Computer assisted classroom discussion in three ESL classroom : a case study of the experiences of a teacher and her students
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The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of an ESL teacher and her students in computer assisted classroom discussion (CACD) and how these experiences were shaped and constructed. Thirty-four ESL students from two listening/speaking classes and one writing class enrolled in the English Language Program (ELP) affiliated with a large university in the U.S. and a teacher of those three classes participated. Main data sources included interviews with every student and the teacher, observation notes both in the classroom and in the computer lab, and transcripts from the weekly CACD sessions. The results of study indicated that 1) students’ individual differences (typing skills, English language proficiency, pre-conceived beliefs about language learning and learning in general, and perceptions of the CACD); 2) the nature of the CACD (its fast pace, multiple voices and information overload, students’ empowerment, and written communication); 3) the language of the CACD (offtopic and abusive messages, low quality language input, lack of error correction); and 4) social factors in the CACD (group dynamics, responsiveness, and tension among Korean participants) considerably influenced students’ experiences in the CACD. In addition, four major themes that fashioned the teacher’s experiences in the CACD were identified: 1) limited resources, 2) the teacher’s goals for the class and the CACD, 3) the teacher’s roles in implementing and participating in the CACD, and 4) the influence of the students’ messages in the CACD. Further analysis revealed that students’ experiences in the CACD that were influenced by those numerous factors contributed considerably to constructing students’ beliefs about the use of CACD in language learning. One of the critical factors that led many students to their negative beliefs about the use of CACD in language learning was their pre-conceived beliefs about language learning and learning in general. It was also found that students’ empowerment could be perceived differently according to their cultural backgrounds, and that some of the factors, especially abusive discourses, group dynamics, knowledge of relevant skills such as language proficiency and typing skills, and social identity of Korean students established power structures within CACD that sometimes constrained students’ empowerment.