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Software evaluation: effectiveness, student/teacher attitudes, and curriculum integration

Background:  Teaching as I do at a Japanese university, and given the characteristics of students (they're sometimes quiet, for one thing, and since my English classes are mixed with students from various majors at different levels, computer-based language learning software seems intuitively to have definite benefits.  OTOH, there is a potential mismatch between student expectations of the teacher’s role in the classroom, and a need to meet their desire for communication (though they’re reluctant to speak up sometimes). An interesting study would evaluate the s/w (with all the difficulties of a method study) and students’ attitudes towards it.

Research question:  My questions at this stage wouldn’t very focused, I’m afraid.

1)      How well does the computer meet students’ and teachers’ learning and teaching needs. (software evaluation both of the pedagogy of the s/w and the “utility”)

2)      What are students’ and teachers’ attitudes towards the s/w?

3)      How can such s/w be integrated into a coherent curriculum  

Suggested methodology/comments:  For question 1 above, a quantitative evaluation of the s/w. Comparative studies with “traditional” classrooms tend to be pretty weak, but a reliable measure of learning.

For question 2 above, a qualitative formative and summative evaluation of the computer and its role in the classroom through individual and focus group interviews and through informal text-based surveys (which could be submitted over the intra- or internet) and informal in-class observation of how students use the s/w.

Contact:  Steve McGuire  spm@nua.ac.jp

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