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Evaluating Computer-Assisted Language Learning

An Integrated Approach to Effectiveness Research in CALL

Jonathan Leakey

Schools, colleges and universities are investing a great deal in the purchase of computer resources for the teaching of modern languages, but whether these resources make a measurable difference to the learning of language students is still unclear. In this book the author outlines the existing evidence for the impact of computers on language learning and makes the case for an integrated approach to the evaluation of computer-assisted language learning (CALL). Drawing on current and past research linked to CALL and e-learning, the author builds a comprehensive model for evaluating not just the software used in language learning, but also the teaching and learning that takes place in computer-based environments, and the digital platforms themselves. This book will be of interest not only to language teachers and CALL researchers, but also to those interested in e-learning and general research methodology, as well as designers of educational software, digital labs, virtual learning environments (VLEs) and institutional budget holders.

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Chapter 5 - A model for evaluating CALL. Part 2: Qualitative and quantitative measures 115

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Chapter 5 A model for evaluating CALL Part 2: Qualitative and quantitative measures A blended agenda for empirical ef fectiveness research A decade earlier than her seminal work in providing a theory-driven jus- tification for using SLA as the foundational theory for ‘teaching, test- ing and research’ in CALL (2001), Chapelle had, together with Jamieson already set out clear guidelines for improved internal and external validity in research on CALL ef fectiveness (1991). While her 2001 work was to focus particularly on qualitative, judgmental studies of CALL task appro- priateness, this earlier article focused on improving the rigour in empirical studies that set out to measure the impact of CALL on learning outcomes, and employ statistical techniques to that end. Her findings in this regard have also contributed an important element in the metric route of our method. Two other authors, Pederson and, more recently, Felix have also contributed to the establishing of a clear agenda for CALL ef fectiveness research. The relevant contribution of these three authors will now be considered and integrated into the evaluative approach, as well as applied in the Case Studies. Common themes running through the work of these three authors, whose work spans the last three decades of CALL, is the demand for sound construct validity in research design, strong internal and external validity, rigour in the isolating, controlling and analysis of variables, and veracity and sobriety in the reporting of findings. Some of Pederson’s guidance for improved ef fectiveness research has already, in...

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