Monday, September 1, 2008

2.5 Research Question

Statement of research problem
Last year, I started a new subject which integrated two major technological tools: The DVD video and the computer/internet. The aims of the class were to increase the amount of comprehensible input through video (getting Ss involved and invested to a 12 week drama), and then slowly increase comprehensible output using a discussion board format (writing in /out of class –wherever they access to a computer). The use of the discussion board as a medium for increasing writing output is a new thing at my college, and I wish to know if the discussion room format is useful for increasing the amount and quality of writing responses, over a period of 12 weeks.
Research Question
What are the effects on writing fluency, quality and quantity of a discussion board format as the medium of writing output, over a 12-week period?
1. How much do students contribute (number and length of entries) to a discussion board, based on a video resource? Do students contribute more toward the end of the twelve weeks (Do all students increase comprehensible output)?
2. Are errors in grammar, and spelling frequent? Do errors increase/decrease over the research time?
3. Does typing influence the amount of writing that is produced? Does typing influence motivation?
4. How long does it take students to formulate a response?
5. Do students respond to other student’s discussion board entries?
6. What are student’s perceptions about writing on a discussion board?
1. Students will be motivated to write on a topic if they know that their fellow classmates are reading and responding in real time (synchronous way).
2. Students will produce more writing in their responses as the semester goes by.
3. Students will gain greater confidence in expressing themselves in writing when it’s for an audience.
4. Students will write more as their confidence grows in using the technology, and as they start to become invested in the drama.
Part I:
• There is one two-hour class per week. The students will be introduced to one season of a drama (usually 12-episodes). The students will have a small worksheet for each episode that initially works on schema building, language points, and comprehension. Part of the worksheet will be done before watching, and part of it will be done after.
Part II
• Students will enter the computer lab, where they will log onto the discussion board (Google) and be confronted with a list of 10 discussion questions about the episode that they just watched.
• The students have to make at least one discussion board entry to answer one of the questions, and are encouraged to write responses to other student’s entries. At the beginning of the course the Ss are told that their grade will depend on both answering the discussion questions and responding to other Ss responses.
Part III
Students are observed throughout class for:
• Amount of time to formulate responses
• Amount and kinds of questions asked (about the drama’s plot, language questions etc…)
• Use of other Internet tools like spell checkers, data bases, web pages, concordance type software …
• Use of computer internal tools (spell checkers, grammar checkers)
Part IV
Ss work is checked in regular intervals throughout the 12-week course (every 3 weeks) for:
• Accuracy (spelling, grammar)
• Length (number of words)
• Kinds of words (first 1000, 2000 word lists, and AWL – Academic word list)
Part V
Ss will be given a survey at the beginning of the course and again at the end of the course for:
• Attitude toward technology (DVD and CMC)
• Personal performance rating
• Attitude toward the learning task (Motivation –before and after)
• Attitude toward the difficulty of task
• Attitude toward the teacher’s expected performance / actual performance.

Ethical issues:
Ss electronic literacy will impact upon how well students perform in tasks and their attitudes toward the medium under investigation. Ss will all have different beginning points, and their learning will vary according to their comfortableness with this technology, and the skills they posses in manipulating it.

This study would have to include qualitative (heavy description of the learning and learning environment) and quantitative (empirically observed data) methods in order to gain understandings about learner attitudes on the medium that is used, and to understand the effect on Ss performance over the research period.