Funding was obtained to enable students of the University of Ferrara to take a recognised on-line course in B2/C1 English for academic purposes (EAP) free of charge. Along with potential benefit for participants, the University required a research project to analyse the efficacy of specific on-line language courses in raising linguistic competence with a minimum of face-to-face lessons. An on-line EAP course was selected (Epigeum, OUP), and candidates recruited via email and a limited poster campaign. A total of 113 (BA, MA and doctoral) students took part in a written selection test and 56 candidates deemed to have a level of B2 or above were accepted on the programme. Participants had eight months of access to a complete four-skills, on-line course specifically designed to help students planning to study in British, or English-speaking universities. Individual motivation had been taken into account during the pre-test and was considered an important object of inquiry. Technical assistance was available via email during the duration of the on-line course, but only two face-to-face lessons were planned to take place in itinere. A final test, identical in format to the original placement test, again at B2 level, was administered to enable researchers to compare results and form an impression of individual and overall improvement. A questionnaire was administered to gauge student reactions, possible criticisms and motivational factors. Results were mixed, if not disappointing. A significantly reduced number of students completed the course and final test, improvement (represented by improved test results) was very slight, and participants expressed dissatisfaction with aspects of the on-line course. Results suggest that choosing the correct level of classroom teaching and personal support is fundamental to successful exploitation of on-line language learning material. We also recommend institutions do not succumb to the temptation to reduce teaching responsibilities by relying exclusively on digital courses. Thematic content of on-line materials is seen to be of significant importance in motivation. Besides the complex challenge of choosing the correct blend in course design, the paper concludes with considerations concerning the cognitive effect of computer-based language learning. Keywords: on-line; EAP; questionnaire; blend; course design

Blended On-line Courses: High Technology and Mixed Motivation?

richard chapman
2017

Abstract

Funding was obtained to enable students of the University of Ferrara to take a recognised on-line course in B2/C1 English for academic purposes (EAP) free of charge. Along with potential benefit for participants, the University required a research project to analyse the efficacy of specific on-line language courses in raising linguistic competence with a minimum of face-to-face lessons. An on-line EAP course was selected (Epigeum, OUP), and candidates recruited via email and a limited poster campaign. A total of 113 (BA, MA and doctoral) students took part in a written selection test and 56 candidates deemed to have a level of B2 or above were accepted on the programme. Participants had eight months of access to a complete four-skills, on-line course specifically designed to help students planning to study in British, or English-speaking universities. Individual motivation had been taken into account during the pre-test and was considered an important object of inquiry. Technical assistance was available via email during the duration of the on-line course, but only two face-to-face lessons were planned to take place in itinere. A final test, identical in format to the original placement test, again at B2 level, was administered to enable researchers to compare results and form an impression of individual and overall improvement. A questionnaire was administered to gauge student reactions, possible criticisms and motivational factors. Results were mixed, if not disappointing. A significantly reduced number of students completed the course and final test, improvement (represented by improved test results) was very slight, and participants expressed dissatisfaction with aspects of the on-line course. Results suggest that choosing the correct level of classroom teaching and personal support is fundamental to successful exploitation of on-line language learning material. We also recommend institutions do not succumb to the temptation to reduce teaching responsibilities by relying exclusively on digital courses. Thematic content of on-line materials is seen to be of significant importance in motivation. Besides the complex challenge of choosing the correct blend in course design, the paper concludes with considerations concerning the cognitive effect of computer-based language learning. Keywords: on-line; EAP; questionnaire; blend; course design
978-88-6292-925-7
on-line, EAP, questionnaire, blend, course design
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11392/2385238
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