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The impact of students' sense of community on the


effectiveness of an online IELTS listening course : a qualitative
inquiry
Tang, Yuqi, Moanna;

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2015

http://hdl.handle.net/10722/223656

The author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights)


and the right to use in future works.

THEIMPACTOFSTUDENTSSENSEOFCOMMUNITYONTHEEFFECTIVENESSOF
ANONLINEIELTSLISTENINGCOURSE:AQUALITATIVEINQUIRY

ADISSERTATIONSUBMITTEDTO
THEFACULTYOFEDUCATIONOFTHEUNIVERSITYOFHONGKONG
BY

YUQITANG,MOANNA

INFULFILLMENTOFTHEREQUIREMENTSOFTHEDEGREEOF
MASTEROFEDUCATIONENGLISHLANGUAGEEDUCATION
THEUNIVERSITYOFHONGKONG

AUGUST31,2015

Abstractofthesis
entitled

Theimpactofstudentssenseofcommunityontheeffectivenessof
anonlineIELTSlisteningcourse:aqualitativeinquiry

Submittedby
YuQiTang,Moanna
forthedegreeofMasterofEducation
atTheUniversityofHongKong
inAugust2015

InthecontextofthegrowingtrendofChinesestudentswantingtostudyabroad,IELTS
(InternationalEnglishLanguageTestingSystem)examhasbecomeoneofthemostpopular
standardisedlanguageexamswiththousandsofChinesestudentspreparingforIELTSlistening,
reading,writing,andspeakingtestseveryyear.

ThisqualitativeclassroominquiryevaluatestheeffectivenessofanonlineIELTSlistening
courseandexploreshowtheinstructionofL2(secondlanguage)listeningstrategiesproposedby
Vandergrift(1997,1999)facilitatedstudentslisteningperformance.Italsoexaminestheimpact
ofonlineclassroomcommunityonstudentsonlinelearningexperienceandhowonline
interactionhelpsthedevelopmentofstudentssenseofcommunity.


AtotalofsevenadultstudentsofEnglishasasecondlanguagewereenrolledinafourweek
onlineIELTSlisteningcoursewhichwastaughtcompletelyontheInternetthroughSinaWeibo
andWechat.Duringthecourse,onlineinteractionbetweenstudentsandtheteacherwas
observedandanalysed.Theseparticipantsfinishedareflectivepretestandposttestsothattheir
listeningperformancebeforeandafterthecoursecouldbeexamined.Precourseandpostcourse
interviewswerealsodesignedtocollectstudentsperceptionsofthecourseeffectivenessand
onlineinteraction.

TheresultsofthestudysuggestthatlowerlevelEnglishlearnersrelymoreoncognitive
strategiesduringlisteningcomprehension,andadvancedlearnersmakeuseofboth
metacognitiveandcognitivestrategiestofacilitatetheirlistening.Besides,lowerlevellearners
arealsocapableofacquiringmetacognitivestrategiesinashortperiodoftimewhereastheir
metastrategicawarenessmightnotbefullydeveloped.Ithasalsobeenfoundthatstrongsenseof
communityhasagreatimpactonstudentsonlinelearningexperience.Studentswithstronger
senseofcommunityfeellessisolatedandlearnbetterthanthosewithoutacommunityspirit
becausetheyarelesslikelytodropoutandhavemoreopportunitiestoaccesshelpfromtheother
communitymembers.Foranonlinecommunitytoflourish,bothcloserelationshipsamonggroup
membersandacademicachievementsareneededandequallyimportant.

DECLARATION

I hereby declare that this dissertation represents my own work and that is has not been previously
submitted to this University or any other institution in application for admission to a degree,
diploma or other qualifications.

--------------------------------------------------YU QI TANG, Moanna ()


August 31, 2015

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

TherearemanypeopleIwouldliketoacknowledgeandthankhereforsupportingme
throughoutthecompletionofmymastersdissertation.

Firstofall,IwouldliketoexpressmysinceregratitudetomydissertationsupervisorDr
MargaretLofromTheUniversityofHongKongFacultyofEducationwhohasprovidedme
withdeepinsightanddedicatedadviceonmydissertationdrafts.Itwasunderyourhelpful
guidancethatIwasabletoovercometheobstaclesandsolvetheproblemsIencounteredduring
thisyearandfinallycompletedthisdissertation.

Iwouldalsoliketothankthestudentswhojoinedtheproject.Thankyouforspendingyourspare
timetakingthecourseandparticipatinginthetestsandtheinterviews.Iwouldnothave
collectedpreciousdataforthedissertationwithoutyourcontributions.

Finally,mythanksalsogotomyparents,foryourloveandunderstanding,andtomyboyfriend,
Scottforyourinspiration,encouragementandcompanyduringthepastoneyear.Withoutyour
support,IcouldnothaveovercomethedifficultiesthroughoutthecourseofMasterofEducation.

TABLEOFCONTENTS
Abstractofthesis..1
DECLARATION.3
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS.4
LISTOFFIGURES.8
LISTOFTABLES...8
LISTOFAPPENDICES..8

CHAPTER1:INTRODUCTION.9
1.1Briefbackground...9
1.2Definitionofsecondlanguagelistening9
1.3Statementoftheproblem.10
1.4Purposeofthestudy.11
1.5Significanceofthestudy..11
1.6Definitionofterms...12

CHAPTER2:LITERATUREREVIEW..13
2.1IELTSandtheIELTSlisteningtest.13
2.2FacetofaceandonlineIELTSpreparationcoursesinChina..14
2.2.1Facetofaceclass..14
2.2.2ThedevelopmentofonlineIELTScoursesinChina15
2.3L2Listeningcomprehensiondifficultiesandstrategies..16
2.3.1L2listeningcomprehensiondifficulties16
2.3.2L2listeningcomprehensionstrategies..17
2.4LearningIELTSlisteningstrategiesonline.18
2.4.1Senseofisolationandunsatisfactorylearningachievement.18
2.4.2Senseofcommunity..19
2.4.2.1Synchronousandasychronouscommunicationtools....21

CHAPTER3:METHODOLOGY.23
3.1Participants...23
3.2Researchdesign...26
3.2.1Coursesetting26
3.2.2Rationaleforcoursedesign...29
3.2.3Courseschedule31
3.3Datacollectionmethod33
3.3.1Precourseinterview.33
3.3.2Classroomobservation..34
3.3.3Postcourseinterview34
3.3.4Reflectivepretestandposttest35
3.4Dataanalysis....37
3.5Validityandreliability.39
3.6Ethicalconsiderations..40
3.7Reflexivity........40

CHAPTER4:FINDINGS...42
4.1Findingsforresearchquestionone..42
4.1.1Resultsofthereflectivepretestandposttest..42
4.1.2Studentsperceptionsofthecourseeffectiveness50
4.2Findingsforresearchquestiontwo..51
4.2.1Theobservationresultsofonlineclassroominteraction......51
4.2.1.1Twocomponentsofsenseofcommunity.52
4.2.1.2Evidenceofsenseofcommunity......53
4.2.2Studentsperceptionsoftheonlineinteraction62
4.2.2.1Studentsperceptionsoftheteacherstudentinteraction..62
4.2.2.2Studentsperceptionsofthestudentstudentinteraction..62
4.3Summaryofthefindings......63

CHAPTER5:DISCUSSIONANDIMPLICATIONS.65
5.1Researchquestionone.....65
5.2Researchquestiontwo.67
5.3Limitationsofthestudy...70
5.4Implicationsofthestudy..71
5.5Concludingremarks.....73

REFERENCES.75

APPENDICES..79


LISTOFFIGURES

Figure3.2.1Samplecoursevideo..27
Figure3.2.2Sampleworksheet......28
Figure3.2.3Weibotimeline..29
Figure4.2.1Numberofmessagessentongroupchat....52

LISTOFTABLES

Table3.2.3Courseschedule..32
Table4.1.1.1Theuseoflisteningstrategiesineachsection.43
Table4.1.1.2Studentsscoresinpreandposttests..45

LISTOFAPPENDICES

Appendix1:Prelisteningchecklist...80
Appendix2:Postlisteningchecklist.....81
Appendix3:Preandposttestpaper..82
Appendix4:Samplestudentanswersheet(pretest).89
Appendix5:Samplestudentanswersheet(posttest)...90
Appendix6:Samplelessontranscriptextract91
Appendix7:Samplestudentinterviewtranscriptextract..93
Appendix8:Lisaslisteningperformanceinthepreandposttest...96
Appendix9:Vickyslisteningperformanceinthepreandposttest98
Appendix10:Stellaslisteningperformanceinthepreandposttest.100
Appendix11:Chiehslisteningperformanceinthepreandposttest.102
Appendix12:Meshleslisteningperformanceinthepreandposttest...104
Appendix13:Lorenaslisteningperformanceinthepreandposttest...106

CHAPTER1:INTRODUCTION

Thisintroductionisdividedintofourpartswhichincludesabriefbackgroundincludingmy
teachingcontext,definitionofsecondlanguagelistening,statementoftheproblemandpurpose
andsignificanceofthestudy.Thedefinitionsoftermsaregivenattheendofthischapter.

1.1Briefbackground
TheInternationalEnglishLanguageTestingSystemisastandardisedEnglishproficiencytestfor
nonnativeEnglishspeakerswhoplantofurthertheirstudiesinEnglishspeakingcountries.With
anincreasingnumberofChinesestudentschoosingtostudyabroad,thereisahugedemandfor
IELTSpreparationcourseswhichassiststudentstoachievesuccessintheIELTStest.I
previouslyworkedatanIELTStrainingcentreinShanghai,mymainresponsibilitywasteaching
listeningcomprehensionstrategies.ItisimportantforL2listeningteacherstoteachstudents
listeningstrategiestofacilitatetheirlisteningperformance.

1.2Definitionofsecondlanguagelistening
Cognitiveandmetacognitivelearningstrategiesareconsideredthetwomaintypesofstrategies
usedbygoodforeignlanguagelearners(O'Malley&Chamot,1990).Buildingontheirtheories,
Vandergrift(1997)synthesizedanddefinedsuccessfullisteningcomprehensionstrategiesby
addingathirdcategory,socioaffectivestrategy(activitiesinvolvinginteractionoraffective
controlinlanguagelearning).Cognitivestrategiesaredefinedasmentalactivitiesfor
manipulatingthelanguagetoaccomplishataskandmetacognitivestrategiesaredefinedas

mentalactivitiesfordirectinglanguagelearning.ItisfurtherarguedthatESL/EFLteachers
shouldputmoreemphasisonfosteringstudents'listeningstrategiesinordertodeveloptheir
metastrategicawarenessandfacilitatetheirlisteningcomprehension(Goh,2008Vandergrift,
1999).

1.3Statementoftheproblem
AfterayearofIELTSlisteningteachingIobservedthatmystudentshadnotachieveasmuch
academicimprovementasIwasexpecting.Firstly,traditionalfacetofaceinstructioncannot
adequatelycaterforstudentswithdifferentEnglishlevelsduringalimitedamountsoftime.
Secondly,amajorityofmystudentslivefarawayfromtheschoolandalotoftimeandenergyis
spentoncommutingeveryday.Thirdly,studentsofallagesneedtotakeondifferent
commitment,sofacetofaceclassesarenotflexibleenoughforthemcausingabsences.Online
educationaddressesmanyoftheseissuesandthereforehasflourished.

However,researchershavebeendebatingtheadvantagesanddisadvantagesofonlineeducation.
Ononehand,somearguethattherapiddevelopmentofWeb2.0hasgreatlyencouragedthe
growthofdistancelearningbecauseinternettechnologyprovidesconvenientandflexibleaccess
toeducationalexperiences(Alexander,2006Anderson,2007Fisher&Baird,2005Dabbagh&
Kitsantas,2004).Ontheotherhand,somepointedoutthatthehighdropoutrateofdistance
educationisveryproblematic(Carr,2000Duttonetal,2001),andasenseofisolationisoneof
themainreasonsthatcausesstudentstodropout(Galusha,1998Lee&Chan,2007).However,
researchsuggeststhatthereisaclearlinkbetweenthelevelofinteractionstudentsundertakeand

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senseofcommunity.Astrongsenseofcommunitycanbeachievedifstudentsareencouragedto
communicatewitheachotherintheirlearningenvironment(Dawson,2006McAdam,1982).

1.4Purposeofthestudy
Consideringalltheseissuesmentionedabove,IdecidedtoplananonlineIELTSlisteningcourse
forESLlearnerswithdifferentlevelsandvariousneeds.

Inordertoenrichthestudentslearningexperience,Iencouragedstudentstousesynchronous
andasynchronouscommunicationtoolsforonlineinteractionstobuildasenseofcommunity.
Thepurposeofthisclassroominquiryistoevaluatetheeffectivenessofonlineinstructionto
deliverlisteningstrategiesandinvestigatetheimpactofsenseofcommunityonstudents
academicachievement.Theparticipantswererecruitedfromacomprehensiveuniversityin
Shanghai.Thewholecoursewascarriedoutonlineviaanasynchronouscommunication
platformcalledSinaWeiboandasynchronouscommunicationtoolcalledWechat.Datawas
obtainedthroughobservationofonlineinteractions,reflectivepretestandposttest,and
semistructuredinterviews.

1.5Significanceofthestudy
ThisstudyisofsignificancetoresearcherswhoareinterestedinL2listeningacquisitionandthe
developmentofdistanceeducation.Moreover,thestudywillalsohaveimplicationsforESL/EFL
listeningteacherswhointendtoimprovetheirteachingpracticesofEnglishlistening.Teachers

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whointendtocarryoutonlineeducationmayalsoobtaininsightsintohowtobuildasenseof
communityfromthisstudy.

1.6Definitionofterms
Web2.0:blogs,wikis,podcasts,RSSfeedsetc.,whichfacilitate amoresocially
connectedWebwhereeveryoneisabletoaddtoandedittheinformationspace
(Anderson,2007)
Distancelearning:learningthattakesplacepartiallyorentirelyovertheinternet
(Meansetal.,2009)
Senseofcommunity:afeelingofbelonging,asenseofmattering,asharedemotional
connection,andafeelingthatmembers'needswillbemetbytheresourcesreceived
throughtheirmembershipinthegroup(McMillan&Chavis,1986)
Synchronouscommunicationtools:realtimecommunicationthroughtextchat,
audioconferencingorvideoconferencing(Hrastinski,2008)
Asynchronouscommunicationtools:delayedtimecommunicationthrough
discussionboards,blogsandemail(Hrastinski,2008)

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CHAPTER2:LITERATUREREVIEW

Inthischapter,IwillfirstoverviewthecharacteristicsoftheIELTStestandthestructureofthe
listeningtest.ThisprovidesbackgroundinformationontheIELTSlisteningpreparationcourses
inChina.Theproblemsarisingfromtheselisteningcoursesarediscussed.Iwillalsoreviewthe
maindifficultiesstudentsencounterinESLlisteningcomprehensionanddiscussusefullistening
strategieswhichcanimprovestudentslisteningperformance.Secondly,Iwilldiscusstheother
problematicissuesoffacetofaceIELTSlecturesandconsideronlinelearningaspotential
solution.Animportantissueofonlinelearning,thesenseofisolation,willalsobediscussed.
Andfinally,Iwillreviewwhatconstitutesasenseofcommunitytoidentifythefactorsinvolved
andalsodiscusshowsynchronousandasynchronouscommunicationtoolscanbeusedto
encourageonlineinteractioninordertobuildstudents'senseofcommunityinanonlinelearning
environment.

2.1IELTSandtheIELTSlisteningtest
TheInternationalEnglishLanguageTestingSystem(IELTS)isaninternationalstandardisedtest
ofEnglishproficiencyfornonnativeEnglishspeakerswhowanttoenrolinuniversitiesin
Englishspeakingcountriesorforimmigrationpurposes.In2014,over2.5millionIELTStests
havetakenplaceinmorethan140countriesandthedemandisstillgrowingincountriessuchas
China,India,SaudiArabia,EgyptandTurkeyduetothetesttakers'eagernesstofurthertheir
studiesintheEnglishspeakingcountries(n,d).TheIELTStestreportscoresfromband1.0to
band9.0.OverallBandScorebetween6.07.0intheacademicmodulesisacceptedasevidence

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ofEnglishlanguageproficientforhighereducationinstitutionsaroundtheworld(Ciccarelli,
2001).

TheIELTStestiscomprisedofthelistening,reading,writingandspeakingtests.Cambridge
EnglishLanguageAssessment(n,d)providestheframeworkandrequirementsoftheIELTS
listeningtest.Thetestconsistsoffoursectionswithtenquestionsforeachsectionandittakes
approximately30minutestofinishthetest.Sectiononeandsectiontwodealwitheveryday
situationsinasocialcontext.Thereisasocialsituationconversationbetweentwospeakersin
sectionone(e.g.aboutrentinganapartment,openingabankaccount)andaspeechbyasingle
personinsectiontwo(e.g.aboutaguidedtour).Sectionthreeandsectionfouraremore
academicincontentanddealwithcourserelatedsituations.Forexample,thereisaconversation
withuptofourspeakersinsectionthree(e.g.aboutdissertationrequirement)andauniversity
stylelectureinsectionfouronanacademictopic.Thereisawiderangeofquestiontypes
throughoutthetest,Theseincludemultiplechoice,matching/classification,diagram/map
labelling,notecompletion,flowchartandshortanswerquestions.TheIELTSlisteningtestis
designedtotestthelisteningcomprehensionskillsandlisteningabilitywithinrealworld
situations.Inordertopassthetestsuccessfully,amajorityofChinesetesttakerstakeIELTS
preparationcoursestodeveloptheirlisteningstrategiesandimprovetheirreallifelistening
abilities.

2.2FacetofaceandonlineIELTSpreparationcoursesinChina
2.2.1Facetofaceclasses

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DuetotheincreasingdemandforIELTSinChina,languageschoolsandinstitutionsrunIELTS
preparationcoursesallyearround.However,learnerdiversityisakeyissuethatunderliesthe
IELTSpreparationcoursesinChina.SincetherearenoagelimitsfortheIELTStest,peopleof
allagestakethetestfordifferentpurposes.Highschooloruniversitystudentsusuallyapplyfor
IELTSAcademictofurthertheirstudyatundergraduateorpostgraduatelevelin
Englishspeakingcountries.AdultsormiddleagedpeopleusuallytakeIELTSGeneralTraining
forworkorimmigrationpurposes.However,bothtwogroupsofpeoplearebusybecausethey
areobligatedtofulfiltheirownschool,joborfamilycommitment.Thesestudentscommuteto
IELTStrainingcentresafterschoolorworktoattendIELTScourses,whichistimeconsuming
andleadstoexhaustionandstress.Onlinelearningismorelikelythanatraditionalclassroom
toprovideaconvenientaccesstoeducationalexperiences(Hiltz,1990)becausestudentscan
studyanytimeandanywherewhichhasaninternetconnection.

2.2.2ThedevelopmentofonlineIELTScoursesinChina
Theriseofinformationtechnologyandtheweb2.0movementhavesignificantlychangedthe
traditionalmediumfordeliveryofinstructionwiththemassiveuseofinternetbased
technologiesandonlinecommunicationtools.Thistrendisstillgrowingrapidlyduetothe
advantagesofonlineeducation.Inordertoprovideeasyaccessforstudentswithdifferentneeds,
manylanguageschoolsandinstitutionsinChinaarenowofferingonlineIELTScourses.Theses
coursesincludestandardisedcoursesforstudentswithdifferentlevelssuchasBasicIELTS,
IntermediateIELTSandAdvancedIELTS.Manyschoolsalsoofferspecialisedcoursesto
studentswhowanttoimprovetheirlistening,reading,writingorspeakingabilities.

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Listeningtestpreparationcoursesfamiliarizestudentswiththelisteningtestformatandthe
differenttypesofquestionsonthetest.Commonlisteningskillsandfrequentlyusedvocabulary
inreallifesituationsarealsointroducedtohelpstudentstoachievehighscoresintheIELTS
test.However,studentsdonotalwaysachievesatisfactoryimprovementintheirlistening
abilities.Frommyexperience,onereasonforthiscouldbethatexamdrivenlisteningcourses
mainlyfocusontesttakingskills.Rather,L2listeninginstructionshouldfocusonL2listening
strategieswhichhelpstudentsovercometheirlisteningdifficultiesinordertoimprovetheir
realworldlisteningabilities.Therefore,ESLteachersshouldfullyunderstandstudents'L2
listeningdifficultiesandintroduceusefulL2listeningstrategiestostudentstofacilitatetheir
listeningpractices.

2.3L2listeningcomprehensiondifficultiesandstrategies
2.3.1L2listeningcomprehensiondifficulties
Rubin(1994)elaboratedfivemainfactorsthataffectlisteningcomprehension.Thesearetext
characteristics,interlocutorcharacteristics,taskcharacteristics,listenercharacteristicsand
processcharacteristics.Amongthesefactors,speechrate,languageproficiencyleveland
memoryspanarethemainvariablesthatcauselisteningdifficulties.Becausethespeechrateand
vocabularyincreasethroughthetest,listeners,especiallythosewithlowintermediatelevel,
usuallyperformunsatisfactorilyinsectionthreeandsectionfourintheIELTSlisteningtest.

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Memoryspanisalsoavariablethatcontributestotheleveloflisteningcomprehension.Students
withastrongershorttermmemorycanrecognizemorelectureconceptsanddetailedinformation
thanthosewithaweakershorttermmemory(Dunkeletal,1993).Goh(2000)inherstudy
identifiedthemostcommonproblemtobeshorttermmemory.26outof40studentsreported
thattheycouldunderstandwhattheyjustheardbuttheyquicklyforgotassoonastheystarted
processingnewinput.However,theselisteningcomprehensiondifficultiescanbeovercomeif
usefullisteningstrategiesarepresentedtoenhancelisteners'learningprocess.

2.3.2L2comprehensionlisteningstrategies
Vandergrift(1997)definedandexplainedthreetypesoflisteningstrategiesofeffectiveESL
learners,whichincludemetacognitivestrategies,cognitivestrategiesandsocioaffective
strategies.Metacognitivestrategiesinvolveplanning,monitoring,evaluationandproblem
identification.Cognitivestrategiessuchasinferencing,elaboration,repetition,andsubstitution
assistthedevelopmentofmetacognitivestrategies.Thethirdtypeofstrategy,socioaffective
strategies,involvequestioningforclarification,cooperation,loweringanxietyand
selfencouragement.Preliminarystudiesindicatethatinstructioninlisteningcomprehension
strategiescanfacilitatestudents'listeningperformance(O'Malley&Chamot,1990Thompson
&Rubin,1996).Therefore,itistheteacher'sresponsibilitytointroduceanddiscusstheconcept
ofcognitiveandsocioaffectivestrategiesinclassanddevelopstudents'metastrategicawareness
byteachingstudentstoplan,monitorandevaluatewithlisteningperformancechecklists
(Vandergrift,1999).

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Vandergrift(1999)providesaperformancechecklistforlistening(Appendix1and2)which
scaffoldsstudents'preandpostlisteningactivities.Theprelisteningchecklistteachesstudents
toplanandpredictthelisteningtaskandencouragesstudentstocheckonthenecessarycognitive
andsocioaffectiveelementstheyneedtoconsider.Afterlistening,studentsusethe
postlisteningchecklisttoevaluatetheirownlisteningperformanceandreflectonthestrategies
theyuseduringthetaskforfurtheradjustment.Theuseoftheperformancechecklistdevelops
studentawarenessoflisteningstrategiesandfacilitatestheirlisteningcomprehension.

Listeningstrategiesplaysasignificantroleinlanguagelearningandcommunication(Rubin,
1994).IELTSlisteningteachersshouldnotonlydevelopstudents'cognitivestrategiesbutalso
recognizetheimportanceofraisingstudents'awarenessofmetacognitiveandsocioaffective
strategiestofacilitatetheirlisteningcomprehensionpractices.

2.4.LearningL2listeningstrategiesonline
2.4.1Senseofisolationandunsatisfactorylearningachievement
Althoughonlinelearningistimeeffectiveandflexible,itbringsaboutnewissuessuchashigh
dropoutrate.Recentresearchhasbeendonetocomparestudentsintraditionalfacetoface
classesandonlineclasses.Studentslackofsenseofconnectednesshasbeenidentifiedasthe
mainfactorthatinfluencesdropoutrate.Sincestudentsinafacetofacesettingphysically
contactandworktogethertowardsthesamelearningtarget,theyhaveopportunitiestointeract
withtheirteachersandclassmatesthroughoutthelearningprocess.Whereasinanonlinelearning
environmentwherestudentsaregeographicallyisolatedfromeachother,opportunitiesfor

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teacherstudentandstudentstudentinteractionhavebeenreduced(Palloff&Pratt,2007).
Consequently,studentsfeeldisconnectedtotheirteachersandpeersbecausetheydonothave
sufficientcontactwitheachotherorreceiveenoughteacherandpeerfeedbacktosupporttheir
learningandeventuallytheydropoutbecauseofthesenseofisolation(Galusha,1998).

Anotherissueisthelearningoutcomeinanonlinelearningenvironment.Vygotsky(1978)
suggestedthatknowledgeisconstructedinthemidstofourinteractionwithothers.Learners
needopportunitiesforsocialinteractionwhichfostersknowledgeconstruction(Jonassen,1999).
However,mostonlineIELTSlisteningcoursesoverlooktheimportanceofsocialinteraction.
Thelearningoutcomeisusuallynotsatisfactory.AsuccessfulonlineIELTSlisteningcourse
shouldprovidestudentswithtimelyguidanceandteacherfeedbacktofacilitatetheirpracticesof
cognitivelisteningstrategiesandmetacognitivelisteningstrategies.Moreover,attentionshould
alsobepaidtofacilitatestudentsacquisitionofsocioaffectivestrategies.OnlineIELTSlistening
teachershavearesponsibilitytocreateafriendlyonlinelearningenvironmentwhichencourages
studentstoaskteachersforclarificationiftheyhaveanyconfusionaboutthetasks.Apartfrom
teachers,studentsshouldalsobeencouragedtoworkwithotherstudentstosolveproblemand
getfeedbackfromeachother.Therefore,studentssenseofcommunitycanbedevelopedduring
theinteraction.

2.4.2Senseofcommunity
Althoughthereisstillnouniversallyaccepteddefinitionofsenseofcommunity,common
elementsofthistermcanbeidentifiedbasedontheexistingliterature.McMillanandChavis

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(1986)definedsenseofcommunityasafeelingofbelonging,asenseofmattering,ashared
emotionalconnection,andafeelingthatmembers'needswillbemetbytheresourcesreceived
throughtheirmembershipinthegroup.Basedonthisdefinition,RovaiandLucking(2000)
elaboratedtheconceptinaneducationalsettinganddefinedclassroomcommunityasafeeling
thatmembershaveabelonging,afeelingthatmembersmattertooneanotherandtothegroup,
thattheyhavedutiesandobligationstoeachotherandtotheschool,andthattheypossessshared
expectationsthatmembers'educationalneedswillbemetthroughtheircommitmenttoshared
goals.Rovai(2002b)theorizedtwocomponentsofclassroomcommunityasfeelingsof
connectednessandlearning.Connectednessreferstothefeelingsofthecommunityof
studentsregardingtheirconnectedness,cohesion,spirit,trust,andinterdependenceandlearning
representsthefeelingsofcommunitymembersregardinginteractionwitheachotherasthey
pursuetheconstructionofunderstandingandthedegreetowhichmemberssharevaluesand
beliefsconcerningtheextenttowhichtheireducationalgoalsandexpectationsarebeing
satisfied(Rovai,2002a).Therefore,aclassroomcommunityisstrongwhenlearners(a)feelsafe
andtrusttheteacherandtheclassmates,(b)showawillingnesstospeakopenlyandask
questions,(c)careabouteachother,(d)receiveimmediatefeedbackfromthecommunity,and
(e)pursuecommoninterestsandlearningobjectives(Rovai,2002b).

Hence,itisnecessarytocreateanonlinelearningcommunityforstudentstoseekcommonality,
supportandhelpthroughonlineinteraction.Andtheestablishmentanddevelopmentofanonline
communityneedsthesupportofinternettechnologysuchassynchronousandasynchronous
communicationtools.

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2.4.2.1Synchronousandasynchronouscommunicationtools
Onlineeducationexpectshumaninteractionforthepurposeofeffectivelearningandcurrent
instructionalapplicationsoftechnologyprovidetwodifferentformatsforsuchinteraction:
asynchronousandsynchronous(Hines&Pearls,2004).Asynchronoustechnologyallows
instructiontooccurindelayedtime.Studentslearnindependentlyandcommunicatetheirideas
withtheirpeersandteachersthroughasynchronousdiscussionboards,blogsandemail.Onthe
otherhand,synchronouscommunicationtoolsenablestudentstomeetandchatonlineinreal
timethroughtextchat,audioconferencingorvideoconferencing.

Researchershavealreadysummarisedbenefitsandlimitationsofthesetwotechnologies.
Asynchronouscommunicationisreportedlyusefulforindepthreflectionandmorethoughtful
discussion.Itisalsohelpfulforcommunicatingwithdiversestudentsandallowingallstudentsto
respondtoatopic.However,immediatefeedbackisnotrequiredinanasynchronousdiscussion.
Also,studentsdonotcheckinoftenenoughfordiscussionwhichresultsinstudents'feelingof
socialdisconnection(Branon&Essex,2001).Synchronouscommunicationisakinto
facetofacecommunicationwhichallowslearnerstoconveyandobservefacialexpressionsand
bodylanguagebyusingimagesandemoticons.Inthiscase,learnersaremorecommittedtoread
andreplymessagesandmorelikelytofeelpsychologicallyarousedandmotivatedinsteadof
feelingisolatedfromtherestoftheclass(Hrastinski,2008).However,thequalityofimmediate
responsesisrevealedtobelowbecauseitdoesnotprovidecommunicatorsenoughtimeto
reflectandcomprehendduringtheprocess,especiallyforpoortypists(Branon&Essex,2001).

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Bothsynchronousandasynchronousformsofonlineinteractionbothhaveadvantagesandthey
canbecombinedtomaximizepersonalengagementinlearning(Johnson,2006).

Therefore,itisnecessarytomakefulluseoftheadvantagesofasynchronouscommunication
toolstoencouragelearnerstocarryoutindepthandthoughtfuldiscussionsandalsominimise
thedisadvantagesbyguidinglearnerstousesynchronouscommunicationtoolsforcollaborative
learningsoastoincreasestudents'senseofcommunity.

Inordertocreateanonlinecommunitywithastrongcommunityspirit,Idesignedanonline
IELTSlisteningcoursewhichprovidedstudentswithopportunitiesforstudentstudentand
teacherstudentinteraction.AsynchronousandsynchronouscommunicationtoolssuchasWeibo
andWechatwerebothusedtofacilitateonlineinteractionandthedevelopmentofsenseof
community.Sincethisstudyalsoaimstoinvestigatetheeffectivenessofthecourse,students'
listeningperformancethroughoutthecoursehasalsobeenevaluated.Inordertohaveabetter
understandingofhowsenseofcommunityenhancesstudentsonlinelearningexperienceand
theiracademicachievement,thispaperattemptstoaddressthefollowingquestions:
HowdoestheonlineIELTSlisteningcoursefacilitatestudentsL2listening
performance?
Howdoestheonlinelearningcommunityenhancestudents'onlinelearningexperience?

22

CHAPTER3:METHODOLOGY

ThestudyisbasedonafourweekonlineIELTSlisteningcoursewhichwasdesignedtoteach
studentsL2listeningstrategiesandfacilitatetheirlisteningcomprehension.Duringthecourse,
studentswereencouragedtointeractwiththeirpeersandtheinstructor.Theaimofthisstudyis
toexaminetheeffectivenessoftheonlinelisteningcourseandinvestigatehowstudents'senseof
communityoptimizestheirlearning.Thespecificresearchquestionsare:
HowdoestheonlineIELTSlisteningcoursefacilitatestudentsL2listening
performance?
Howdoestheonlinelearningcommunityenhancestudents'onlinelearningexperience?
Inthisstudy,Iconductedaqualitativeclassroominquirywhichoffersmeanindepthinsight
intotheresearchcontext,studentbehaviourandstudents'perceptionsofthecourse.

3.1Participants
SincethisstudymainlyfocusesonstrategyacquisitionfortheIELTStest,Idecidedtoselect
participantsfromuniversityastheirenglishisatasufficientlevelforthecourse.Therefore,I
recruitedtheparticipantsinMarchatXuhuicampusofShanghaiNormalUniversityby
distributinghandoutsandputtingupposters.Iadoptedapurposivesamplingstrategyby
exclusivelyrecruitingthosestudentsagedover18andwithEnglishabilityequivalenttoCET4
(CollegeEnglishTest)orequivalenttoIELTSscoreapproximatelybetween5.5and6.5.20
studentsvolunteeredtojointheprojectaftertworoundsofrecruitmentbut13ofthemwithdrew
becauseofsicknessorheavyworkload.Sevenfemaleparticipantswereeventuallyrecruitedand

23

signedtheconsentform.TheyjoinedthecoursebecausetheywerepreparingfortheIELTS
examorwereinterestedinimprovingtheirEnglishlisteningcomprehension.Inordertogetto
knowthestudents,Iinterviewedthembeforethecoursebeganandobtainedmoredetailed
informationofeachstudentsuchastheireducationalbackground,relationshipwithother
students,motivation,andfutureplans.BelowisthestudentinformationIextractedfromthe
precourseinterviews.

Chieh
ChiehisasecondyearundergraduatestudentfromShanghaiNormalUniversitymajoringin
appliedpsychology.Duringtheprecourseinterview,sheexplainedthatherprogrammeonly
offerstwoEnglishcourses,GeneralCollegeEnglishandEnglishforPsychology,whichmainly
focusonimprovingstudents'generalreadingskillsandspecialisedvocabulary.Chiehshoweda
strongdesiretolearnpracticalEnglishlisteningskills,whichsheassumedwouldalsobehelpful
ifshetookanIELTStestinthefuture.

Stella
Atthebeginningoftheprecourseinterview,StellaidentifiedherselfasChieh'sclassmateand
roommate.SheisalsotakingthesameEnglishcoursesasChieh.Stellaheldaverynegative
attitudetowardsthesecourses,especiallyGeneralCollegeEnglish,andfounditnothelpfulatall.
ShesaidWedontpayanyattentionduringthecoursebecauseitisboringandmostofussleep
throughthecourse.However,sheshowedeagernesstoimproveherEnglishthroughtakingthis
course.

24


Lorena
LorenaisayearfourstudentstudyingFineArtsinShanghaiNormalUniversity.Shetookthe
coursewithoutanyspecificlearninggoalsandshejoinedsimplybecauseshefoundonline
learningveryinteresting.SheexplainedIamcuriousaboutonlinecoursesbecauseIhavenever
takenanybefore.

Karen
KarenisafriendImetduringavolunteertripinTaiwanin2014,andsheisalastyearsociology
studentofEastChinaUniversityofScienceandTechnology.Karenwasinterestedintakingthis
coursebecauseshewaspreparingfortheIELTSexamandapplyingforapostgraduate
programmeattheChineseUniversityofHongKong.Shealsomentionedthatshehadalready
takensimilarIELTSpreparationcoursesbefore,butthelearningoutcomewasnotassatisfactory
assheexpected.

Vicky
VickyisayeartwoundergraduatestudentmajoringinAppliedChemistryinShanghaiNormal
University.Shegavetworeasonsfortakingthiscourseduringtheinterview.Firstly,shewas
applyingforastudentexchangeprogrammeinEuropeandahighIELTStestscorewould
increasethepossibilityofgettingselected.Theotherreasonwasthatshewantedtosupportmy
projectbecausesheunderstoodthedifficultyofrecruitingparticipantsforresearchprojectsas
shewasalsorunningascientificresearchstudyherself.

25


Meshle
MeshleisapostgraduatefinalyearstudentmajoringinWorldHistoryinShanghaiNormal
Universityandshehasachievedabachelor'sdegreeinEnglishforMedicine.Duringthe
interview,MeshlementionedherplantostudyinEnglishspeakingcountriesandsheconsidered
thiscourseasagoodchancetohelpherIELTSexampreparation.

Lisa
Lisa,whoalsostudiesAppliedChemistry,isVicky'sclassmateandroommate.Sheplansto
studyabroadaftergraduation.LisaexpressedadesiretoimproveherEnglishlisteningskills
duringtheinterviewanddescribedhowfrustratedshefeltaftersheentereduniversityandfound
thatshecouldnotunderstandtheEnglishclasses.Lisaexplainedthatshefinishedprimaryand
secondaryschoolsunderanexamorientededucationsystem.Herteachersonlyfocusedon
grammaticalknowledgeandreadingskillsbecauselisteningandwritingskillswerenotassessed
inthecollegeentranceexaminationinherprovince.

3.2Researchdesign
3.2.1Coursesetting
Thiscourseconsistsofeightonlinelessons,twolessonseachweek.Eachlessoniscomprisedof
threeparts:agroupdiscussion,acoursevideo,andanindividualpracticeorgroupcollaboration.
Inthefirstpart,agroupdiscussionwasheldonWechat,asynchronouscommunicationapp,
whichmainlysupportsfunctionssuchastextmessaging,voicemessaging,picturesharing,and

26

groupchat.Thestudentsexpressedtheiropinionsverballyorinawrittenformaccordingtotheir
ownpreferences.Wechatalsomadehomeworksubmissioneasierbecauseinsteadofgoingtoa
printingshopandgettingtheiranswersheetsscanned,studentscouldtakeaphotoofthesheets
andsharethemonWechat.

Inthesecondpart,studentswererequiredtowatchacoursevideo.Eachvideowas
approximately30to50minuteslonganditwasuploadedonWeiboalongwiththe
correspondinglisteningmaterials.Weiboisamicrobloggingwebsiteonwhichuserscanpost
shortmessagesanduploadimages,videosanddocuments.Ipostedallthecoursevideos(see
figure3.2.1below)andmaterials(figure3.2.2)onmyWeibotimeline(figure3.2.3)sothe
studentscouldaccessthesematerialsatanytimeandstudyattheirownpace.

Inthethirdpart,studentswereaskedtodownloadlisteningmaterialsfrommyWeibotimeline
andfinishexercisesindividually.Aftercompletion,studentssenttheanswerstomeforteacher
assessmentortheyassessedthemselvesusingVandergrifts(1999)listeningchecklists.They
werealsoencouragedtodiscusstheanswerswiththeotherclassmates.

figure3.2.1ScreenshotofLesson1video
27

Figure3.2.2sampleworksheet

28


Figure3.2.3ScreenshotofWeibotimeline

3.2.2Rationaleforcoursedesign
ThisfourweekonlineIELTSlisteningcourseaimstodevelopstudents'metacognitive,cognitive
andsocioaffectivestrategiestofacilitatetheirdailylisteningcomprehensionandIELTS
listeningperformance.

29

AccordingtoVandergrift(1999),teachersshoulddevelopstudents'metastrategicawarenessand
teachthemtoplan,monitor,andevaluateeachlisteningtask.Therefore,insteadofteaching
cognitivestrategiesonly,theinstructorshouldalsopromptstudentstoplan,monitorandevaluate
inordertoreinforcetheirunderstandingofmetacognitivestrategies.

Secondly,importantcognitivestrategiessuchasinferencing,elaborationandrepetitionwere
introducedinthecoursevideosbecausetheyarecommonlyusedintheIELTSlisteningtest.
Inferencingreferstousinginformationwithinthetextorconversationalcontexttoguessthe
meaningsofunfamiliarlanguageitemsassociatedwithalisteningtask,topredictoutcomes,orto
fillinmissinginformation(Vandergrift,1997).Elaborationreferstousingpriorknowledge
fromoutsidethetextorconversationalcontextandrelatingittoknowledgegainedfromthetext
orconversationinordertopredictoutcomesorfillinmissinginformation(Vandergrift,1997).
Repetitionreferstorepeatingachuckoflanguage(awordorphrase)inthecourseof
performingalisteningtask(Vandergrift,1997).Studentsinthesamelisteningclassusually
havedifferentvocabularysizesandlifeexperience,sothosewithlowEnglishproficiencyand
lesslifeexperienceusuallyneedmoretimeforinformationprocessing.Whilewatchingthe
coursevideos,studentscanpausewherevertheyneedtocheckadictionaryorseekinformation
ontheInternettofacilitatetheirlearning.Forhighlycapablestudents,theyaregiventhe
autonomytoexploretheirownlearningbasedonwhattheyhavealreadylearnt.

Thirdly,socioaffectivestrategiessuchascooperationandquestioningforclarificationrequirea
responsivelearningenvironmentinwhichstudentscanworktogetherandaskforhelp.Frommy

30

classroomobservation,inafacetofaceclass,studentsusuallyinteractwiththeirneighbours
sittingclosetothem.Whereasonlinelearningenvironmentprovidesstudentswithequivalent
chancetointeractwiththeteacherandeveryclassmate.

3.2.3Courseschedule
ThisonlineIELTSlisteningcourselastedfourweeksandTable3.2.3belowisadetaileddisplay
ofthefourweekschedule.Thecoursestartedwithaselfintroductionoftheteacherandthe
students.Studentswereencouragedtosharetheirlearninggoalswiththeirclassmates,which
helpedtobuildanonlinelearningcommunity.InLessonTwo,agroupdiscussionwasarranged
onpredictingtheinformationstudentsneedtolistenforandthestudentswereintroducedtoa
prelisteningchecklist(Appendix1)whichwasdesignedbyVandegrift(1999).Thischecklist
consistsofthethreetypesoflisteningstrategiesstudentscanmakeuseoftoplanandpredictthe
listeningbeforethetask.Theonlineinstructionofthesetwolessonsrespectivelytaughtstudents
cognitivestrategiessuchaselaborationandlinguisticinferencing.

Inthesecondweek,studentswereintroducedtothepostlisteningchecklist(Appendix1)which
theycouldusetomonitorandevaluatethemselvesduringtheirindividualpractices.Theonline
instructionofthesetwolessonshelpedthestudentspracticetheirelaborationskills.Moreover,a
groupdiscussionwasarrangedtodiscusshowstudentscouldencouragethemselveswithpositive
selftalksandhowtheycouldlowertheiranxietyduringalisteningtest.

31

Inthethirdweek,studentswereencouragedtoevaluatetheirownuseoflisteningpracticesand
reflectonanyimprovementsafterusingthepreandpostlisteningchecklists.Inthesecond
lesson,agroupdiscussionwasarrangedforstudentstosharewhattheyhavelearntfromthis
course.Theonlineinstructionofthesetwolessonspracticedtheirparalinguisticinferencingand
selectiveattentionskills.

Inthefinalweek,studentswereencouragedtocollaboratewitheachothertofinishalistening
taskineachlesson.Theyneededtoworktogethertoplan,monitorandevaluatetheirlistening
practices.Theonlineinstructionofthesetwolessonsreinforcedwhattheyhavelearntinthe
previouslessons.

Table3.2.3Coursescheduleandlearningoutcomes
Date

Content

Week

Week1

Lesson1
18thMay2015

Lesson2
21 May2015
st

Week2

Lesson3
25 May2015
th

LearningOutcomes
(Bytheendofthis
week,studentswill
beableto...)

Groupdiscussion:
Selfintroduction
Onlineinstruction:
Formfilling,notecompletion
Individualpracticeandteacher
feedback

Userepetition,
elaborationand
linguisticinferencing
skillsbeforea
listeningtask

Plantheir
Groupdiscussion:Prelistening comprehensionina
checklist
listeningtask
Onlineinstruction:Table
completion,sentence
completion
Individualpracticeandteacher
feedback
Group discussion:
Postlisteningchecklist
Onlineinstruction:Labellinga
32

Encouragethemselves
tocontinuetheirstudy
andcontroltheirown

diagram,multiplechoice
Individualpracticewiththe
checklistandselfassessment

Lesson4
28thMay2015

Week3

Lesson5
1stJune2015

Groupdiscussion:Group
allocation
Onlineinstruction:
Shortanswerquestions
Individualpracticeandpeer
assessment

Lesson6
4 June2015

Groupdiscussion:sharing
experience
Onlineinstruction:Matching,
classification
Individualpracticeandpeer
assessment

Lesson7
8thJune2015

Onlineinstruction:Flowchart
Groupcollaboration

Lesson8
11thJune2015

Onlineinstruction:
Notetaking
Groupcollaboration

th

Week4

Groupdiscussion:Positive
selftalk
Onlineinstruction:Labellinga
maporplan,summary
completion
Individualpracticewiththe
checklistandselfassessment

emotionsbypositive
selftalk

Monitorandevaluate
theircomprehension
inalisteningtask

Useelaborationskill
duringalisteningtask

Useparalinguistic
referencingskills
beforealisteningtask

Payselectiveattention
tothekeyinformation

Interactwiththe
teacherandpeersfor
academicandsocial
support

Collaboratewith
peers

3.3Datacollectionmethod
3.3.1Precourseinterview
Howell(1972)suggeststhatitisimportantforqualitativestudyresearcherstodevelopaclose
andharmoniousrelationshipwiththeparticipantsinordertoobtaindataofquality.Therefore,I
decidedtoconductanonlineinterviewbeforethecoursesothatIcouldgettoknowmystudents.

33

Duringtheinterview,IaskedeachstudentabouttheirbasicinformationsuchastheirEnglishand
Chinesenames,ages,theireducationalbackground,theirmotivationforparticipatinginthe
courseandtheirexpectationsforthecourse.Theinterviewswereconductedasafriendlyand
informalchatinChinesesothatthestudentswouldfeelcomfortabletosharemoredetailed
informationaboutthemselveswithme.IinterviewedeverystudentforfiveminutesonQQ
whichisacommunicationapplicationthatsupportsinstantmessagesandvideocallsfrom
computersandsmartphones.QuickTimePlayer,amultimediaplayerapplication,whichsupports
audiorecording,wasalsousedtorecordtheconversations(ResearchQuestionTwo).

3.3.2Classroomobservation
Beingaparticipantobserverallowedmetoexplorethefullpictureoftheresearchsetting
(Hockey,1993).AllthechathistoryonWechatandWeibowereexportedsothatIcouldanalyse
students'classroombehavioursuchashowtheyinteractedwiththeteacherandtheclassmates.
Thisdatacollectedfromclassroomobservationprovidedabroadcontextualinsightinto
studentssenseofcommunityandhowstudents'listeningperformancewereenhanced(Research
QuestionTwo).

3.3.3Postcourseinterview
Attheendofthecourse,IconductedsemistructuredinterviewsinChinesetoexplorestudents'
perceptionsofthecourseinordertoexaminethecourseeffectivenessandonlineinteraction.
Duringtheinterviews,Ipromptedstudentstogivecommentsonintendedtopicssuchasthe
coursecontent,teachingstyle,andrelationshipwiththecommunitymembers.Theflexibilityof

34

semistructuredinterviewsalsoallowedmetocovertheintendedtopicsandfollowunexpected
answersfromthestudents,whichprovidedmeinterestinginsightsintothestudy(Richards,
2009).BasedonRovai's(2002)classroomcommunityscale,thefollowinginterviewquestions
wereusedtopromptstudents:
Perceptionsofthecourseeffectiveness
Doyouthinkthecourseisdifficult?
Haveyoulearntwhatyouexpectedtolearnfromthecourse?
Whatdidyoulearnfromthecourse?
Perceptionsoftheteacher
Didyouinteractveryoftenwiththeteacher?
Didyougettimelyfeedbackfromyourteacher?
Whatdidyouusuallydiscusswiththeteacher?
Perceptionsoftheclassmates
Didyouinteractveryoftenwithyourclassmates?
Whatdidyouusuallydiscusswiththeclassmates?
TheinterviewswerecarriedoutonQQinChineseandQuickTimePlayerwasusedfor
audiorecording.Eachinterviewlastedforaround15minutes.Noteswerealsotakenduringthe
interview.

3.3.4Reflectivepretestandposttest
Inordertoanswermyfirstresearchquestionandinvestigatetheeffectivenessofthelistening
courseonstudentslisteningperformance,Iusedthesametestpaper(Appendix3)forthepretest

35

andposttesttostudythedevelopmentofstudentslisteningcomprehensionabilitiesbeforeand
afterthecourse.Iusedthesametestpaperbecauseitenabledmetoseewhattypesofmistakes
thestudentsmadeandwhattypesoflisteningstrategiestheyusedwhentheytackledthesame
questionsinthepreandposttests.Iaskedthestudentstoreflectonwhatlisteningstrategiesthey
usedinthepretestandalsoprovidedthemwiththepreandpostlisteningcheckliststohelp
themreviewtheirownuseofthelisteningstrategiesintheposttest.Finally,Icomparedtheir
useoflisteningstrategiesduringthepretestandposttestsothatIcouldexaminetheextentto
whichthecoursemighthavefacilitatedtheirlisteningabilities.However,thetestanswersand
feedbackfromteacherwerenotprovideduntilthestudentsfinishedtheposttesttominimiseany
influenceontheposttestresults(ResearchQuestionTwo).

Thetestpaperconsistsoffoursectionswithtenquestionsforeachsection.Sectiononeisbased
onatelephonecallbetweenamanandarestaurantmanageraboutajobvacancy.Students
neededtofillinaformaboutajobenquirywhichincludesbasicandfactualinformationsuchas
thejobdescriptionandtheinterviewrequirements.Cognitivelisteningstrategiessuchasworld
elaboration,linguisticinferencing,andrepetitioncanbeusedtofacilitatestudentslistening.
Sectiontwoisanexcerptofaradioprogrammeabouttheopeningofanewlocalsportsshop.
Thereisahandoutabouttheconditionoftheshopforstudentstocompleteandalsoafew
multiplechoicequestionsaboutasaturdayevent.Apartfromthecognitivestrategiesthatwere
usedinthefirstsection,sectiontwoalsoneedsstudentstoplanbeforetheylistenandpay
selectiveattentiontothekeyinformation.

36

ThelevelofdifficultyincreasesinSectionthreeandfoursincebothcognitiveandmetacognitive
strategiesshouldbeusedduringthetest.Sectionthreeisadiscussionbetweentwointernational
studentsandtheirEnglishlanguageteacherabouthowtheycopedwiththecourse.Thereareten
multiplechoicequestionsaboutthestudentsperceptionsoftheirownlearningperformancein
thissemesterandtheirfeedbackonthecourse.Studentsneededtoidentifythekeywordsofeach
questionandpayselectiveattentiontothesewordswhilelistening.Additionally,studentscould
usetheacademicknowledgetheyacquiredintheirownlearningexperiencetoguessthemeaning
ofthediscussion.Sectionfourisapartofalectureaboutmassstrandingsofwhalesand
dolphins.Thesubjectspecifictopicincreasesthelevelofdifficultyanditcontainsrelatively
moreinformationthantheprevioussections.Studentswereexpectedtoplanwhattheyneededto
listenforandpredictthetypesofwordbyusingthelinguisticclueswithinthetextandtheirprior
knowledgeaboutseacreatures.Duringthetext,studentsshouldpayselectiveattentiontothe
relevantandimportantinformationinsteadoflisteningingeneral.

3.4Dataanalysis
AqualitativemethodwasusedtoanalysethedataIcollectedfromthereflectivepretestand
posttest,classroomobservation,andinterviews,andIbroughttogetherthesethreedatasources
toanswerbothofmyresearchquestions.Asamplestudentanswersheet,alessontranscript
extractandasamplestudentinterviewtranscriptextractareattachedinAppendices4to7.

Ialsostudiedstudents'preandposttestanswersheetsandcombinedthemwiththeirown
reflectionontheirlisteningpracticestointerprettheirstrategyuseduringthetests.Theanalysis

37

ofpreandposttestanswersheetsandstudents'selfreflectionprovidedmeaninsightintothe
developmentofstudents'listeningabilitiesthroughoutthecourse,intothepossiblewaysthe
onlinecoursefacilitatedstudentslisteningdevelopment(ResearchQuestionOne).

Inordertoanalysetheclassroominteraction,IusedTongbu,anonlinedatasynchronisingtool,
toexportthechathistoryonWechat.Hay(2005)outlinestwostepsofthecodingprocessas
overallbasiccodingandindepthinterpretivecoding.Therefore,accordingtoRovais(2002a,
2000b)theoryofsenseofcommunity,Iextractedandcodedtheonlineinteractionasfeelingsof
connectednessandlearningatthefirststep.ThenIcategorisedthefirstcodefeelingof
connectednessintotrustintheteacherandtrustintheclassmates.Thesecondcode
learningwascategorisedintocommoninterestsandlearninggoals,timelyfeedback,and
activetwowaycommunication.SincebothChineseandEnglishwereusedasmediumsof
communication,theChineseparthasbeencodedinChineseinthefirstlevelcodingandthe
extractwastranslatedintoEnglishinthesecondlevel.Theanalysisofonlineinteraction
deepenedmyunderstandingofhowstudents'senseofcommunitydevelopedthroughoutthe
courseandhowtheonlinecommunityhelpedstudentsmakebetterlisteningachievements
(ResearchQuestionTwo).

BothpreandpostcourseinterviewdatawastranslatedfromChinesetoEnglish.Theaudio
recordingsoftheinterviewwerereviewedandthemeaningfulwordsandphraseswere
highlightedwithdifferentcoloursbeforetheywereinitiallycodedintoviewsonthecourse,view
ontheinstructorandviewontheclassmates.Then,basedonthelevelonecoding,Ifurtheredmy

38

dataanalysisbycategorisingtheinitialcodesintodifferentcategoriessuchasthevideoquality,
teachingstyle,andclassroomatmosphere.Finally,Ididaverbatimtranscriptionofthese
meaningfulextractsfordiscourseanalysis.Theinterviewanalysiswastriangulatedwiththe
othertwodatasourcesandprovidedmewithstudents'perceptionsofthecourse,theteacherand
theclassmates.

3.5Validityandreliability
Toensurethevalidityofthisstudy,differentsourcesofdatawerecollectedfortriangulation.
ThepreandposttestpaperwassourcedfromCambridgeIELTS9(CambridgeESOL,2013)
whichcontainsofficialauthenticexaminationpapersfromCambridgeESOL.Thetestanswers
wereprovidedaftertheposttestinordertoavoidthepossibilityofrememberingtheanswers.In
ordertoensurethereliabilityofdataanalysis,Idesignedaninterraterreliabilitytestandinvited
myclassmateEmily,anexperiencedIELTSteacher,totestthereliabilityofmycoding.InApril
2015,IpilotedthepreandpostcourseinterviewswithmyboyfriendScottbeforethecourse
startedandheansweredtheinitialinterviewquestionsbasedononeoftheonlinecourseshedid
onCoursera.TheresultoftheprecourseinterviewwassatisfactorybutScottfounditdifficultto
openupwithgeneralquestionssuchaswhatdoyouthinkaboutthecourse?orwhatdoyou
thinkabouttheteacher?.Therefore,inordertopromptstudentsperceptionsofthecourseand
onlineinteraction,Irevisedtheinterviewquestionsandaddedmorespecificquestionssuchas
Doyouthinkthecourseisdifficult?andwhatdidusuallyyoudiscusswithyourteacher?
whichweremucheasierforstudentstoanswer.Frommyprecourseinterviews,Idiscoveredthat

39

twopairsofstudentsknoweachotherwellwhichislikelytoinfluencetheirdevelopmentof
senseofcommunitythroughoutthecourse.

3.6Ethicalconsiderations
Iobtainedconsentformsfromparticipantsviaemailinadvanceofdatacollection.The
participants'personalinformationandrecordswereprotectedforprivacyandconfidentiality.In
termsofteacherstudentrelation,thepowerrelationwasmitigatedbythefactthatstudents'
participationwasvoluntary.Also,thecoursedidnotrunonapayingbasisanditwasdelivered
bytheprincipalinvestigatormyselfratherthananyotherinstitutions.

3.7Reflexivity
Inqualitativeresearch,theresearchershavegreaterimpactontheresearchprocessesand
participantsthantheydoinquantitativeresearch(Breueretal.,2002).Therefore,reflexivityis
oneofthemainissuesthatIneededtoconsiderinthisqualitativeclassroominquiry.Asa
teacherresearcher,Icompletedaliteraturereviewandcameupwithmyownassumptionsofthe
listeningstrategiesandonlinecommunity.SinceIbroughtmyassumptionsintotheteaching
practiceandthedatacollectionprocess,itmightinfluencemydecisionsofwhatshouldbe
recordedandobserved.Additionally,mypersonalexperiencewasalsooneofthefactorsthat
mightinfluencetheobjectivityofthestudy.OneoftheparticipantswasafriendwhomImetin
Taiwan,whichindicatesthatshehasacloserrelationshipwithmethananyotherparticipantsin
thiscourse.Thismayhaveinfluencedtheanalysisofhersenseofcommunity.Inordertoaddress
theseissues,Imademyselfawareofthesebiasesthroughoutthestudy.WhenIinteractedwith

40

mystudents,ItriedtospendanequalamountoftimeoneachofthemandwhileIwascollecting
datatoprovemyassumptions,Ikeptanopenmindfornewinsightsandinspirations.

41

CHAPTER4:FINDINGS

Inthischapter,thedatacollectedthroughoutthefourweekcoursearepresentedandanalysed.
Toexaminehowtheonlinecoursefacilitatedstudentslisteningperformance,Ifirstcompared
studentslisteningperformanceandstrategyuseinthepretestandposttest.Also,Ipresented
theonlinelessonextractsinsequenceofthetwomaincomponentsofsenseofcommunityand
analysedhowtheonlinecommunityenhancedstudentslearningexperience.Additionally,
studentsperceptionsofthecourseeffectivenessandonlineinteractionarepresentedfordata
triangulation.

4.1FindingsforResearchQuestionOne
HowdidtheonlineIELTSlisteningcoursefacilitatestudentsL2listeningperformance?

Inordertoexaminehoweffectivetheonlinecoursewas,studentspreandpostlistening
performancewerecomparedandtheirperceptionsofcourseeffectivenesswerealsopresented.

4.1.1Resultsofthereflectivepretestandposttest
Theinstructionsofthisfourweekonlinecoursefocusedonthreemaintypesoflistening
strategies:cognitive(inferencing,elaboration),metacognitive(plan,monitor,evaluate,identify
problems)andsocioaffectivestrategies(askforhelp,cooperation,selfencouragement)which
studentscouldmakeuseofduringthelisteningexercisesandexams.Table4.1.1below
illustratesthedistributionofstrategyuseinallfoursectionsofthelisteningtest.Eachsection

42

containstentestitems.Linguisticinferencingisthemostfrequentlyusedstrategyinallfour
sectionswhichhelpedstudentsguessthetypesofmissinginformation.Insectiononeandtwo,
cognitivelisteningstrategiesarecommonlyused.Apartfromlinguisticinferencing,students
couldalsorelyonknowledgetheygainedfromtheirlifeexperiencetopredictthemissing
information.Whereasbothcognitiveandmetacognitivelisteningstrategiesshouldbeusedsince
theamountofinformationincreasesinsectionthreeandfour.Inordertoaccomplishthe
listeningtasksuccessfully,advanceplanshouldbemadeandselectiveattentionshouldbepaid
tothekeyinformation.Additionally,sincethetopicsareusuallyuniversitystyleand
courserelated,studentscouldusepriorknowledgetheygainedinacademicsituationstoguess
theinformationtheyneedtolistenfor.

Table4.1.1.1Theuseoflisteningstrategiesineachsection
ItemNo. Strategy

ItemNo.

Strategy

worldelaboration

21

selectiveattention

linguisticinferencing,
repetition

22

selectiveattention

linguisticinferencing

23

selectiveattention,
paralinguisticinferencing

worldelaboration

24

selectiveattention,
paralinguisticinferencing

worldelaboration

25

selectiveattention,academic
elaboration

linguisticinferencing

26

selectiveattention,academic
elaboration

linguisticinferencing

27

selectiveattention,academic
elaboration

linguisticinferencing

28

selectiveattention

43

linguisticinferencing

29

selectiveattention

10

linguisticinferencing,
repetition

30

selectiveattention

11

linguisticinferencing

31

linguisticinferencing,world
elaboration,selective
attention

12

linguisticinferencing

32

linguisticinferencing,world
elaboration,selective
attention

13

worldelaboration

33

linguisticinferencing,
selectiveattention

14

personalelaboration

34

linguisticinferencing,
selectiveattention

15

linguisticinferencing

35

linguisticinferencing,world
elaboration,selective
attention

16

linguisticinferencing

36

linguisticinferencing,
selectiveattention

17

selectiveattention

37

linguisticinferencing,
selectiveattention

18

selectiveattention

38

linguisticinferencing,
selectiveattention

19

selectiveattention

39

linguisticinferencing,
selectiveattention

20

selectiveattention

40

linguisticinferencing,
selectiveattention

Twolisteningperformancechecklistswerealsoprovidedforthepurposeofguidingstudentsin
preandpostlisteningactivities.ThesetwochecklistsaredesignedbyVandergrift(1999)and
consistofthreetypesoflisteningstrategiesstudentshavelearntduringthecourse.Checklistone

44

helpedstudentsmakepredictionswiththeirownknowledgeandclueswithinthetext.Cognitive
strategiessuchaslinguisticinferencingandelaborationwerelargelyusedinthefirstsectionand
thefourthsectionofthetest.Also,thechecklistguidedstudentsinusingmetacognitivestrategies
beforelistening.Theywereaskedtounderstandthetaskrequirementsandconcentrate
specificallyonwhattheyaregoingtohearduringthetestwhicharenecessarystepsfor
prelisteningplanning.SoinSectionTwoandThree,studentswouldpayselectiveattentionto
whattheyneededtohearandconcentratedonkeyinformationinSectionFour.Cluesof
socioaffectivestrategieswerealsogivensothatstudentscouldnotonlyencouragethemselves
butalsolookforhelpfromtheteacher.Afterlistening,studentswereaskedtofillina
postlisteningchecklistwhichguidedstudentsinselfevaluationandselfreflection.Thisprocess
helpedstudentsevaluatethemselvesinasystematicwayandreflectonhowtheycouldimprove
theirperformanceinthefuture.

Thecomparisonofstudents'pretestandposttestresultsallowedmetoobservetheirlistening
performancebeforeandafterthecourseanditprovidedmeaninsightintotheiruseoflistening
strategiesduringthetests.AllthestudentsparticipatedinthepreandposttestexceptKarenwho
didnotattendtheposttest.

Table4.1.1.2Studentsscoresinthepreandposttest
Student
name

Lisa

Pretest

Posttest

Blank

Total
numberof
mistakes

Testscore

Blank

Total
numberof
mistakes

Testscore

10

20

5.5

7.5

45

Vicky

17

6.0

8.0

Stella

10

7.0

8.5

Chieh

7.5

8.5

Meshle

17

6.0

13

6.5

Lorena

10

7.0

7.0

Karen

17

6.0

Aswecanseefromthetableabove,moststudentsachievedprogresscomparedwiththeir
performanceinthepretest.Apartfromtheincreaseoftestscores,fewermistakesweremade
andfewerquestionswereleftblankintheposttestwhichsuggestslisteningstrategiesfacilitated
theirlisteningpractice.Thedatabelowcomparesstudentsstrategyuseindetailandthetablesof
theirlisteningperformanceinpreandposttestcanbefoundinappendices8to13.

Lisa
Lisascored5.5outof9.0inthepretestwhichwasthelowestscore.Shelefttenquestionsblank
andmadetenmistakes.Mostmistakesoccurredinsectiononeandsectionfourwhichrequire
studentstoguesswhatkindofinformationismissingandpayattentiontotheinformationin
ordertofillintheblanks.Intheposttest,Lisascored7.5andaltogethershemadesixmistakes
withoutleavinganyquestionblank.Lessmistakesweremadeinsectiontwoandthreewhere
therearealotofmultiplechoicequestions.Aswecanseeintable4.1.2,Lisaansweredallthese
questionscorrectlywhichindicatesshepaidselectiveattentiontothekeywordssheneededto
hear.Insectionfourwhichisthemostdifficultsection,sheonlymadetwomistakesandleftno
questionsblankwhichsuggestssheplannedwhatsheneededtolistenforandshemade

46

predictionbasedontheexistingtextandherownknowledgebeforelistening.Also,she
concentratedonthetaskduringthetestandfocusedherattentiononthespecificinformation.
Thisindicatesshehadmasteredsomemetacognitivelisteningstrategies.However,insectionone
shestillfailedfourquestionswhichsuggestsshewasstillinconsistentinherabilitytolistenfor
specificdetailssuchasnumbers,pluralformsanddatesuffix.Intheperformancechecklist,she
reportedthatshedidnotattempttoverifyherpredictionssoshereflectedthatnexttimeshe
wouldlistenmorecarefullyandtryherbesttoverifyandavoidsmallmistakesinorderto
improveherperformance.

Vicky
Vickyscored6.0outof9.0inthepretest.Shemadeeightmistakesandleftsevenquestions
blank.Mostmistakesoccurredinthelasttwosectionswhichcontainlargeamountsof
informationanddistractors.Intheposttest,Vickyscored8.0andshemadethreemistakesand
onlylefttwoquestionsblank.Asitshowsinappendix9,sheonlylefttwoquestionsblankand
answered18questionscorrectlyinsectionthreeandfourwhichsuggestsshemadepredictions
aboutthemissinginformationinadvanceaccordingtothelinguisticclueswithinthetextand
paidselectiveattentiontowhatsheneededtolistenforduringthetest.Itisinterestingtonote
thatinsectionfourVickymisplacedtheanswersontheanswersheet,butshemanagedtochange
thembackeventuallywhichsuggeststhatshemonitoredherperformanceandverifiedher
answerswhilelisteningwhichisalsoaveryimportantmetacognitivestrategyforlistening.
However,Vickydidnotevaluateandreflectonherperformanceafterlisteningnordidsheuse
thepostlisteningchecklist.

47


Stella
Stellascored7.0outof9.0inthepretest.Overall,shemadeeightmistakesandlefttwo
questionsblank.AlthoughStellaoutperformedtheotherstudentsontheformfillingandnote
completionquestionsasitisshowninappendix10,shelostmanypointsonthemultiplechoice
questions.Intheposttest,Stellascored8.5.Shedidnotleaveanyquestionblankandanswered
allthemultiplechoicequestionscorrectly,whichsuggestsshenotonlyguessedwhatsheneeded
tolistenforbeforelisteningbutalsopaidselectiveattentiontothekeyinformationwhile
listening.However,insectiononeStellafailedtofillinthecorrectprepositionanddatesuffix,
whichsuggestssheisstillnotcompetentincapturingdetailedinformation.Therefore,inthe
postlisteningchecklist,shereflectedthatnexttimeshewouldconcentrateonkeywordsinorder
toimproveherperformance.

Chieh
Inthepretest,Chiehscored7.5outof9.0whichwasthehighestscoreamongtheseven
students.Shelefttwoquestionsblankandmadefourmistakeswhichmostlyoccurredinthelast
sectionalthoughsheattemptedtofillinwiththeincorrectinformationsheheard.Intheposttest,
Chiehachieved8.5.Shedidnotleaveanyquestionsblankwhichsuggestsshefocusedher
attentiononwhatsheneededtolistenforandconcentratedonthetaskduringthetest.However,
asshereportedafterthetest,whileansweringquestion39shefocusedtoomuchofherattention
onaspecificpieceofbackgroundinformationandmissedthekeywordofthisquestionwhich

48

wasmentionedinthefollowingsentence.Inthepostlisteningchecklist,shereflectedthatnext
timeshewouldguessorskiptheunknownwordsinordertounderstandthepassagebetter.

Meshle
Meshlescored6.0outof9.0inthepretest.Shemade13mistakesandleftfourquestionsblank
inallfoursections.Intheposttest,Meshlescored6.5.Asappendix12shows,nosignificant
improvementcanbeseeninanysections.Althoughsheleftnoquestionblankwhichsuggests
shefocusedherattentiononthemissinginformationduringthetest,Meshleistheonlystudent
whodidnotusethepreorpostlisteningcheckliststoguideherprelisteningpreparationor
selfevaluationafterlistening.Thissuggestshermetastrategicawarenesshasnotbeenfully
developed.Shedidnotusemetacognitivestrategiestofacilitateherlisteningpractice.

Lorena
Lorenascored7.0outof9.0inthepretest.Sheleftonequestionblankandmadeninemistakes,
mostofwhichoccurredintheformfillingandnotecompletionsections.AlthoughLorena
achievedthesamescoreintheposttest,sheoutperformedtheotherstudentsandonlymadeone
mistakeinthefirsttwosections.Thissuggestsshepredictedwhattypesofinformationshe
neededtolistenforbeforelistening.However,verydifferentfromheroutstandingperformance
inthefirsttwosections,shemadeeightmistakesinthelasttwosections,moremistakes
thaninherpretest.Thissuggestsshedidnotpayselectiveattentiontothekeyinformation
duringthetest.AfterLorenawasinformedofhertestscore,sheexplainedthatoneofthereasons
forthediscrepancywasthatshedidtheposttest30minutesbeforethepostcourseinterview

49

whichlargelyaffectedhermood.SherevealedMyphonekeptremindingmeoftheupcoming
interview.Andactually,IfeltimpatientwhenIsawsomanyquestions.Idontlikemultiple
choiceswithtoomanywords.Herpreandpostlisteningchecklistsalsoindicatedthatshedid
notconcentrateonthetasktobeaccomplishednordidshefocusherattentionontheinformation
neededtoaccomplishthetask.Inordertoimproveherperformance,shereflectedthatnexttime
shewouldchooseapropertimeandplaceforpracticeandpaymoreattentiontothecontext
whenshelistens.

4.1.2Studentsperceptionsofthecourseeffectiveness
AllofthestudentsparticipatedintheonlineinterviewsonQQandsharedtheirviewsonthe
courseeffectivenessandonlineinteraction.Overall,studentsgavepositivecommentsonthe
courseeffectivenessandoneofthestudentsreportedthatthiscoursesparkedaninterestin
studyingabroadbecauseshefeltmoreconfidentinherEnglishlisteningability.
Becausetherewerelisteningexercisesforustodoeveryday,Ithinktheytrainedmy
Englishalot,especiallyforpeoplewhoprocrastinatelikemyself.DailyEnglishpractice
isquitehelpfulformylisteningability.(Lisa)
[OriginallyinChinese,extractofapostcourseinterviewwithLisa(June19,2015)]

IhavereallylearntalotfromthecourseandIhaveneverconsideredstudyingabroad
before.ItwasafterItookthiscoursethatIstartedconsideringaboutthis.(Stella)
[OriginallyinChinese,extractofapostcourseinterviewwithStella(June17,2015)]

LisaandVickyaretwoofthemostimprovedstudentsamongthesixstudents.Theirtestscores
bothincreasedtwopointsintheposttest.Duringtheinterview,theyalsoelaboratedhowthe
instructiononlisteningstrategiesfacilitatedtheirlisteningcomprehension.
Actuallyit(thecourse)wasveryhelpful.Iwasdoingthetestpaper,andImadesome
mistakes.AndnowIthinkHowcouldIwriteinthiswayatthattime?Icanhearmore
informationnowthanIusedto.
[OriginallyinChinese,extractofapostcourseinterviewwithLisa(June19,2015)]
50


EverytimeIdidtheexercises...Ithinkitisbettertodotheexercisesafterwatchingthe
coursevideos...Becauseeachtimeyouseparatedthelisteningexercisesfromthestrategy
instructions,sothelevelofdifficultydropped.Iftheyweremixedtogether,itwouldhave
beenquitedifficulttohandle.
[OriginallyinChinese,extractofapostcourseinterviewwithVicky(June18,2015)]

4.2FindingsforResearchQuestionTwo
Howdidtheonlinelearningcommunityenhancestudentsonlinelearningexperience?

Inordertoanswerthisresearchquestion,theresultsbelowlookatthedevelopmentofeach
studentssenseofcommunityandhowtheonlinecommunitybenefitedtheironlinelearning
experience,especiallyforthestudentswhoimprovedthemostinthiscourse.Attheendofthe
section,studentsperceptionsoftheonlineinteractionwerealsopresentedtotriangulatethedata.

4.2.1Theobservationresultsofonlineclassroominteraction
Theoverallonlineinteractionlevelincreasedthroughoutthecourse(SeeFigure4.2.1).Inthe
firstweek,theinteractionlevelwasrelativelylowanditdroppedslightlyinthesecondweek.
Thisisbecauseatthestartofthecourse,thestudentsmainlyinteractedwiththeteacherwhen
assessmentandfeedbackwereneeded.Andinthesecondweekaftertheywereprovidedwiththe
preandpostlisteningchecklists,theybecamemoreindependentandmanagedtoassesstheir
ownlisteningpracticeswithfeedbackfromtheteacheroccasionally.However,theinteraction
sharplyincreasedduringthelasttwoweeks.Studentswereaskedtoworktogetherwiththeir
classmatesinpairsandagroupofthreeforcollaborativelearning.

51


Figure4.2.1Numberofmessagessentongroupchat

Inthisclass,Stella,Vicky,LisaandLorenabecameprogressivelymoreactiveasthecourse
progressed.However,Meshle,KarenandChiehonlyspokeupinthegroupwhentheother
studentsrespondedactivelytodiscussiontopics.Asthecourseapproachedtheend,Meshle,
ChiehandKarenrarelymadeanycontributiontothediscussion,whereasStella,Vicky,Lisaand
Lorenacontributedthemostinonlinegroupdiscussionsthroughoutthecourse.Thedetailsof
howthesestudentsdevelopeddifferentlevelsofsenseofcommunitywerepresentedinthe
followingsection.

4.2.1.1Twocomponentsofsenseofcommunity
Senseofcommunityconsistsoftwomaincomponentswhicharefeelingsofconnectednessand
learning.Rovai(2002a)definedconnectednessasthefeelingsofthecommunityofstudents
regardingtheirconnectedness,cohesion,spirit,trust,andinterdependenceAmongthese
52

elements,trustisconsideredthemostimportantelementbecausecommunitymembersaremore
likelytorespondtoeachothersupportivelyiftrustisestablishedamongthem.Learninginthe
contextofsenseofcommunityisdefinedasthefeelingsofcommunitymembersregarding
interactionwitheachotherastheypursuetheconstructionofunderstandingandthedegreeto
whichmemberssharevaluesandbeliefsconcerningtheextenttowhichtheireducationalgoals
andexpectationsarebeingsatisfied.Aclassroomcommunityflourisheswhenknowledgeare
constructedandlearningneedsaremet.Therefore,studentsfeelstrongsenseofcommunity
whentheyfeelconnectedtothecommunitymembersandtheirlearninggoalshavebeen
achievedthroughsocialinteraction.Thefollowingextractsofteacherstudentinteractionand
studentstudentinteractionshowstudentsfeelingsincludingtheirtrustinthecommunity
members.AlsoIwillpresenthowstudentsobtainedacademicsupportfromtheonline
communityduringtheonlinelearningprocess.

4.2.2.1Evidenceofsenseofcommunity
Trustintheteacher
Moststudentshadmorecontactwiththeteacherthanwiththeothercommunitymembersatthe
beginningofthecourse.Theymainlyaskedforfeedbackontheirlisteningpracticeandinmost
casestheyreceivedimmediaterepliesfromme.Gradually,thestudentsfoundtheteacherreliable
andtrustworthy,sosometimestheyevensharedtheirpersonalinformationwithmewhileasking
forstudytips.
Stella:IdecidedtogotoAustraliaafterIgraduatebecausemyboyfriendisthere.
Theuniversitiesrequire7.0and8.0foreachofthefourcomponents,butIstopped
practicingEnglishafterhighschool.Ineedtomakeallroundimprovementinmy
Englishability,soIwanttolearnalittlebitofsomethingeveryday.
53

[OriginallyinChinese,extractofaprivatedialoguebetweenStellaandtheteacher(June
12,2015)]

ThisisaprivatemessagesentbyStellainthelastweekofthecourse.Inthisextract,Stella
sharedherstudyplanandpersonalrelationshipwiththeinstructor,butsheusedthisshushing
emoticon

withinhermessage,indicatingthatshedidnotwanttosharethisinformationwith

theotherclassmates.Ontheonehand,itrevealsthatthisstudenttruststheteacherassheis
willingtosharepersonalinformationwiththeteacher,butshewasstilluncertainabouther
classmates.

Trustintheclassmates
Comparedwithstudentstrustintheteacher,studentsdidnotshowmuchevidenceoftrustin
theirclassmatesespeciallyatthebeginningofthecourse.Theystronglyreliedontheteacher
insteadofseekingsupportamongtheirpeers.Vickyoftensenttheinstructorprivatemessages
whenshefeltuncertainabouttherequirementsofthecourseactivities.Shecouldhave
exchangedherideaswithherclassmateswhichcouldhavealsobenefitedothercommunity
membersinthegroup.However,insteadofspeakingopenlyinthegroup,shefeltmore
comfortablemessagingtheinstructorprivatelywhichshowsheruncertaintyabouther
classmates.Shewasnotsurewhetherotherclassmateswouldsupportherifsheaskedforhelp.
Asthelessonprogress,afewactivestudentsattemptedtoaskquestionsopenlyinthegroupas
theextractsinthefollowingsectionpresent.

Thestudentsinthisonlinelearningcommunitypursuedcommonlearninggoalswhichare
improvingtheirEnglishlisteningabilitiesandpreparingfortheIELTStest.Inordertocreatean
54

onlinelearningcommunityinwhichstudentscangetacademicsupports,theteacherencouraged
studentstoaskquestionsandhelpeachother.Duringthecourse,theyusuallyreceivedtimely
feedbackfromtheteacherandcollaboratedwitheachotherwhichstrengthenedtheirsenseof
communityandeventuallygreatlyenrichedtheironlinelearningexperience.

Pursuitofcommonlearninggoals
Studentscamefromthesameuniversityandsharedsimilareducationalbackgrounds.Allthe
studentsareinterestedinimprovingtheirlisteningabilityandmostofthemjoinedthecoursein
ordertopreparefortheIELTStest.
Lorena:(audiomessage)Hieveryone,ImLorena!Hmm,Imworkingonmybachelor
degreeinshanghainormaluniversityto...andImgoingtograduate...next...month.
Hmm,I...eh...participatedinthiscoursebecause...hmmIthink...itisinterestingand...I
wanttoimprovemyoral...English.
Karen:Hello,everyone.MynameisKaren.IamaseniorfromEastChinaUniversityof
ScienceandTechnology,majoringinsociology.AndIwillcontinuemystudyinTaiwan
nextyear.ThepurposeoftakingthisclassistoimprovemyEnglishlisteningskills.Iam
gladtobeyourclassmate,andwishwewillhaveaperiodofunforgettabletime.Thanks.
Stella:Hello,everyone,mynameisStella.I'mfromShanghaiNormalUniversity,andI
majorinAppliedPsychology.IwanttoimprovemyEnglishlisteningskillandthat'swhy
Itakepartinthisproject.Finally,It'verynicetomeetyouguys,hopewewillhavea
wonderfultimetogether.
Chieh:Hello,everyone.MynameisChieh.IamfromShanghaiNormalUniversity,
majoringinAppliedPsychology.ThereasonwhyItakethisclassisthatIwantto
improvemyEnglishlisteningskills.Iamgladtomeetallofyouguysandwishwecould
makeprogresstogether.Thankyou.
Vicky:Hello,everyone,mynameisvicky.IcomefromShanghaiNormalUniversity,I
majoredinAppliedChemistry.Iwanttodoanexchangestudenttostudyabroad,soI
takepartinthiscoursetolearnEnglish.I'mgladtostudywithyou,andhopingwewill
haveagoodtime.
Lisa:Hello,everyone!Maybeyouareindeepsleep,pleaseallowmetointroducemyself.
IamstudyinginShanghaiNormalUniversity,majoringinChemicalEngineeringand
Technics.IhopethatIcanstudyabroadsomeday,alsoappreciatethatIhavethischance
tostudywithyou.
Meshle:ItseemslikeIamthelastonetobehere,nicetoseeallguys,IamMeshle,a
mastercandidateofSHNU,majoringinWorldHistory.ForpreparingtheIELTStest,I
amhere.Hopewecouldenjoyhere!
55

Meshle:Duetothelastyearofmygraduatetime,alittlebitbusynowadays.
[OriginallyinEnglish,extractofagroupchatinLesson1(May18,2015)]

Intheaboveextract,althoughstudentssharedthesamelearninggoalsandsimilareducational
backgroundswhichareessentialforanonlinecommunitytoflourish,theydidnotengagein
twowaycommunicationsactively.Somestudentsdidnotintroducethemselvesorrespondto
otherstudentsselfintroductionuntiltheteacherurgedthemto,whichsuggeststhatthestudents
didnothaveastrongdesiretocommunicatewitheachother.

Receivingtimelyfeedback
Inthefirsttwoweeks,studentsoftenaskedtheteacherforassessmentandhelpafterthey
finishedtheirlisteningexercises.Theyreceiveddetailedandpersonalisedfeedbackontheir
performance.Sometimeswhenwecouldntreplyimmediately,youwerestillveryactiveand
understoodourdifficulties.Andalso,somemistakes,yougaveusalotofencouragementas
Lisareportedintheinterview.IusuallyrepliedassoonasIreceivedtheirmessagesevenwhenit
wasfairlylateatnightandIdidnotsimplysentthemthecorrectanswers.Instead,Imarkedtheir
answersheetsfirstandprovidedthemwithcluesorlisteningstrategiestheycoulduseforthe
wronganswers,sotheyhadanopportunitytorethinkthequestionsbeforetheysawthecorrect
answers.
21:18Vicky:

56


21:18Vicky:Imsosorry.Itsverylatenow
21:19Vicky:Icouldntdownloadtheaudiofile.
21:19Teacher:Itsokitsok
21:19Teacher:Illcheckforyounow
21:19Vicky:Ok,thankyou
21:25Teacher:

21:26Teacher:Vicky,youshouldnthaveansweredquestion1and7incorrectly.You
shouldmakeyourselfhighlyconcentrateandrepeatwhatyouhearinyourmindwhen
youlistentopeoplesnames.Also,youcanguessthespellingofpianoaccordingtoits
57

syllables.Itspiano,notpaino.Youcanlistentotheotherquestionsagaincarefully.
Numbertwoshouldbeaplacetostay.Numberthreeistherightanswerbutsomethingis
missing.Andnumbereightisanitem.
21:52Vicky:Ok.Illlistenagain.
[OriginallyinChinese,extractofaprivatedialoguebetweenVickyandtheteacher(May
20,2015)]

Inthisextract,theteacherrepliedVickyimmediatelyandmarkedheranswersheetalthoughit
wasverylateatnight.Theteacherpointedoutthespellingmistakesfirstandsuggestedtwo
strategiesforthesequestions.BecauseVickydidnotfilloutafewblankscorrectly,theteacher
promptedherwiththetypesofwordsforthesequestionsandsuggestedthatsheshouldpay
attentiontotheseinformation.Vickyansweredmostofthequestionscorrectlythesecondtime
aftershewasprovidedwiththescaffoldings.

However,oneproblemoccurredafterafewdaysofinteraction.Becausethestudentswereused
totimelyfeedback,theyalwaysexpectedtheteachertoprovideimmediatefeedbackwhichwas
unrealistic.Timedelaysstillexistedalthoughthesynchronouscommunicationtoolswereused
foronlineinteraction.Andconsequently,theyfeltimpatientandfrustratedwhiletheywere
waitingfortheimmediatefeedbackwhichcouldhaveresultedinalackoftrust.

Helpingeachother
Whensomestudentsranintotechnicalandacademicproblems,theyreceivedimmediatesupport
fromtheirpeers.Thissuggeststhatstudentsdidnotalwaysexpecttheteachertosolvethe
problemstheyencounteredduringthecourse.Thestudentsofferedhelptotheotherstudentsand
theythemselvescouldalsorelyontheotherswhentheyneedsupport.
Vicky:Icantplaythevideos
58

Stella:Icanplaythesecondvideo.Maybewecanwatchthesecondonefirst.
Vicky:Ok
[OriginallyinChinese,extractofagroupchatinLesson3(May26,2015)]

However,theseconversationswerenotexpandedsincethestudentsdidnotinteractwitheach
otheractively.
Lisa:Iwanttoaskaquestion.WhenwilleveryoneinthegrouptesttheIELTStest?
Lisa:Howdoyouprepareforit?IamveryexcitedaboutthetestbutIhavebasicallyno
ideaaboutit,forexampledetailedrevisionplanandtextbooksorhowIshouldapplyfor
thetest.Idontknowthedetailofthetestprocedure.Hopewecandoabitmore
informationexchange

Teacher:comeandshareyourexperiencewithus,everyone!
Karen:IthinkyoucanregisteronIELTSofficialwebsitefirst.Itwontchargeyouuntil
youmakeareservation.Youcandothesefirstandtherearealsosomeguidanceonthe
websitethatyoucanread.Intermsoftheprocedure,youshoulddownloadandprintout
thetestcardoneweekbeforethetest.Youneedtobringthedocumentyouusedfor
registration,forexampleIDcardorpassportandalsoyourtestcardandatwoinch
photo.Donotbringyourwatchintothetestvenue...
Lisa:Okok,thankyou
[OriginallyinChinese,extractofagroupchatinLesson6(June4,2015)]

Intheextractabove,noonerespondedtoLisasinquiry.ButLisaelaboratedherquestionsand
askedagain,hopingthatshecouldgetsomerepliesfromtheotherstudents.However,noone
replieduntiltheteacherurgedtheotherstudentsto.Thissuggeststhattheteacherwasstill
playingtheleadingroleandtakingcontrolofthedirectionofthetopics.Thestudentsheavily
reliedonteacherspresenceandcouldnotcontinuethediscussionwithoutteachersfacilitation.
AlthoughKarenfinallyrepliedandansweredoneofLisasquestionsindetailed,shewasthe
onlystudentwhogavearesponseanddidnotdeveloptheconversationfurther.AndfinallyLisa
lostherinterestincontinuingtheconversationprobablybecauseshefeltitwasdifficulttoget
helpwhenshehasquestions.

59

Engagingintwowaycommunicationwiththeteacherandtheclassmates
Itwasduringthefourthweekthatboththestudentsandtheteacherstartedtoengageinactive
twowaycommunication.AsitwasshowninthefirstIRF(initiationresponsefeedback),itwas
stilltheteacherwhopromptedVickytoelaborateherquestionandprovidedVickywith
feedback.AlthoughLorenacontributedhernewidea,theconversationwasnotgreatlyextended
andVickydidnotdirectlyrespondtoLorenasopinion.Studentsstillcouldnotcommunicate
witheachotheractivelywithouttheteacherasafacilitator.
Vicky:WhenshouldIputhyphenbetweenwords?
Teacher:Forexample?
Vicky:Forexamplethewordgoodqualityintodaysexercise.
Teacher:Whentwonounsfunctionasanadjective.Forexamplefourwheelcar.
Fourwheelisanadjective
Lorena:Usehyphenwhenitsoverthewordlimit??
Teacher:Goodpoint!
Vicky:Okay,Iwillbemorecarefulwiththiskindofwordsinthefuture.
[OriginallyinChinese,extractofagroupchatinLesson6(June6,2015)]

However,inthesecondextract,theteacherinitiatedthequestionandStellapromptedVickyall
thewaythroughthediscussionuntilshefullyunderstoodthequestion.Finallythetopicfinished
withtheteachersevaluation.Inthesecondpartofthediscussion,Lisarushedthroughand
jumpedtoquestionfive.Theteachertriedtoslowherdownandinvitedhertoexplainquestion
fourtoVickywhofailedtoanswerthisquestion.Lisahighlightedthekeysentenceand
explainedtherelationbetweenthethreeoptionsforVickyinsteadofsimplygivingoutthe
correctoption.Inthefollowingextract,theIRFpatternwassignificantlyextendedandthe
teacherfunctionedasacoordinator.Thestudentsbecamethemainparticipantsofthis
conversation.
Teacher:Okcanyoubothtellmethereasonforquestion2?
Stella:Itsaidentertainment...initially
60

Vicky:Yeah!Iheardinitiallyentertainment.Butitsaiditwasatypeofvirus,thenit
startedtalkingaboutwarcore.
Stella:Didyouhearwhatvirusitis?
Vicky:Acomputervirus.Ialsoheard1949.inthepaper...orsomething
Stella:Yes,butthatwas50yearsago.Whathappenedafterthat?
Vicky:AaahIsee.IshouldhavechosenB.
Teacher:Verygood.

Lisa:Howaboutquestion5?
Teacher:Waitaminute.Youdonthavethesameanswerforquestion4.Lisa,areyou
sureyouarecorrect?Tellusthereason.
Lisa:Number4?
Vicky:Yes.Number4.ItmentionedoptionA.WhycantIchooseA?
Lisa:ChooseB.Itsaidthesehackersgoingtoextreme.
Lisa:BecauseoptionAandCaretheconsequences.Theseextremehackersare
unbelievable
Vicky:Ok,Ihearditnow.
[OriginallyinChineseandEnglish,extractofagroupchatinLesson8(June13,2015)]

Feelingsatisfiedwiththecourse
Studentsnotonlyexpressedtheirsenseofsatisfactionbutalsotheirappreciationoftheproject
andeffortstheteachermadeduringthecourse.
Stella:
Thankssomuchforcheckingmyworksheet.
Teacher:Ireallyenjoyteachingyouguys!
Stella:I'velearntagreatdealofknowledge~Sodelighted
Stella:

Teacher:Really!Thisisveryinspiring!Wemustbothmakepersistentefforts.
Stella:Ok~
[OriginallyinChinese,extractofaprivatedialoguebetweenStellaandtheteacher(May
20,2015)]

Thisextractabovewastakenfromateacherstudentconversationaftertheteacherassessedthe
studentslisteningpracticeandprovidedherwithsuggestionsforimprovement.Thestudent
expressedhergratitudetotheteacherforgivingherscaffoldingandshowedherperceptionofthe
61

courseeffectiveness.Thedancingrabbitemoticoninthisextractsuggestsshewassatisfiedwith
thelearningoutcomeswhichalsoinspiredtheteachertocontinueteaching.Thecommunity
membersreceivedemotionalsupportandencouragementfromeachotherwhichisanindicator
ofstrongonlinecommunity.

4.2.2Studentsperceptionsoftheonlineinteraction
4.2.2.1Studentsperceptionsoftheteacherstudentinteraction
Moststudentsweresatisfiedwiththetimelyteacherfeedback,butoneofthestudents,Meshle,
stillpointedoutafewotherfactorsthatinfluencedtheteacherstudentinteraction.
Actuallyinteractionwasdelayedbutitisunderstandable.Youhaveyourownbusiness
anditwasimpossibleforyoutogivetimelyfeedbackanytimeduringthedayalthough
youwerealwaysonlineonWechat.(Meshle)
[OriginallyinChinese,extractofapostcourseinterviewwithMeshle(June17,2015)]

4.2.2.2Studentsperceptionsofthestudentstudentinteraction
Manystudentsreportedthatstudentstudentinteractionwasinsufficientcomparedtothe
teacherstudentinteraction.
Wewatchedvideosanddidlisteningpracticeindividually(Lorena)
[OriginallyinChinese,extractofapostcourseinterviewwithLorena(June19,2015)]

NoonetalkedtomefirstandIamquiteshy.(Chieh)
[OriginallyinChinese,extractofapostcourseinterviewwithChieh(June18,2015)]

Stella,whowasconsideredtobeoneofthemostactivestudents,reportedthatshewouldnot
communicatewiththeothersiftheactivitywasnotcompulsory
BecauseIhadmyroommateChiehtocomparemyanswerswith,,soIwouldnt
interacttoomuchwiththeothers(Stella)
[OriginallyinChinese,extractofapostcourseinterviewwithStella(June17,2015)]
62


However,therewerestillsomestudentswhoexpressedastrongdesiretocommunicatewiththe
otherstudentsandtriedtomaketheconnectionthemselves.LisaandherroommateVicky
showedtheireagernesstointeractwiththeothersduringtheinterview.
IreallywantedtospeaktothembecauseIstilldontknowIELTSverywell.Weshould
sharetheresourceswitheachother.(Lisa)
[OriginallyinChinese,extractofapostcourseinterviewwithLisa(June19,2015)]

IoriginallyinteractedwithLisa.Wedownloadedandfinishedtheexercisestogether.And
thenLisastartedbeingbusy,soIadded..um..Stella.Shedidreallywell,soIcompared
myanswerswithher.(Vicky)
[OriginallyinChinese,extractofapostcourseinterviewwithVicky(June18,2015)]

Itisalsoveryinterestingtonotethatsomeinactivestudentsstillfeltthespiritofcommunity
despitetheirlowlevelofinteractionwiththeothers.
Ifeltthatotherstudentswerealsomakingprogress,soIfeltmoreorlessconnectedtothe
others.(Chieh)
[OriginallyinChinese,extractofapostcourseinterviewwithChieh(June18,2015)]

ItrustedothersinthiscoursebecauseweareallstudentstakingtheIELTStesttostudy
abroad(Meshle)
[OriginallyinChinese,extractofapostcourseinterviewwithMeshle(June17,2015)]

4.3Summaryofthefindings
Overall,mostofthestudentsachievedhighertestscoresintheposttestaftertakingtheonline
listeningcourse.Thethreetypesoflisteningstrategies,cognitive,metacognitiveand
socioaffectivestrategiesgreatlyfacilitatedstudentslisteningperformance.Andtheuseof
listeningperformancechecklistsdevelopedstudentsunderstandingofstrategyuse.Duringthe
fourweekcourse,theonlineclassroomcommunityenhancedstudentsonlinelearning
experience.Atthebeginningofthecourse,althoughstudentssharedcommonlearninggoalsand
63

similareducationalbackground,studentsdidnotinteractwitheachotheractivelyorseemto
showanyevidenceoftrustingeachother.Howevertrustbetweenthestudentsandtheteacher
wasmoreeasilyestablished.Asthecourseprogressed,studentswhowerecloselyconnected
withtheteacherattemptedtospeakopenlyandcollaboratewiththeirpeers.Theirsenseof
communitybecameevenstrongerandthisencouragedthemtofinishthecourse.However,afew
studentswhodidnotmakefrequentcontactwiththeteacheratthebeginningofthecourse
becamemoredisconnectedasthecourseprogressedandhardlymadeanycontributionduringthe
groupdiscussions.

Tosumup,itseemsclearthereisacorrelationbetweensenseofcommunityandacademic
achievement.Itisimportanttothinkofstrategieswhichencourageinactivestudentstofully
participatedintheonlinelearning.Thiswillbefurtherdiscussedinthenextchapter.

64


CHAPTER5:DISCUSSIONANDIMPLICATIONS

Inthisfinalchapter,Ifirstprovideanoverviewofthefindingsanddiscussthefindingsinthe
sequenceoftheresearchquestions.Thelimitationsofthestudywerederivedand
recommendationsforfurtherresearchwerealsogiven.Attheendofthechapter,theimplications
ofthestudywerealsoprovidedforpedagogicalpracticeandfutureresearch.

5.1Researchquestionone

HowdoestheonlineIELTSlisteningcoursefacilitatestudentsL2listeningperformance?

Thecomparisonofstudentslisteningperformanceinthepreandposttestsuggeststhey
achievedprogressintheirlisteningabilitiesaftertakingthefourweeklisteningcourse.As
Vandergrift(1997)theorisedintheliterature,metacognitiveandcognitivestrategiesplay
significantroleoflisteningcomprehensionstrategiesinenhancingstudentslanguagelearning
process.Asthedatapresentedinthefindingchapter,LisaandVickywhowereconsideredas
lesssuccessfullistenersmadethemostsignificantimprovementamongthesixstudentsinthe
posttest,whichsuggeststheinstructionoflisteningstrategiesgreatlyfacilitatedtheirlistening
practice.However,althoughLisadevelopedselectiveattentionskill,thebasicspellingmistakes
Lisamadeinthefirstsectionofthetestimplythatshedidnotmonitorherlistening
comprehensionduringthetask.Vandergrift(1997)suggeststhatstudentsshouldcheck,verifyor
correcttheirlisteningperformanceinthecourseofalisteningtask.Theseobviousmistakes

65

suggestthatLisadidnotcheckherlisteningcomprehensionnordidsheverifyherperformance
afterlistening.Vickyalsoachievedhigherscoreintheposttest,butshedidnotevaluateher
listeningperformancenordidshereflectontheimprovement.Thissuggestsstudentswithlower
listeningabilityrelymoreoncognitivestrategies.Althoughtheirmetacognitiveawarenesscan
bequicklydevelopedinashortperiodoftime,theyacquirecognitivestrategiesfirstbeforethey
fullydeveloptheirmetastrategicawareness.

ChiehandStellaweretwoofthestudentswhoperformedbetterandconsideredasadvanced
listenersamongthesevenstudents.ThisisconsistentwithVandergrifts(1997)findingof
studentsstrategyuse.Hesuggeststhatsuccessfullistenersusemetacognitivestrategiesmore
frequentlythanlesssuccessfullisteners.Comparedwiththeotherstudents,thesetwostudents
madefewermistakesandleftfewerblankanswerswhichsuggeststheymighthavealready
acquiredsomelisteningstrategiesfromthepreviousEnglishlearningexperience.Theposttest
scoresandstudentslisteningperformancealsoshowhowmetacognitivestrategiesfacilitated
theirlisteningandhowwelltheyhavedevelopedtheirmetastrategicawarenessthroughoutthe
course.ChiehandStellawhowereconsideredastheadvancedlistenersinthepretestalso
achievedthehighestscoreintheposttest.Accordingtothelisteningcheckliststheysubmitted,
ChiehandStellacarefullycheckedeachitemontheprelisteningchecklistbeforelistening.
Additionally,theyweretheonlytwostudentswhoclearlyidentifiedtheproblemsthey
encounteredduringthetestbyusingthepostlisteningchecklistandreflectedonwhattheycould
improveinthefuture.Thissuggeststhatthesetwostudentsfullyunderstoodtheimportanceof

66

metacognitivestrategies.Moreimportantly,studentswithhigherlisteningabilitycandevelop
metastrategicawarenessfasterthantheircounterpartswithlowerlisteningability.

Theinstructionsinlisteningstrategiesgreatlyaffectedlisteningperformanceofallthestudents.
Beforetheytookthelisteningcourse,thestudentshadnotobtainedexplicitknowledgeof
listeningstrategies,buttheyreliedontheirpreviousknowledgeandexperiencetofinishthetest.
Lowerlevelstudentsputmorefocusonthedetailswhichmeanscognitivestrategiessuchas
inferencingandelaborationwereused.Whereasadvancedstudentspaidmoreattentiontothe
wholelisteningprocess.Theynotonlyplannedandpredictedwhattheyweregoingtohearbut
alsomonitoredtheirperformanceduringthetask.ThisfindingisconsistentwithVandergrift's
(1997)argument.Afterthestudentshavetakenthefourweekcourse,mostofthemacquired
metacognitivestrategiesanddevelopedtheirmetastrategicawareness.Althoughlowerlevel
studentsonlyreliedoncognitivestrategiesinthepretest,theirmetastrategicawareness
developedevenfasterthantheiradvancedcounterparts,importantlytheymademoreuseof
socioaffectivestrategiesandreceivedmoreacademicandemotionalsupportfromtheother
communitymembers.Theonlineclassroomcommunityenhancedtheirlearning.Howthiswas
achievedisdiscussedinthesecondresearchquestion.

5.2Researchquestiontwo
Howdoestheonlinelearningcommunityenhancestudents'learningexperience?

67

Theresultofclassroomobservationsuggeststhatsenseofcommunityhasagreatimpacton
learning.Theincreasinglevelofsenseofcommunitynotonlyencouragedstudentstocontinue
theironlinelearningbutalsoassistedtheconstructionofknowledgebecausetheinteraction
amongthestudentsprovideslearnerswithawiderangeoflearningresources.Whereasstudents
withaweakersenseofcommunityfeelisolatedandfinallydropoutduetotheirunsatisfactory
learningoutcomes.

Studentsexperienceddifferentlevelsofsenseofcommunitythroughoutthecourse.Stella,Vicky
andLisawerethemostactivestudentswhodevelopedcloserelationshipswithboththeteacher
andsomeoftheclassmates.Attheearlystageofthecourse,thesethreestudentsalwaysreceived
timelyfeedbackontheirlisteningperformancewhichgreatlyenhancedtheirlisteningacquisition
andsatisfiedtheirlearningneeds.Theteacheralsoprovidedthemwithusefulstudyadviceeven
ifthequestiontheyaskedwerenotgreatlyrelatedtothecourse.Apartfromtheinfluencefrom
theteacher,otherstudentsachievementalsoencouragedthemtocarryontheirlearning.
Althoughthestudentsdidnotinteractveryactivelywiththeothercommunitymembers,trust
betweentheteacherandthestudentshasbeenestablishedandthefeelingsofcohesionand
satisfactiongraduallydevelopedinthisprocess.Asthecourseprogressed,Vicky,LisaandStella
tooktheopportunitiestheteachercreatedforthemandcollaboratedwitheachothertobenefit
theirlearningexperience.Theonlinecommunicationgraduallyswitchedfromtraditional
teacherledIRFtoextendedstudentcentredIRF.Theypromptedandscaffoldedeachother
duringthegroupdiscussionwhichprovidedthemwithopportunitiestolearnfrompeersandalso
learnthroughteachingpeers.Thespiritofcommunitydevelopedduringtheinteractionwitheach

68

otheramongthesethreestudents.Althoughtheyhadheavyschoolcommitmentduringthelast
weekofthecourse,theystillmanagedtoworktogetherandfinishthecoursetasks.And
eventually,thesethreestudentsbecamethemostimprovedstudentsofall.

Comparedtotheactivestudents,Lorena,Meshle,ChiehandKarenhadmuchlessinteraction
withtheirclassmatesduringthelearningprocess.Theyonlycommunicatedwiththeteacherfor
assessmentandfeedbackaftertheyfinishedtheroutinetasks.Thissuggeststhatthedevelopment
ofsenseofcommunityneedsnotonlyteacherstudentinteractionbutalsosufficient
studentstudentinteraction.Ifthereisnotenoughinteractionamonggroupmembers,theyfeel
disconnectedtoeachother(Rovai,2002b).Andthestudentsfeltsenseofdisconnectedness,they
wereunwillingtoaskquestionsopenlyandlosttheopportunitiestolearnfromeachother.Inthis
study,althoughthesethreestudentsdidnotdropoutofthecourse,theydidnotfollowthecourse
scheduleandfinishthecoursetasksontimenordidtheymakegreatimprovementintheirL2
listeningabilities.

Karendroppedoutofthecoursebecausesheneitherhadfrequentcommunicationwiththe
teachernordidsheinteractfrequentlywiththeotherstudents.ItisinterestingtonotethatKaren
hadaclosepersonalrelationshipwiththeteacherbeforethecoursehadevenstarted,butthisstill
didnotfosterthedevelopmentofhersenseofcommunity.Thissuggeststhatalthoughtrustisthe
consideredthekeyelementforthedevelopmentofrelationship,trustaloneisnotenoughfora
senseofcommunitytoflourish.Itisalsoveryimportantforstudentstosharetheiracademic
achievementswitheachotherduringthelearningprocess.

69


Tosumup,conclusionscanbedrawnthatsenseofcommunityhasabigimpactonstudents
academicachievement.Acloserelationshipbetweenthecommunitymembersdonotnecessarily
enhancestudentssenseofcommunityinaneffectivelearningcontext.Neitherdoesaclose
relationshipnecessarilyhelpstudentachievetheirlearninggoals.Thedevelopmentofsenseof
communitylargelydependsonboththelevelofinteractionwiththecommunitymembersand
studentsacademicachievementthroughoutthecourse.Amongthesetwofactors,students
learningneedsaremoreimportantandshouldbeprioritized.Teachersshouldaskstudentsto
identifyandsharetheirownlearninggoalswiththeirpeersatthestartofthecourse.

5.3Limitationsofthestudy
Thereareseverallimitationsassociatedwithsamplingandthetreatmentinthisstudy.Firstly,the
samplesizeisnotlargeenoughwhichlimitedthegeneralizabilityofthefindings.Althoughthe
researchercarriedouttworoundsofrecruitment,onlysevenfemalestudentspassedthepretest
andparticipatedinthecourse.Amongthesevenparticipants,twopairswereroommateswho
joinedtheprojecttogetherandoneofthemwasmyfriendwhomIrecommendedmycourseto,
whichmightinfluencethevalidityofthedata.Soitwouldbeidealtoextendthesamplesizeto
recruitmorestudentswhodonotknoweachotherandalsoafewmalestudents.RovaiandBaker
(2005)foundfemalestudentsfeelmoreconnectedtootherstudents,whichsuggeststhey
developastrongersenseofcommunitythanmalestudents.Therefore,thegeneralizabilityof
studycouldbedrawnonbothgendersifafewmalestudentscouldbeincluded.

70

Secondly,thetreatmentwasinfluencedbysometechnicalissuessuchasthecoursevideo
productionanduploading.Thequalityofthecoursevideoswouldhavebeenbetterif
professionaltechnicalassistancewasprovidedforvideoeditingandrecording.Unforeseen
difficultyinuploadingthevideosalsooccurred.Thevideoswereblockedbythewebsite
administratorwithoutexplanation.Sincethewebsiteisoutsidetheresearcherscontrol,the
deliveryofthetreatmentwasdelayedonceortwiceduringthecourse,whichmightcause
frustrationamongthestudents.

Finally,duetothetightresearchschedule,thecoursewascarriedoutonashorttermbasiswhich
restrictedtheaccesstorichdata.Also,thestudywasonlyabletoseetheimmediateinfluenceof
thecourseonstudentslisteningperformance.Anditdidnotallowtheresearcherenoughtimeto
fullydevelopsenseofcommunityofeverystudenttoenhancetheirlearning.

5.4Implicationsofthestudy
Thisstudyprovidesaseriesofrecommendationswhichcanbeusedtoadvanceresearch.It
investigatestheeffectivenessoflisteningstrategiesonstudentslisteningperformance.Since
onlystudentslisteningperformanceinthepreandposttestwascompared,itisnotclearexactly
howstudentsdeveloptheiruseoflisteningstrategiesduringthelearningprocess.Infuture
studiespracticetestshouldbedesignedandarrangedtotracehowstudentsmakeprogressevery
week.Inordertostudystudentsthinkingprocessduringtheselisteningtasks,studentscouldbe
askedtothinkaloudtoreporthowtheyprocessinformationduringthetest.

71

ThestudyalsoprovidesresearchersaninsightintoonlineEnglisheducation.Thesignificanceof
senseofcommunityhasbeendiscussedformanyyears,butitisstillnotclearhowteacherscan
developstudentssenseofcommunity,especiallyinashortperiodoftimesinceonlinecourses
donotusuallyhavealongspan.Althoughthisstudyfoundthatonlineinteractionamong
communitymembersandlearningasagrouparetwoofthemostimportantindicatorsofstrong
onlinecommunity,researchersshouldlookintothedevelopmentofsenseofcommunityand
studyhowteacherscanhelpstudentsbuildsenseofcommunityinashortperiodoftimeinorder
toenrichtheironlinelearningexperience.

Apartfromtheresearchimplication,thisstudyalsoprovidespedagogicalimplicationfor
teachers.ForforeignlanguageteachersespeciallythosewhospecialiseinteachingL2listening,
thisstudyoutlinedthesignificanceoflisteningstrategies.Languageteachersshouldnotonly
teachstudentstoacquirecognitiveskillsbutalsometacognitiveskillsatthesametime.More
importantly,itisstudentsmetastrategicawarenessthatinfluencestheirlisteningabilities.

Teacherswhoareinterestedinonlineteachingcanalsogetsomeinsightsfromthisstudy,
especiallywhentheyhaveissuessuchashighdropoutrateandunsatisfactoryonlinelearning
outcomes.Asithasbeensuggestedabove,teachersshouldencouragestudentstoidentifytheir
learninggoalsatthebeginningofthecourse.Thesegoalsshouldincludelongtermgoalsthey
canachieveafterthecompletionofthecourseandweeklygoalstheycaneasilyreachasthe
courseprogresses.Thegoalsettingnotonlyhelpsstudentsmonitorandevaluatetheirown
learningprogressbutalsoheightentheirsenseofsatisfactionwhicheventuallydevelopstheir

72

senseofcommunity.Additionally,teachersshouldalsogivestudentstimelyfeedbackandadvice
whentheyneedacademicoremotionalsupportsothatstudentsfeelthattheteacheris
trustworthy.Butmoreimportantly,itisalsotheteacher's'responsibilitytoencourage
studentstudentinteractionespeciallywhenstudentsdonotknoweachother.Effectivemethods
forencouragingstudentstudentinteractioninonlinelearningplatformsrequirefurtherresearch.

5.5Concludingremarks
AsIstatedintheintroduction,thereisahighdemandforhighqualityIELTSlisteningcoursesin
China,butmostofthesecoursesarenoteffectivebecausetheymainlyfocusontesttakingskills.
ThisstudyfoundthatitisimportantforL2Englishteacherstoteachstudentsmetacognitive
listeningstrategiesanddeveloptheirmetastrategicawarenesstofacilitatetheirlistening
acquisition.Also,sincefacetofaceclassescanbecostlyandinflexible,learningIELTSonline
isbeingacceptedasagoodalternative.However,senseofisolationandunsatisfactorylearning
outcomesarethemainissuesofonlinelearning.Therefore,Idesignedanonlinelisteningcourse
whichfocusedondevelopingstudentsmetastrategicawarenessandstrategyuse.Studentswere
alsoprovidedwithlargeamountsofopportunitiesforinteractingwithallparticipantssothatthey
couldsupporteachotherintheonlinecommunity.

Thefindingsofthisstudysuggestthatlowerlevelstudentscanacquirelisteningstrategiesand
developmetastrategicawarenessinashortperiodoftime.Myresultsshowthatthehigherthe
levelsofsenseofcommunitywithinthelearningenvironmentthemoreeffectivelythestudents
learn.Therefore,itisimportantfortheteacherstodevelopstudentssenseofcommunityinorder

73

toensurestudentshighlearningoutcomes.Althoughthecurrentliteraturehasidentifiedmany
factorsthatinfluenceasenseofcommunity.Clearmethodsforfosteringasenseofcommunity
ononlineplatformshaveyettobeidentified.InthisstudyIusedcommunicationplatformsthat
studentsusedailyandarefamiliarwith,suchasWeChatandWeibo,thesemayhaveenableda
senseofcommunitytodevelopmoreeffectivelythanonplatformsspecificallydesignedtohost
onlinelearning.Thiscouldbeaninterestingtopicforfurtherresearch.

74

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APPENDICES

79

Appendix1:Prelisteningchecklist

Studentname:Date:
Performancechecklistforlistening
Beforelistening

Yes

No

Iunderstandthetask(whatIhavetodoafterIhavefinished
listening)

IknowwhatImustpayattentiontowhileIlisten

Ihaveaskedtheteacherforclarifications,ifnecessary

IhaveattemptedtorecallallthatIknowaboutthetopic

IhaveattemptedtorecallwhatIknowaboutthetypeoftextIwill
listentoandthetypeofinformationIwillprobablyhear

IhavemadepredictionsonwhatIamabouttohear

IamreadytopayattentionandconcentrateonwhatIamaboutto
hear

Ihaveencouragedmyself

80

Appendix2:Postlisteningchecklist
Performancechecklistforlistening
Afterlistening
Iconcentratedonthetasktobeaccomplished

Yes

No

Iattemptedtoverifymypredictions

Irevisedmypredictionsaccordingly

Ifocusedmyattentionontheinformationneededtoaccomplishthe
task

Iusedbackgroundnoises,toneofvoice,andothercluestohelpme
guessatthemeaningofwordsIdidnotunderstand

Iusedkeywords,cognates,andwordfamiliestounderstandthetext

Iusedmyknowledgeofthecontextandoftextstructureto
understandthetext

Ievaluatedthelogic/plausibilityofwhatIunderstood

Inordertoimprovemyperformance,nexttimeIwill

81

Appendix3:Preandposttestpaper

82


83


84


85


86

87


88

Appendix4:Samplestudentanswersheet(pretest)

89

Appendix5:Samplestudentanswersheet(posttest)

90

Appendix6:Samplelessontranscriptextract

June13th,2015Week4Lesson3
Time

Interlocutor

Content

19:56

Teacher

Haseveryonedonetheexerciseyet?

20:21

Stella

Done

20:21

Teacher

Howabouttheotherstudents?Shallwediscuss?

20:39

Vicky

Ok

20:43

Teacher

Stella,canyoushareyouranswerwithus?

20:43

Stella

ABCBA

20:43

Stella

MeandVickydisagreeonquestion2,4and5

20:44

Teacher

Vicky,whatdidyoufillin?

20:44

Vicky

AACAC

20:44

Vicky

20:47

Teacher

Okcanyoubothtellmethereasonforquestion2?

20:49

Stella

Itsaidentertainment...initially

20:50

Vicky

Yeah!Iheardinitiallyentertainment.Butitsaiditwasatypeof
virus,thenitstartedtalkingaboutwarcore.

20:50

Stella

Didyouhearwhatvirusitis?

20:50

Vicky

Acomputervirus.Ialsoheard1949.inthepaper...orsomething

20:51

Stella

Yes,butthatwas50yearsago.Whathappenedafterthat?

20:52

Vicky

AaahIsee.IshouldhavechosenB.

20:54

Teacher

Verygood.

20:56

Teacher

YouandStellabothcaughtthekeyword.

20:58

Lisa

Howaboutquestion5?

91

20:58

Teacher

Waitaminute.Youdonthavethesameanswerforquestion4.
Lisa,areyousureyouarecorrect?Tellusthereason.

20:59

Lisa

Number4?

21:00

Vicky

Yes.Number4.ItmentionedoptionA.WhycantIchooseA?

21:02

Lisa

ChooseB.Itsaidthesehackersextreme.

21:04

Lisa

BecauseoptionAandCaretheconsequences.Theseextreme
hackersareunbelievable

21:04

Teacher

Verygood.

21:04

Vicky

Ok,Ihearditnow.

21:04

Teacher

BecausetheydidBwhichresultedinAandlostofdata.

21:05

Teacher

Ok

21:05

Teacher

Soquestionnumber5.

21:05

Teacher

Pleasetellyourreasons.

92

Appendix7:Samplestudentinterviewtranscriptextract

Interviewer:Moanna
Interviewee:Vicky
Duration:9min25sec
InterviewconductedinChinese
TranslationandtranscriptiondonebyYuqiTang

M:SoVicky...emm.Canyoutalkaboutyourgeneralimpressionofthiscourse?
V:Generalimpression?Ithinkthiscourse...didn'tteachtoomuch.Becauseitwasonline...Every
timeIdidtheexercises,Ithinkitisbettertodotheexercisesafterwatchingthecourse
videos...Becauseeachtimeyouseparatedthelisteningexercisesfromthestrategyinstructions,
sothelevelofdifficultydropped.Iftheyweremixedtogether,itwouldhavebeenquitedifficult
tohandle.
M:Yes.
M:Ok,soyouthinkit'snotenoughinstruction.Whichpartdoyouthinkshouldhavebeen
extended?Hello?
V:FormeIthinkit'sthediagram.Iamnotgoodatdealingwithdiagramquestion...Canyouhear
me?
M:Yes,Ican.
V:Iamnotverygoodatdiagram.Inthesecondweek...thesecondweek,Ilearntthat.Itgaveout
amapandthenyouwalkaroundit.SothereweresomeblanksIneededtofillin.EverytimeIdo
thistypeofquestion,Idon'tknowwhatthekeypointsare.SoIalwaysmissthem.
M:Ok,soyouwanttopracticethetypesofquestionyouarenotveryfamiliarwith.Right?
V:Ohrightrightright.
M:Sohowwouldyouliketopractice?Doyouwanttodomoreexercises?
V:Ithinkweshoulddomoreexercises.Becausetheanalysisofsamplepracticeswerevery
detailed,andwelearntalmostallthestrategies,Ithinkweshoulddomorepractices.Becausefor
listening,ifyoucan'thearwhatyouneedtohear,youstilldon'tknowhowtodoit.

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M:Ok.Sothiscourseasyouhavementionedjustnow,howdoyouthinkofthetime
arrangement.Doyouthinkitwastoofastortooslow?
V:Itwasalright.ButIamabitbusynowbecauseit'sexamweekthisweek.
M:You'rebusy.Ok.
V:Ifitwasinothermonths,itwouldhavebeenbetter.
M:Ok.Sohowdoyouthinkofthelevelofthiscourse?Wasittoodifficultortooeasy?
V:Levelofdifficulty?Ithinkitwasabiteasyforme.
M:Easy?Oh..Ok
V:Yes
M:Ok,Iunderstand.Soyouwanttolearnmore,andthecoursecouldbemorechallenging?
V:Yesyesyes.That'sright.
M:Whatdoyouthinkoftheinteractionbetweentheteacherandthestudents?Forexample,
whenyoumetdifficulties,didtheteachergiveyoutimelyfeedbackandhelp?
V:Yes,Ithinkso.Itwasduringthefirstlesson,Isentyoutheanswers,andIthoughtitwasa
prepositionwhenIlistenedtothesecondquestion.SoIaskedyouandyouanalyseditforme.
ThenIdiscusseditwithmyclassmates.Ithinkthiswasverygood.
M:Ok,soyoumeanyoudiscussedwithyouronlineclassmates,right?
V:Rightrightright.
M:Sowhodidyouusuallyinteractwith?
V:IoriginallyinteractedwithLisa.Wedownloadedandfinishedtheexercisestogether.And
thenLisastartedbeingbusy,soIadded..um..Stella.Shedidreallywell,soIcomparedmy
answerswithher.
M:Ok,Iunderstand.Ok.Sowhatdoyouthinkoftheteachingstyleandattitude?
V:Iamnotfussyaboutthat.Ithinkit'sok.
M:Ok,whatdoyouthinkoftheonlinelearningatmosphere?Whatdoyouthinkofthe
atmosphereafteryouinteractedwiththeotherstudents?
V:Ithinkitprettymuchdependsonyourself.Becauseitwasnotcompulsory,itdependsonthe
students.Ifyoulearnstudiously,youlearnit.Ifyouputitasideandplaywiththeotherthings,
noonewillforceyouto.

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M:Ok,sowhatdoyouthinkoftheonlineatmospherewhenyouwerelearningonlinewithother
students?
V:IntheWechatgroup,itwasgoodandactivewhenwewerediscussingtogetherafterwe
finishedthelisteningtasks.
M:Hmmm,ok.Sodoyoutrusttheotherstudents?
V:Trusttheother?Whatdoyoumeanexactly?
M:Forexampleyouarewillingtoexchangeyouranswerswiththeothers.YoumightthinkI
don'tneedtocommunicatewiththembecauseIdon'tknowthemverywell.
V:No.Becauseweweretogetherdoingthesameexercises.It'snormalforustoexchangethe
answersheets.Wehavenoreasonstocheateachother.
M:Hmmm,sodidyoufeelencouragedwhenyouwerestudyingwiththeothers?Oryouthink
youwerejustlearningonyourown.
V:Ithinkit'sgood.Weusuallyfinishedanddidthelisteningonourownbutthengathered
togetherwhenwehadthediscussion.
M:Ok.Iunderstand.

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