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Evaluating the impact of an online English language tool's ability to improve users' speaking proficiency under learner- and shared-control conditions

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This study aims to uncover whether English Central, an online English as a Second Language tool, improves speaking proficiency for undergraduate students with developing English skills. Eighty-three advanced English

This study aims to uncover whether English Central, an online English as a Second Language tool, improves speaking proficiency for undergraduate students with developing English skills. Eighty-three advanced English language learners from the American English and Culture Program at Arizona State University were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: the use of English Central with a learner-control, shared-control, and a no-treatment condition. The two treatment groups were assigned approximately 14.7 hours of online instruction. The relative impact of each of the three conditions was assessed using two measures. First, the Pearson Versant Test (www.versanttest.com), a well-established English-as-a-second-language speaking test, was administered to all of the participants as a pre- and post-test measure. Second, students were given a post-treatment questionnaire that measured their motivation in using online instruction in general, and English Central specifically. Since a significant teacher effect was found, teachers involved in this study were also interviewed in order to ascertain their attitude toward English Central as a homework tool. Learner outcomes were significantly different between the shared and learner conditions. Student motivation was predictive of learning outcomes. Subjects in the shared condition outperformed those in the learner condition. Furthermore, those in the shared condition scored higher than the control condition; however, this result did not reach statistical significance. Results of the follow-up teacher survey revealed that while a teacher's view of the tool (positive or negative), was not a predictor of student success, teacher presentation of the tool may lead to a significant impact on student learning outcomes.

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  • 2015

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Learning to speak in the digital age: an examination of instructional conditions for teaching public speaking online

Description

This dissertation study quantitatively measured the performance of 345 students who received public speaking instruction through an online platform presented in one of six experimental conditions in order to explore

This dissertation study quantitatively measured the performance of 345 students who received public speaking instruction through an online platform presented in one of six experimental conditions in order to explore the ability of online lectures to replicate the characteristics of instructor presence and learner interaction traditionally associated with face-to-face public speaking courses. The study investigated the following research questions:

RQ1: How does the visibility of an instructor in a public speaking video lesson affect students' perception of presence?

RQ2: How does the visibility of an instructor in a public speaking video lesson affect student learning?

RQ3: How do self-explanation (Constructive) and note-taking (Active) types of learning activities affect students' perception of presence compared to passive lessons when presented in a video lesson?

RQ4: How do self-explanation (Constructive) and note-taking (Active) types of learning activities affect student learning compared to passive lessons when presented in a video lesson?

Additionally, the study collected qualitative feedback from participants on their experience in order to improve understanding of how to effectively design lectures for public speaking courses.

Results of the study were unable to statistically distinguish between students assigned to treatments that varied in both modality and level of activity. However, a significant finding of this study is that learning gains and students' perception of instructor presence were positive across all conditions.

The lack of significant differences by treatment indicates that the design attributes at the center of the study may be unnecessary considerations for developing content for online learning. Consequently, the improved performance of participants regardless of their assigned treatment in this study identifies a limitation to the application of Media Equation Theory and the Interactive-Constructive-Active-Passive (ICAP) Framework for designing online learning content for public speaking students as well as identifies two key implications: 1) exposure to an online lesson can increase learning; and 2) exposure to an online lesson can serve as a cost-effective alternative for producing lessons in public speaking courses.

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  • 2014