Cognitive Presence of In-Service English Language Teachers in Asynchronous Online Discussions

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Paper presented at MyCASELT conference 2010.

Paper presented at MyCASELT conference 2010.

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  • 1. 3rd Malaysia International Conference on Academic Strategies in
    English Language Teaching (MyCASELT, 2010)
    Cognitive Presence of In-Service
    English Language Teachers in Asynchronous Online Discussions
    Chuah Kee Man
    Joseph Ramanair
    Centre for Language Studies
    Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Kota Samarahan
  • 2. Background
    Computer –Mediated
    Communication (CMC)
    communication between two or more people via networked computers (Dede,1996; Johnson, 2006)
    asynchronous vs. synchronous
    asynchronous CMC are more widely used
  • 3. Background
    Asynchronous CMC (AOD)
    Develop over time - participants separated in time and space can read and reply to existing message.
    Promote social collaboration (Biesenbach-Lucas, 2003 ; Cheung & Hew, 2010; Pawan, Paulus, Yalcin, & Chang, 2003)
    Enhance cognitive engagement (Meyer, 2003 ; Shea & Bidjerano, 2009; Son, 2002)
  • 4. Problem Statement
    Evaluating AOD
    • Emphasised heavily on social collaboration and factors influencing its use (Johnson, 2006; Tu, 2002).
    • 5. In educational settings, mainly investigating on the learners in schools and higher education (Kanuka & Rourke, 2007; Ling & White, 2010).
  • 6. Research Questions
    Does the usage of AOD develop higher-level thinking among the in-service teachers?
    What are the perceptions of the teachers on the use of AOD?
  • 7. Methodology
    • Involved 26 in-service English language teachers (1o male, 16 female).
    • 8. They were undertaking B.Ed (Hons) ESL programme under the Special Degree Programme for Non-graduate Teachers (PKPG).
    • 9. Computer-literate
    • 10. Nodisabilities
  • Methodology
    Data Collection
    • Online discussion postings – via an online forum (for content analysis) – topics on pedagogical issues in English language teaching.
    • 11. Questionnaire - views on the use of asynchronous online discussion (4-point Likert scale) – Adapted from Arnold and Ducate (2006) and Biesenbach-Lucas (2003)
    • 12. Semi-structured interviews (serves as follow up to questionnaire)
  • 13. Methodology
    Data Analysis – Content Analysis
    • analysed using Community of Inquiry model by Garrison, Anderson and Archer (2001)
    • 14. Participant’s postings were divided into segments.
    • 15. To reduce subjectivity, participants’ posting were read for several times and reference to the coding guidelines of the model were constantly made
    • 16. Cross-checking with participants (for ambiguous statements)
  • Methodology
  • 17. Methodology
  • 18. Methodology
    Data Analysis - Survey
    • Questionnaire – participants’ perception on the use of asynchronous online discussion in terms of its usefulness. – frequency count using descriptive statistics
    • 19. Semi-structured interviews – thematic analysis - interview transcripts were read several times in order to identify recurring themes.
  • Results
    Content Analysis
    From the discussions threads, a total number of 171 postings were used for the qualitative analysis
    The average length of individual postings was approximately 120 words, while the shortest contained only ten words and the longest contained 350 words
  • 20. Results
    Cognitive Presence
  • 21. Results
    Cognitive Presence
  • 22. Results
    Cognitive Presence
    Triggering event occurred rather infrequently
    Usually used to switch to new topic
    “In this case, the CD Rom of Zack, I think we focused too much on the pronunciation part. How about other exercises? Can’t the teacher just use the traditional pen-and-paper and achieve the same objective? Or students must use the CD-Rom, complete the exercises there, and only then the learning objective can be achieved.”
  • 23. Results
    Cognitive Presence
    Exploration – very dominant.
    engaged in unsubstantiated exchanges of ideas.
    “This grammar quiz activity is best used using computer because it employs behaviourist approach. The students have to answer all the questions. After all the questions are answered, all the wrong answered questions will be repeated until they can answer it correctly.
  • 24. Results
    Cognitive Presence
    Integration – rather limited.
    occurred when the participants were commenting on each others’ recommendation
    “Based on the reading text that you assigned, the tasks (grammar) don’t seem to work because as I aid there are varieties of “grammatical structures” used in the web. If you plan to use this website, I suggest that you should select it as your post activity like what Andy suggested earlier.”
  • 25. Results
    Cognitive Presence
    Resolution - limited efforts to proceed to this phase.
    One example - evaluating the solution provided by others.
    “Great! Students might like it. In fact, rather than doing it individually, why not in pairs. At least there an interaction among them. As Chitravelu mentioned “language learning is also a habit formation”. By interpreting the pictures, students are able to predict what is the correct answer because it reflect our routine expressions used in everyday situations.
  • 26. Results
    Survey Results
    Perception on Cognitive Benefits
    A large majority of the participants have positive views on the cognitive benefits AOD.
    asynchronous online discussion allowed them to think carefully before responding (mean=3.37)
    they often tried their best to give their opinion (mean=3.14)
    referred to my peers’ response before constructing my own views (mean=3.08)
  • 27. Results
    Perception on Cognitive Benefits
    P2– I’m quite new to this kind of online forum thing, but what I think of it is that it really helps me to reflect on certain topics raised especially when I don’t have ideas, I can read others’ messages first.
    P7 - In my opinion, the online discussions allow me to give my opinions and ideas and at the same time obtain others as well. I can learn from others’ comments too.
  • 28. Results
    Survey Results
    Perception on the use of AOD
    online discussion was less tensed (mean=3.35)
    enjoyed participating in all discussion (mean=3.27)
    faced technological problems (mean=2.50)
    it was simply a waste of time (mean=1.43).
  • 29. Results
    Perception on the use of AOD
    P24 - I need to go to cyber café as I don’t have internet at my house. That makes it a bit less convenient for me, and it’s quite costly, RM3 per hour. That’s why I cannot reply the postings every time; but I still think it is good. I mean I can discuss more openly and during my free time.
    P15– Frankly speaking, this is my first time using a forum. I never use it before. I needed help from friend to teach me but in the end I think I kind of enjoy the process. Especially when I can discuss with fellow friends.
  • 30. Findings & Discussion
    Participants engaged primarily in sharing their views rather than challenging and questioning each others’ views (Arnold & Ducate , 2006; Pawan et al.,2003; Ling & White, 2010).
    The cognitive events noted in the online discourse branched off from various ways – not in a linear progression.
  • 31. Findings & Discussion
    AOD is regarded as a useful tool for closing the gap between teachers (in terms of sharing of ideas) (Ling & White, 2010; Son, 2002).
    Factors such as difficulties in getting access to the forum or discussion board and time-constraint affected the type of discourse produced by the participants.
  • 32. Conclusion
    This study highlights the potentials of AOD as a tool for teachers’ professional development.
    Permit teachers to collaborate in online settings without the need to gather at a meeting place.
    The lack of time pressure also provides the teachers with more time for reflection (Meyer, 2003)
    Provide teachers with practical experience of AOD for its eventual implementation in their teaching situations
  • 33. Thank You
    Special thanks to Universiti Malaysia Sarawak for sponsoring this conference participation. Reference list is provided in the paper. Further discussion can be done via