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THE UNIVERSITY OF FOREIGN LANGUAGES
DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH
TITLE OF THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL
Subject Area: …
Student’s Name: Nguyen Van A
Supervisor’s Name: Ho Van B
Da Nang 2013
RESEARCH PROPOSAL Name: NGUYEN VAN A Topic: INTEGRATING ICT INTO FOREIGN LANGUAGE COURSES AND STUDENTS’ CHARACTERIZATION OF THEIR LEARNING WITH ICT
In education, integrating Information and Communications Technology (ICT) into classrooms is advocated as a way to enhance teaching and learning. Most studies of ICT-integrated instruction focus on the potential of ICT in promoting the process of teaching and learning, and the impacts of ICT on students’ outcomes or motivation. However, little is known about how ICT is integrated in a language course in a comprehensive way and students’ perception of aspects of ICT integration that help them learn. This study will draw from constructivism and Bloom’s (1964) cognitive taxonomies to describe ICT-integration as an effective way of instruction for foreign language learning. This case-study research will investigate one teacher’s efforts to integrate ICT into an English course and the student’s characterizations of the ICT integration aspects which are beneficial to their learning. Results and analysis from the research will provide an insight into how a range of ICT applications and activities can be incorporated into a whole language course. Further, the study will point out students’ characterization of productive aspects of ICT-integrated instruction. Also, strategies and implications for teaching and learning with ICT will be discussed.
Chapter 1. INTRODUCTION
Currently, the emergence of new educational technologies has dramatically influenced the process of instruction at schools and universities. As a component of new educational technologies, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has been increasingly used for teaching and learning (Harrison et al., 2002, p.5; Newhouse, 2002, p.3). Although schools have made significant progress in helping teachers to use basic ICT
tools such as word processing and databases, teachers still struggle with integrating technology into the curriculum. While most studies place great focus on ways ICT can help with the instructional process and the effects of ICT use on teaching and learning, little empirical work has explored how teachers integrate ICT into a whole course successfully. In addition, few studies investigate language students’ responses to ICT-integrated instruction and its relationship to learning. Through a qualitative case study, this research will address teachers’ concerns about productive use of ICT applications and activities for their courses, and offer students’ characterizations of ICT-integration aspects that help them learn. The study can be particularly useful for teachers of foreign languages because it will be conducted in a Vietnamese educational context where English is learnt and used as a foreign language. The research aim The aim of this study is to use a case study to investigate particular strategies to integrate ICT into a comprehensive language course and examine the students’ characterizations of the aspects of ICT-integrated instruction that hinder or help them learn. The study will be significant for teachers, especially foreign language teachers, who wish to use ICT for enhancing teaching and learning. Limitations of the research The study focuses on teacher’s strategies for integrating ICT into language courses in a comprehensive way and the students’ perceptions of their ICT-assisted learning. The research is limited to foreign language teaching at tertiary level only. The study will not look at ICT integration into discrete lessons or units. Additionally, the research will not cover the issues of ICT use in education.
Chapter 2. REVIEW OF RELEVANT LITERATURE
Theoretical framework for study of ICT-integrated teaching and learning In educational context, the integration of ICT into teaching and learning has been the
focus of various studies of pedagogic approaches and educational technology. Almost all teachers who advocate teaching with ICT have the view that learning needs to be more informed by constructivism (Clouse & Nelson, 2000, p. 289). As an ontology, constructivism has its roots in the psychology-based traditions going back to Bruner (1962; 1966), Piaget (1970) and Vygotsky (1978). It is fundamentally an epistemology that has had great impacts on teachers’ conception of learning. According to Newhouse (2002, p.8), although no fixed definition of constructivism has been given, there is a common element in the belief among teachers that knowledge is constructed out of personal sets of meanings or conceptual frameworks based on experiences encountered in relevant environments. People interact with their environment and as a result develop conceptual frameworks to explain these interactions and assist in negotiating future interactions. As Perkins (1992) puts it, Central to the vision of constructivism is the notion of the organism as "active" - not just responding to stimuli, as in the behaviourist rubric, but engaging, grappling, and seeking to make sense of things. (p. 49) Teachers who believe in constructivism should be concerned with personal conceptual frameworks, prior knowledge, students’ understandings, the relationship of formal knowledge to spontaneous frameworks, and the attitude of the learner to formal knowledge (Osborne & Wittrock, 1985, p.59; von Glasersfeld, 1991, p.14). In teaching with ICT, both the knowledge frameworks of students (prior knowledge) and of the knowledge domains relevant to the learning activities must be considered in the integration of ICT (Newhouse, 2002, p.8). It is argued that the appropriate use of ICT by students can assist teachers in determining and catering for the prior knowledge of students. Furthermore, ICT can assist students in engaging cognitively to a greater depth with knowledge domains. This means that students are supported in employing the full range of thinking skills within authentic contexts. In this aspect, the following cognitive taxonomies provided by Bloom (1964) is found very useful: Knowledge: The learner must recall information (i.e. bring to mind the appropriate material). Comprehension: The learner understands what is being communicated by making use of the communication. Application: The learner uses abstractions (e.g. ideas) in particular and concrete situations. Analysis: The learner can break down a communication into its constituent elements or parts.
Synthesis: The learner puts together elements or parts to form a whole. Evaluation: The learner makes judgments about the value of material or methods for a given purpose.
In terms of creating constructivist learning environment, the U.S.A. Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning (2000, pp. 23-25) offer the four interrelated attributes as follows: 1. Schools and classrooms must be learner centered (p. 23). 2. To provide a knowledge-centered classroom environment, attention must be given to what is taught (information, subject matter), why it is taught (understanding), and what competence or mastery looks like (p. 24). 3. Formative assessments – ongoing assessments designed to make students’ thinking visible to both teachers and students are essential. They permit the teacher to grasp the students’ preconceptions, understand where the students are in the “developmental corridor” from informal to formal thinking, and design instruction accordingly. In the assessment-centered classroom environment, formative assessments help both teachers and students monitor progress (p. 24). 4. Learning is influenced in fundamental ways by the context in which it takes place. A community-centered approach requires the development of norms for the classroom and school, as well as connections to the outside world, that support core learning values (p. 25). In order to address these challenges of establishing and sustaining constructivist learning environment, ICT-using teachers are advised to use such strategies as real world problems, scaffolding, feedback and guidance, local and global communities, and extending teacher learning (Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning, 2000, p.15). The aforementioned theoretical frameworks can help to guide teachers to implement ICT integration to support high quality learning environments. Review of related literature Many studies have explored the potential and the impacts of ICT on teaching and learning. Particularly, the “Teachers and technology” research showed that the use of ICT encourages teachers to employ student-centered approach which involve students in
conducting their own scientific inquiries or engaging in collaborative activities rather than such traditional activities as drill and practice for mastery of facts (Teachers and technology, 1995, pp.1-9). Moreover, teaching with ICT can cause myriad changes that ultimately redefine teachers’ roles, such as facilitators, coaches, guides, resource managers, observers and evaluators (Teachers and technology, 1995, p.49). Findings from this study also indicated that ICT integrated instruction caused change in students’ learning approach from passive learners to active learners (Teachers and technology, 1995, p.52). Another study by Shneiderman et al (1998) looked at how the use of ICT could create new forms of teaching and learning. Their research found that teachers could use ICT for collaborative teaching and learning such as teamwork, exchange projects, and pen pal exchange by means of the Internet, school intranet, and telecommunication (Shneiderman et al., 1998, p.26). In this course of studying, Harrison et al (2002) examined ICT applications for structuring out-of-school study activities. Furthermore, their survey showed various computer skills that students used to complete their learning tasks, such as using search engines to find appropriate websites, downloading information found on the Internet, transferring information into other software applications and using certain presentation applications to present their works (Harrison, 2002, p. 27). The CEO report (2001, p.9) revealed that ICT-using students were more directly engaged in their educational process by being able to define individual objectives, and create accountability plans to reach the objectives. This report on the impact of ICT in education also found that ICT integration enabled teachers to augment curriculum with authentic tasks and timely study of real world events, which is claimed to be “one of the most dramatic ways education technology can make learning more dynamic and engaging” (The CEO report, 2001, p.9). Specific studies (ICTs for learning, 2004; Lankshear et al., 2000) on the instructional activities associated with ICT integration found that teaching with ICT offers students a broad range of learning activities necessary for their future jobs, such as students’ extending their research to include a variety of information sources; drawing upon multiple ways of representing events, perspectives and interpretations; evaluating which materials work best for the presentation required; and then synthesizing this material into a cogent multimedia message.
In the research “Models for integrating technology in higher education”, MacKinnon and Williams (2006) described how various ICT applications had been introduced in three science classrooms in Canada. The research involved qualitative interviews and electronic surveys of students’ impressions of the learning environment in which a combinations of ICT tools were combined to promote educational objectives. The authors revealed that while the students appreciated most of the technologies used in the course, particular technologies were less useful (MacKinnon & William, 2006, p.27). The research findings also indicated that combinations of quantitative and qualitative interview of students could help teachers discard unproductive ICT applications to improve the quality of the courses(MacKinnon & William, 2006, p.29).. In Malaysia, Samuel and Bakar (2006) conducted a qualitative study to find out the extent of ICT integration among English option teachers. The study demonstrated that ICT integration was poorly implemented because of several factors, such as a lack of infrastructure facilities, inadequate ICT skill training for teachers, fears and indifferent attitude of the teachers (Samuel & Bakar, 2006, pp. 5-10). The study confirmed that schools with very good ICT resources achieved better results in English than schools with poor ICT (Samuel & Bakar, 2006, p.9). So far, few studies have investigated ICT-integrated instruction in foreign language classroom context. Also, teachers’ concerns about how to integrate ICT into a language course in a comprehensive way and students’ characterization of their learning with ICT provide an impetus for me to conduct this study. The Research Questions The central question of this research is as follows: How is ICT integrated into a whole language course so that it meets the course objectives and fosters students’ learning? The study will also be guided by the following specific questions: 1. What ICT applications and ICT-integrated activities are actually used in a comprehensive language course? 2. How do the students describe their learning with ICT integration?
3. What aspects of ICT-integrated instruction do the students say hinder or help their learning?
Chapter 3. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY.
Research Design This study will use a qualitative, case study research design. The case study is an extensively used approach to sociology. A case study can be defined as an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident, and in which multiple sources of evidence are used (Yin, 1994, p. 13). There are several reasons why the case study method is appropriate for this study. First, the case study will enable me to effectively deal with the type of question posed in the research. As noted by Yin (1994, p. 20), the case study is suitable when a “how” or “why” question is being asked about a contemporary set of events, over which the investigator has little or no control. It should be noticed that my research question is concerned with how ICT is integrated into a whole language course so that it meets the course objectives and how the students describe their learning with ICT. Also, I do not intend to have control over the study samples, such as the teacher, the students or the course being studied. Additionally, a number of the basic features of the case study make it an appropriate method for this research. These include: A case study is an intensive analysis of one or several exemplary events; decisions or sets of decisions; programs; institutions; or communities (Punch, 1998, p. 150). In this research, analysis will focus on how a teacher integrates ICT into his / her language course to foster students’ learning. A case study generally focuses on a case that exemplifies some particular set of processes or outcomes that illustrates a broader argument or conclusion derived from the literature or from theory (McNabb, 2004, p. 358). My research will emphasize on a course that represents a comprehensive ICT-integrated instruction in classrooms. Results from the study can help to develop particular framework or models for conducting a language course with ICT. Case studies can involve a wide range of data collection and analytic methods, including participant observation, interviews, document analysis, as well as quantitative methods, including surveys, content analysis and statistical analysis (Punch, 1998, p. 153; Yin, 1994, p. 20). This research will employ various data collection techniques, such as observations of classroom meetings, semi-structured interview with the teachers about teaching approaches and strategies, questionnaire responses from the students. These data will be inductively analysed. Furthermore, the research will involve document analysis based on the collection of the teacher’s lesson plans. The Study Sample In this study, purposeful sampling method will be employed. I will seek out settings and individuals where the process being studied are most likely to occur. The site of this study will be at a foreign language college in Vietnam where several teachers are conducting ICT-integrated courses and willing to participate in the study. The sample population will be one ICT-using teacher who is in charge of an English course and about 70 language students in this course. The reason for choosing an English course as a sample is that English is the most popular foreign language to be learnt in Vietnam and more English teachers are engaged in incorporating ICT into their teaching. The course being studied here will qualify as an extreme case, that is, a site that is most likely to exemplify the phenomenon of interest. I will choose a course which is a clear example of ICT-integrated instruction. To be specific, the teacher selected as a sample for the study should be knowledgeable about teaching with ICT and committed in integrating ICT into classrooms. Also, most of the teaching and learning activities are involved in ICT applications. As for the participants, of the 70 students chosen as candidates for this study, it is likely that a small proportion are unlikely to accept the invitation to become involved. This leaves a field of approximately 50 students. The selected teacher and students will provide the initial sample data. Subsequent data collection will be guided by the theoretical sampling principle of a case study. Where necessary, additional data will be gathered by further data collection methods such as interviews and questionnaires if theoretical saturation on any particular category has not been achieved at an earlier stage. In this study other decisions about the sampling process will be made during the research process itself as it is hard to make a full plan for theoretical sampling before the study commences.
In this research, the key variables collected for the analysis will include: i) Strategies for ICT integration: Ways that the teacher use for infusing ICT as a teaching and learning tool in the course.
ii) Learning-enhanced ICT integration: The use of ICT applications and activities that enhance students’ learning. iii) Unproductive ICT integration: The ICT applications and activities that hinder students’ learning. Data collection Data-gathering methods for this study will include participant observations, semi-structured interview, questionnaire responses from students, and discourse analysis of the teacher’s lesson plans. The multiple data collection methods are used for triangulation to improve the accuracy and reliability of the research (Neuman, 2006, p. 149). The data will be gathered from the initial sample group as outlined below. - Participant observations: 30 - 45 hours (a whole course in Vietnam usually takes between 30 and 45 hours for 15 weeks), January 2007 – April 2007. - Semi-structured interviews : 60 minutes, February 2007. - Questionnaire: 10 – 12 questionnaire items, April 2007. - Document analysis: ICT-integrated lesson plans prepared by the teacher, April 2007. The data gathering and analysis will be tightly interwoven processes in the sense that data analysis guides future data collection. Therefore, changes may be made to this provisional timetable if the analysis of data collected early during the writing course indicates a need to adopt a different sequence of data-gathering processes. In the participant observations at each class meeting, the use of ICT applications and instructional activities will be observed, and field notes will be compiled from the observations. Also, the semi-structured interviews will be used as the primary means of data collection. An arrangement will be made to interview the teacher after about one month of observing the class. This interviews will be 60-minute long, tape recorded, and transcribed. The interviews will be structured to gather data about the teacher’s principles for ICT-integrated instruction, what the teacher does to teach with ICT, and how ICT integration
meets the course aims and objectives. Based on the interview proceeding, a wide possible range of questions associated with ICT-integrated teaching and learning will be raised to obtain responses from the teacher. The research questions will guide the data-gathering process. The questionnaire will be used to gather data about the students’ perceptions of their ICT-assisted learning. The questionnaire will contain from 10 to 12 items. The questionnaire is intended to ask students to (a) give a general comment on the integration of ICT in the course; (b) describe their participation in class activities; (c) describe their engagement in ICT-integrated learning; (d) note whether ICT integration in the course helps or hinders their learning; and (e) explain how. Other questions to be included in the questionnaire will be about the students’ age, sex, fluency in language skills, and competence in using ICT applications, especially computers. In addition, the structure and content of subsequent interviews or questionnaires will be determined after the data analysis process has commenced. Every effort will be made to ensure that the teacher and the students are comfortable with the data collection techniques and that they are clear about the purposes of the data-gathering procedure. Furthermore, document analysis of the teacher’s lesson plans will supplement the information acquired by the other data collection methods.
Chapter 4. DATA ANALYSIS AND EXPECTED FINDINGS
The data will be analyzed according to the procedure for analysis of case study data as suggested by McNabb (2004, pp. 366-367). First, the data will be organized into four categories: ICT applications, ICT-integrated activities, teacher’s strategies for ICT integration, and students’ characterization of learning with ICT. Second, I will generate themes and code the data as follows: 1) “Higher-order thinking skills”-enhanced instructional activities (HOTS). 2) Collaborative learning (CL). 3) Research-focused study (RFS). 4) Autonomous study (AUTO). 5) Out-of-school study (OUT). 6) Customized teaching and learning (CUS). The subsequent steps for data analysis will be to apply the categories to data, search for alternative explanations and present the report. Furthermore, as the study is involved in
three different research questions, specific data analysis to be carried out can be proposed as follows:
In order to address the first research question, the field notes and interview transcripts will be scrutinized to identify the teacher’s strategies for using ICT applications and ICT-integrated activities the course. After that, the teacher’s interview statements about the teaching strategies will be compared with the classroom observations and content analysis of the teacher’s lesson plans to describe what ICT-integrated strategies and activities the teacher has used for fostering students’ learning. The data collected from the questionnaire responses will be analyzed inductively to address the second and third research question. Phrases from the participants’ responses that fit into the general analytic categories will be extracted and sorted into relevant clusters. These clusters will be examined to identify overall themes from the data. These themes will be used to characterize particular aspects of ICT-integration that help or hinder students’ learning. The data analysis is also expected to indicate a framework for ICT-integration in language courses, especially English writing courses. Hopefully, results and findings from the study will be significant for teachers, especially language teachers, to incorporate ICT as a component of educational technology into classrooms for teaching and learning enhancement. Ethical Issues In this research, the ethical principles for conducting qualitative studies will be rigorously followed. For example, neutral identifiers will be used to maintain the confidentiality of the interviewees. The names of the college, the teacher and the students will be fictitious to enhance the confidentiality of the participants. Codes will refer to interview data. Also, the informed consent of the teacher and students will be obtained to the commencement of the study. Dissemination and policy relevance On completion of the research report, the study will be presented at teachers’ workshops or submitted to the Journal of Education and Development using Information
and Communication Technology or another educational journal for disseminating the results and findings.
A Timeline for Conducting the Research - November 2006 – December 2006: Have the research proposal approved. - January 2007 – April 2007: Collect data and analyze data. - April 2007 – May 2007: Collect subsequent data if necessary. - May 2007 – June 2007: Write and finalize a research report. - From the end of June 2007: Disseminate the study through an educational journal.
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