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3 Requirements on Modern Education from the Studentʼs Point of View

3 Requirements on Modern Education from the Studentʼs Point of View

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MyEnglishLab Component Used in the Distant Part of Blended Learning



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contrasting traditional paper-based materials and linear texts [18]. As Prensky [15] says

the arrival and dissemination of digital technology in the last decade of the 20th century

changed the way students think and process information making it difficult for them to

excel academically using the outdated teaching methods of the day.

Many learners appreciate their educators implementing technologies in the education process, but on the other hand they would be grateful if their learning process

would include technologies within all aspects of their education – at schools, at home

or elsewhere (cf. [9]). Even though teachers decide on using digital technologies, tools

or materials, learners often perceive them as not systematical, graduating, relying,

consequential and consecutive (cf. [1, 5]).



3 Blended Learning as a Teaching/Learning Model

The Online Learning Consortium, formerly called the Sloan Consortium, defined

blended learning as learning which integrates online with traditional face-to-face class

activities in a planned, pedagogically valuable manner. Although there could be disputes about what pedagogically valuable manner is, it is obvious that blended education uses online technology (cf. [2, 4]). As we understand blended learning, it is a

combination of the present form of teaching/learning and the distant form of

teaching/learning. The present form of blended learning is represented by face-to-face,

i.e. a personal contact between a teacher and a student or students in a suitable place,

mostly a school building. The distant form of blended learning is represented by a

non-direct contact with a teacher using modern technologies, e.g. email, chat, webinar,

and learners learn with the help of distant texts, e-learning or online learning (cf. [11]).

Choosing the right tool for the distant part of blended learning is quite tricky and

challenging, neglecting the fact that most of content management systems meet

demands to create, add or adjust the content to different teacherʼs or course needs,

which can be considered as very demanding, highly professional and especially very

time-consuming work. All the aspects can be a real obstacle for digital immigrant

teachers. As the result, many teachers – digital immigrants try to avoid using digital

technologies unless it is absolutely necessary (cf. [19]).

Blended learning takes advantages of both the teacher-supported learning and

autonomous learning, therefore it can reflect real life more intensively, and provide

teachers tools in order to make their teaching more attractive to learners and more

engaging. The more engaged students are, the better results they reach as well as

motivation for further work not only in the classroom, but any time and any place they

are (cf. [8, 11, 14, 17, 18]).



4 MyEnglishLab

4.1



Introducing MyEnglishLab



MyEnglishLab is an online component designed to complement various English language courses for paper-based coursebooks, e.g. Speakout, Top Notch, New Total



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D. Vymetalkova and E. Milkova



English, Choices, Market Leader etc. developed by Pearson Longman. It is a web-based

system providing learners 24/7 online access to the teacher-managed course content.

As an online technology with combination of face-to-face learning it covers both

solitary and social approach and autonomous and supported approach. MyEnglishLab

is appealing to different types of learners, too – visual, auditory and kinesthetic.

Through many interactive activities and attractive materials, it encourages the activity

of both brain hemispheres, each of them responsible for different mental processes, and

makes them work synchronically. It is thanks to a multi-dimensional and multi-modal

approach to learning that MyEnglishLab provides. Students learn not only through

traditional interesting and up-to-date texts, but also through images, sound, video,

animation. Especially the last-mentioned are profitable for students of different learning

style preferences. Thanks to all possibilities that MyEnglishLab enables, teachers can

customize a course content to any individual learner or a group of learners.

In addition to MyEnglishLab component teachers can also use a digital version of

the studentsʼ coursebook – ActiveTeach with DVD with plenty of interactive activities

and Interactive whiteboard tools.



4.2



Contribution of MyEnglishLab to Blended Learning



There are basically three contributing elements provided by MyEnglishLab to blended

learning: enriched learning, informed teaching and flexibility. More can be read on

webinar http://www.myenglishlab.com/find-out-more.html#onlinepresentations.

Firstly, enriched learning includes interactive activities, tasks and tests integrated

with a course content. Enriched learning refers to a variety of activities targeting all

language skills in very attractive ways raising studentsʼ interest in a subject matter and

studentsʼ engagement in the learning process. It is obvious that the more engaged students

are the more they are likely to learn and gain from learning process. Enriched learning

also refers to up-to-date and top quality of learning materials and activities. MyEnglishLab activities also give tips to help learners study the subject matter as many times

they need and which direct them to appropriate reference pages. There are also hint boxes

that provide clues to complete tasks properly. These facilities encourage students to think

and analyze what they are doing rather than guessing answers, they make students think

and answer consciously. Learners are given the feedback on their work immediately with

the help of automatic grading that also enables them to see their progress.

Secondly, it is informed teaching that helps teachers follow their studentsʼ progress,

achievements and success. Formerly, this could be done by marking studentsʼ homework or by marking/evaluating their tests. As for homework, teachers could never be

sure whether it had been done at home, by somebody else or with help of anybody else

with better knowledge and without a particular studentʼs participation in doing the

homework. Even more, marking homework or tests is very time-consuming, and not

exceptionally teachers prefer students to mark each otherʼs homework in lessons and

they rather reduce the number of tests to avoid marking them. Once homework and

tests are marked and corrected, it always takes some time to determine areas of difficulty and studentʼs weaknesses. MyEnglishLab enables to mark studentsʼ homework



MyEnglishLab Component Used in the Distant Part of Blended Learning



55



automatically. To see which errors are the most common and which particular students

make which mistakes can be read in the Common Error Report.

Thirdly, it is flexibility that can be achieved through MyEnglishLab easily. These

days students have different needs and weaknesses they have to deal with. MyEnglishLab enables to target and assign activities either to individual learners or a group

of learners according to their needs. Flexibility also includes an easy communication

outside the classroom. The teacher can communicate with students sending them

messages through the application. Let us not forget that learners can access all the

activities when they are online anytime and anywhere.

MyEnglishLab together with ActiveTeach appear as an open application. As the

result the teacher can attach any documents from previously prepared files, or any links

to web sites, including youtube and others. Through this an unlimited range of various

sources of information and activities is available. Since we deal with students studying

different scientific subjects at the Faculty of Science, we value and appreciate the

possibility to expand the course content with other supporting materials reffering to the

given area of study.



5 Research Study Design

5.1



Motivation for the Research Study



According to CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages)

students entering the Faculty of Science at University of Hradec Kralove are supposed

to have English language skills at reference level at least B1/B2. Unfortunately, the

entrance language tests show that majority of students achieve reference level around

A2, exceptionally B1. The reason why could be that they can still choose whether to

take their final secondary school leaving exam (so called MATURITA, cca at the age

18) in Mathematics or English language. Supposing that students interested in scientific

subjects focus on them already during their studies at secondary schools, they do not

devote enough effort and so much attention to studying English language. As the result,

there is a gap between expectations and real knowledge of English language when

these students enter the university. Even more, the situation gets complicated at the

very beginning of their university studies, because apart from knowledge of general

English, they are supposed to add and learn English focused on their area of study, e.g.

financial mathematics, physics, toxicology etc.

Our undergraduate students take an English course that includes two lessons a

week, each 45 min long. Reflecting the facts mentioned above, this does not seem to be

enough. We had been looking for the way out to solve this problem and make learning

as convenient and effective for students as possible, which appeared as rather challenging. Blended learning model has been chosen as the ideal solution for both students

and teachers. MyEnglishLab component to paper-based English material – New Total

English has been chosen to be applied in the distant part of blended learning.



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5.2



D. Vymetalkova and E. Milkova



Methodology, Objectives and Hypotheses



The research study has been carried out since September 2015 as a pedagogical

experiment. The purpose of the experiment is to compare two groups of students –

experimental and control, and studentsʼ acquired English language knowledge and

English language competences depending on the use of MyEnglishLab online component in the distant part of blended learning model or traditional paper-based materials. Two groups of students were assigned, each including the same number of

students of different levels of their English language knowledge detected by a pretest,

i.e. comparable in both the number of students and the distribution of students of

different language levels.

The general objective of our research study is the experimental verification of

blended learning whose distant part is applied by the online component to paper-based

English material - New Total English intended for adult learners in English language

undergraduate courses at the Faculty of Science, University of Hradec Kralove.

Both groups use ActiveTeach and DVD in the present form of educational process.

Concerning the distant form of blended learning, the experimental group of students

uses the online component MyEnglishLab, while the control group of students uses

traditional paper-based materials. We postulate that students in the experimental group

will show better results in language competences (excluding speaking) than students in

the control group.

Specific objectives are:

• to analyze quantitatively the process of training language competences (excluding

speaking) based on the pretest, progress tests, achievement tests and posttest

• to analyze qualitatively the process of training language competences (excluding

speaking) based on a questionnaire feedback and statistics from MyEnglishLab

With regard to our postulate we have stated the following null hypotheses:

H01: Studentsʼ results in grammar skills do not depend on the way of practising

curriculum - either using MyEnglishLab component or using traditional

paper-based materials.

H02: Studentsʼ results in reading comprehension do not depend on the way of

practising curriculum - either using MyEnglishLab component or using traditional

paper-based materials.

H03: Studentsʼ results in listening comprehension do not depend on the way of

practising curriculum - either using MyEnglishLab component or using traditional

paper-based materials.

H04: Studentsʼ results in writing skills do not depend on the way of practising

curriculum - either using MyEnglishLab component or using traditional

paper-based materials.



MyEnglishLab Component Used in the Distant Part of Blended Learning



5.3



57



Variables and Test Units



As independent variables we determined using MyEnglishLab component. As

dependent variables we determined the improvement of English language knowledge

acquired and detected by didactic tests, and by evaluating increased studentsʼ motivation and their active participation in the education process detected by either interviews, questionnaires, or observation depending on the number of respondents. We

also determined functionality of the technology used (online connectivity, functionality

of projection equipment), different major subjects studied, the starting level of English

language competences as intervening factors.

The basic sample set includes 101 undergraduate students and academic stuff of the

Faculty of Science, University of Hradec Kralove starting their studies in academic

year 2015/16 with a prediction to increasing the number of students commencing their

studies in academic year 2016/17. The sample was divided into two groups - an

experimental group consisting of 57 students and a control group numbering 44 students studying in academic year 2015/16. The assignment of the two groups was done

by a random assignment method in order to avoid any influences.



5.4



First Findings



Students involved in the study research have taken a pretest, three progress tests and

one achievement test since September 2015.

The pretest was assigned in the very first week of the semester. Both groups

experimental and control contain the same number of students of Starter level – 9 %,

57 % of students of A1+ level, 27 % of students of A2+ −B1 level, and 7 % of

students of B1–B2 level.

The first progress test in grammar was assigned in the fourth week of the semester

and showed that achieved test results were comparable (the average success score in the

control group was 75.3 %; the average success score in the experimental group was

78.4 %).

The second progress test in grammar was assigned during the seventh week of the

semester. The test showed the following results: the average success score in the

control group was 73.1 %, the average success score in the experimental group was

78.7 %.

The third progress test was assigned during the tenth week of the semester and

included both vocabulary and grammar taught during the first ten weeks of the studies.

The third progress test showed the following results: the average success score in the

control group was 68.8 %, the average success score in the experimental group was

74.3 %.

The first achievement test was assigned after the first semester, i.e. after 14 weeks

of the studies. The achievement test included grammar, reading, listening and writing

skills. The test showed the following results: the average success score in the control

group was 67.1 %, while in the experimental group it was 77 %. From these results we

can see that the results in the experimental group were by 10 % points better than the

results in the control group.



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