinese pod
  • Live Mocha
  • Voice Thread
  • Yack Pack
  • Dotsub
  • Chinswing, etc.

???? ??
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Toward an Understanding of Computer-mediated EFL
Writing Experience Through Vygotiskian
  • Chi-chi Chao
  • National Chengchi University

Chao, C. (2007). Toward an understanding of
computer-mediated EFL writing experience through
Vygotskian perspectives A monograph published by
Taiwan Journal of TESOL. Taipei, Taiwan Crane.
  1. to explore how Vygotskys socio-cultural-historica
    l theory (SCT) could serve as a useful framework
    to the study of EFL learning experiences
  2. to understand how EFL learning is supported by
    automated writing evaluation (AWE) programs
    first without an inquiry community and later with

The Philosophical Underpinnings and QI Tradition
  • The philosophical underpinning of the research
    reported here is interpretivist in nature. The
    aim is not to offer causal explanations, but to
    understand the experience by way of
    reconstructing the self-understandings of actors
    engaged in the action (Schwandt, 2000, p. 191).
  • In other words, the focus is on grasping the
    meanings that constitute the action of learning
    to write in English in the AWE mediated learning
    environment, seeking to discover some of the
    essence of that experience through intensive
    study of individual cases.
  • Taking a theory-driven approach

Social Cultural Historical Theory (SCT)
  • Lev Semenovich Vygotsky (1896-1934)
  • a Russian Jewish developmental psychologist and
    the founder of cultural-historical psychology
  • his major works span 6 volumes, written over
    roughly 10 years Mind in society The development
    of higher psychological processes (1978)

Definition of SCT
  • Despite the label sociocultural the theory is
    not a theory of the social or of the cultural
    aspects of the human existence. it is, rather,
    a theory of mind that recognizes the central
    role that social relationships and culturally
    constructed artifacts play in organizing uniquely
    human forms of thinking (p. 1).
  • (Lantolf, 2004, cited in Lantolf Thorne, 2006)

The Social Formation of Mind
  • We want to be clear on this point. The argument
    is not that social activity influences cognition,
    but that social activity is the process through
    which human cognition is formed (Lantolf
    Johnson, 2007, p. 878).

An Important Quote
  • Any function in the childs cultural development
    appears twice, or on two planes. First it appears
    on the social plane, and then on the
    psychological plane. First it appears between
    people as an interpsychological category, and
    then within the child as an intrapsychological
    category. This is equally true with regard to
    voluntary attention, logical memory, the
    formation of concepts, and the development of
    volition It goes without saying that
    internalization transforms the process itself and
    changes its structure and functions. Social
    relations or relations among people genetically
    underlie all higher functions and their
    relationships (Vygotksy, 1978, p. 57).

Key Concepts
  • Mediation
  • Internalization
  • Zone of proximal development (ZPD)

Piaget the child as lone scientist vs. Vygotsky
the child as apprentice
  • Q1. Describe as thoroughly as possible the
    image you have for the word apprentice.
  • Describe her work environment, tools she uses,
    and the people she might work with. Compare and
    contrast this image with that of a pupil in the
    classroom and then that of an EFL learner on the
    Internet What situation would an EFL learner be
    an apprentice?

?????????? http//digital.ceramics.tpc.gov.tw/Web/
Development occurs when we incorporate tools for
thinking from our society.
?????????? (????????) http//www.kmfa.gov.tw/Data/
Development occurs when we incorporate tools for
thinking from our society.
  • Q2. Describe an experience (i.e., yours or your
    students) that can verify this statement. Then,
    describe an experience in learning a foreign
    language which can also respond to this

  • Vygotskys emphases First. the symbol systems
    come to us from others rather than within
    ourselves. Second, the symbol systems are not
    just used in our thinking but completely
    reorganize our thinking.
  • It language is no longer speech for
    communication it is now a personal psychological
    tool that changes all her thought processes.

  • In traditional learning theory (note i.e.,
    behaviorism) and social learning theory, society
    is thought to influence and shape the child, but
    in Vygotskys theory, the child is a part of
    society and a collaborator in his learning with
    adult mentors.
  • For Vygotsky, we cant function on an adult level
    without the culture of which we are a part
    bringing us along and providing what is
    necessary. This conceptualization acknowledges a
    deeper level of social interaction than the
    simple social influence and conditioning
    envisioned by learning theory (note i.e.,

Influences (just a few)
  • Activity theory (Leontiv, Engestrom)
  • Anchored instruction (Bransford et al)
  • Cognitive apprenticeship (Collins, Brown
    Newman, 1987)
  • Distributed cognition (Hutchins, 1995)
  • Dialogic inquiry (Wells, 1999)
  • Dynamic assessment (Holt Willard-Holt, 2000
  • Situated Cognition (Brown, Collins, Duguid,
    1989 Lave Wenger, 1991 )
  • Social constructivism (bringing together the work
    of Piaget with that of Bruner and Vygotsky)

Some of the authors
  • Jerome Bruner,
  • Andy Clark
  • Michael Cole,
  • James Lantolf
  • James V. Wertsch,
  • Gordon Wells,

Features of SCT-inspired research
  • Emphasizing the context taking a holistic view
    on the ecology of language learning environment
    and attempting to capture multiple dimensions of
    context and multiple levels of discourse.
  • The complexity of the language learning
    environment is elucidated by adopting theoretical
    frameworks from disciplines outside of TESOL.
  • Issues such as power, identity, culture and
    gender are investigated. Agency is another such
    issue interested to researchers. (Tsui, 2008, p.
  • Attempting to understand how technology
    transforms human action (e.g., learners and
    teachers) and what activities people are engaged
    in with the assistance of technology in the
    particular social cultural context.

Many studies have adopted SCT-related theoretical
framework in designing and examining activity
structures for CALL
  • Self-access language learning (Hoven, 1999),
  • CMC (computer-mediated communication) (Meskill,
    2005 Shin, 2006),
  • Telecommunication projects (Belz, 2002 Lee,
  • Project-oriented CALL (Jeon-Ellis, Debski,
    Wigglesworth, 2005)

The Mediation/Tool AWE
  • AWE (Automated Writing Evaluation) programs is a
    kind of computer software designed to evaluate
    compositions, supposedly as efficiently as human

  • Previous research has mostly centered on
    psychometric aspects of the software, comparing
    the quality of machine generated feedback and
    evaluation with that of human raters (Warschauer
    Ware, 2006).

  • Nowadays AWEs have been advocated as web-based
    writing instructional tool (Vantage), expanding
    from the original purpose of evaluation to that
    of instruction.
  • There is thus a need to understand how it
    supports learning in the sociocultural context of
    language learning environments.

ETS Criterion http//criterion1.ets.org/cwe/ Demo
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Vantage MY Access http//www.vantagelearning.com/
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Scoring scales used by My Access Criterion (1)
  • My Access
  • Focus Meaning The extent to which the response
    demonstrates understanding of the text and the
    purpose of the task, and makes connections
    between them through a controlling or central
  • Content Development The extent to which ideas
    are elaborated with specific, accurate, and
    relevant details (facts, examples, reasons,
    anecdotes, prior knowledge).
  • Organization The extent to which the response
    establishes purposeful structure, direction, and
    unity, including transitional elements.
  • Criterion
  • Organization Development
  • Introductory Material
  • Thesis Statement
  • Main Ideas
  • Supporting Ideas
  • Conclusion
  • Transitional Words and Phrases

Scoring scales used by My Access Criterion (2)
  • My Access
  • Language Style
  • The extent to which the response demonstrates
    effective and varied sentences and word choice
    appropriate to the intended audience
  • Criterion
  • Style
  • Repetition of Words
  • Inappropriate Words or Phrases
  • Sentences Beginning with Coordinating
  • Too Many Short Sentences
  • Passive Voice
  • Number of words (number)
  • Number of sentences (number)
  • Average number of words per sentence (number)

Scoring scales used by My Access Criterion (3)
  • My Access
  • Mechanics Conventions
  • The extent to which the response demonstrates
    control of conventions, including paragraphing,
    grammar, usage, punctuation, and spelling.
  • Criterion
  • Grammar
  • (problems to be detected)
  • Fragments
  • Run-on sentences
  • Garbled Sentences
  • Subject-Verb Agreement Errors
  • Verb-Form Errors
  • Ill-formed verbs
  • Pronoun Errors
  • Possessive Errors
  • Wrong or Missing Words
  • Proof read this!

  • Mechanics
  • Spelling
  • Capitalize Proper Nouns
  • Missing Initial Capitalized Letter in a Sentence
  • Missing Question Mark
  • Missing Final Punctuation
  • Missing Apostrophe
  • Missing Comma
  • Hyper Error
  • Fused Words
  • Compound Words
  • Duplicates

  • Usage
  • (problems to be detected)
  • Wrong Article
  • Missing or Extra Article
  • Confused Words
  • Wrong Form of Word
  • Faulty Comparisons
  • Preposition Error
  • Nonstandard Verb or Word Form

Feedback Wording
  • Criterion
  • Score of 5 Skillful Performance
  • Tells a clear story that is well-developed and
    supported with pertinent details in much of the
  • Well organized with story elements that are
    connected across most of the response may have
    occasional lapses in transitions.
  • Exhibits some variety in sentence structure and
    uses good word choice occasionally, words may be
    used inaccurately.
  • Errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation do
    not interfere with understanding.
  • My Access
  • Overall 5 On a scale of one to six, your
    response to this assignment was rated a 5. Your
    response was evaluated on the basis of how well
    it communicates its message considering important
    areas of writing including focus and meaning,
    content and development, organization, language
    use and style, and conventions and mechanics.

Research Questions
  • How helpful is the opportunity to use the AWE
    program in a self-access mode?
  • How helpful is the AWE feedback system in
    developing writing skills in a self-access
    learning mode?
  • What major instructional support may be necessary
    to help learners develop writing proficiency with
    the AWE program?

The Context
  • In the spring semester of 2005, for promotional
    purpose, the Taiwanese representative of
    Criterion offered the authors affiliated
    department 265 free accounts which allowed
    students unlimited use of the AWE for a period of
    twelve months.

  • Presented as paradoxes, the assertions below are
    derived from the learners self-report in
    interviews and comments in face-to-face meetings.

Q1 How is the opportunity to use the AWE program
  • The learner liked the opportunity to practice
    writing at their own pace, but very few of them
    actually took advantage of it.

Topics Topics Due Date Number of People who wrote this topic Number of submissions
Required Goals Goals Feb 7 164 (64.82) 375 470 required essays (89.69)
Required Technology Technology Feb 13 84 (33.20) 167 470 required essays (89.69)
Required Special Object Special Object Feb 20 89 (35.18) 206 470 required essays (89.69)
Required Teaching Styles Teaching Styles Mar 7 63 (24.90) 118 470 required essays (89.69)
Required Guest Speaker Guest Speaker Mar 21 44 (17.39) 98 470 required essays (89.69)
Required Make a Change Make a Change Apr 4 26 (10.28) 53 470 required essays (89.69)
Self-selected topics-- 54 essays (10.30) Self-selected topics-- 54 essays (10.30) Self-selected topics-- 54 essays (10.30) Self-selected topics-- 54 essays (10.30) 31 (12.25)
Total Total Number of people in the program 253 People who wrote at least one topic 179 (70.75). People who finished all six required topics 13 (5.13) Number of people in the program 253 People who wrote at least one topic 179 (70.75). People who finished all six required topics 13 (5.13) Number of people in the program 253 People who wrote at least one topic 179 (70.75). People who finished all six required topics 13 (5.13) 524 essays in total. 1147 submissions Revision 2.19 times per topic
Table 4.1. Frequency of use
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Q2. How is the AWE feedback system helpful in
developing writing skills?
  • The feedback system is adequate in areas which a
    definite comment is possible and which are
    included in the criteria, but it is inadequate in
    other areas which are more complex or illusive.
  • Those who made the most of the program chose to
    trust the feedback and used metacognitive skills
    extensively, although they were fully aware of
    the programs insufficiencies.

  • Q3 What kind of instructional solutions may be
    necessary to help learners develop writing
    proficiency with the AWE program?
  • Learners liked to develop their writing in
    private, but they also wanted a sense of group.

Three Teaching Approaches to EFL Writing
  1. The text-oriented approach to writing focuses on
    the products of writing by examining texts in
    various ways, either through their formal surface
    elements or their discourse structures
  2. The writer-oriented approach focuses on the
    writer and describes writing in terms of the
    processes used to create texts, including the
    views that writing as personal expression,
    writing as a cognitive process, and writing as a
    situated act.
  3. The reader-oriented approach emphasizes the role
    that readers play in writing, including such
    views as writing as social interaction, writing
    as social construction, and writing as power and

The SCT Touch in the Course
  • lies in its emphasis of writers as unique
    contributors and creators of world knowledge, who
    can best be supported by a learning community
    that encourages constant dialogic interaction
    through which participants and the instructor
    engage collaboratively in the inquiry into EFL
    writing and reflectively in the actual practice
    of writing.

  • The design of the course follows Gabrielatoss
    writing skills development cycle, including --
  • awareness-raising,
  • support,
  • practice, and
  • feedback as the key activities

The Context
  • A part-time English writing course which featured
    using My Access as a tool for self-regulated
  • Nine people enrolled in the writing course
  • They were teachers, government officials,
    students, college professors, or bank clerks who
    were interested in advancing their English
    writing skills.
  • All of them had college degrees, with five (5) of
    them having an advanced graduate degree,
    including one PhD in architecture and one MFA in
    fine art.
  • Their writing proficiency levels, based on their
    self-report on the first day of the class, ranged
    from low intermediate to high intermediate.
  • As this is a smaller class than the previous year
    and students have higher education levels, it was
    expected that these students would be able to use
    more metacogintive strategies and that it would
    be more likely for the learners to have intense
    interaction as a class.

Research Questions
  • How do two learners regulate their learning
    through the mediation system formed by the AWE
    program, the teacher, and fellow students?
  • How do they regulate their learning with the
    mediation of the AWE program?
  • How do they regulate their learning with the help
    of the teacher and peers in the class?
  • What meaningfulness do they derive from their
    experiences in this writing course?

Key Informants Anne Grace
  • Two reasons to choose these two learners as the
    cases focused in this study --
  • (1) they were among the most motivated in the
    class. They were comfortable about articulating
    their thoughts in class and in face-to-face
    conferences, which allowed me many opportunities
    throughout the course to understand how they
    regulated their learning in this context.
  • (2) they happily accepted my invitation the
    moment I asked. The rapport existing between each
    of them and me was expected to lubricate the data
    collection process. Below is the two learners
    background information.

  • In her mid fifties. Married with two children.
  • Job In the nursing profession. She had two
    years experience studying for a masters degree
    in the U.S. about fifteen years ago.
  • Goal Passing GEPT
  • Focus Text-based writing techniques

  • In her early forties, married with a teen
  • Job a computer programmer in a well-established
    bank for fifteen years.
  • Goal Purely for interest
  • Focus Developing content.
  • Comparatively speaking, she writes better than
    Anne and many other members in this class.

Data Sources
  • Interviews, class field notes, learners written
    works, and records of conference with the
  • Data taken directly from the AWE system number
    of prompts used, number of scored essays, number
    of pending essays, scores for the first try and
    the best try, average scores, and the date when
    the participant input the system for the last

Data Analysis
  • Construct profiles for the two learners using and
    triangulating various data sets
  • Categorization based on critical incidents
  • Interpretation
  • Member checking

Critical Incidents
  • Q1 How do they regulate their learning with the
    mediation of the AWE program?
  • Using AWE functions and feedback
  • Analyzing techniques in model essays
  • Q2 How do they regulate their learning with the
    help of the teacher and peers in the class?
  • Adopting external resources to enrich writing
  • Q3 What meaningfulness do they derive from their
    experiences in this writing course?
  • Deriving insights from interacting with the
    instructor class activities and conferencing

What is learned?
Activity Theory
The Subject, Object, Outcome
  • The learners goal for learning how to write
    played an important role in determining how they
    interacted with the tool.

The Mediation
  • Second, AWE is not a neutral tool It serves a
    specific type of learner, who is perhaps more
    like Anne than Grace in terms of goals and
    proficiency levels.

The Community
  • Not everybody learned the same thing with the
    same software.

Four levels of contradictions in a network of
human activity systems
Theoretical Implication
  • 1. The concept of mediation in light of the two
  • The AWE tool

Theoretical Implication
  • 2. AWE as mediation in the intrapsychological

Pedagogical Implications
  • Design of AWE Supporting thoughtful engagement,
    in the process of learning by doing and
    learning by reflection
  • John Seely Brown (2000) argues that the point is
    designing tools to support functions that are
    most comfortable and natural to human learning in
    everyday environment. He says, Our challenge and
    opportunity, then, is to foster an
    entrepreneurial spirit toward creating new
    learning environments-- a spirit that will use
    the unique capabilities of the Web to leverage
    the natural ways that humans learn (p. 13).

Pedagogical Implications
  • Design for social interaction
  • It would be necessary to explain to learners the
    importance of interaction so that they do not
    think of reflective conversations as a waste of
  • More research is necessary to investigate learner
    difference in response to the emphasis of
    interaction and reflection in language learning

The Contributions of QI
The schism between research and practice is a
major challenge facing applied researchers.
  • QI holds potential to
  • allow documentation of the challenges encountered
    in implementing interventions designed to change
    or reform existing practice
  • pay attention to cultural and contextual factors
  • acquire the benefit of formative research,
    attending to the specific needs and resources of
    the target population
  • ( Nastasi Schensul, 2005, pp.186-187)

  • QI
  • is critical for documenting the adaptations
    necessary for application of interventions to
    real-life contexts, and for identifying core
    intervention components which are related to
    desired outcomes.
  • can help researchers to describe various
    manifestations of intended outcomes that may not
    be reflected in standardized instruments, and to
    identify unintended positive or negative outcomes
    for the individual and institution/community.
  • ( Nastasi Schensul, 2005, pp.186-187).

The researcher as a learner
  • A key contribution of qualitative research is the
    development of theories and concepts that can aid
    an understanding of education
  • Within a qualitative worldview all knowledge is
    partial, situated, and contextual.
  • Our own learning as researchers and practitioners
    never ends the more we know the more there is to
    know (Giangreco Taylor, 2003, 135-136)

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