Tertiary Students' Language Learning Strategies in an Online English Writing Course
Han, Ai Leen (2000) Tertiary Students' Language Learning Strategies in an Online English Writing Course. Masters thesis, Universiti Putra Malaysia.
Technology is an important aspect in today's modem world and its application is now being tested and investigated in the field of learning and teaching. In an online environment, the student is not a passive respondent but one who can employ specific strategies to effectively evaluate, integrate, analyze and retain new material. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the use of language learning strategies (namely cognitive, metacognitive and socioaffective strategies) by students in an online writing course, based on O'Malley et. al. (1985a and 1985b) and Chamot and Kupper (1989) taxonomies from a classroom context. The study also sought to suggest a modified taxonomy of language learning strategies that reflects what a student can apply in an online environment to facilitate the process of language learning and to produce a general learning profile of online English language learners. Therefore, the study adopted an ethnographic approach to observe and investigate participants in order to obtain a more holistic and in-depth analysis of strategy use. Eleven Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) students participated in the project. The data consisted largely of strategy checklists, journal entries and audiotaped interviews with the students. The study found that students do, consciously and unconsciously, use language learning strategies in the hypertext environment. The findings also suggested two new strategies appropriate for both online and traditional classroom learning. These were repetition for reinforcement in the metacognitive strategy group and the community strategy that further expands the definition of cooperation in the socio-affective group. It was also found that there was a high overlap between the features in the list compiled from the studies of O'Malley et al. (1985a and 1985b) and Chamot and Kupper (1989) taxonomies and the list generated from the study. The comparison of general learning profiles of the successful and less successful online learner gave insights to changes in comprehension levels and learning perceptions during the three months. Hence, despite the change of teaching medium and course presentation, students adapted themselves for effective online learning. While learning in an online environment poses no major learning difficulties, other issues such as Internet accessibility, computer and Internet literacy, and problems in using the think-aloud method in this new medium were found to be potential setbacks in this supplementary educational medium.
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