Social Interactions for Academic Purposes in Literature Classes for Non English Speakers

By Yen, Ai Chun | Journal of Social Sciences, July 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Social Interactions for Academic Purposes in Literature Classes for Non English Speakers


Yen, Ai Chun, Journal of Social Sciences


Abstract: Problem statement: This study reports how Learning Communities (LCs) and Online Learning Communities (OLCs) can improve Taiwanese EFL students' lack of Social Interactions (SIs) and acdemic skills in literature classes (Y1, N = 40) by involving freshmen in a social process that encourages student-student and student-instructor discussion, interpretation, production and negotiation. Approach: The data collected from the database of the university learning management system in National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan indicates the level of collaborative learning expected by a student completing a literature class. The researcher used a 5-point Likert scale questionnaire designed by the university to assess students' learning performance and satisfaction levels. Results: The use of LCs enhanced students' social interactions which, in turn, helped to motivate students' interactions in OLCs. Moreover, the use of both communities satisfied students' learning needs, all of which contributed to developing their critical thinking. Conclusion: The study concludes with a discussion of the relative contribution of SIs that satisfies students' learning needs for their academic skills.

Key words: Learning Communities (LCs), Social Interactions (SIs), Learning Management System (LMS), Carleton Hotline for Administration and Teaching (CHAT)

INTRODUCTION

With the intention of overcoming the problems and difficulties of collaborative learning in ELF literature classes, the researcher set about implementing an alternate "social interaction model" for teaching literature to English majors at National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan (NDHU, Y1, N = 40 out of 45/42, 2 semesters) by organizing Learning Communities (LCs) and online Learning Communities (OLCs) embedded in the university Learning Management System (LMS). To address the proposed aims to the participants (freshmen), the researcher introduced the collaborative learning method in the context of literature pedagogy. The researcher involved the students in learningoriented "social interactions," which can be viewed as a set of processes that establish effective group work and social interaction skills. Apart from the learning problems mentioned above, another essential problem that must be solved is the students' teamwork skills. The overall objectives were to improve the students' ability in language problem-solving and to shiftthe students' sense of responsibility for their own learning from an individual model to a collaborative one. Towards these objectives, the students were required to develop collaborative approaches to solving problems and implementing solutions, which are approaches that would result in the production of concrete knowledge in language, literature and critical thinking.

Literature review:

Social Interactions (SIs): Dewey's (1897) belief in the power of social interactions in learning still influences many contemporary educational approaches. He explained:

I believe that knowledge of social conditions, of the present state of civilization, is necessary in order properly to interpret the child's powers. The child has his own instincts and tendencies, but we do not know what these mean until we can translate them into their social equivalents. We must be able to carry them back into a social past and see them as the inheritance of previous race activities. We must also be able to project them into the future to see what their outcome and end will be (pp. 77-78).

However, due to the vast changes that communication technology engendered in the educational environment, this theory of social interactions leads to the question of whether students can grow personally and learn academically without face-to-face interactions with instructors and peers. Slevin (2008) indicates that e-Learning and the transformation of social interactions in higher education brought challenges for educators. Fujikawa (2010) studies show that learning attitudes and behaviors will be altered if the learning takes place in a technologybased environment. …

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Social Interactions for Academic Purposes in Literature Classes for Non English Speakers
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