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The use of web 2.0 tools in the acquisition of grammatical structures in English as a foreign language


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Kovačić, Andreja. (2019). The use of web 2.0 tools in the acquisition of grammatical structures in English as a foreign language. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of English Language and Literature.
(PDS Glotodidaktika) [mentor Mihaljević Djigunović, Jelena and Seljan, Sanja].

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The advent of the Web 2.0 concept and e-learning 2.0 paradigm over a decade ago coincided with a heightened interest in constructivist, learner-oriented pedagogies in foreign language instruction. Within the sociocultural theoretical framework, second language acquisition is seen as arising from the interaction of an individual with his/her social and cultural context, with the notion of learning as an individual and social process in which meaning arises from and is mediated by language, physical artefacts and technological tools. In the domain of web 2.0 technologies, integration of writing and grammar is most frequently associated with wikis as a collaborative writing tools used for projects that are typically focused on the development of conceptual knowledge in FL instruction. Numerous studies provide evidence for the fact that during collaborative writing in a wiki students participate in negotiation of meaning and form, which also implies explicit communication about grammar. However, there are relatively few examples of applications of wikis in literature in which students are primarily involved in describing linguistic structures as the topic of their collaborative work. Consequently, the evidence on the effectiveness of such an approach to grammar is scarce. The research in this thesis addresses this research gap by analysing factors that may influence the successfulness of using web 2.0 tools in online teaching of EFL grammar in terms of contributing to the development of linguistic (i.e. grammatical) competence and enhancing learning experience. In the context of e-learning 2.0 and constructivism, students in a tertiary hybrid English for Specific Purposes course were engaged in out-of-class grammar e-tivities. In addition to the class wiki used to support the co-construction and publishing of the written output (i.e. textual description of grammatical structures on wiki pages), several other asynchronous web 2.0 tools were used for visualisation and graphic knowledge organization in artefacts that supplemented the textual description. The research in this dissertation was conducted in two stages, i.e. preliminary study and main study, in two subsequent academic years, within the same undergraduate EFL course. The goals of the preliminary research were to; (1) determine the applicability of web 2.0 tools in the implementation of grammar e-tivities by investigating the respondents’ perception of using such tools in grammar instruction, as well as their assessment of various aspects of the hybrid EFL course; (2) validate the instrument – survey questionnaire – that would be used in the main study. In order to examine the effects of the usage of web 2.0 tools, in the main study the quasiexperimental research design was employed. Unlike the experimental group, in which the acquisition of target structures was aided by web 2.0 technologies, respondents in the control group were only able to use conventional tools and systems (MS Word and Moodle LMS) to perform collaborative grammar e-tivities. The main study was aimed at: (1) establishing the effect of implementing web 2.0 tools in collaborative e-tivities on the acquisition of target grammatical structures that the respondents were involved with while performing the tasks (i.e. describing grammar topics in the wiki); (2) examine the respondents’ perception of the hybrid EFL course and the conducted e-tivities in which constructivist principles were combined with the use of web 2.0 tools, and grammar instruction was integrated with collaborative writing; (3) exploring the correlation between the acquired knowledge of grammatical structures (measured by the retest upon the completion of the experiment) and other variables (several learner variables including individual differences and computer literacy as well as situational variables). In addition to the survey questionnaire, the data in the main research were collected by means of grammar tests (pre-test, retest and post-test) to assess the level of respondents’ knowledge of the target structures. The target morphosyntactic structures had been selected on the basis of the diagnostic test before the experiment and included: reported speech; conditional sentences; causative have; participle clauses; subjunctive and structures for expressing unreal past. The questionnaire, which was administered shortly after the completion of the experiment in both groups of respondents, was used to measure various psychological variables (individual differences, perception of the hybrid EFL course and the conducted e-tivities), computer literacy and the perception of situational variables related to e-tivies implementation. The results indicate that, in terms of the level of acquisition of target grammatical structures, no statistically significant positive effect of using web 2.0 tools was found in the experimental group in comparison to the control group in which grammar e-tivities were performed by using conventional technological tools. In terms of e-tivities perception, statistically significant differences in favour of the use of web 2.0 technologies were established for two out of three dimensions of e-tivities perception: interaction among participants and e-tivies methodology/implementation. With regards to respondents’ evaluation of the hybrid course at the end of the instruction cycle, no statistically significant differences were established between two groups of respondents, although in both groups all the three aspects of the EFL course (i.e. satisfaction with the course; course interestingness and usefulness; achieved learning outcomes) obtained fairly positive ratings. In the experimental group, which used a wiki and other web 2.0 tools in e-tivities, correlation between the grammatical competence (defined as the level of acquisition of the target structures resulting from the performance of collaborative grammar e-tivities by means of web 2.0 tools) and individual differences, computer literacy, and situational factors was also examined. In the correlation analysis the only two statistically significant interrelationships that were found were those between grammatical competence (expressed as retest score) and perception of self-efficacy and effort in using the computer (negative correlation), respectively. However, multiple statistically significant correlations were identified among the non-linguistic variables (for, example, between motivation and other variables). It can be concluded that the results of the empirical research in this dissertation indicate moderate potential benefits of the use of web 2.0 tools (in particular, wikis and several other asynchronous web 2.0 tools for content visualization) in grammar instruction based on collaborative learning in a hybrid course. On the other hand, some issues related to their implementation highlight the challenges of constructivist pedagogies in grammar instruction, Finally, the findings of the research provide evidence for the importance of considering individual differences as factors which, along with the pedagogical approach, task type, and tools supporting the instruction, may determine the process of learning.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: hybrid instruction, e-learning 2.0, web 2.0 technologies, wiki, e-tivities, grammatical competence, perception, individual differences, quasiexperiment
Subjects: English language and literature
Departments: Department of English Language and Literature
Supervisor: Mihaljević Djigunović, Jelena and Seljan, Sanja
Additional Information: PDS Glotodidaktika
Date Deposited: 14 May 2019 09:24
Last Modified: 14 May 2019 09:24

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