Listening skills and computer-assisted language learning

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Constructivist Learning Theory

According to eearly theorists such as Dewey (1916); Piaget (1973), and Vigotsky (1978), learning is an active process in which learners construct new knowledge based on their prior knowledge. An educator’s role involves shaping learners’ experience from their surroundings (Dewey, 1916; Piaget, 1973). As learning would allow for creative interaction with teachers, teachers should be considered as guides rather than directors (Dewey, 1916). Emphasis is placed on the social context of learning, in which the interaction of learners with peers and teachers is encouraged (Vygotsky, 1978). Accordingly, constructivism is a theory that “…defines knowledge as temporary, developmental, socially and culturally mediated, and thus non-objective. Learning from this perspective is a self-regulating process of resolving inner cognitive conflicts that often become apparent through concrete experience, collaborative discourse, and reflection” (Brooks and Brooks, 1993, p. vii).
Constructivism in education generally holds that learners construct knowledge in their minds through experiences, and knowledge is actively constructed by learners themselves, rather than being taught by teachers (Berns and Erikson, 2001; Brooks and Brooks, 1993; Duffy and Jonassen, 1992; Honebein, Duffy, and Fishman, 1993; Goodman, 2008; Jonassen, 1996; Jonassen et al., 1999; Pritchard, 2005; Pritchard and Woollard, 2010; Roblyer, 2006). In this way, individuals make sense of the world they have contact with by constructing representations or models of their own experiences. When they come across something they do not know but need to know, they utilise prior knowledge or experience to determine its meaning. Knowledge cannot simply be transferred because students cannot experience all that teachers have and vice versa, and even when an experience is shared, interpretations of the same experience vary as we relate it to different prior experiences or knowledge (Jonassen et al., 1999).
Constructivist pedagogy is concerned with how knowledge is constructed by the learner (Jonassen, 1996). In constructivist teaching, teachers facilitate individual learners’ abilities in constructing knowledge (Dwyer, 1994). Specifically, constructivist teachers provide learners with experiences and guide them in the meaning-making process in order to help them construct their own meanings from those experiences (Jonassen, 1996; Jonassen et al., 1999). Constructivist teachers seek to give students opportunities for environmentally rich, problem-solving contexts that encourage their investigation, insight, inference and invention (Pritchard and Woollard, 2010). In language learning, constructivism focuses on learning strategies, learner beliefs, teacher thinking and other aspects emphasising the individual, and the contributions of learners to learning. Constructivist teachers make their own sense of classrooms and play the role of reflective practitioners (Richard and Schmidt, 2002).
In traditional instruction classrooms, teachers are free to move about, initiate actions and interactions, allocate resources and time, and ask questions, whereas students are passive listeners and choreographed followers (Sandholtz et al., 1997). Constructivist learners should be engaged in: active learning in order to explore and manipulate components and parameters of technology-based environments and to observe the results of their activities; constructive learning to articulate what they have learned and to reflect on its meaning and importance in larger intellectual and social contexts; intentional learning to determine goals and manage their activities; authentic learning to examine and attempt to solve complex, ill- structured, and real-world problems, and cooperative learning to collaborate with others and socially negotiate the meanings constructed (Jonassen et al., 1999).
In the constructivist learning class, the interactions between the teacher and students are less didactic and more collaborative (Jonassen et al., 1999; Roblyer, 2006; Sandholtz et al., 1997). Students work together to solve problems through conversations, inquiries, trial and error, and comparisons of solutions. In the model of constructivist learning suggested by Roblyer (2006), group cooperative work is stressed; global goals (e.g. problem solving and critical thinking) are aimed at; students are encouraged to generate their own knowledge through real-life experiences; students learn through problem-oriented activities, visual formats and mental models, rich complex learning environments, and exploration, and non-traditional materials are used to promote problem solving and student-driven exploration. Curricula that are designed based on constructivist theory “lead to an increasing growth in knowledge, a higher degree of critical thinking, greater reading and writing skills, as well as improved skills in argumentation” (Terwel, 1999, p. 196)
The table below (Table 3.1) summarises the two contrasting views of instruction and construction teaching methods, according to Sandholtz et al. (1997).

Constructivism and Technologies

Using technologies as constructive tools not only extends but also magnifies humans’ learning capabilities. With technologies as cognitive tools, learners are engaged in thinking while constructing knowledge that they would not have capability to do without technology support (Pea, 1985). Computers, and the World Wide Web, are considered a vehicle for realising the theories of such educational thinkers as Dewey (1916), Piaget (1973), and Vygotsky (1978) outlined in Section 3.1.1.
Constructivist approaches for Computer-Assisted Learning (CAL) can be classified as endogenous, exogenous, and dialectical (Dalgarno, 2001). Endogenous emphasises learner-directed discovery of knowledge through the use of hypertext, hypermedia, simulations, and microworlds to promote active exploration within virtual environments. Exogenous recognises the value of direct instruction, yet learners have opportunities to be cognitively active in constructing their own knowledge (including constructing, articulating, and applying knowledge to realistic tasks) via tutorial systems with learner control and guided hypermedia, and cognitive tools (e.g. concept mapping tools). Dialectical emphasises social interaction with peers and / or teachers in learners’ knowledge construction process. Interaction is facilitated by computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) technologies, including Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) tools for general purposes, Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), and technologies with features specifically designed for collaborative learning (O’Malley, 1995). Examples of using computers within a constructivist approach include technology use for meaning making, learning by exploring with technology, learning by visualising with technology, constructing realities with hypermedia, creating technology-supported learning communities, learning by reflecting (i.e. using technologies as mindtools for critical thinking), learning in immersive environments, and learning by reflecting (i.e. evaluating learning from constructivist uses of technology) (Jonassen et al.,1999).

1.1. Rationale for the Study
1.2. The Vietnamese Background
1.3. Motivation for the Study
1.4. Research Purposes and Research Questions
1.5. Organisation of the Thesis
2.1. Definition of CALL
2.2. Development of CALL
2.3. Factors Affecting CALL Adoption in Language Teaching
2.4. Summary
3.1. Constructivism as a Theoretical Frame of the Study
3.2. Listening Skills in Language Learning
3.3. Listening Skills and Multimedia
3.4. Previous Studies in Computer-Assisted Listening Instruction
3.5. Selecting CALL Materials for Listening Skills
3.6. Summary
4.1. Context of the Study
4.2. Methods of Previous CALL Research
4.3. Methods of the Study
4.4. Summary
5.1. Effects of CALI Intervention on EFL Students
5.2. Effects of CALI Intervention on EFL Teachers
5.3. Summary
6.1. Study Overview
6.2. Discussion
6.3. Implications
6.4. Limitations
6.5. Contributions
6.6. Recommendations for Further Research
6.7. Conclusion

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