Research at the Digital Language Learning Lab

Over the past few weeks I have been working on the qualitative data analysis of tweets produced by students during their French language learning experience in Dr. Caws’ class, FRAN 160. I have been using the program NVivo to sort and to categorize their tweets by theme or by type of interaction (i.e. with classmates, with the professor or TA, with people they follow). This has allowed us to clearly understand trends in the content of student tweets, as well as ways in which we, as language learning guides, can help to better their learning experience.

Looking through these tweets, I have found it particularly interesting to explore what motivates students to participate. It seems that most of their participation comes from tweets related to their class (i.e. responses to questions, discussing assignments or tests, mentioning an event or topic that was discussed in class) as shown on figure 1 below, rather than tweets related to their personal life, to pop culture or to the people they follow. This data, as well as data from answers they provided in a student survey has lead me to believe that their motivation for using Twitter in a class is highly performance based, rather than intrinsic. Thus, it is our goal to figure out how to motivate them! Looking at the Self-Determination Theory, which states that intrinsic motivation is a result of autonomy,  competence and relatedness, I have been exploring the content of their tweets and survey answers to determine what factors might have an impact on future learning experiences. I am therefore exploring questions such as: what will motivate students intrinsically? How can we make them feel that using Twitter is not a chore, but a choice? How can we make them feel more like they are part of an online francophone/francophile community? How can we make them feel more comfortable and competent using Twitter, especially if they are new to the website?

Figure 1: analysis of tweets content themes

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 10.30.18 AMScreen Shot 2017-06-23 at 10.30.29 AM

I’m eager to continue exploring these questions and the ideas that they will spark for impactful ways to improve the language learning experience!

~ Ryleigh




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A week in the Digital Language Learning Lab

This week at the French department of the Uvic we worked on several projects, such as making some statistics studios to see if there was a correlation between the preferences and performances of students and their desire to keep using Twitter and keep tweeting in French. To me, as a student of industrial engineering it’s quite interesting because I’m used to analyzing quality defaults, parts per million that had defaults in a process, cycle time, and as well as other statistics mostly used in industrial engineering.

In this case, to analyze something related to the humanities and social networks is quite interesting and also challenging because I hadn’t had an opportunity to do it before. Immersing myself in this field is a challenging but satisfying experience.

Also, a group of students from Parkland Secondary School visited us this week. We had a treasure hunt so the students were able to practice their French and also to discover some places on campus such as the Cinecenta, the library, the bookstore, the French department, etc. Then, the Chair of the French Department, Marc Lapprand, spoke about the importance of learning French and the different programs that Uvic offers.

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International conference on second language learning and teaching (SLPC5-Universidade de Sao Paulo)

After collecting data on language learners in Brazil and Canada interacting to peer-edit their written productions, Eliane Lousada (professor at USP), Arthur de Oliveira (MA student at USP and former intern at the DL2LLab) and I presented a panel that was well attended.  Here is the PDF of our presentation. Please request permission before using it, by contacting the authors.

SLPC5_Brésil2016_Caws Lousada de Oliveira-3

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Using Twitter for language learning

I had the opportunity to visit Dr Hamel‘s 400 level class on technologies for language learning, at the University of Ottawa.  Class was in English for students who are in the program of didactics.  The class focused on teaching grammar with technologies and a group of 5 students presented two scholarly articles before engaging us into an activity using mind-mapping as a tool to create an interactive storyline (we used Popplet).  The presentation skills and analytical level exhibited by these students were quite impressive.  The students were actively participating in all activities, commenting and asking a lot of questions.

In the last 30 minutes, I talked about the use of Twitter as an instrument for languaging, sharing and active participation (from receiving input to producing output) within an authentic context. We also discussed the limits of such a tool.  One student reminded us of the poll feature, one aspect of Twitter that can be of value to informally evaluate and prob students’ knowledge and/or opinion on a specific subject.

Presentation in notes format (PDF) can be found below

microblogs UOttawa_notes

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Workshop on using iPads and apps

On February 8th, 2016, I gave a three hour workshop on the use of mobile devices for language learning.  The presentation was in French and can be seen below:

atelier U Guelph 2016

Catherine Caws

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