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Accountability groups to enhance language learning in a university intensive English program

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This mixed methods classroom research examined if accountability groups in the lower proficiency levels of a university intensive English program would improve students’ language acquisition. Students were assigned partners for

This mixed methods classroom research examined if accountability groups in the lower proficiency levels of a university intensive English program would improve students’ language acquisition. Students were assigned partners for the study period with whom they completed assignments inside and outside of class, as well as set goals for use of language in their own context. Based in the ecological perspective and socio- cultural theory, activities reinforced social bonds, scaffolded the learning objectives in a communicative way, modeled the transfer of knowledge to the world outside the classroom, and allowed students to create new affordances in which to practice and use the language. Analysis of qualitative data from interviews, text messages, exit slips, and field notes, as well as quantitative data from student academic records, pre and post tests of curricular objectives, and pre and post attitudinal surveys, showed that students were developing a stronger sense of autonomy in their language learning. They viewed their peers and themselves as knowledgeable others, helping one another to learn vocabulary and structures in each student’s zone of proximal development. Learner engagement in the treatment groups, as measured by classroom attendance, increased over a control group, as did overall grade averages in all courses. Students with no previous time in the program showed more improvement than those who had been in the program for at least one session prior. Students also showed increased fluency, as measured by the word count on a constructive task in the pre- and post-test of curricular objectives.

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  • 2017