A Master of Arts Thesis Submitted to the College of Arts and Sciences by Jason Ward, "A Thesis in the Use of Computer Assisted Language Learning in a Whole Language Contest," May 2005. Thesis Advisor Dr. Rodney Tyson. Available are Both Soft and Hard Copies of the Thesis.
How can technology be used to enhance the delivery of whole language and motivate students? The hybrid use of whole-language teaching and technology is considered in the context of a first-year English writing programme for matriculated second language (L2) learners. A review of the literature focuses on learning styles and perceptions of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL). The notion of using technology as a tool to deliver language learning is introduced, and Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) in a whole language context is also considered. Whole language is introduced and cornerstones identified. Communicative language learning, student-centred learning, authentic assessment and materials, and meaningful and motivating content are explained with examples. Social constructivism and its subcategories are also examined The methods used to demonstrate the role of technology in delivering whole language involve the presentation of the use of the Moodle Course Management System (CMS), Computer-Assisted Feedback and the weblog as tools to facilitate language learning. Opinions from students are discussed in order to support the use of technological tools in language teaching. Student feedback gleaned from qualitative and quantitative surveys about Moodle revealed that nearly all of the students surveyed enjoyed using Moodle and over three quarters thought that it encouraged them to read or write more. Surveys regarding Computer-Assisted Feedback disclosed that most students preferred typed comments and nearly all believed that they learned something from the interactive websites linked to their errors. In support of the use of the weblog as an alternative means of assessment, almost all of students said that they preferred writing the weblog to the more traditional written journal, and most believed that it improved their English. The student-centred nature of online interaction was also supported by the comparison of an in-class discussion to an online-discussion using Flanders' Interactional Analysis categories, which demonstrated that over three quarters of a face-to-face class was teacher-led compared with about a tenth of an online class. In the conclusion, the shortcomings of the research methodology are acknowledged, such as unavoidable interviewer bias and variables in the comparisons between classes, and suggestions made for improvements in future research. Technology in education is advocated within a framework that offers choice.