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Title: Going solo : case-studies of learners grappling with self-instructed CALL
Authors: Bidlake, Erin Elizabeth
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis reports on an investigation of the use of commercial computerassisted language learning (CALL) programs marketed for self-instruction (i.e. learners working with CALL programs alone, without teacher, classroom, or institutional support). To better understand learning in this context, I conducted II case-studies using a primarily qualitative, multi-method design, employing diaries, interviews, observations, and online tracking. Working with one of two commercial CALL programs in one of six languages, fue participants logged a total of 96 learning sessions and approximately 75 hours of study between October 2007 and July 2008. Overwhelmingly, participants were disappointed with their CALL programs, and many chose to drop out of the study earlier than planned. Three research questions were proposed for the purposes of this study: I. What are the experiences of learners working with commercial CALL programs marketed for self-instruction? J What common themes emerge as most relevant to shaping these experiences? 3. What are the pedagogical implications of the learners' experiences for CALL theory and program design? In answer to research question I, I created case files for the participants, bringing together all of the data collected through the various methods. These case files describe each individual participant's experience from inception to conclusion, highlighting the positive and negative aspects that had the greatest bearing on the final outcomes on a case by case basis. In answer to research question 2, I adopted a grounded theory approach to data analysis and identified five key themes as being most relevant across the entire group of II participants (i.e. need for increased selfdiscipline, dealing with technical problems, encountering ambiguity, working outside the program, and questioning the program's ability to teach). In answer to question 3, I used a framework of five criteria for evaluating CALL materials to discuss the key themes in terms of their impact on learner experience with self-instructed CALL and their pedagogical implications for CALL theory and program design. The framework, modified from Chapelle (2001 b) addresses issues of learner fit, authenticity, practicality, construct validity, and impact. Pedagogical implications highlight suggestions for improvement and directions for future research and development.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

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