CALICO Journal, Vol 27, No 1 (2010)

Learners' Feedback in Online Chats: What Does It Reveal about Students' Learning?

Ana Oskoz
Issued Date: 7 Aug 2014

Abstract


Learners engaged in synchronous computer-mediated communication (SCMC) work collaboratively to construct knowledge by providing each other with implicit and explicit feedback. In addition to its value in encouraging learners to make modifications toward target-like forms, the implicitness or explicitness of the feedback provides a means to understand the individual learner's language development (Aljaafreh & Lantolf, 1994). Being that microgenetic growth results from learners who provide each other with gradual and contingent help in face-to-face interactions (Ohta, 2000), it would be of interest to learn if such gradual and contingent help appears in SCMC with the same positive effects. Thus, this study explores two questions: (a) To what extent do learners in SCMC engage in similar patterns of assistance to those used in face-to-face interactions between students? (b) To what extent does microgenetic growth occur as a result of learner-learner interactions?

For this study, two full classes of Intermediate Spanish I students were selected. Students were placed in pairs (plus two triads) and participated in a series of tasks as a part of their assigned class work. The researcher analyzed the discussion transcripts, identified different moments of assistance, and examined the data for instances of microgenetic growth. The results of this study suggest that, although learners did indeed provide each other with gradual and contingent feedback and, in some instances, showed microgenetic growth, neither were as apparent as those found in face-to-face interactions.

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DOI: 10.11139/cj.27.1.48-68

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