CALICO Journal, Vol 32, No 3 (2015)

Reflexive photography, attitudes, behavior, and CALL: ITAs improving spoken English intelligibility

Lara Wallace
Issued Date: 10 Sep 2015

Abstract


Research in the field of Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) has frequently taken a top-down approach when investigating learners’ attitudes and behavior, often in the form of surveys, case studies, usage tracking, and experiments (Levy & Stockwell, 2006; Beatty, 2010). One perspective that has not been examined in CALL is Reflexive Photography, a method that lends itself to rigorous and focused analysis and can illuminate the participants’ experiences and perceptions in a way that the above methods cannot. In reflexive photography, participants are asked to photograph their experience of the phenomenon in question. These photographs serve as the basis for the discussion with the researcher that follows, and help to define the scope of the particular phenomenon. Together, the participants and the researcher co-produce the information regarding the phenomenon (Jenkings, Woodward & Winter, 2008). Reflexive photography has been used to explore issues of identity and experience in other fields, although in CALL, it has been underutilized. The present study identified current uses of technology among International Teaching Assistants (ITAs) taking a course to improve their spoken English intelligibility. Midway through the term, learners photographed what they deemed to be helpful and what they felt obstructed the improvement of their oral English production. They then shared seven to ten photographs in a focus group of peers. At the end of the term, the researcher interviewed the learners regarding these experiences. The photos and the interviews were coded and the researcher examined the emergent findings, using observations and electronic communication from throughout the term to triangulate and support the data. The findings revealed valuable insights through the eyes of the learners regarding what technology the learners found to be helpful and/or obstructive, both in the course as well as for their personal use, and suggestions for improvements in use of technology are given. Finally, future research directions in CALL using reflexive photography are discussed.

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DOI: 10.1558/cj.v32i3.26384

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