Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Effects of Situated Mobile Learning Approach on Learning Motivation and Performance of EFL Students

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Effects of Situated Mobile Learning Approach on Learning Motivation and Performance of EFL Students

Article excerpt

Introduction

Globalization has generated a trend toward learning English as a second language. Numerous students from non-English-speaking countries attend colleges, language schools, and institutes to learn English (Ballou, 2009; Liu & Chu, 2010). Several studies have shown that vocabulary plays a role as a necessary foundation in learning English (Sun, Huang, and Liu, 2011). Wilkins (1972) asserted that communication is possible without grammar but not without vocabulary. Oxford (1990) indicated that the major obstacle that English learners confront is the requirement that a large vocabulary must be memorized, and that English as a foreign language (EFL) students often learn vocabulary by rote (Kim & Gilman, 2008). In traditional teaching methods, teachers typically give students vocabulary textbooks and use the blackboard to demonstrate word spelling and invite students to practice writing words. A lack of situational assistance necessitates that EFL students memorize vocabulary by rote (Kim & Gilman, 2008). Thus, some researchers have proposed an alternative method--situated learning--to assist EFL students in learning vocabulary (Winn, 1993; Hay 1993).

Situated learning is when learners acquire knowledge and skills by performing activities in real, interactive situations; this enables them to rationally and meaningfully interpret the knowledge and skills acquired during such a process (Brown, Collins, and Duguid, 1989; McLellan, 1996). The new knowledge acquired by learners through situated learning is not isolated or fragmented but complete and comprehensive knowledge that is truly mastered following reorganization (Harley, 1993). Because of the limitations of traditional English teaching venues, situated learning cannot be adequately implemented. Therefore, numerous researchers have adopted situational teaching aids and multimedia technology to implement situated learning in teaching venues and establish a situational English classroom (Chen & Chung, 2008). Situational English classrooms are immersive and simulate real-life situations; they enable EFL students to learn English vocabulary that can be used in those situations. Numerous studies have shown that situated learning effectively improves the performance of EFL students in learning vocabulary (Winn, 1993; Hay, 1993; McLellan, 1996). However, some researchers have indicated that learning vocabulary in real situations rather than simulated situations enables students to develop a stronger sense of immediacy and, consequently, enhances learning motivation and outcomes. A mobile learning tool is an optimal aid for this type of learning (Sandberg, Maris, & de Geus, 2011; Liu & Chu, 2010).

To facilitate enhanced vocabulary learning performances among EFL students, novel learning aids must be integrated with effective vocabulary learning strategies (Herrington & Oliver, 2000). Brown and Payne (1994) proposed a 5step vocabulary learning strategy (FSVL) that comprised the steps of encountering, getting, comprehending, consolidating, and using. This study adopted the FSVL strategy combined with a mobile learning tool featuring guiding, recording, and prompting functions to support situational English vocabulary learning environments. In a situational English vocabulary learning environment, the tool can be employed to assist EFL students in completing the learning steps of the FSVL strategy.

This study investigated the effects that the mobile learning tool and traditional learning tools exerted on the learning performance of EFL students given an identical vocabulary learning strategy and situational English vocabulary learning environment. In addition, regarding motivation theory, the empirical study provided evidence on how extrinsic motivation (EM) and intrinsic motivation (IM) are used in foreign language field (Noels, Pelletier, Clement, and Vallerand, 2000). Extrinsic motivation is related to achieving some intended goals, such as earning a reward or avoiding punishment. …

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