Researching the use of WebCT in Chinese language teaching and learning

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Zhang, De
Major Professor
Niki E. Davis
Committee Member
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Curriculum and Instruction

This dissertation aims to fill the void in the literature on Chinese language pedagogy, research of technology use in real language classrooms, and research on heritage learners. The major goal of the research was to investigate diverse learners', especially the heritage learners', needs in order to identify well-grounded pedagogical innovations and desired learning outcomes in technology-integrated Chinese language classrooms. Adopting multiple theoretical frameworks and research methods, the three research articles included in this dissertation were designed to ensure that the learners, tools, and learning tasks were investigated in order to present a comprehensive and systematic look at the design, implementation, and evaluation of the use of Chinese WebCT in college-level Chinese language classes mixed with heritage and non-heritage learners in a U.S. Midwest university.;Chapter 2, "The Teaching of Chinese to Chinese Americans: A Critical Multicultural Approach," reports on an ethnographic study of six American-born Chinese (ABC) heritage learners, presenting a portrait of these learners and their learning experiences in this White-dominated university. This study also indicates the complexities of the education of heritage learners in such a context. The WebCT online learning environment is seen to provide a useful venue to research heritage learners' learning needs, process, knowledge-sharing and construction, and identity negotiation and development.;Chapter 3, "Students' Attention to Form in Different Dimensions of Interaction in Chinese WebCT," addresses a learner-centered issue, focus on form (FonF), and its impact on the pedagogical practices in blended Chinese language classes. This study sheds light on Chinese classroom instruction because focus on form itself challenges the traditional mindset of Chinese teachers who tend to assume an authoritative role in the classroom and depend on pre-planned syllabi and textbooks. The pedagogical implications of the study illustrate the value of learner-centered learning environments and language pedagogy with technology integration.;Chapter 4, "Essay Writing in a Chinese WebCT Discussion Board," describes and evaluates a specific learning task---essay writing. This article presents the pedagogical design and evaluation of the appropriateness and effectiveness of an essay-writing task in the Chinese WebCT discussion board for diverse learners. It illustrates the power of a well-designed language learning task using the asynchronous CMC tool in WebCT.;Overall, the research findings suggest that (1) with theoretically and pedagogically sound design of the learning tasks and environment, technology is powerful in terms of scaffolding students' language learning, creating an online learning community, and providing effective and innovative classroom instruction; (2) there is value in a mixture of heritage learners and non-heritage learners in classroom teaching and research as long as the learners have many opportunities for interaction; (3) researching my own classroom and teaching practices led to better understanding of my students, the learning process, my pedagogical beliefs, and to improvement of pedagogical practices, which reveals the promise and power of action research.

Mon Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2007