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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 9 - A new framework for evaluating CALL 247


Chapter 9 A new framework for evaluating CALL MFE2: A new methodology for evaluating CALL Dunkel defined ef fectiveness research as ‘systematic evaluation’ (1991: 23–24). This enquiry has been, above all, a quest for an improved systema- tization of the field of CALL ef fectiveness research. It has featured an exploration of evolving practice, agenda setting, as well as gaps and weak- nesses in the field of ef fectiveness research in CALL. From the outset our enquiry was divided into three main strands or clusters of related questions. The first strand concerned the nature of learning and language learning, and their relationship to computer-assisted language learning. The second strand concerned the nature and degree of the impacts of CALL on lan- guage learners and learning, the various learning processes, styles, skills and sub-skills; the loci of these impacts were at the human-computer interface and at the juncture of the Three ‘Ps’ (platforms, programs and pedagogy), and we were interested in the combined ef fects and synergies occurring at these intersections. The third strand of enquiry concerned the nature, direction and quality of CALL evaluation: if CALL does make a dif fer- ence, we wanted to know how this can best be measured, what combina- tions of judgmental and empirical, qualitative and quantitative measures were appropriate in dif ferent settings. Following on from our three-strand enquiry, and from the Case Studies that it generated, an end-product has emerged which now needs to be tested by others across all educational sec-...

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