Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Learning Style and Task Performance in Synchronous Computer-Mediated Communication: A Case Study of Iranian EFL Learners

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Learning Style and Task Performance in Synchronous Computer-Mediated Communication: A Case Study of Iranian EFL Learners

Article excerpt

Introduction

Recently, studies on Task-based Language Teaching (TBLT) have lent credence to investigation of TBLT in technology-mediated contexts to find out the technology's impact on task performance, and at the same time, to discover the potential opportunities that technology would offer for more effective TBLT courses. Similar to face-to-face TBLT, many factors and conditions influence the quality and quantity of task performance in technology-mediated TBLT; for example, task complexity (Robinson, 2001), corrective feedback (Loewen & Erlam, 2006), task type, teacher factors, learner factors (Oxford, 2006), and so forth. Ellis (2010) points out that for implementation of technology in TBLT environment, there must be a full understanding of the conditions in order to prepare the best design to foster learners' learning. Accordingly, a well connection is needed among theory, research and practice to set the best condition for the favorable synergy between technology and task-based approaches.

As was mentioned above, one of the factors which influence the task performance is learner factor (Oxford, 2006). It includes, as Oxford (2006, p. 17) states, "different task roles for learners as well as individual learning styles." Considering the distinction between task, as the work plan, and activity, as the communication which results from the performance of the task, learners interpret the work plan in terms of their own needs, characteristics and motives. So, a single task may result in various activities when performed by different learners or even by the same learners on different occasions and in different contexts (Ellis, 2010). On the other hand, while tasks are done in a technology-meditated environment, more options are available for language learners and this phenomenon could lead to more variant interpretations of a single task as a workplan. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between learners' individual learning styles and their task performance in technology-mediated context based on lexical density and diversity (types-token ratio), and syntactic complexity and accuracy to find out which learning styles contribute to better task performance.

Literature review

During the last fifty years, it has been witnessed that the application of technology in language learning has been more apparent than ever before and it can be traced back in the development of computer, the Internet and software. In more recent years, a synergy between Task-based Language Teaching and technology is observed. Chapelle believes that the conditions in which language learning take place are changing constantly (Chapelle, 2003). It is undeniable that nowadays language learners have access to vast amount of language materials through the Internet and computers and many of them are using these materials, even when they are not put and predicted in their syllabus. Prensky (2003) believes that today's world would seem meaningless to students without access to the Internet, computers and digital media.

In a reciprocal approach, Chapelle (2003) points out that TBLT can guide instructors in selection of technology-enhanced language learning sources and materials. This view suggests that technology and TBLT can move together to reach an optimal point where language learners be able to achieve the optimum performance in language learning process. Doughty and Long (2003) also emphasize the reciprocal relationship and interdependence between technology and TBLT. At the same time, they state, TBLT provides a foundation and outline to select proper technological tools and facilities. They, then, point out that the selection among technological options for language learning and teaching purpose must be theoretically and empirically inspired rather than being market-driven.

The aim of all teachers is to make the best environment for their students so that they could learn a new language in the best possible way. …

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