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Vol.16 No.3
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VOLUME 16 NUMBER 3 March 2017

Table of Contents
Multicultural Problem-based Learning Approaches Facilitate ESP Language Acquisition ......................................... 1
Diane Boothe, DPA, Melissa Caspary, Ph.D., and Clifton D. Wickstrom, Ph.D.

Learning in Motion: Teachers Perspectives on the Impact of Stationary Bike Use in the Classroom ..................... 15
Julie Lynn Mueller, Amanada Wudarzewski and Yoad Avitzur

Expanding Areas of Influence at Azores University: Virtual Campus, Regional Clusters and Points of Presence 29
Rogerio L. Roth

Can You Tell Me Why: Two Extreme Cases in Translation Learning Results ............................................................. 38
Yvonne Ying-Ya Wen

Can Student Engagement in Online Courses Predict Performance on Online Knowledge Surveys? ....................... 73
Bernard BAHATI, Uno Fors, Matti Tedre

Effects of Computerized Cognitive Training on Working Memory in a School Setting ............................................ 88


Tessy T. Pumaccahua, M.A., Eugene H. Wong, Ph.D. and Dudley J. Wiest, Ph.D.

How Cooperating Teachers and Interns Understand Teaching for a Better World During Internship ............. 105
Twyla Salm, PhD and Val Mulholland, PhD
1

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 1-14, March 2017

Multicultural Problem-based Learning


Approaches Facilitate ESP Language Acquisition

Diane Boothe, DPA


Boise State University, College of Education
Boise, Idaho, USA

Melissa Caspary, Ph.D.


Georgia Gwinnett College, School of Science and Technology
Lawrenceville, Georgia, USA

Clifton D. Wickstrom, Ph.D.


Managing Director, Educational Pathways
Round Rock, Texas, USA

Abstract. This paper discusses language teaching that incorporates


Problem-based Learning (PBL), which will actively engage English for
Specific Purposes (ESP) learners from diverse cultural
backgrounds. When English language students who are native Speakers
of Other Languages (ESOL) are a portion of the learning group, it
introduces an added level of complexity to the instructional design. The
instructional designer is confronted with an ESP within ESOL dynamic,
which becomes one of the most significant impacting variables in the
learning environment. This topic will be approached utilizing examples
appropriate for a variety of cultures and ESP content areas including
engineering, technology and the sciences. The methods described,
however, have equal value in other disciplines with unique English
language components. The paper will explore use of PBL in a multi-
cultural ESP situation. It is being developed with the purpose and
objectives of including an overview of the key strategies for success in
language acquisition focusing on ESP, and outlining exemplar programs
that can actively engage learners in defined subject-matter contexts. We
begin with the initial notions of PBL in ESOL, and ESP, as separate
methodological arenas, and then the integration of the two (multi-
cultural situation) yields the PBL of ESP within an ESOL environment.

Introduction
There is an adage in the contemporary American education community
that seems most appropriate in the situation we address in this presentation. It
is: To teach them, you have to be able to reach them. In the multi-cultural ESP
environment, a language teacher must confront the confounding complexities
imposed by a largely ESOL student population. Reaching that student group is a
challenge that is difficult enough when teaching simple conversational English.

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It becomes considerably more imposing when ESP is the language being taught.
As journal articles have noted, legal and medical English have an almost
exclusively Latinate character, which contributes to an easier understanding and
quicker grasp by those ESP students whose mother tongue is a romance
language. But other ESP focus areas may not offer so easy a path. This is
particularly true in the science and engineering disciplines that have emerged in
the late 19th and 20th centuries. The rapid development and global deployment of
these science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) disciplines has
led to the accumulation of new words in the English lexicon that are simply
grabbed from the linguistic environment from which they were first observed.
Thus the ESP vocabulary of these disciplines is, while not filled, at least
sprinkled with terms that need specific explanation at first usage to provide clear
understanding of the term, even to the native English speaker. ESP researchers
in Asian nations have noted particular difficulties in this regard in recent
publications (Hoa & Mai, 2016; Liu, 2016: and Banditvilai, 2016), as will be
discussed in greater detail below. The recent literature also contains
methodological suggestions for increasing the effectiveness of ESP learning,
which will also be highlighted (Privas-Breaute, 2016; Kleanthos and Cordozo,
2016; and Wu, 2014)

The Eclectic Character of English

Spanish and French have formal bodies that "authorize" the addition of
words to their officially recognized lexicon, which insist on consistency with
internal phonetic protocols for the formal inclusion of a word into the
languages. German often adds words by combination of existing simpler
German words into more complex structures that are then conjoined to generate
a more complex word form, similar to a phrase, which expresses the meaning.
The English language is primarily Germanic and Latinate in its origins as
any scan through the etymological segments of the Oxford English Dictionary will
illustrate. But, the near global reach of the British Empire led to the early
accumulation of many words in that lexicon not of European origins. This is not
a new phenomenon. The word "khaki", for example, is Hindi (from Sanskrit)
meaning dust or dusty in appearance. It came into English during the Raj in
the 18th and 19th Century to describe the tan colored cotton
field uniforms issued to local troops of the British colonial army elements. It
ultimately became the common term in English for any tan hard finish cotton
fabric, or even pants made from such fabric.
When one begins to teach ESP, you observe these types of terms
frequently, especially from science or engineering research and practice in non-
European areas. Where a local population has a term that describes an observed
item, phenomenon or event very specifically, that term has been incorporated
directly into English. The English vocabulary of the biological sciences is
literally filled with common plant and animal names used in the regions where
they were first identified. Thus we find baobab and saguaro, orangutan and
coatimundi in our lexicon along with violet and lily of the valley, and lion and
catfish. But the phenomenon is not unique to biology. Several examples will
follow to illustrate this point. This is in addition to English use of Italian,

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Spanish, French or German words, as they are, without any anglification. Thus
portico, "arroyo", "creme de la creme", and "zeitgeist" are in our dictionary, and
common usage instead of, or in addition to, a distinct English term with the
same meaning. We just grab the term, and use it rather than "create" an English
word that fits the formal structures of the language.
To illustrate the pattern of simple inclusion of non-European origin terms
described above, as relates specifically to the sciences, one need only ask from
whence did the nouns monsoon, haboob, monadnock, alkali, taiga
and fynbos make their way into the ESP lexicons of meteorology, geology and
ecology? They are Hindi, Arabic, and a colloquial New England geographic
element, Egyptian Arabic, Russian and Afrikaans, respectively. It is easy to see
from these examples that a glossary at least, or a dictionary at best, is an
essential tool in any teaching of the ESP for the newer parts of the science realm.
So long as the terms in question are nouns, the situation is relatively
manageable, with a good glossary, without any etymological components
required. When we begin to incorporate English words that have identical
spelling for their noun and verb forms, or where the past tense of a verb is also
used as an adjective, for example, the situation becomes far more complicated.
Two examples come immediately to mind. The first is structure. As a verb it
means to construct, to build or to arrange. As a noun it means an object
that is built or constructed. The past tense of the verb, structured can also be
employed as an adjective, as in a structured vocabulary. A far more complex
example is the word stuff. As a verb it means to fill, frequently to capacity or
beyond. As a noun, it is a plural collective, referring to any assemblage of items,
without specific description. To further complicate the usage of stuff, the past
tense of the verb, stuffed is also used, at least colloquially, as an adjective,
frequently in cooking terms, to imply an object with a cavity that is filled with
other material, as in a stuffed goose.
Thus we see that the eclectic, complex character of English makes it more
difficult for the conversational ESOL learner, and the specialized ESP learner in
the Sciences is frequently, confronted with vocabulary not of traditional
Germanic or Latinate origins, adding to that difficulty. Addressing these issues
requires a very carefully planned approach where problem-based learning
methodologies can be employed to overcome these inherent complexities of
contemporary English, particularly within the science, technology, engineering
and mathematics (STEM) environments.

Problem-based Learning (PBL), an Explanation

PBL has its origins in medical education in Canada, and thus has roots in a
discipline where ESP is an integral part of the educational process. It quickly
attracted attention and usage in the English-speaking medical education
community, and from there spread into post-secondary settings in the United
States and other Anglo-phone nations. Problem-Based Learning is a flourishing
approach to learning that is extremely useful in promoting critical and analytical
thinking, and in addressing the rapid technological changes and dynamic
workplace of the 21st Century (Nicolaides, 2012). PBL is founded on an
unconventional pedagogical model when viewed alongside the conventional

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didactic one and it offers greater benefits to the quality of student learning
(Greening, 1998). The similarities to the case study methodologies employed in
the business education community were also quickly recognized. The
advantages of PBL over the case method were quickly recognized, since the
frequently complex case development process could be avoided by focusing on
an unstructured problem in the abstract, without the need of the detailed
background, setting and circumstance development that cases involve. This is
also the case relating to the science field and further attention is being devoted to
exploring active learning methodologies for language learners in the scientific
curriculum (Caspary & Boothe, 2016).
Problem-based learning is defined as an approach that challenges
students to learn through engagement in a real problem. It is a format that
simultaneously develops both problem solving strategies and disciplinary
knowledge bases and skills by placing students in the active role of problem-
solvers confronted with an ill-structured situation that simulates the kind of
problems they are likely to face in complex professional circumstances (Stover,
1998). Gvardjancic notes (2001) PBL emphasizes the learning part of the
teaching-learning process. It is based on the idea that learners learn what is
meaningful to them and learn better if they feel in control of what they are
learning. The philosophy behind Problem-based learning is that knowledge
and skills are acquired through a progressive sequence of contextual problems,
together with learning materials and the support of the instructor (eLearning
Industry, 2014).
PBL is not new. Stepien and Gallagher suggest that, it has been a major
success since the 1970s. PBL turns the instructional setting topsy-turvy, shifting
the learning environment from a teacher centered to a learner centered one. In
the place of covering the curriculum, learners probe deeply into issues searching
for connections, grappling with complexity, and using knowledge to fashion
solutions (Stepien & Gallagher, 1993). Yew and Goh (2016) focus on the process
and impact on learning provided by Problem-based learning, and examine its
effectiveness concluding that studies comparing the relative effectiveness of
PBL are generally consistent in demonstrating its superior efficacy for longer-
term knowledge retention.According to Stover (1998) PBL will increase
retention of knowledge, help students transfer concepts to new problems,
enhance students interest in the content and enhance self-directed learning.
Realistic problems are the key to the use of the PBL model. But what are
the characteristics of good problems? Duch (1996) lists some of the
characteristics of good problems as:

1. An effective problem must first engage students interest and motivate


them to probe for deeper understanding of the concepts being
introduced.

2. Good problems require students to make decisions or judgments based


on facts, logic and/or rationalization.

3. Cooperation from all members of the student group is necessary in order


to work effectively through a good problem.

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4. The initial questions in the problem should have one or more of the
following characteristics; they should be:
open-ended
connected to previously learned knowledge
controversial issues that will elicit divers opinions.

5. The content objectives of the course should be incorporated into the


problems, connecting previous knowledge to new concepts and connecting
new knowledge to concepts in other courses and/or disciplines.

Ron Purser (2010), a faculty member in the graduate management


program at the San Francisco State University notes,
Problem-based learning is student-centered. PBL makes a fundamental
shift--from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning. The process is
aimed at using the power of authentic problem solving to engage
students and enhance their learning and motivation. There are several
unique aspects that define the PBL approach:

1. Learning takes place within the contexts of authentic tasks, issues, and
problems--that are aligned with real-world concerns.
2. In a PBL course, students and the instructor become co-learners, co-
planners, co-producers, and co-evaluators as they design, implement,
and continually refine their curricula.
3. The PBL approach is grounded in solid academic research on learning
and on the best practices that promote it. This approach stimulates
students to take responsibility for their own learning, since there are few
lectures, no structured sequence of assigned readings, and so on.
4. PBL is unique in that it fosters collaboration among students, stresses the
development of problem solving skills within the context of professional
practice, promotes effective reasoning and self-directed learning, and is
aimed at increasing motivation for life-long learning.

PBL is a multilevel approach to learning that incorporates relevance and


complexity while strengthening critical and analytical thinking, and provides an
opportunity for self-assessment and continuous improvement. PBL guides
exploration, and students who learn using this model develop a sense of self-
esteem and ownership for their work. Through the use of this model,
opportunities abound for linguistic development coupled with acquisition of
content area knowledge. Scott (2014) focuses on a multilevel analysis of
Problem-based learning design characteristics and proposes and tests a
multilevel of PBL design characteristics reporting findings that reinforce the
importance of problem design characteristics and effective team facilitation
while raising new questions about team-level characteristics.
The key to the success of English language acquisition through PBL is to
utilize selected constructive problems purposefully designed to address the
desired learning outcomes. These problems are often influenced by social and
contextual factors. Most students already possess conceptual knowledge in their
native language. Cummins (2000) states: Conceptual knowledge developed in

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one language helps to make input in the other language comprehensible.


Careful lesson planning is necessary in terms of language learning and content
knowledge. When using the PBL model, content is introduced in the context of
real world problems. The learners acquisition of knowledge is achieved through
a combination of learning strategies that are self-directed, independent, and
collaborative, while also emphasizing communication skills and providing
ongoing reinforcement.
Although the sources of problems and the contexts for their classroom
use may vary, PBL has common features: problems should engage students
interest and motivate learning, require students to develop a line of reasoning
that is backed by evidence, be complex enough to motivate participation of a
group of students rather than just a single individual, be open-ended enough at
the outset to allow participation by all students, incorporate the learning
objectives of the course, and allow for many legitimate paths to a single
resolution (Duch, 1996).

Problem-based Learning in an ESOL Environment

Kosel (2002) points out that use of PBL is relatively new in the field of
language teaching and learning. According to Gvarsjancic (2001), the teaching
approach was introduced with the desire to integrate language and content
study to facilitate autonomous learning. He contends that the idea to use PBL in
language learning was developed by a Leonardo da Vinci pilot project for the
year 1999/2000 entitled Teaching English for Technical PurposesTENTEC.

Gvardjancic (2001) says the following about the results:


The results of the project showed that was especially appropriate for
teaching languages across the curriculum for some reason. Firstly, there
is the question of motivation. ESP teachers sometimes find it difficult to
motivate their technically or professionally oriented students for
language learning. Even carefully designed curricula, which follow needs
analysis, do not always meet the real interests of young student
population. Updated textbooks soon become boring and obsolete since
new information is easily accessible on the internet. So, a real-life
problem raises motivation. Secondly, and closely connected with the
question of motivation, is the significance of teaching languages across
the curriculum. Languages at tertiary level are often treated as second-
rate subjects. This situation is reflected in students attitude towards
language as a faculty subject which they consider a necessary evil but not
linked to what they believe to be their genuine study program. This
situation can be changed. Working closely with subject teachers,
language specialist becomes involved with the faculty programmes,
while the students feel they can combine their professional knowledge
and their knowledge of language.

Kosel (2002) enumerates the following as some of the advantages of PBL


approach in teaching English across the curriculum:

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1. A real problem raises motivation, much more than a preselected


sequence of information from a course book.

2. In the model, students can integrate their professional knowledge and


their knowledge of English.

3. The model makes them better equipped with functional skills needed
for their professional careers and thus makes them more competitive on
the job market.

4. Individual and social learning are combined.

5. English is learnt while doing something else, which goes together with
the slogan Learn by Doing.

Problem-based learning can be used to actively engage learners and


bridge the gap between English language learners and their subject matter.
Methodology rooted in inquiry can be particularly effective for teaching science
and mathematics (Stoddart et al., 2002), and can enhance comprehension for
primary grade learners up through the specialized focus of higher education
coursework. In PBL, students are asked to apply a newly acquired skill set to a
real life problem, where the students are the active centers of learning and the
instructors serve as the facilitators. This educational model can help to
communicate relevance in science and engineering disciplines which are
plagued with a stigma that dictates these subjects should be difficult and
daunting. The PBL paradigm asks students to take on an active role in their
education, where the learning becomes everyones responsibility.
In Polanyis (1966) definitions of explicit and tacit learning, explicit
knowledge is defined as transmittable by formal, systematic language and tacit
learning refers to knowledge attained through action. For students struggling
with language acquisition, tacit learning, which is grounded in experimentation
and experience, is the optimal mode for gaining expertise in a given subject. It is
recognized that current educational policies and practices do not support
desired outcomes with English language learners (Lee, 2005). By providing
students with an inquiry-based approach for solving real-world problems,
students working hard to gain proficiency in English speaking and literacy can
gain understanding in a discipline through performance. When students are
driving the problem posing and decision making, it has been found that these
inquiry-based methods personalize the project, increase relevance, and create
ownership (Johnson and Kean, 1992). The following illustrations from the
world of praxis are good examples.
At the elementary school level, PBL was used in the creation of an
outdoor classroom in Athens, Georgia. Students were charged with the task of
creating a flexible outdoor classroom space. The students were asked to
participate in every part of the implementation process, from brainstorming the
design, through the execution of the project, and finally with the development of
a curriculum around the conceived environment. A range of kindergarten
through fifth grade students were taken to the proposed outdoor classroom site

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and then asked to imagine their ideal outdoor learning environment. They had
the opportunity to illustrate these thoughts and share them with a Masters of
Landscape Architecture student at the University of Georgia. The graduate
student then took the student designs and compiled their ideas into a conceptual
plan. The students assisted in the grading and planting of the site, as well as
engineering a rain garden with French drains, a bog, a brick pathway, and
retaining walls. The planting and installation of over 40 different native
perennial plant species ensured a botanical wealth of learning opportunities for
future classroom participants. The service-learning component of the project
provided equitable learning opportunities where language barriers could be
crossed through student collaboration toward a common goal.
This creation of the outdoor classroom required elementary students to
make a personal investment in their education and into the project, where they
were more likely to use their support network of parents, teachers, friends and
the community to help them meet the goals of the project. English language
learners who participated in the project were given a cooperative learning
environment to strengthen peer relationships. The hands-on nature of the project
created a sense of ownership among project participants and catered to a wide
range of skill and ability levels. The problem-based approach took the focus out
of the lecture-based classroom and into an environment where learning involved
doing, and ESOL students experienced a rich opportunity to develop specialized
language skills in an applied setting.
In an example from higher education, masters students in the College of
Environment and Design at the University of Georgia assisted in the creation of
a master plan for the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. These students brought
together skills from the fields of geography, archeology, architecture, art,
horticulture, and plant biology and worked as a dynamic and collaborative
whole toward addressing the infrastructure problems of an entire institution and
anticipating future needs of the facilities. English language learners in the group
found themselves on equitable footing with other members of the group. Any
language challenges students faced were resolved through the give and take of
peer interaction, where shortcomings in one area were matched with a display of
skill in other areas. The students were called on to demonstrate their proficiency
with technology through the use of mapping software, their skill in design, and
a competency at representing the conceptual plan in presentations to garden
staff. These project requirements all reinforced specialized language acquisition
for English language learners without drawing unwanted attention to individual
deficiency or necessitating abstract language acquisition techniques. Instead of
being allowed to go unattended in a classroom instructional setting, each
students needs were addressed in the light of achieving a common goal.
A new program aimed at improving international student performance
is now being offered to students at one United States university. Golden Gate
University (GGU) in San Francisco, California, is offering a specialized English
language program. The GGU Preparation in Language and University Studies
(PLUS) program has been designed specifically for ESOL students, who have
limited speaking and writing skills, to participate in a collaborative process to
improve their English proficiency. GGU has a large Asian international student
population, with students from Mongolia, South Korea, Japan, China and

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9

Taiwan, needing to increase their proficiency in written and spoken English.


PLUS is designed to encourage students to work in collaborative sessions,
geared to solving common problems associated with the business curriculum, in
which most students are enrolled. The program has a remarkably high 80-85%
success rate as reported by Karin Fischer (2011) in her Chronicle of Higher
Education article on PLUS.

Focus on STEM ESP

As noted above, the eclectic character of English has added numerous


words to the lexicon with origins remote from the languages Western European
roots. This phenomenon is evident throughout the language, and has been of
particular impact in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics
(STEM) communities, as they become increasingly global in character, and have
begun to rely upon English as a common medium of information exchange. The
teaching of English as a foreign language has reached global proportions, with
special schools teaching ESOL appearing literally in every corner of the planet.
The demand for teachers of ESOL has increased dramatically at the same time.
What has become increasingly evident is that traditionally trained ESOL
teachers may not be able to fully prepare non-English speakers in the STEM
fields. This issue has been commented upon as applies to engineering students
in Saudi Arabia (Alqahtani, 2015, p93), Taiwan (Wu, 2014, p122), and Viet Nam
(Hoa and Mai, 2016, p155), and may be generalized as particularly true in Asian
countries, where vocabulary issues and passive learning styles impede ESOL
learning situations. Boothe and Vaughn (2011) note that, often, lecture in STEM
fields is difficult for English language learners to follow coherently. They
become lost in the dialogue that may be too fast paced for them, and thus have
little opportunity for reinforcement of language skills. This is at least partially
explained by the increasing use of specialized, discipline specific, vocabularies
within the various fields. In addition, the traditional language teaching methods
have proven to be less than effective in these fields because of the need to
successfully build student facility in these specialized English vocabularies.
Contemporary researchers have proposed numerous methods to overcome these
problems. These include the avatar/spect-actor process proposed by Privas-
Beaute (2016, p40-52), corpus building as proposed by Wu (2014, p120-127),
blended learning as proposed by Banditvilai (2016, p220-229) and collaborative
vocabulary building through blogging as outlined by Kleanthos and Cordozo
(2016, p225-229), among others. It is our proposal that the use of PBL
methodologies, as outlined above, and especially those proven to have positive
impact in other ESOL arenas, may be of particular utility in building ESP
proficiency among non-English speakers within the STEM communities.

Integration: PBL of ESP within an ESOL environment, Why and how?

The authors contend that it is crucial for PBL to be infused throughout


ESP strategies and learning activities. Teamwork and collaboration are the keys
to the majority of workplace endeavors and professionals are being challenged
to inspire original and critical thinking. Innovation and creativity thrive among
settings where employees and learners in other venues can move forward and

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10

achieve in their area of expertise supported by ESP achievement that fits the task
at hand. As English language skills and communication improves, the tools and
support are in place for impressive outcomes.
Krashen (1981) advocates the use of a natural approach to strengthen
new language acquisition. PBL supports his research and surpasses traditional
language acquisition methodologies. Students are required to make connections
as group communication is strengthened. By applying language skills to the
workplace, students develop survival skills for the working environment,
increase their workforce marketability, and prepare themselves for lifelong
learning.
The PBL model ensures that language skills are strengthened by
experience with a broader scope of disciplines at the same time. Collaboration
and hands-on learning will lower the affective filters that Krashen cautions will
deter students from successful language learning. By combining language with
new professional content knowledge using PBL, language skills are reinforced
through group dynamics, workplace reality, and content area knowledge.
Language learning and logical thinking are linked to future endeavors and the
students fields of work.
Flexibility and improvement of quality and achievement will be realized
when an opportunity to incorporate ESP learning and instruction is supported
through proven reinforcement activities that actively engage participants. There
is a significant need to strengthen English language skills, recalibrate
expectations, and better position native English speakers and professionals who
are employed in English language settings. Expertise in their discipline is greatly
appreciated, yet the greatest positive impact is realized when ESP is successfully
coupled with performance in their occupation. The result is a significant shift in
workplace expectations and needs. PBL makes the adjustments to collaborative
and innovative activities more workable. English language learning, solutions to
problems, and innovative advancements are realized simultaneously. Coupling
strong subject matter and language learning strategies eliminates disconnects
between content knowledge advancements in the workplace and English
language competency challenges. The greatest positive impact in both areas is
apparent as long as PBL activities are properly aligned to the learners
occupation.
On the assessment side, gains will be evident and incremental successes
will be enhanced, not just one time, but in an on-going and increasing basis
throughout the process as we seek solutions for balancing and restructuring ESP
and workplace endeavors. Specific experiences with PBL (Kaufman, et al, 1989)
and meta-analyses of outcomes (Albanese and Mitchell, 1993) from PBL
curricula in the medical school context have shown that content learning in PBL
matches that in a traditional curriculum. Additional outcomes in PBL include
greater retention of knowledge and greater satisfaction with the educational
experience.
When language accommodations are no longer required, additional time
and energy will be available for implementation of greater workplace skills
requirements. A program combining PBL and ESP strives to strengthen
accomplishments of employers and employees alike, and enhances strong
teamwork with an emphasis on creativity and innovation. As professionals are

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walking down the situational paths relevant to the environment in which they
work, they can acquire new knowledge and language proficiency
simultaneously. Employing PBL and ESP strategies that change the context in
which we reach educational and occupational investments will result in
significant accomplishments and gains in both areas.

Examples from the International Community

Globally, examples abound of the employment of PBL methodologies to


increase ESP facility. The country of Korea is rapidly adapting PBL to the field of
ESP in the information age. They are striving to challenge competitors and are
promoting improvement of educational quality and enhancement of accessibility
using PBL in the workplace, cyber-culture, and the English language classroom.
At universities and in corporate business settings, English is becoming the key to
advancement, rising in importance over seniority and subject area/discipline
specific education.
For example, securing a position as a flight attendant is a highly
competitive and coveted accomplishment. Recruitment events draw hundreds of
applicants. English skills and a university education are required along with
grooming and excellent social skills. In fact, academies called hagwons are
springing up to prepare aspiring applicants and provide PBL opportunities with
a strong focus on ESP.
There is an abundance of math and science majors in Korea who are
interested in securing teaching positions in the public schools. Teaching is a
respected occupation in Korea and jobs are highly competitive. One reason for
this is that there is a high level of job security until the mandatory retirement age
of 65, and teachers receive tenure during their first year on the job. However,
English competence is in significant need, and although coursework is offered,
excellent English teachers with clear pronunciation and speaking competence
are not available in the quantities necessary to meet the need. As a result,
English courses are often taught by Korean professors who are limited in their
English acquisition because they, too, were taught by Korean professors who do
not have optimum English language competency. It is interesting to note that
exchange programs are growing that focus on bringing Korean teachers to the
United States to accept difficult to fill math and science positions. This requires
at least two years in English language pre-service preparation at US universities
in order to meet the qualifications of both content and pedagogy. The necessary
government visas need to be obtained to ensure that this is successful. A large
part of the pre-professional training will focus on PBL and activities appropriate
for the classroom setting. It is also worthy of note that private instruction in
English, taught by native English speakers, is in high demand, and teachers for
such programs are being continuously recruited in England, Canada, the United
States, Australia and New Zealand.
In Italy and Germany, ESP is a crucial area and numerous ESP programs
and conferences are available. Often PBL sessions are held at the workplace. For
example, corporations such as Hewlett Packard have sites in both countries and
offer mandatory PBL training sessions in English related to the specific
qualifications and responsibilities of an employees position.

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12

Conclusions and Recommendations

We suggest that the examples above illustrate that use of problem-based


learning tools have much to offer in the teaching of English for Specific
Purposes. This is particularly true in the case of the STEM disciplines which
have emerged to full development and proliferation in the 20th Century and
expand in importance in the 21st. One conclusion we reach in this regard is that
the problem definition, and then systematic solution seeking emphasis of these
disciplines lend themselves uniquely to the PBL approach to learning the unique
English of the fields, and that the scholars and practitioners in these fields will
be the ultimate beneficiaries.
Several of the authors referenced have noted that there are attitudinal
and learning style issues that impede effective ESP learning. They have
noted:
- indifference to use of English, in spite of globalization of disciplinary
communications;
- vocabulary weakness with little interest in building term knowledge to a
critical mass associated with effective written or verbal exchanges within a
professional setting;
- student passivity in academic settings that reflects cultural reluctance to
confront authority figures, even in the face pressures to adapt;
- and, conversational pace inhibiting clear understanding of both
theoretical and practical considerations. It is our conclusion and suggestion that
the use of a problem-based approach in ESP learning situations, especially those
in STEM fields, will help to overcome these obstacles to learning, and contribute
to greater facility in English by the learner, within and without the area of
specific emphasis.

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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 15-28, March 2017

Learning in Motion: Teachers Perspectives on


the Impact of Stationary Bike Use in the
Classroom

Julie Lynn Mueller


Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, Canada

Amanada Wudarzewski
Run for Life

Yoad Avitzur
Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, Canada

Abstract. The potential of physical activity to support self-regulated


learning in the classroom has encouraged the implementation of
stationary bicycles across Canada and the United States. Positive
testimonials suggest that their use by students has positive outcomes,
but there is limited empirical evidence supporting the efficacy of this
pedagogical practice. The current study analyzes teachers perceptions
of the use and impact of stationary exercise bicycles in classrooms as
part of a community running program initiative through a nationwide
survey of 107 participants. Key findings identify teacher perceptions of
positive outcomes in students social, emotional, and cognitive
development, as well as to the learning environment. A small set of
unique challenges were posed by the bike integration, including limited
distraction and some scheduling difficulties. Teachers approached the
integration of the bikes on a spectrum of control from student-
regulated to teacher-regulated with some combination of both, and
movement from teacher-directed use to more student-initiated use after
the bike was in use for some time. The implications for the use of
stationary bikes as a tool for self-regulated learning in an active
classroom are discussed and future research measuring learning
outcomes is suggested.

Keywords: self-regulated learning; active learning; elementary


education; aerobic activity; teacher perceptions

Research across disciplines suggests that physical fitness and exercise have a
positive effect on brain activity, working-memory, executive function, and
emotion regulation, as well as a mitigating effect on age-related cognitive decline
and disease (Berg, 2010; Pontifex, Hillman, FernHall, Thompson, & Valentini,

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16

2009; Van Praag, 2009; Ratey, 2008; Shanker 2012; Sibley & Beilock, 2007;
Tomporowski, Lambourne, & Okumra, 2011). Aerobic exercise acts as a
stimulant to the brain, increasing cerebral blood flow, synaptic activity and
neural connections, which potentially improve learning (Berg, 2010; Pontifex et
al., 2009). Multiple studies testing brain function before a period of moderate to
significant weekly exercise and afterward found that exercise improves overall
brain function (Van Praag, 2009).
The cognitive effects of exercise are not limited to an increase in overall brain
activation, but physical activity enhances neurotransmitter activity affecting
higher order cognitive functioning, executive control, and working memory as
well. A variety of studies have shown a relationship between exercise and
complicated task performance, including increased inhibitory control, increased
focus, and an improved ability to resist distractions (Hillman, Pontifex, Raine,
Casterlli, Hall, & Kramer, 2009; Hillman, Snook, and Jerome, 2003; Pontifex et al.,
2009; & Sibley & Beilock, 2007). It is therefore suggested that childrens ability to
regulate their emotions can be enhanced by aerobic activity which helps in the
management of anger, stress, fatigue, and restlessness which can present
roadblocks to on-task behaviour and readiness to learn (Berg, 2010; Mahar,
Murphy, Rowe, Golden, Shields, & Raedeke, 2006; Ratey, 2008).
The importance of physical activity to the overall functioning of the human
brain is recognized by scientific literature. One study found that aerobic exercise
led to improved behavioural and academic performance for children with
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) when compared to a control
(Pontifex, Saliba, Raine, Picchietti, & Hillman, 2013). Additionally, Ratey (2008)
describes the correlation between physical exercise and academic performance
in a case study of a secondary school in Naperville, Illinois. Naperville students
engaged in moderate to vigorous physical exercise before learning, resulting in
improvements to student achievement, including increased test scores and an
enhancement of students attention, alertness, and relaxation. In addition to
improving overall cognitive functioning, morning exercise increased students
capacity to ignore distractions and effectively regulate their emotions, thus
improving students ability to learn. The success of the Naperville Project
provided the impetus for the adoption of similar programs throughout the
United States, including the PE4life programs, which have trained over one
thousand educators and 350 schools to emulate their program (Stattlesmair &
Ratey, 2009, p. 370).
This evidence suggests that exercise can be used as a tool by teachers to help
maintain and facilitate cognitive functioning in children. Tranter & Kerr (2016)
identified physical exercise as an important up-regulating strategy, to be used
throughout the school day, particularly when students focus might dwindle.
Exercises included activities such as stretching, yoga, jumping jacks, and
dancing. In Ontario, Canada, the Ministry of Education mandated 20 minutes of
compulsory Daily Physical Activity (DPA) in response to research that identified
advantages to student self-regulated learning (SRL), including student attitude,
and willingness to meet the challenges of daily life (Ontario Ministry of
Education, 2005).
Self-regulation can be conceptualized as a process of ongoing mental
adjustment; one that requires the constant monitoring and modification of

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17

emotions; focussing or shifting attention; controlling impulses; tolerating


frustrations; and, delaying gratification (Shanker, 2012). Self-regulated learning
(SRL) deals with equipping students with the skills necessary to observe their
bodies and adjust their states of arousal to maximize the potential for learning to
occur. This optimal state requires staying alert, focused, and relaxed, and
necessitates an intimate knowledge of ones emotional and physical states so
that one could discern how these states are distracting or contributing to
processing and assimilating information (Shanker, 2012). Cognitive mechanisms
including executive functioning, inhibitory control, and concentration, necessary
for self-regulation and a readiness to learn, are enhanced by physical exercise
(Pontifex et al. 2009; Van Praag, 2009; Ratey, 2008; Sibley & Beilock, 2007;
Tomporowski et al., 2011; Woltering & Lewis, 2009).
Monitoring and adjusting negative emotions is a necessary component of
emotional self-regulation, but it is not sufficient. In addition to regulating or
managing negative emotions, children must be encouraged to develop positive
ones through nurturing feelings of self-worth and security (Shanker, 2012).
Physical exercise could be seen as an activity that builds self-esteem and well-
being in addition to countering stress, fatigue, anger, and anxiety. Physical
activity has the potential to support self-regulation of negative emotions in a
learning environment as well as increase feelings of self-esteem.
Educators across Canada have introduced classroom use of stationary bikes
in an effort to improve SRL in children, promoting the control of both negative
and positive emotions in preparation for learning. Bikes were intended to
provide an opportunity for any student who is feeling distracted, anxious, tired,
or angry throughout the school day to hop on and pedal until he or she is ready
to learn. Canadian national news media have reported largely positive teacher
and student feedback following the implementation of stationary bike programs
in public schools (Senick 2017; Thomson 2016; Mitton & Barth, 2016). Yet, one
opinion piece (Bennett 2016) is more critical, stating that Self-regulation with
or without spin bikes may turn out to be another passing fancy in education
reform. Further, in his opinion piece, Bennett (2016) notes the lack of research
on the subject and asks wheres the research to support these classroom spin
bike experiments?
Indeed, the growing popularity of stationary bicycles in the classroom
setting is contrasted with the absence of empirical study on the impact of this
intervention on classroom dynamics and student learning. An analysis of the
use of stationary bikes in classrooms should discern its effects on classroom
management and dynamics, as well as its influence on student emotions and
behaviours, including self-esteem, relaxation, mental awareness, and well-being.
The current study initiates this necessary evaluation by examining teachers
perspectives of the impact of classroom use of stationary bikes, and the variables
that might predict student self-regulation and learning outcomes.

Method

One hundred and seven Canadian teachers from urban, suburban, and rural
schools from across the country completed a 44-question online survey about the
use of stationary exercise bikes in their schools. Participating teachers worked in

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18

varied school contexts, in which schools were either publicly or privately


funded, with populations ranging from under 100 to over 500 students, with
students in Kindergarten to Grade 12. All participants were enrolled in
Sparksfly, a stationary bike program offered by Run for Life--a non-profit
community organization that deploys bicycles into classrooms to support
students active learning and self-regulation.
The survey (see appendix A) was comprised of five parts including both
forced-choice and open-ended questions examining consent; pedagogical
strategies related to bike use; perspectives on observed behavioural outcomes;
any challenges encountered during the implementation; and, demographic
questions describing the schools and classrooms, funding, and future
recommendations. Qualitative answers were recorded in Word documents and
coded by two researchers for emerging themes. Any discrepancies were
resolved through discussion.

Results

Description of Stationary Bike Use


The majority of teachers (83%) indicated that their stationary bikes were
located in their classrooms, while the remainder were located in a resource room
or in another type of shared space. The specific location within the classroom
varied across respondents. Teachers indicated that their bikes had been in their
current location for a range of time; from less than a month (11%) to more than a
year (24.3%). A slight majority of teachers (52%) indicated that the bikes were
somewhat new, in the present location for a few months.
The clear majority of teachers indicated that students used the bikes at least
once per week (98%). Seventy five percent of teachers provided their students
with specific bike-use guidelines while the remaining 25% did not. Among
those teachers that did provide guidelines to their students, 68% gave
instructions on turn-duration, ranging from one minute to 30 minutes, with 74%
of teachers instructing their students to use the bikes for less than 10 minutes at
one time. Qualitative answers indicated that duration of use depended on
several factors, including demand and student need, e.g., 10 15 minutes
depending on demand, or at least 5 minutes, or in my case, there is no
misuse, and no time limit.
Participants were also asked to describe how they decided which students
used the bikes and when. Qualitative answers were coded into four categories
according to the degree of teacher/student control over the decision of by
whom, and when, the bikes were used. Fifty-five percent of answers were coded
as student regulated, while 19 percent of answers were coded as teacher regulated.
A significant number of responses were coded as a combination of the two (17%),
and 9 percent changed approaches beginning with a teacher regulated approach
and later moved to a more student regulated method.
There were two student regulated subcategories, based on the degree of
autonomy students were given to determine bike use. Some teachers allowed
students to use the bikes on a permission-basis, according to which students first
recognized their need to self-regulate, and then asked the teacher if bike use was
permitted at that moment by raising their hand or displaying some type of

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19

signal, e.g., Students can use a hand signal to ask to use the bike any time when
the teacher is at the front of the room teaching or explaining. Some teachers
created an open/closed sign for the bike, and opened the equipments use
during work periods or other independent work time and closed it during
instruction, while others allowed for constant student-controlled bike- use. The
second subcategory in the student regulated theme, granted the most student
control in determining bike-use. Decisions in this subcategory were based on a
first-come-first serve basis. If students felt the need to regulate because of
boredom, agitation, anxiety, or other distracting emotion or sensation, they were
allowed to simply get out of their seats and use the bikes.
The teacher regulated category included three subcategories that also varied
in degree of teacher control. The first subcategory included teacher-identified use
where the need for bike use was recognized by the teacher rather than the
student based on the students agitation, anxiety, or boredom. The teacher
recognized the need and suggested that the student use the bicycle, e.g., if I see
subtle cues to anxiousness I will ask if the student might like to jump on the
Spark Bike. A second subcategory divided access across students but with
some students having priority over others based on their specific needs, e.g.,
we have a schedule made so all students get an opportunity to use the bike.
However, some names are on the schedule more than others. The third
subcategory still included teacher control but in a scheduled approach. Turns on
the bikes were offered to all students equally and students were allowed to
choose to either take their turn or to forfeit it. An example illustrating this
subcategory is one teachers invention of The Bike Cup, which passed from
student to student. The student may choose to pass or ride the bike. If they
pass, the cup goes to the next student. If they bike, they bike for two-three
minutes and then pass the cup to the next student. In the morning, the cup is
placed on a random student's desk and they decide which direction the cup will
go.
Seventeen percent of teachers reported using both types of approaches
simultaneously, typically allowing for student-regulation, but electing students
to go when a students need to self-regulate goes unnoticed by that student. For
example, one teacher said the students decide when I am teaching and they feel
they have sat too long on the mat or when they are finished work; I decide when
they are needing a refocus.
Lastly, 9% of teachers described their experience as one in which the bikes
went through an initial period of teacher-control, and as students became more
familiar with the equipment they were granted more autonomy for regulation.
One teacher explains: At first, there was a class list and they went in order.
After a few days, we developed a signal (twirl your finger in the air). As the
novelty faded, kids don't require permission. They just hop on whenever they
want.

Additional Classroom Physical Activity


In addition to stationary bike use, 77% of teachers surveyed indicated that
they incorporated other physical activity opportunities in the classroom for their
students. These other activities were categorized into three themes: dynamic full-

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20

body movements, outdoor physical activity, and stationary activities in their seats.
Eighty-five percent of responses fit in the full body category, and included
activities like: BrainBreak, Gonoodle, Daily Vigorous Physical Activity (DVPA),
yoga, running on the spot, jumping around, dancing, Zumba, and stretching. A
smaller percentage (8%) of responses indicated that they took their students for
outdoor physical activity, and six percent had their students perform different
stationary activities in their seats, such as under-the-desk pedalling, active seating,
breathing exercises, and meditation.
Teachers were also asked if they modeled bike use in the classroom, and if
so, how often students saw them using the stationary bike, on a five-point scale,
ranging from 1 (Not at All) to 5 (More Than Once a Week). The mean score of 2.56
and standard deviation of 1.73 suggests significant variance amongst teachers,
wherein a large number (45%) of teachers do not model bike-use to their
students at all while 35% use the stationary bikes in front of their students at
least once a week.

Perceived Outcomes of Bike Use: Benefits


Teachers were asked to agree or disagree with six statements about the
perceived benefits of stationary bike use for students, on a five-point scale
ranging from 1 (Strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree), 3 (neutral). These
questions asked whether teachers believed that the use of the stationary bikes
increased students sense of accomplishment, relaxation, mental-alertness, and
self-esteem; whether they had observed any positive physical changes in
students; and whether students enjoyed using the stationary bike (see Table 1 for
means and standard deviations).
Table 1. Means and standard deviations for perceived positive outcome variables.
Outcome Mean SD n

Enjoyment 4.5 .67 102

Accomplishment 3.93 .87 88

Relaxation 4.24 .64 98

Mental Alertness 4.24 .68 95

Self-Esteem 3.96 .76 91

Physical Changes 3.23 .87 78

A Perceived Positive Outcomes variable was calculated as an aggregate of


the six separate questions ( = .89) for participants who answered each of the
relevant questions (n=66). Overall, teachers reported that the stationary bikes
had a positive effect on students in their classrooms (M= 4.05, SD = 0.59). A
multiple regression analysis was conducted to determine what specific variables
might predict teachers perceived positive outcomes. Six variables were entered
into the regression: how long the bike has been in its location; how often an individual
student gets to use the bike; intensity with which the students use the bike; how often the

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21

students see their teacher using the stationary bikes; physical activities in the classroom
other than the bikes; and teacher perception of targeted use (whether the teacher
found that students with attention or behavioural difficulties were particularly
drawn to the stationary bike). The linear combination of these six measures was
significantly related to perceived positive outcomes, F (6, 94) = 10.51, p < .001.
The adjusted R square was .37, indicating that approximately 37% of the
variance of perceived positive outcomes can be accounted for by the linear
combination of the measures outlined above. Five out of the six independent
variable were statistically significant (smallest t= 2.12, p= .04 to largest t = 3.96,
p<.001). The only variable that did not significantly add to the regression was
how long the bike has been in its location, t=1.25, p=.21.
In addition to perceived positive outcomes, teachers were asked to use their
own words to describe any other benefits that they perceived to result from
student bike use. Thirty-six percent of participants provided answers that were
categorized by five themes describing benefits related to physical, cognitive,
emotional, and social development, as well as the learning environment. Teachers
reported observing several physical improvements in their students due to the
use of the stationary bikes, e.g., one kindergarten teacher said that the bike they
have in their classroom helps strengthen our students gross motor
development, while another reported that bike use increased better cardio in
students.
Perceptions that bike use led to cognitive improvements were detailed as an
increase in students attention capacities, time-management skills, and ability to
take effective breaks from learning. For example, one teacher reported that
some [students] are able to sustain attention longer than they were doing before
I got my bike, and that students [were] becoming more independent in their
break choices.
Improvement in students emotional development were primarily related to an
increased capacity for emotional regulation. For example, one teacher said that
they have found that for some students it helps to reduce anxiety to have that
physical release. They are also more aware of their own moods and feelings as it
has prompted us to do more focused learning of the recognition of these things.
Another teacher reported that students generally seem more relaxed and ready
to settle in to work, another that students are more aware of their bodies and
brain development, and lastly, as well as having a calming effect, it [the bike]
can also pep up tired students.
Indications of improvements to students social development were found in
teachers reflections on students ability to share objects, take turns, and avoid or
resolve conflicts with no teacher involvement. For example, [there is] less
conflict in cases where specific students who have issues around anger
management have shown a tendency, in part from use of the bike, to avoid
asserting themselves aggressively toward other students.
Finally, references to the stationary bikes impact on the learning environment
included comments such as students can remain in class more, as they can go
on a bike rather than going for a walk and when they work while they are on
the bike with the portable table that they put on the handles, they are more
focused on what they are doing.

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22

Perceived Outcomes of Bike Use: Challenges


When asked to rate the bikes as a source of distraction on a five-point scale,
teachers indicated that the bikes were generally not seen as a distraction M=1.82,
(SD = 0.95), ranging from 1 (Strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree), 3 (neutral).
Correlation analyses between scores on the distraction variable and three other
variables indicated a significant relationship: duration of bike in classroom;
frequency of student use; and perceived positive outcomes. The duration in
which the bike had been in its specific location was negatively correlated with
the perceived distraction-level of the bikes, R= -0.26, p<.01, suggesting that the
longer a bike had remained in its location, the less distracting it was perceived to
be. An independent samples t-test found a statistically significant difference
t(96)= 2.54, p<.01 in the mean scores of perceived distraction between
participants who had bikes for less than one year (M= 2.0, SD= .88) when
compared to those who had the bikes for one year or longer (M= 1.51, SD=.99).
It appears that teachers that have had the bike for one year or less perceived
them to be significantly more distracting than teachers that have had the bike for
one year or longer. Distraction was also significantly correlated with Frequency
of student use, R= -0.31, p <.01; more frequent bike use was related to lower
levels of perceived distraction. Not surprisingly, the level of the bikes
distraction was negatively correlated with the perceived positive outcomes
composite variable, R= -0.4, p <.01.
Nearly one quarter of teachers (23%) reported a situation in which a student
was unable to use the stationary bikes, and one third (29.3%) faced a situation in
which a student was reluctant or did not want to use the bikes. Explanations for
students inability to use the bikes were classified into two main categories:
physical limitations of the student and inappropriate dress. Forty-two percent of
answers referenced situations in which a student was not able to use the
stationary bike because of physical limitations, such as the students size, injury,
or disability. It is important to note, however, that physical disability did not
necessarily inhibit bike use. Indeed, teachers identified situations in which a
student with physical or other limitations still managed to one little girl who
has a disability in a lower grade was really good on the bike. [] she loved it!
Explanations about student reluctance to use the bikes were grouped into
three subcategories: the student did not like the bike; the bike was too difficult for the
student to use; and the student was afraid or socially intimidated. It appears that
some students just dont like it, find it too hard, or [the bikes are] of no interest
to them. Some students are hesitant to use the bikes, and others appear to be
afraid, e.g., student was scared. Student may not feel that they will be
successful. Some teachers reported that students may perceive the stationary
bikes as socially intimidating, and would prefer to avoid the unwanted attention
that using the bicycle attracts, e.g., some students do not feel comfortable to
exercise in front of others, so they started off passing, but now most students use
it daily.
Nearly half of the surveys respondents (49) answered an open-ended
question asking what other challenges they encountered due to stationary bike
integration. Participants answers were categorized into three general themes:

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23

classroom management concerns, difficulties with the bike itself, and access challenges.
Classroom management concerns accounted for the largest percentage of the
reported challenges (76%), and included student misconduct, horseplay, and
inappropriate use of the bicycles, problems with turn-taking, bikes being used
during inappropriate times, and bikes being used to avoid work. Examples of
these behaviours include reports of times that students are interrupting the
lesson to discuss who gets to use the bike or instances of students hogging the
bike, and disputes over who has the right to be on it. A smaller number of
additional problems involved difficulties with the bicycle itself, including reports
that students cannot do work on or read while they are biking, and complaints
over the bikes tension knob not working, or wheels becoming squeaky with use.
The remaining comments reported access challenges, including not having
enough bikes in the school/classroom and wanting more, issues with the cost of
the bikes, and challenges encountered while fundraising for the equipment.

Solutions to Challenges
Participants were asked to share some of their solutions to address the
challenges that they reported. Forty percent responded. The majority of
responses (79%) addressed classroom-management challenges, suggesting things
like students need to self-regulate the taking of turns, and having a sign-up
list has been helpful for some teachers in our school. Teachers also discussed
the importance of explaining the purpose of the bikes to students, namely the
principles of self-regulation and how these relate to different students needs.
One teacher asserted students should know that fair doesn't always mean even.
Many of my students require the bike more than others. Other teachers
stressed establishing clear expectations with students on the consequences that
might result from breaking guidelines by saying things like stay firm and
consistent on the consequences. Other proposed solutions to challenges
included using an open/closed sign for the bicycles to prevent their use during
inappropriate times, and providing safety/usage instructions.
A much smaller percentage of responses (13%) addressed access and
technical issues, and included suggestions on how many bikes a
school/classroom should have, fundraising tips, and ideas for how to modify
the bikes to make them better, e.g., having more bikes (2-3) per class; the
community [should] get involved in fundraising efforts; a table top for
completing work; or building a frame/box in front of the bike to allow
students to place something so they can work/read while they bike; and,
assembling a small tool kit with some extra parts so that it can be fixed easily
and promptly in case the bicycle malfunctions and requires repair.

Recommendations
When asked if they would recommend the implementation of stationary
bicycles to other teachers, 99% of respondents said they would and 38 teachers
gave a rationale. Favourable comments generally spoke to recommendations
based on the observed benefits related to physical exercise and self-regulation in
the classroom. Teachers suggested that the stationary bicycle provided students
with a convenient means of exercising and lead to an increased awareness of the
benefits of exercise. Teachers comments also noted that the bicycles had a role

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24

in improving student focus, motivation, productivity, processing, calmness, and


well-being, for example, I think it is a great way to teach students that even a
little bit of exercise has many benefits- helps with concentration and attention,
alleviates stress, gets rid of nervous energy, [and] is fun. and it's a no-brainer.
Kids need to move and the spin bike is a wonderful and sustainable strategy to
promote wellness, mind-body connections and self-awareness! Teachers
suggested that bikes help students regain focus and they can produce more
work and remain in the classroom while having a physical/emotional break.,
and that the bikes are a fantastic addition to the classroom. Self regulation and
exercise are huge benefits. Try sitting for five hours! Overall, there was wide
agreement across answers that stationary bicycle use is an outlet for kids, and
that students generally process better if they are moving.

Discussion

When reviewing teachers responses across a variety of survey questions, it


is apparent that the perceived effects of stationary bike integration were largely
positive, although the unique set of challenges posed by integration should not
be overlooked. Key reflections made by teachers included proposed solutions to
the challenges reported. One specific concern of integration of a new technology
or pedagogical approach is the distraction and impact due to its novelty. Results
suggest that this was a challenge that dissipated with time. The perceived
positive outcomes of bike use reinforced the importance of incorporating
learner-centred pedagogies to effectively support self-regulated use of stationary
bikes.
The studys 107 participants were a diverse group of teachers that used
stationary exercise bikes as participating members of Run for Lifes SparksFly
program. Participants came from 8 different provinces/territories, a variety
neighbourhood types, worked in broadly different settings in which school and
class size varied widely, and taught different grades, ranging from Kindergarten
to Grade 12. The survey followed a mixed-methods design containing both
open and closed-ended questions. The collection of data by researchers
independent of participating schoolboards ensured that teachers were free from
any possible job-related repercussions, which allowed teachers to share both
positive and negative opinions of the SparksFly program and its impact.
The perceived benefits of stationary bike implementation on individual
students were captured in participants scores on the perceived positive
outcomes variable and qualitative responses to open ended questions about bike
use and its impact on student development. Those outcomes were aspects of
self-regulated learning including enjoyment, sense of accomplishment,
relaxation, mental alertness, self-esteem and physical changes. All of the
perceived outcomes were seen as neutral to higher with the largest impact
related to enjoyment, relaxation and mental alertness. Physical changes were
scored lowest on average, more neutral than agreement, however. This is not
surprising as the average frequency and duration of bike use was limited. The
integration of stationary bike use was intended to capitalize on the connection
between physical activity and readiness to learn rather than having any great
impact on the level of physical fitness more generally. The bike use was one

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aspect of what were recognized as physically active learning environments.


Indeed, most teachers reported integrating other class-wide physical activity
routines in addition to the stationary bikes, and about half of those surveyed
used the bikes themselves.
Qualitative data analysis revealed that following the introduction of the
stationary bikes, teachers reported improvements in their students physical,
cognitive, emotional, and social development, as well as benefits to the learning
environment. Some teachers answers included perceived improvements in
students physical development due to bike use, for example, increased better
cardio, students biking to school, and observations that the bike helps
strengthen our students gross motor development.
Perceptions that bike use led to cognitive improvements were detailed as
increases in students attention capacities, improvement in time-management
skills, and independent choice to take effective breaks from learning. The
reported benefits on students emotional development included students ability
to observe, reflect, and regulate their emotions. Students social development
manifested in positive changes to students ability to share objects, take turns,
and avoid or solve conflicts. Teachers identified an increase in students ability
to recognize not only their need to self-regulate through the bike use but an
overall increase in empathy toward other students and their individual needs,
for example, My students are very empathetic to students who need the bike in
a moment of distress or disruption. Finally, references to improvements in the
learning environment included the ability to keep students in the learning
context and working while they took a physical break from sitting.
Despite the numerous benefits of stationary bike implementation as
indicated by teachers, the use of bikes in the classroom setting did pose a unique
set of challenges, including physical limitations and student reluctance to use the
stationary bikes; classroom management concerns; technical issues related to the
bike itself; access difficulties; and the bikes potential to distract students from
on-task behaviour. Although there was a range of scores related to perceived
amount of distraction, the bikes were not generally seen as a distraction. The
longer a bike remained in its location, the less distracting it was perceived to be.
Although, perceived positive outcomes were significantly predicted by several
variables, including intensity and frequency of use, the length of time that the
bike had been in the same location was not a significant predictor, suggesting
that positive outcomes may be seen right away. Teachers expressed that the
challenges posed by stationary bike implementation are most palpable during
the first few phases of the integration process, but lessen with the passing of
time. In other words, when students are exposed to a classroom with a
stationary bike for the first time, the bikes are extremely popular and it may
seem like every student wants a turn. The great demand for the bike can lead to
disruption and student conflict, especially when the bike is unregulated by the
teacher. The constant activity surrounding bikes during this introductory period
can be distracting for both teachers and students, and some teachers felt that
they needed to be proactive regarding student bicycle use during this period,
often coming up with creative ways to ensure students respectfully shared the
bicycle without interrupting the learning of others. Suggestions to counter the

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26

novelty effect that the bikes may elicit included having discussions around it
and development of rules by and with the students.
Qualitative responses regarding how bike use was regulated demonstrated
a spectrum of control from student-regulated to teacher-regulated and a
combination of both. According to respondents, as the novelty of this new
equipment faded, the bicycles became more available for students that would
benefit most from their use. Regulating students bicycle use sometimes evolved
as the class became better acquainted with the bike and teachers relinquished
control. Some teachers initially chose to heavily regulate bike-use to allow every
student to have a turn. After bike-use became normalized, some teachers
lessened their control to a permission-based strategy in which students self-
identified their need to use the bikes and then asked the teacher for permission
to do so. Some teachers adjusted the rules so that bikes were used on a first-
come-first-serve basis, in which any student who felt the need to self-regulate by
using the stationary bicycle could do so without being a distraction. When the
bike is implemented with the intent to develop self-regulation in students, it is
important that teachers recognize and use pedagogical approaches that allow for
student choice and decision-making. Differentiated instruction becomes the
norm.
If students are instructed to use the bicycles with moderate to vigorous
intensity until they feel relaxed and ready to learn whenever they feel hyper,
angry, tired, anxious, or any other distracting emotion, they begin to actively
monitor their emotions and act on their self-evaluations. This mindfulness
helps to mobilize SRL when coupled with a strategy (i.e. stationary bike use)
intended to help mitigate the distracting emotions and lead to increased
learning. The stationary bike is there for any student to just hop on until they
become calm, alert, and learning (Shanker, 2012).
Three key findings from this study include:
The most common challenge of implementing stationary bikes in the
classroom was the initial distraction. The distraction was limited,
however, and readily overcome through discussion and practice.
Introduction of the bike may have contributed to students ability to
recognize individual learning needs.
Teachers perceived a number of positive outcomes in relation to the
use of stationary bikes. The initial purpose of the bike, to improve
self-regulation leading to an increase in learning, was accomplished
on various levels, contributing to individual social, emotional, and
cognitive outcomes as well as an overall positive impact on the
classroom learning environment.
The results of this study identified a spectrum of control around the
use of the bike, ranging from student-regulated to teacher-regulated.
The position of control along that spectrum has implications for the
level of student self-regulation.

Implications and future research


The positive outcomes and limited challenges identified in this study
suggest that use of stationary bikes in classrooms is one potential strategy for
supporting self-regulated learning across grades and contexts. The

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27

implementation of the bike should be part of an overall pedagogical approach to


supporting self-regulated learning and should be treated as any other emerging
instructional tool. Teacher knowledge, examples of success, easy access, and
support are critical to ensuring a positive experience (Mueller, Wood,
Willoughby, DeYoung, Ross, & Specht, 2008). Although the teachers in this
study were perhaps champions for the cause and included physical activity in
other aspects of their classrooms, the findings of this study offer evidence to
support a broader implementation of stationary bikes as a tool for self-regulated
learning.
Although the current study included a survey of teacher perceptions rather
than direct measurement of student outcomes, the findings and implications are
a significant addition to the literature examining self-regulated learning and the
impact of physical activity on learning. Wendel, Benden, Zhao and Jeffrey
(2016) identified positive results of stand-biased desks versus seated classrooms
on student BMI increases after two years of intervention. Future research that
includes extended intervention projects and measurement of actual student
learning outcomes following use of the bikes will expand on the evidence base
and provide specific support for successful implementation.

References

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Pontifex, M. B., Saliba, B. J., Raine, L. B., Picchietti, D. L., & Hillman, C. H. (2013).
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Stattlesmair, J., & Ratey, J. (2009). Physically active play and cognition: An academic
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Wendel, M. L., Benden, M. E., Zhao, H., & Jeffrey, C. (2016). Stand-biased versus seated
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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 29-37, March 2017.

Expanding Areas of Influence at Azores


University: Virtual Campus, Regional Clusters
and Points of Presence

Rogerio L. Roth
University of the Azores
Ponta Delgada, Portugal

Abstract. The tripolarity of the University of the Azores, characterised


by three campuses and facilities has been shown to be economically
unviable, socially unjust and at the same time insufficient to allow the
attendance of all nine islands of the archipelago. The location in an
outermost region of the European Union does not guarantee a positive
discrimination. The solution might lie in a paradigm shift, based on a
decapolar structure and through partnerships establish regional clusters,
points of presence and a virtual campus.

Keywords: regional clusters; points of presence; paradigm shifts; virtual


campus

Introduction
The University of the Azores (UAC) is a Portuguese public institution, created
within the framework of regionalization of higher education.
It is important to bear in mind that the issue of insularity in the region involves
specific solutions that fit to the geographical, economic and social realities of the
Azores archipelago, located in the middle of the northern hemisphere of the
Atlantic Ocean.

source: http://www.visitazores.com/en
source: http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/A%C3%A7ores

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The issue of insularity provides a tripolar character to the region, with poles in
the cities of Ponta Delgada, Angra do Herosmo and Horta, which gave rise to
the present Azorean campuses.

In this paper I focus on analyzing the tripolar physical campus model used by
UAC, analyze similar institutions and propose a new model of expansion, based
on regional clusters, points of presence and a virtual campus.
The paper draws on findings from the research Implementation Strategies and
Development of an Open and Distance Education System for the University of
the Azores (Roth, 2013), funded by the European Social Fund. The main
objective of this research was to observe the recent events related to likely
paradigm shift in the educational area and propose to UAC the adoption of
solutions that can, at the same time, correct implementations already carried out
in previous experiments and respond to these new challenges.

After 36 years since its creation, the University continues to face challenges,
particularly arising from the inexorable process of globalization phenomenon
started in the 15th century with the era of Portuguese discoveries, of the
knowledge-based society and the policy effects of chronic underfunding of
public higher education in Portugal.

However, as well see, UAC has been unable to serve the entire archipelago with
the structure defined in 1976. This concept is being questioned today. The latest
concern is with old theories about the functioning and costs of the tripolar
infrastructure. There are those who are once again defending the centralization
of UAC on a single island, claiming that the three infrastructures is that it
hinders the financial management of the academy (Lima, 2012).

Would it be a priority to invest in education in times of crisis? Probably not...


Would it be possible to have more and better education for all, without further
costs? Certainly

Referring to Portugal, Crato (2012) says that: the greatest debt that a country
can generate is the perpetuation of ignorance. However Morgado (2011),
previously in a self-criticism, recognizes the difficulties faced in the country:
think and talk is easy. But roll up their sleeves and put hands to work is
something else. We are a speaking society.

The analysis shows that the current structure does not serve physically the
whole archipelago forcing the movement of students and professors (Roth,
2013). In addition, it is impossible (in the current model), to have the pretension
to meet the natural demands (geographical vocation), services, industry,
interests (public and private) and personal choices of each citizen who does not
need to be limited to any demands, initiatives and existing course offerings
locally and always will determine the movement or to another island, or to the
mainland or overseas, often a path without return many azoreans are going to
study elsewhere and they do not come back to the Azores (exodus). However,
this can be bypassed.

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Nowadays, it is possible to offer the world without the need to leave home,
city, island or region through partnerships and agreements with other national
and international institutions to offer and develop different kinds of courses,
targeting to specific needs, enabling multiple certifications and joint
development.

In recent years UAC has missed the train in relation to various demands, and
that applies in relation to e-learning, the lack of struggle against resistance of
professors in the use of technology; the lack of attention to migratory diversity of
the Azores, the lack of support to students in mobility; the lack of approximation
of departments that can be considered watertight areas that hardly
communicate with each other, compete among themselves and hardly
collaborate on joint projects; the failure to reply to the invitation to participate at
OpenCourseWare (OCW) Universia and the non-participation in calls that could
improve their infrastructure, reducing the effects of insularity, effective presence
in all the islands, reduction of maintenance costs, increased visibility, external
projection and internationalization by finding new customers outside its
surroundings (Roth, 2013).

Cabral (2012) points out the future challenges, doubts and related issues that the
azoreans themselves also seem to have doubts: our academy will also have to
make an effort to restructure and adapt to the new reality of these times. it is
necessary that the university engage more with the society, in order we realised
and be involved in supporting its operation. The university should clarify, to all
of taxpayers, which is the strategy it intends to take for their survival, and how
to solve numerous problems of management, exploitation and investments; for
which we keep hearing questions and major concerns.
Medeiros (2013) recognizes these difficulties, stressing that the University of the
Azores to become a true university of the 21st century would have to innovate
and transform themselves in order to follow these new concepts introduced by
the Europe 2020 strategy. These concepts will require a new dynamic only
possible by introducing new mobilizing structures, new working methods, new
ways of dealing with the community, new strategies in the fields of scientific
production, new capabilities to mobilize other audiences, new axes for social
and technological transformation and new ideas to intervene in society that
continues to see the university as the main promoter of qualification, innovation
and creativity.

Several Portuguese universities are betting on their own projects. Moreover, we


cannot deny the role of the universities of Aveiro and Minho which are among
the most technological universities of the country.
http://www.ua.pt/
http://www.uminho.pt/

The pursuit of national references to support the implementation of projects


mediated by technologies usually refers to the Portuguese Open University
(UAb), a distance education public university, created in 1988.
http://www.uab.pt/

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This connection cannot be neglected, however UAb have not innovated in any
aspect and was fully based on the Spanish congener National University of
Distance Education (UNED). Ever since April 2008 there has been extensive
cooperation through a collaboration agreement for the establishment of forms of
cooperation regarding innovation in distance education; as well as the creation
of joint academic activities in various scientific fields (Activities Report, 2008).
http://www.uned.es/

Apparently, UAb (2008) has opted to follow completely this model rather than
adopt the updated format used by the also Spanish, Open University of
Catalonia (UOC) where the whole process, including assessments, can be
performed by distance. To wit, UAb migrated from previous pedagogical model
(correspondence courses via post system) in the same way as UNED and holds
the same aftereffects, unlike UOC which, since its creation, adopted the
technologies. The greatest implication of these sequels refers to assessments and
examinations that still take place through in-person tests, although there are safe
technologies to make it totally by distance as does UOC (Roth, 2007).
http://www.uoc.edu/

As a consequence, the model adopted in Portugal is not open, and cannot even
be fully applied at distance, which contradicts UAb motto: Portuguese Open
University Anywhere in the World, since it is not possible to make and
complete a course from anywhere or even totally at distance.

In this sense the model of UAb, without adaptations, is not best suited to the
Azores region, since it does not eliminate totally the displacements of students
and/or professors.

Currently it is possible to safely apply distance evaluations through various


systems including video or not. Properly used as a means and not as an end in
itself technologies do not become a problem for evaluations. But evolution
does not necessarily passes through the technology, but by production of better
quality assessment systems, customised, that is not reproduced and applied to
the same group of students, or worse, maintained year after year without
substantial changes, as if the knowledge did not evolve over time or even if the
evaluators did not update their skills over time. Demonstrating interest in
developing an updated assessment is in line with the development of the current
education not just technologically and is part of the work of a professor in the
same way as updating a particular discipline (all semesters) and the relevant
bibliography (Roth, 2013).

The creation of different problems and situations unique to each student inhibits
a behavior that has been verified also in other groups, trying to replicate the
answers given by others. Moreover, the freedom to use all possibilities available
including the internet such as it occurs in real life, comes not only to meet
new needs (problem-solving) as it reproduces our normal behavior of using all
possible means to find a solution.

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33

The present-day needs are no longer focused on the accumulation of knowledge,


that is, memorization of contents is no longer important. The focus should be in
the ability to solve problems. Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is a student-
centered pedagogy in which students solve problems collaboratively and reflect
on their experiences.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem-based_learning

The challenge for universities with classrooms everywhere is more educational


than technological, because pedagogy remains focused on traditional instructive
proposals, not to mention that resists becoming technologically sound (Evans,
2001; Stoll, 2000).

The fact that UAC has not yet found its best way or even is not considered to be
the first domestic university to explore the technologies must be seen as an asset:
not to repeat the mistakes of other universities applying the premise attributed
to Otto von Bismarck (Gale & Buzzell, 1989).
Similarly, one of the main goals of studying history is not to repeat the mistakes
of the past. If the institutions do not learn from the mistakes of the congeners,
how can they avoid them in the future?

To meet the whole the Azorean archipelago, UAC has to adapt to the effective
use of technologies. However, replicating the UAb model does not mean any
innovation, but would only replicate the outdated model of UNED with all its
sequels. Before that, adopt the model of the UOC, or better still, evaluate all
existing models and extract the best that we can do with the different
technologies, not necessarily inventing or developing something new, but using
everything that already exists, often free of charge and developed by others.

Rodrigues (2012) launched an appeal: the University has to be of the Azores and
not only of the three islands. He spoke in the sense that UAC should be present
on every island, somehow (physical, blended or virtual learning). Perhaps it is
time to talk about it...

The lack of attention and sensitivity to regional demands, which does not always
mean additional costs on the contrary, could mean additional revenues have
been represented by a long process of internal disinterest of professors in
adopting effective technologies in supporting their educative actions, misguided
collaboration protocols, lack of interest in attending all islands and the opening
up of spaces so that the counterparts occupy the unwanted space (Roth, 2013).

On 14 December 2010, UAb (2010) and UAC signed a cooperation protocol. It is


inevitable that the prospects of achieving this bear hug on a regional scale will
lead to a stage of profound risk aversion, low investment and unemployment.
And as we can see, this situation is already reflected: Portuguese Open
University opens Learning Center in Terceira Island (Lusa News Agency, 2008).

Without claiming to want to turn UAC on a distance university, in many aspects


it must adapt and act as such, mainly due to the need to meet its target area, an
archipelago composed of nine scattered islands.

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34

The lack of a specific national legislation, at the same time allowing a high
autonomy and flexibility, ends up causing the lack of standards. And at some
point they will have to be established in order for accreditation and audit by the
Agency for Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Education (A3ES).
http://www.a3es.pt/

In terms of performance, UAC should already long ago have evolved the model
(inefficient, inadequate, insufficient and unsustainable) of three infrastructures,
for points of presence in all the islands (the 9 islands), more than one point on
each island, depending on the settlements. In other words, evolve towards the
direction of flexibility, through various forms of presence and performance not
only in three contact points but in numerous other places.

The costs of building and maintaining these traditional physical campuses make
any speech of expansion inviable, considering the economic times and the
current situation - the european debt crisis, the Portuguese economic crisis, the
chronic underfunding of education by the Portuguese state and the economic
situation of UAC. But it is not impossible. It is simply necessary to change the
focus, the means and ways. If it is not done now, another train will pass. And
this one will certainly not come back.

Roth (2013) argues that the best cost-benefit option is based on the deployment
of a decapolar structure (UAC10X), combining a fully virtual campus with nine
physical structures regional clusters in the whole islands with points of
presence (POPs) in various places of each island that can be associated with
existing ICT facilities.

How is this to be accomplished?

Some previous experiences of UAC itself have shown the way, but they did not
follow ahead. People who do not want things to change are those that, for some
reason, feel they have a disadvantage with the change.
Probably effective changes will only be observed through mechanisms of
pressure, derived from the current situation where crisis, reduce costs and
budget constraints have become watchwords.

In the same way that UAb did not use financial resources from its own budget to
establish itself and maintain in the Azores, UAC can do the same to expand its
presence in its main area of operation before others do...

In addition to its headquarters in Lisbon, UAb has delegations in the cities of


Porto and Coimbra and, in partnership with civil society and local, has been
creating a network of small units, devoted not only for learning support known
as Local Learning Centers (CLAs).
http://www.uab.pt/web/guest/organizacao/servicos/servicos-desconcentrados/cla

The CLA Ribeira Grande (So Miguel Island, Azores) is a partnership between
the Portuguese Open University and the Municipality of Ribeira Grande.
http://www.uab.pt/web/guest/organizacao/servicos/servicos-desconcentrados/cla/ribeira-grande

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35

The CLA Praia da Vitoria (Terceira Island, Azores) is a partnership between the
Portuguese Open University and the Municipality of Praia da Vitoria.
http://www.uab.pt/web/guest/organizacao/servicos/servicos-desconcentrados/cla/praia-da-vitoria

The first UAb partnership with municipalities, for the establishment of CLAs,
was with the municipality of Praia da Vitoria, having been progressively
widening the network of CLAs the whole country, favoring inland counties
without higher education offer.

Roberto Monteiro, who spoke at a press conference (Lusa News Agency, 2008),
said that one of the axes of the county development will only be sustainable if
based on professional development and human resources skills. The project
with UAb, aims to educational development, training and technology in a
mode using the new generation of distance learning. The praiense
municipality is responsible for providing and maintenance of the facilities, as
well as financing of equipment, while UAb is responsible for service of exams,
salary of center coordinator and promotion of courses. UAb will provide short
courses and disciplines to complement and professional valuation, as well as
undergraduate courses, masters and doctorates.

The former rector of UAb, Carlos Reis, stressed that this partnership, the first in
this new format matches strategic priorities of the institution. These priorities
are collaboration and openness to civil society, cooperation with partners that
have similar concerns and the technical and pedagogical innovation. This new
teaching mode responds perfectly to the institutional vocation of the
university, that has a pedagogic provision for qualification and re-qualification
of human resources in the active. Domingos Monteiro, former pro-rector,
revealed that all the educational offer is in accordance with the restructuring
required by the Bologna Process and of distance learning, which included the
new information and communication technologies, as well as personalized
assistance to students. Will be made available over three hundred disciplines
that can be attended individually, in short courses, specifically created according
to the needs of students and the municipality of Praia da Vitoria.

In 2008, UAb had about 10 thousand students, of whom two thousand in Africa
and more than 300 in the Azores (Lusa News Agency, 2008).
Rocha (2016) demonstrates that there are increasingly more students are opting
for university education in the distance and the Portuguese Open University is
increasingly sought after in the Azores.

The site of the Council of Rectors of Portuguese Universities presents current


data (2017):

UAC: 4179 students, 258 professors


http://www.crup.pt/universidade-dos-acores/
UAb: 12085 students, 155 professors
http://www.crup.pt/universidade-aberta/

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36

The last annual report (UAC, 2016, page 22) shows that the number of new
students (enrolled for the first time) continues to decline: 2011/2012 (954),
2012/2013 (811), 2013/2014 (741), 2014/2015 (724) and 2015/2016 (672).

I conclude by suggesting that the solution to UAC passes through the


establishment of regional clusters and points of presence, without the use of
financial resources from its own budget, through partnerships and agreements
with existing schools, municipalities, regional government and public and
private companies.

The project should start by building a structure that allows the realization of
studies, trials and investigations related to the development of technology-
mediated education through creative and innovative approaches to teaching and
learning. It involves promoting training sessions and support directed to
departments, covering a set of varied themes on the various existing solutions
and didactically validated at trial groups. Seeking, this way, a professional and
organizational evolution to obtain a more effective education, through the
creation of a dynamic research, development and resource center that carries out
the exploration, testing, disclosure, dissemination, socialization and contribution
to the development of this area of knowledge, through active participation in
actions and collaborations at local, regional, national and international.

References
Activities Report (2008). Working meeting between the rectorate teams of the National
University of Distance Education (UNED) and the Portuguese Open University
(UAb) Noble Hall, April 14, 2008. Retrieved April 6, 2017, from
http://www.uab.pt/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=2e6123bc-3a09-466b-
8389-813371bbe093&groupId=10136
Cabral, O. (2012). Save the University (Salvar a Universidade). LusoPresse. Vol. XVI - n
276. Retrieved April 6, 2017, from
http://lusopresse.com/2012/276/Salvar_a_Universidade.aspx
Crato, N. (2012, May 11). Parliamentary Debates. Portuguese Parliament. page 6, series I,
number 107. Retrieved April 6, 2017, from
http://debates.parlamento.pt/catalogo/r3/dar/01/12/01/107/2012-05-
10?sft=true&pPeriodo=r3&pPublicacao=dar&pSerie=01&pLegis=12&pSessao=0
1&deputado=438
Evans, R. (2001). The human side of school change: Reform, resistance, and the real-life
problems of innovation. 1 ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 336 p. ISBN
9780787956110.
Gale, T. B, & Buzzell, R. D. (1989). Das PIMS-Programm strategien und
unternehmenserfolg. Wiesbaden: Gabler. 256 p. ISBN 9783663095460.
Lima, A. (2012, June 4). Autonomy or guerrilla warfare? (Autonomia ou guerrilha?).
Aoriano Oriental, p. 14. Retrieved April 3, 2017, from
http://www.acorianooriental.pt/pagina/edicao-impressa/2012-06-04/regional
Lusa News Agency (2008, January 9). Azores: Portuguese Open University opens
Learning Center in Terceira Island. Retrieved April 7, 2017, from
http://noticias.sapo.pt/lusa/artigo/ed97f8ed599924a3c73eb8.html
Medeiros, J. (2013, May 4). Letter from the Dean (Mensagem do Reitor). Retrieved April
6, 2017, from http://archive.is/fG6MO (archived from
http://www.uac.pt/mensagem/reitor) and
https://dre.pt/application/file/496853

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Morgado, P. (2011, February 21). Jornal das 10. SIC Notcias. Retrieved April 3, 2017,
from http://sicnoticias.sapo.pt/pesquisa?q=21.02.2011
Rocha, M. (2016, February 8). Portuguese Open University is increasingly sought after in
the Azores. RTP Aores. Retrieved April 7, 2017, from
http://www.rtp.pt/acores/local/universidade-aberta-e-cada-vez-mais-
procurada-nos-acores-video_49477
Rodrigues, C. (2012, September 13-14). Meeting on online teaching and virtual learning
(Encontro sobre ensino e aprendizagem virtual). Ponta Delgada: UAC. Retrieved
April 3, 2017, from http://sites.uac.pt/encontroeav/
Roth, R. (2007). Analysis of Formative and Experiential Experiences in ICT, addressed to
Spanish Teaching Staff and Strategies for Combating Resistance of Professors in
using these Technologies. UNED. 65 p. Retrieved April 6, 2017, from http://e-
spacio.uned.es/fez/view/bibliuned:AlumnosUNED-Trabajos-Rroth5000
Roth, R. (2013). Implementation strategies and development of an open and distance
education system for the University of the Azores. ESF/EC. Ponta Delgada:
UAC. 162 p. Retrieved April 3, 2017, from http://hdl.handle.net/10400.3/2327
Stoll, C. (2000). High-tech heretic: reflections of a computer contrarian. New York:
Anchor Books. 240 p. ISBN 9780385489768.
UAb (2008). Joint cooperation in masters programme. Retrieved April 6, 2017, from
http://www2.uab.pt/newsletter/new_detail.php?id=518
UAb (2010). UAb signs cooperation with University of the Azores. Retrieved April 7,
2017, from http://www.uab.pt/web/guest/noticias/-
/journal_content/56/10136/2973032
UAC (2016). Annual report 2015. Retrieved April 7, 2017, from
http://novoportal.uac.pt/sites/default/files/2016-05-
10p4.1uacrelatoriodeatividadesuac2015corrigido.pdf

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38

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 38-72, March 2017

Can You Tell Me Why: Two Extreme Cases in


Translation Learning Results
Yvonne Ying-Ya Wen1
PhD Candidate in the Department of Education
University of Taipei, Taiwan

Abstract. While conducting an experiment in translation teaching


methods between 2013 and 2014, the researcher found two participants
especially distinctive. One who seemed rather likely to fail turned out to
do quite well in the posttest beside his mid-term examination, while the
other who ranked on top in the pretest ended up ranking at the bottom
in the posttest. To find out the reasons why, the researcher invited them
both for in-depth interviews, which were respectively conducted in May
23 and 31, 2014. The former explained the reason why: He made up for
the skipped periods by taking extra effort to study on his own, utilizing
the library of National Formosa University and the online files uploaded
by the lecturer at the e-3 Campus Digital Learning System. The latter
said, just trying to do something different for a change, he adopted
another strategy in the posttest. Both regarded two factors conducive to
their achievements in learning English-Chinese Translation, namely,
pleasure reading and influences from supportive parents and Chinese
teachers in their earlier education. Beside the approach of case study,
part of the research findings will be presented in the form of narrative
inquiry, for both cases are information-rich and inspiring.

Keywords: translation learning results; case study; narrative inquiry

Introduction
Between the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, the researcher conducted an
experiment in translation teaching methods, employing the traditional approach
of repositioning components in the control group in contrast with a more
innovative approach of mental images portraying in the experimental group
(Wen, 2014a). From the results of pretest and posttest, two extreme cases stood

1
Yvonne Ying-Ya Wen is a lecturer in the Department of Applied Foreign Languages in National
Formosa University, Taiwan as well.

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39

out. To the surprise of the researcher, one participant (referred to as Tom in the
following discussions) in the control group, who was not supposed to do too
well, did make it nevertheless, while the other (referred to as Bob in the
following discussions) in the experimental group who got the highest score in
the pretest got the lowest score in the posttest. These two cases were too
distinctive to be ignored. The reasons behind these phenomena are worth
further exploring and, if figured out, are likely to be conducive to translation
learning and education in general as well.
In fact, Tom did not show up for two consecutive weeks right after the
beginning of the semester; that is, he missed 4 periods of classes. Therefore, the
instructor did not expect him to get a high score in the mid-term examination.
Yet he outdid 14 of his classmates in it. In his class of 27, hardly any students
had ever skipped classes. In other word, half of his class who, without fail,
attended all periods before mid-term failed to get a score higher than he did. As
for Bob, he ranked on top in the pretest. After the pretest, the instructor showed
participants their test results and explained how the pretest was scored. With
these explanations given, two more weeks of treatment in the control group, and
his success right at the start, Bob should have done better than the rest of his
class. How come he ended up ranking at the bottom in the posttest? There must
be a reason. The researcher decided to explore all possibilities as to the reasons
why these two cases took place: why Tom did better than his classmates who
hardly ever skipped a class and why Bob succeeded at first and failed at last.
Therefore, she invited both of these two participants to receive an in-depth
interview respectively.

Methodology
The purpose of this study is to find as many probable reasons underlying the
outstanding translation learning results of the two participants as possible. The
interest of the researcher lies mainly in finding more things behind the extreme
phenomena and describing them rather than verifying a hypothesis. The
approaches of case study and narrative inquiry were adopted, while
unstructured interviews remained the major research tools among others. Case
study can help the researcher understand the unique experiences of the
participants for the reference of other learners and instructors. Since many
stories of the interviewees are information-rich and inspiring, the researcher had
the interviewees tell their own stories in the first person narrative in a latter part
of this paper. Narrative inquiry also helps the participants make sense of the
experiences which they have gone through.

1. Case Study
The earliest use of case study research can be traced to Europe, predominantly to
France; in the United States it was most closely associated with The University of
Chicago Department of Sociology, where the Chicago School was preeminent in
the field and the source of a great deal of the literature from 1900's to 1935 (Tellis,

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40

1997). As Stake (1995) points out, each case of interest in education and social
service is unique in many ways, and we seek to understand every one of them
and would like to hear stories of each case.2 According to Patton (1990), case
study is

particularly useful where one needs to understand some special people,


particular problem, or unique situation in great depth, and where one can
identify cases rich in informationrich in the sense that a great deal can be
learned from a few exemplars of the phenomenon in question (p. 53).

This happens to coincide with the situations of the two cases in focus. The
two students are special and unique in a sense that they can be considered as
extreme cases. Therefore, case study is appropriate for looking further into these
cases. Stake (1995) declares that Case study is not sampling research. We do not
study a case primarily to understand other cases (p. 4), for sometimes an
unusual case helps illustrate matters we overlook in typical cases. This point
further endorses the use of case study approach in this study: These two special
cases are certainly extraordinary and cannot be taken light of in a
business-as-usual manner.
Merriam (1998) does not think that the sampling statistics in quantitative
research apply to qualitative research. The sampling method most often taken
for case study is purposive sampling (Lin, 2000). Cases are in the limelight
instead of variables now. Interpretations and explications can be complicated
and described around a person or an event; insights and rich details take the
place of statistics in quantitative research (Neuman, 2008). Hopefully, the
researcher will find insights that is conducive to others learning (Fraenkel, J. R.
& Wallen, 2003).
Though case study appears to be a poor basis for generalization, these cases
studied at length revealed some activities, problems, or responses coming up
again and again none the less; therefore, certain generalizations can still be
drawn in some cases as Stake (1995) suggested. Hitchcock and Hughes (1995)
also agree that a certain amount of generalization is possible in a case study.
However, Stake (1995) had it that they are not to be thought of as generalizations
and may need some label such as petite generalizations (p.7) which regularly
occur all along the way in case study. Nevertheless, Stake (1995) considered the
real business of case study to particularization rather than to generalization. For
him, the first emphasis is on understanding the case itself; that is, the first
objective of a case is to understand the case (Stake, 2006).
By definition, the prime referent in case study is the case, not the methods by
which the case operates (Stake, 2006). For Patton (1990), a case can be a person,
an event, a program, an organization, a time period, a critical incident, or a
community (p. 54). Yet Tellis (1997) considered the unit of analysis in a case

2
In this research, most of my data collected took the form of stories and remain this way.

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41

study is typically a system of action rather than an individual or group of


individuals. Stake (1995) in reflections figured out what it is not: The case is
something special to be studied, a student, a classroom, a committee, a program,
perhaps, but not a problem, a relationship, or a theme (p. 133). As was pointed
out, cases are special. Yet Tellis (1997) had another viewpoint. He found that
case studies tend to be selective, focusing on one or two issues that are
fundamental to understanding the system being examined. For Stake (2006): A
case is a noun, a thing, an entity; it is seldom a verb, a participle, a functioning
(1). However, the case can be used as an arena or host to bring many functions
and relationships together for study (Stake, 2006: 2).
As for the total number of cases to be studied, it is up to the researchers design.
Single or multiple cases are both rightful situations to be covered (Yin, 1993). If a
single case is chosen, the case can serve exploratory, descriptive, or even causal
purposes provided that it is a critical case, in which the empirical data are
used to test an important theory (Ibid.). If multiple cases are involved, the logic
bringing these cases together should be considered a replication logic rather than
sampling logic (Yin, 1993).
Stake (2006) regards that the single case is meaningful, to some extent, in terms
of other cases; in other word, any case would be incomprehensible if other
somewhat similar cases were not already known. Therefore, he considers that,
even when there is no attempt to be comparative, the single case is studied with
attention to other cases. The cases categorically bound together somehow are
members of the same group or examples of a phenomenon. Stake (2006) calls
this group, category, or phenomenon a quintain (p. 6), an object or
phenomenon or condition to be studied. Stake (2006) also claims that the
researcher may study what is similar and different about the cases in order to
understand the quintain better and that the researcher may give proportionate
or disproportionate attention to the quintain and individual cases.
I agree with Creswell (2013) when he said that case study research, as a
methodology, is a type of design in qualitative research that may be an object of
study as well as a product of the inquiry. Though most teachers, graduate
students, and researchers in education have encountered cases studies in
training or work, Merriam (1988) thinks there was little consensus on what
constitutes a case study. Quoting Smith (1978; quoted in Merriam, 1988; See also
Stake, 2006), Merriam (1998) defines a bounding system as the focus of the
investigation. She also defines an examination of a specific phenomenon such
as a program, an event, a person, a process, an institution, or a social group (p. 9)
as case study. Just like Stake (1995), Merriam (1988) also finds it helpful to point
out what case study is not in addition to what it is while defining case study: She
thinks that case study research is not the same as casework, case method, case
history, or case record. In the definition of Merriam (1998), the qualitative case
study is an intensive, holistic description and analysis of a single entity,
phenomenon, or social unit and it relies heavily on inductive reasoning in
handling multiple data sources. Merriam (1998) is not the only person who finds

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42

the significance of multiple data sources. Creswell (2013) in his definition of case
study also mentions this; he considers case study to be a qualitative approach in
which the investigator explores a real-life, contemporary bounded system (a case)
or multiple bounded systems (multiple cases) through detailed, in-depth data
collection involving multiple sources of information, such as observations,
interviews, audiovisual materials, and documents and reports and then reports a
case description and case themes.

2. Use of Multiple Data Collection to Ensure Reliability and Validity


As Earl Babbie (2005) points out in the ninth edition of his classic The Practice of
Social Research, there is a certain sort of interactive dynamic between validity and
reliability. Taking factory workers for an illustration, he says that in an effort
taken to understand the morale of a factory it is scientific for the researcher to
calculate the total number of workers complaints, yet the validity of talking to
workers on the assembly line is even higher though it is hard to do so without
compromising the reliability. That is a dilemma the researcher often faces in
choosing research methods: When the validity increases, reliability declines. You
cannot have your cake and eat it.
a. Research Tools
As aforementioned, Creswell (2013) and Merriam (1998) both state multiple data
collection in their definition of case study; furthermore, Gay, Mills, and Airasian
(2009a, 2011a) also recommend the use of multiple sources of data collection so
as to address such issues as trustworthiness in narrative research, which is one
of the two research methods taken in this study.
Tellis (1997) also said that, case study is known as a triangulated research
strategy. For Stake (1995; Tellis, 1997), triangulation comprises the protocols that
are used to ensure accuracy and alternative explanations. As a result of the
ethical need to confirm the validity of the processes, triangulation arises (Tellis,
1997). In case studies, this could be done by using multiple sources of data (Yin,
2001). Therefore, to best encounter the criticism against narrative research as
fictitious, romanticized versions of school life, the researcher decided to employ
alongside the major research tool of unstructured interviews in this research
multiple sources of information, including the research tools of test results,
survey questionnaires (Wen, 2014a), semi-structured interviews, and videos
from the mother research (Wen, 2014b).
Besides, in-depth interviews of the two cases were videotaped, and the
researchers own classroom observations were taken into consideration, too. Gay,
Mills, and Airasian (2009b, 2011b) deem tapes as convenient and reliable
research tools, for they ensure the availability of the original data anytime.
Videotapes, which contain not only sound but also images, are even more
helpful. Interview videotapes are especially good for analysis and exploration,
for they can be stored and played back for many times (Fraenkel & Wallen, 2003).
This way of data collection is more effective in that it keeps the researchers from
losing sight of meaningful non-verbal details that are happening simultaneously

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43

during the interviews. Moreover, since one triangulation method recommended


by Hitchcock and Hughes (1995) is to have results checked by the interviewees,
the results of this study were sent to the interviewees to see if the information is
correct.
b. Unstructured Interviews
For this study, open-ended interviews were respectively conducted on 23 and 31
in May, 2014. In this type of interview the interviewees give their in-depth
opinions about some key events or facts (Stake, 1995; Wu, Hsieh, Huang, & Chen,
2006). As one of the data collection tools in narrative inquiry, these
unstructured interviews are normally conducted with open-ending questions.
Such dialogues go on back and forth between the interviewer and interviewee
(Henning, Stone, & Kelly, 2011). As researchers raise questions to find meanings,
interviewees are allowed to take up most of the time in the conversations. Such
unstructured interviews can be deliveries of life story, narrative history and
biographical interviews (Ibid.).
Unstructured interviews are either non-directed or focused, yet education
researcher prefers focused interviews to non-directed interviews so as not to
waste time (Lin, 2012). But Krathwohl (1998) says it is the non-directive
interviews that are especially important for interviewers to master. For one thing,
they keep the interviewees instead of the interviewers at the center of attention;
for another, they decrease the risk of missing the unexpected, which may open
up new opportunities to significant findings.
Unstructured interviews are little more than a casual conversation that allows
the qualitative researcher to inquire into a certain thing that presented itself as
chance to learn about something at the research setting; their goal is not to get
answers to predetermined questions but rather to find out where the
participants are coming from and what they have experienced (Gay, Mills, &
Airasian, 2009b). In these informal interviews, the researcher respects the
interviewees feelings and interpretations of their own experiences, trying to
interpret the behaviors or attitude of the interviewees from their own
perspectives (Fan, 2004). Patton (1990) also said that the interviewers are to
understand the feelings, thinking, and intentions of the interviewees and to
describe the events.
In the interviews going on between researchers and participants, transcripts are
made, possibilities for further discussions are kept, and these interviews become
part of the ongoing narrative record (Connelly & Clandinin, 1990). The
interviewer may start from talking about the current events and then depart
from here to the past or the future (Gay, Mills, and Airasian, 2011). Unstructured
interviews are spontaneous: Both the interviewer and the interviewees are to
freely talk about issues in which they are interested so that they have a grasp of
each others thinking and make comparisons among their different perspectives
(Fraenkel & Wallen, 2003).

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44

3. Narrative Inquiry
Narrative inquiry, or narrative research, is applied in part of the descriptions of
the two cases studied here, because both the interviewees stories in this study
are information-rich and inspiring; they can be best understood in the words of
the speakers themselves from the first persons point of view. According to F.
Michael Connelly and D. Jean Clandinin (1990):

The study of narrative is the study of the ways humans experience the
world. This general conception is refined into the view that education and
educational research is the construction and reconstruction of personal and
social stories; learners, teachers, and researchers as storyteller and
characters in their own and other's stories.

A relatively new qualitative methodology, narrative inquiry is a way in which


narrative inquirers think narratively about experience throughout inquiry,
following a recursive, reflexive process of moving from field with starting points
in telling or living of stories to field texts to interim and final research texts
(Clandinin & Huber, in press). Since it is a research method and way of thinking
at the same time, it is not easy to define (Ho, 2005). It is used when willing
individuals are available to tell their stories and the researcher would like to
report their stories (Creswell, 2012). For educators seeking personal experiences
in actual school settings, narrative research offers practical and specific insights;
as a literary form of qualitative research with strong ties to literature, narrative
inquiry provides a qualitative approach in which the researcher can write in a
persuasive literary form (Ibid.).
Narrative Inquiry is easily confused with narrative. Wiebe (2009) tells one from
the other by pointing out that narrative inquiry is a methodological approach
that investigates narrative and/or employs narrative to present a view of
phenomena, whereas a narrative is often a story about a significant event or
experience in an individuals life. In fact, the origin of the word narrative can
be found in Aristotles Poetics (Eliott, 2005), in which a narrative is said to be a
story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. A narrative has a plot and is not
just a chronicle that offers no explicit links between events in the sequence
(Foster, 1979). Connelly and Clandinin (1990) thinks that narrative inquiry can
be traced to not only Aristotle's Poetics but also Augustine's the Confessions
(Ricoeur, 1984) and that narrative inquiry may be said to have various
adaptations and applications in a variety of areas including education. Unlike
event-centered research, narrative research is meaningful experience-centered,
distinguishing personal narratives from other representations as sequential in
time (Squire, 2008). It is characterized by the following elements (Gay, Mills, and
Airasian, 2009a): a focus on the experiences of individuals, a concerns with the
chronology of individuals experiences, a focus on the construction of life stories
based on data collected through interviews, restorying as a technique for
constructing the narrative account; inclusion of context and place in the story; a

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45

collaborative approach that involves the researcher and the participants in the
negotiation of the final text; a narrative constructed around the question, And
then what happened? It does not attempt to describe cultural images as
ethnography does; nor does it try to establish abstract theory as grounded theory
does (Wang & Wang, 2012).
For some authors, internal validity is to be improved by the use of narrative, for
participants are empowered to provide more concrete and specific details about
the topic discussed and to use their own vocabulary and conceptual framework
to describe life experiences; however, other researchers considered storytelling
to be a sense-making activity in the process that individuals are forced to reflect
on those experiences, to select the salient aspects, and to order them into a
coherent whole (Eliott, 2005). A further important issue in the validity of
narrative interview is the question of whether narratives are produced
specifically for the researcher in a qualitative interview or whether the narratives
told in interviews are closely related to those which occur spontaneously in
conversation and other aspects of daily life (Ibid.). To decide whether an
interviewee is telling the truth, the researcher need to consider what questions or
topic are being addressed in the research, and what type of truths or insights are
to be obtained from an interview (Ibid.). If the research focus is more on the
meanings attached to the individuals experiences and/or on the way that those
experiences are communicated to others, then narratives provide an ideal
medium for researching and understanding individuals lives in social context
(Ibid.). That is why narrative inquiry is appropriate for presenting part of the
research findings of this study: The researcher conducted this narrative inquiry
with a view to finding meaningful experiences of the interviewees. With the
words right form their mouth, the interviewees communicate directly their
personal experiences to the reader who may have a better understanding of
what they went through.

Research Background
As Susan Bassnett (2002) stated in the introduction to her Translation Studies,
translation studies is a young discipline. In an interview, Leo Tak-hung Chan
(Shan, 2015) said that translation studies have been conducted for thirty years.
Yet over the last three decades translation studies have developed into a
fledgling discipline (Zhang & Lee, 2014). Currently, questions generally accepted
as relevant and important enough to be asked in the field of translation studies
are very different from what they were; it has now come to mean something like
anything that claims to have anything to do with translation, whereas in the
past it meant only training translators(Basnett & Levevere, 1998). For example,
history is one of the things that happened to translation studies since the 1970s
(Ibid.). Geoge Steiner (1998) identified 4 stages of translation development and
listed famous translators with their works of different phases. In his
classification, we are now in the modern current. Posen Liao (2013) sorted out

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46

six stages of translation history based on the six peaks of translation


development in sequential order. Yet Lefevere and Bassnett (1998) themselves
discussed the historical divisions by means of models rather than time
sequence. Another change observed by Lefevere and Bassnett (1998) is the
strategies employed to serve the different functions of four types of texts: to
inform, to entertain, to do both, or to translate texts that belong to the cultural
capital of a given culture (Ibid.); however, functionalists tend to regard texts as
informative, expressive, or operative (Reiss, 2001; quoted in Liao, 2013). As for
the field coverage, in Introducing Translation Studies: Theories and Applications,
Munday (2001: 10) presented a chart displaying the applied branch of translation
studies based on the Holmes/Toury map, in which the three subfields
translator training, translation aids, and translation criticism belong to the
categories of applied translation (See Fig. 1). It can be seen that translator
training has been an important issue of translation studies for years and still
remains a significant one.
Today, in the twenty-first century, boundaries are less contrstraining than any
other time in history and movement of peoples across boundaries is increasing
because of the advanced Internet technology. This also has its influence on
translation studies. Since 1990s interest generated by corpus-based translation
enquiry opened distinct lines of research that continue to flourish (Bassnett,
2002). For example, Dr. Chung-ling Shih (2006) proposed machine translation
and translation memory tools as a possbile route to modify current translation
teaching so as to achieve the goals of practability, authenticity nad relevance. Yet
machine translation is missing in the above figure by Munday (2001: 13),
whereas Posen Liao (2013: 5) in his quote of Tourys depiction of Holmes
analysis includes machine translation in the diagram.

Applied

Translator training Translation aids Translation criticism

teaching testing curriculum revision reviews


evaluation techniques design evaluation
methods of translations

IT applications dictionaries grammars

translation on-line use of


software
Figure 1: The applied branchdatabases
of translation studiesinternet
(Munday, 2001: 13).

Globalization is another trend that enters into the field of translation studies in
the twenty-first century. When he was asked by Teh-Hsing Shan (2015) about
types of research he has done in an interview, Leo Tak-hung Chan said that

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47

translators should have unique viewpoints concerning the issue of the


globalization of the English language and he admitted that he has published
articles on that. Another example is a paper on student expectation of translating
and interpreting training programs in graduate institutes in Taiwan was
conducted by Chen and Liao (2014) from the perspective of globalization, too.
Translation pedagogy, or translation teaching, from which this study derived, is
considered by some to be drowned out by the endless debate over theory versus
practice today: Translation theory is typically criticized as at best irrelevant to
the professional translator and at worst distracting and misleading (Baer & Koby,
2003). But it may not be the right way to look at the relationship between
theory and practice. Colina (2003) said when models and hypotheses are isolated
in need of empirical validation, the application of theoretically based methods to
the classroom is a useful source of data to test validity and instructional effects
while these data can in turn be used to revise models and hypotheses. The
researcher is in line with Pym (2016) when he says it is not right to segregate
theory from practice. On the one hand, theories may be of help to solving
conflicts that arise in discussions of the translation classes. On the other, teachers
may introduce terminology when students are in need of such theoretical
supports in their debate. The results may be fruitful when theory is introduced
into the translation classroom in such cases. And the knowledge produced in
classroom teaching may also be conducive to the field of translation studies.
Among all these controversies between theory and practice, the target audience
of translator education, the translation learner or student is a good subject to
take into consideration. Echeverri (2015) said that helping students to take better
control of their own learning is an aspect that can be influenced by knowledge
produced in educational research. This is verily so, and the researcher proposes
here that learners own personal experiences may also shed some light on
translation teaching in return and open some more possibilities in future
educational research in translation studies. For example, Liao (2016, 2007) has
done a certain research on college students translation strategy use, which is a
learner-centered study. He also conducted another research on the relationships
between students learning styles and their translation competence (Liao, 2011),
which is also an example of learner-centered study. Understanding students
way of learning can be a route that leads to productive findings that helps
researchers figure out how to advance their learning.
Case study has been a research method for translation studies for years. For
example, Zhang Rui and Lee Tong-King (2014) has conducted a case study on
the methodological issues in translation research in China. They examined the
unjustified claims made by Yan Fu, Lin Shu and Lu Xun, analyzed possible
reasons, and made recommendations to enhance methodological awareness in
translation research and teaching. In an interview conducted by Bo Li (2014),
Prof. Douglas Robinson mentioned that he used case study as his research
method once when theorizing practical applications, looking at one specific
problem of a single translator, namely Alex Matson, who was Finnish born but

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48

raised in England and translated both ways from English to Finnish and Finnish
to English. Besides, he also conducted a case study by taking a close look
between two English translations of Dostoevsky, in which he found them to be
very similar. Shahhoseiny (2015) also presented a case study of first-year
translation students at a university of applied science and technology in Iran.
From the above cases, it is not too far-fetching to infer that case study is already
an accepted method of research for translation studies.

Research Process
In the unstructured interviews conducted, the interviewees were given the
freedom to talk about whatever that came to their mind in the beginning, while
near the end of the interviews they were asked which people or events in their
earlier education were considered helpful or relevant to their current translation
learning results. In the interviews, the two participants were making sense of
their past learning experiences and trying to find their relevance to their present
translation learning experiences. These interviews were conducted respectively
on 23 and 31 of May in 2014 as the second follow-up study of the mother
research (Wen, 2014a; See Fig. 2).

Mother Pretest Treatment Posttest Follow-up Follow-up


Research Survey Survey Study 1 Study 2
Experimental
Group Semi-
Unstructured
Unstructur
Recruiting Pre- Mental Post- Structured
Interviews
Participants test Imagery test Interviews
Ned
3= 2
N1=40 Portraying N2=20
n=22
Interviews
Control
Group
Repositioning
Components
n=18
Dec. 13 & 19 Dec. 16 & 19 Dec. 23, 26, 30, 2013 Jan.13 & 16, Jan.6~14, May 23 & 31,
2013 2013 Jan. 2, 6, 9, 2014 2014 2014 2014

Fig. 2 Research Process. This figure was adapted and translated from the mother
research (Wen, 2014a) and the first follow-up study (Wen, 2014b). This research is
Follow-up Study 2.

Research Findings
I. Toms Case
The first participant interviewed was Tom, who, in the mother research (Wen,
2014a; See also Fig. 2), was in the control group, that received the more
traditional training of repositioning components as their major method of
translation. In the very beginning of the semester, Tom skipped classes during

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49

the second and third weeks. In other word, he missed four periods while almost
all of his classmates had never missed any. Yet in the mid-term examination he
got a score higher than 14 classmates in the class that totaled 27; that is, he
outdid more than half (51.85%) of his class.
In the mother research (Wen, 2014a; See also Fig. 2) from which this study is
originated, the perfect scores for both pretest and posttest were 55. Tom got 23.5
in the pretest while the average of his classmates was 13 and the standard
deviation was 6.69. He came the second in the pretest; his score was higher than
20 (90.9%) of his group members (n=22). In the subsequent posttest, he got 42
while the average of his group members was 25.3 and the deviation was 9.25. He
still maintained his silver medal in the posttest.
In the first survey of the mother research conducted before pretest (i.e. pre-test
survey; See Fig. 2), Tom said that he read the handouts but did not finish doing
it, neither did 13 (33.33%) of the participants (N= 40) in the mother research.
Only 3 (7.5%) participants said that they finished reading the handouts for sure.
One of those in the control group won the gold medal in both the pretest and
posttest. Although Tom did not finish the assigned reading of handouts, he was
still one of the best. In the interview conducted on May 23, 2014, Tom disclosed
that he had a part-time job on weekends; Saturday and Sunday are his work
days. He was exhausted every weekend. That is the reason why he overslept for
two times and did not come to the class that was scheduled on Monday morning.
When asked how he made it in the mid-term examination and the posttest, Tom
explained the way he made up for the missed lessons: Firstly, he asked his
classmates what was taught and borrowed notes from them; secondly, he
downloaded the electronic versions of handouts from e-3 Campus Digital
Learning System of National Formosa University, which are in PowerPoint
format, rearranged them in his own order, and went over the handouts on his
own; thirdly, and finally, he went to the library, checked out the reference books
listed in the handouts, and read not only parts that were quoted but also those
that were not.
The researcher was overwhelmed by Toms hard work, for such painstaking
effort was hardly taken by any students, and she asked Tom why he was so
highly motivated. Tom revealed that, after he had skipped classes for two
consecutive weeks, he was warned by the researcher teacher that he was on the
verge of being flunked. He was told that, if he was absent again without any
justified cause, he was sure to fail this required course, Chinese-English
Translation I.3 After that he never dared to skip any class. Apparently, the
researcher teachers warning, or threatening, worked: It spurred Tom to work
harder than most of his classmates subsequently.
The next thing by which the researcher is much impressed is that Tom checked
out the references books in the library and went over the original literature from

3 Though the name of the course is Chinese-English Translation, it includes


translations of both ways.

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50

which the handouts were adapted. The researcher remembered that at one point
he even offered a journal article to the researcher and recommended that she use
it in students oral presentations of mock conferences.4 In addition, Tom has his
own organization of the downloaded PowerPoint files. That means he has a
unique way of arranging these teaching materials. The researcher responded to
Tom by saying that most schoolmates who passed the qualifying examination in
her PhD program in the University of Taipei had their own arrangements of
materials, too.
Toms second point also reminded the researcher of one of her own journal
articles (Wen & Wang, 2008): Students reported that, when they, for whatever
reason, missed a period or two, they found it helpful to have a second chance by
visiting the virtual classroom online, where they were able to make up for their
loss by downloading the teaching materials available online and view their
classmates discussions on classroom activities.5
Toms case showed that a certain warning in time can motivate a student. In his
case, he took tremendous effort to make up for the missed course content and
eventually outdid not only most of his group members in the experiment but
also more than half of his classmates in the mid-term examination. However,
this may not be the only reason. Based on the classroom observations, the
researcher found that Tom obviously has a better command of the language in
reading and/or vocabulary. At one point the researcher gave the group a
translation assignment to do in class. Most of Toms classmates had a hard time
doing it, yet he finished doing it in no time. When his classmates were still
struggling with it, Tom went to the toilet and returned to the classroom where
not too many of his classmates were enjoying the freedom as he was. This is not
the end of the story, either. In the interview, Tom also admitted that attending
applied foreign language program in his senior high school days helps him
procure a solid base of vocabulary, whereas many of his classmates said in the
semi-structured interviews of Follow-up Study 1 that vocabulary is their
Stumbling Block Number One in doing translations (Wen, 2014b). Among the
7 types of translation strategies they offered in the semi-structured interviews, 5
(71.43%) were those dealing with new words they didnt know (Ibid.). Twelve
(60%) out of the 20 interviewees in the first follow-up study directly or indirectly
mentioned their difficulties in vocabulary. It is not far-fetching to make an
inference that Toms vocabulary knowledge to a certain degree gained ground
for him. Therefore, his senior high school education with specialization in
English can be another significantly favorable factor for his performance.

4 From the fall semester of Academic Year 2009 to winter 2014, the researcher
accommodated mock conference presentations in the curriculum as part of students
oral report/peer teaching.
5 Students in this class were asked to write weekly learning logs online onto the

discussion areas in the e-3 Digital Learning System of National Formosa University,
offering their reflections on what was learned in class.

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51

II. Bobs Case


Bob was in the experimental group and received the treatment of mental
imagery portraying as the major method of translation. In the pretest of the
mother research (Wen, 2014a; See also Fig. 2), he got 26.5 and ranked on top in
the pretest. The average score of his class was 16.06 with the standard deviation
of 7.45. After the pretest, the instructor showed participants their test results and
explained how the pretest was scored. With these explanations in mind, two
more weeks of treatment, and his success in the pretest, he should have done
much better. Yet he failed in the posttest and got only 12 in it; the average of his
class reached 23.08 with the standard deviation of 8.68. He lost his crown in the
end and, even worse, he ranked precisely at the bottom. How come he who won
the championship at first ended up ranking at the bottom?
On May 31, 2014, Bob was asked this question in the last quarter during the
one-hour interview. From his pretest result, it can be easily seen that he already
mastered the translation technique. The researcher asked him why he used
another strategy and did the posttest in a rougher way. Since the teacher
explained how the pretest was scored and what those scores meant after the
pretest, he should have already known that his former strategy did work. Why
did he not just do the same in the posttest as he did in the pretest? Why did he
change his strategy and use another method of translation? His answer came all
too instantly and curtly. He said that he wondered whether the posttest would
be evaluated in a rather different way. If the posttest is scored in exactly the
same way as the pretest, then they were just two sets of questions to be solved in
like manner. For him, it would not be so interesting to repeat that same way of
translation in the posttest; therefore, he decided to make a change. He was not in
a hurry, nor was he rushed through the posttest. He was not tired, either. He
told the researcher it is not that there were new words. There are always new
words whenever translation is to be done, he said. In his posttest, he simply took
another strategy. In short, it was not for any mysterious reason that he failed in
the posttest, he just did not want to repeat himself by doing translations in the
old way. He wanted to try something different to see if it will be more
interesting.

Narratives of the Participants Learning Experiences


In the interviews that last for one hour, both interviewees were free to talk about
their learning experiences from childhood up to now besides asking the
interviewer questions concerning their learning. Inspiring stories came along
here and there all the time. The researcher decided to let them tell their own
stories in this section. The researcher not only raised questions [represented by
Int, shortened from the word Interviewer], while the participants took up
most of the time talking about their own experiences. These narratives were not
rearranged; they were numbered in the original order with a subheading as well
as ellipsis in between narratives. The original interviews were in Chinese. The
narratives offered here are the researchers translations. They were checked by

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52

the interviewees and were confirmed of their accuracy.

I. Toms Narratives
1. Tom is a Lover of Literary Works of Art.
Int: Lets start from your childhood. Has your Mandarin Chinese always been good
ever since you were in the primary school?
Tom: Mme. My Mandarin Chinese was not especially good when I was in the
elementary school. I should be grateful to my junior high school Chinese teacher.
Int: Why?
Tom: She paid a lot of attention to our handwriting and pronunciation.
Int: Does that mean you are not supposed to miswrite a word?
Tom: Thats right.
Int: Well, is it like a floating that comes to the surface of the water, since your
learning results come to the fore after so many years?
Tom: Yes.
.
Tom: She told us the backgrounds of the articles in the textbook in great detail.
Tom: The next time when something similar came up, she would tell us those
backgrounds of these articles all over again. And she raised questions to see if we
still could remember. Then we had to try very hard to think of these background
story once again.
Int: It makes all the difference. When you think it over, you will be much impressed.
Tom: (Nodding.) And I am especially interested in literature.
Int: Do you get high marks in Chinese compositions?
Tom: Compositions? (Nodding.) Ever since childhood, my Mandarin Chinese
compositions have been good. But I am not good at sciences such as physics and
chemistry. I got low scores in them.
Int: Did you read many famous literary works of art since you were a child?
Tom: I did read some, but not too many.
Int: Of what kind?
Tom: When I was in the elementary school, I read things like folk tales. When I went on
to junior high school, I read translated modern Mandarin versions of ancient
Chinese novels like Journey to the West.
Int: Right! Right!
Tom: And then. I am interested in poetry, too.
Int: Childrens?
Tom: Yes. I also read novels. Modern novels mostly, such as Lung Ying-tais.
Int: Lung Ying-tai never wrote a novel. She wrote essays instead of novels.
Tom: Essays, essays, essays.
Int: Collections of essays.
Tom: In senior high school days, my Chinese teacher started to teach us literary works
of art.
Int: Have you ever been persecuted for reading these outside readings other than
your textbooks?

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53

Tom: I like to read. My mother encouraged me to read more literary works of art.
Int: You have a great mom. My mother is a Chinese teacher, yet when I read modern
Chinese literary works of art, she persecuted me.
Tom: She bought many books for me to read.
Int: Really? I was scolded for reading such books.
Tom: [Gesturing a pile.] She bought sets of folk tales in Taiwan for me, and she made
me read them. She said those tales were very important.
Int: It makes all the difference. It makes all the difference. It makes all the difference. I
borrowed childrens version of world-famous literary works of art from the
library. They are pollution-free; if you read grown-ups versions translated from
the original, there are pollutions in the translations.
Tom: So, then. I read mostly essays. I also read some novels, but not too many.
Int: So, you yourself are a lover of literary works of art.
Tom: (Nodding.) I like to read.
Int: So do I. Would you tell me your mothers background? Why did she encourage
you to read?
Tom: There is nothing special in her background. She is just an ordinary woman, not
too well-educated.
Int: Most parents would like their children to focus on schoolwork. My mom
wouldnt allow me to read any other books.
Tom: She is concerned about my academic achievements; and she also knows that I like
to read literary works of art.
Int: She makes you who you are.
Tom: Yeah. She makes me who I am.
Int: Your mother is so great!
Tom: (Nodding.)
Int: She spends a lot of money cultivating you. I went to the library to borrow books,
and actually there were not many books in my parents house.
Tom: (Nodding.)
Int: Then I grew up and started to buy books for myself.
Tom: That was when I was a child. Now I am an adult. She tells me to borrow books
for myself.
Int: Yeah, you are a grown up now. You know how and where to get them.

2. Pleasure Reading and Influences from Junior High School Chinese Teacher
Int: Now what kind of books do you borrow from the library?
Tom: Later on, Later on, I borrowed those related to what I study.
Int: Course-related.
Tom: Yes, course-related. For example, I took Childrens English in my sophomore
year and I borrow childrens books from the library.
Int: In Mandarin or English?
Tom: English. [I read] English picture books. I even bought some very famous ones as
part of my collection.
Int: Oh, Huh-huh.

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54

Tom: Such as those by Dr. Seuss.


Int: When I took my daughter to coffee shops with picture books, I read them
together with her. It was fun.
Tom: They are interesting. What is taught in class is limited; therefore, I look for more
information in similar fields.
Int: With no limitations, your world grows much wider.
Tom: Yes.
Int: Were you always like this before, looking for more books to read by yourself?
Tom: Yes.
Int: Since when? How old were you when you started to look for books by yourself?
Tom: Since I was a junior high school student. And my teacher is the facilitator. She
shared her own collection of books with us, putting all the books she had in the
classroom.
Int: She was not afraid of losing them?
Tom: No, she was not. Every year she did the same: she asked students to read her
books.
Int: Oh, she sows many seeds. I wonder how great the harvest she may reap? So
you see the influence of a good teacher may become obvious 10 years later.
Tom: Mme. (Nodding.) Shes my Chinese teacher.
Int: How interesting a teacher can be! When I asked my Mom a question in Chinese
literature, she took it for a challenge.
Tom: An inspiring part of her teaching is that she raises questions and asks students to
do brainstorming. When no one replied, she went to the back of the classroom
and said, Call me when you find the answers. And the class was stalled.
Int: She forced you to think, to use your brain?
Tom: The class was stalled, and she took a break. And I always was the first one to call
her back, for I considered waiting for an answer a waste of time.
Int: What kind of questions do you answer, something she already taught you or the
brainstorming?
Tom: Both.
Int: Then you become a thinker, because she forced you to be one.
Tom: You have to come up with some kind of an answer.
Int: I think I need to interview her. Huh-huh.
Tom: So was my senior high school Chinese teacher.
Int: Its a grace. Not everyone has such great Chinese teachers.

3. Influences from Senior High School Chinese Teachers


Int: Can you tell me how your senior high school Chinese teacher taught you?
Tom: Chinese teacher?
Int: Yes, you said your senior high school Chinese teacher taught in a similar way to
your junior high school one. But how? What did she do exactly?
Tom: Exactly. She. There are introductions to the writers in the Chinese textbook,
and there are notes and many other things.
Int: Yes, yes.

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55

Tom: She started teaching us from the introduction to the article and then she moved
on to the introduction to the author. She told us the background of each writer
and their style.
Int: Was it done in a way of storytelling?
Tom: Yes, and she taught it in a vivid way, never rigid. And she made it fun. She told
us what had ever happened to the authors. Thats how she raised our interests.
Int: Yeah, yeah. One of my high school Chinese teachers was like that. She could
spend two hours telling us the life story of Tsai Yuen-pei (or Cai Yuanpei). I was
overjoyed, for it was storytelling. Students like stories.
Tom: And anecdotes of the ancient writers are interesting, such as who hated whom
and libeled against whom.
Int: Thats funny.
Tom: Yes, and who befriended whom.
Int: And your interest grows.
Tom: She never taught in a rigid way.
Int: Ancient Chinese scripts could be rigid, but she made it interesting.
Tom: Yes, in an enlivened way.
Int: Then students got interested in the text.
Tom: (Nodding.) And she cared about our handwriting. She did not like simplified
Chinese characters. If we write simplified Chinese characters, we would be
punished and write correct characters many many times.
Int: I hat simplified Chinese characters too. Huh-huh.
Tom: I myself do not like simplified Chinese characters, either. My classmates use
simplified Chinese characters, but I dont like it. Movies downloaded always
contain simplified Chinese subtitles, and I cant read them. My classmates told
me, If you see more movies with simplified Chinese subtitles, you will get it.
But I just dont like simplified Chinese.
Int: Low-level culture.
Tom: Low-level culture. We shall never do without traditional Chinese characters.
Int: No. Never.

4. Use of the Internet


Int: How about the library in your senior high school? Were there many books in it?
Tom: Just so-so.
Int: You did not borrow many books from your school library then?
Tom: At that time, I used the Internet more often than the library.
Int: At home?
Tom: Yes.
Int: Well, this is an important piece of information. What kind of information did you
look for?
Tom: Key words.
Int: For example? Jargons in your professional courses?

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Tom: Yes, this semester you taught us allocation. Then I went on line to look for
relative information. When I find some pieces of useful information, I save them
to My Favorites.
Int: That is, you have the self-learning habit of going on line?
Tom: Yes.
Int: Which search engine do you use?
Tom: Google.
Int: Do you find Google to be the best?
Tom: Yes.
Int: And you save what you find important?
Tom: Yes. I save them.
Int: So you look for related information by using Google Search Engine?
Tom: Yes, but if I find too few pieces of information, I will start looking for books.
Int: Your priority is the World Wide Web and books are your second choice?
Tom: Yes. It is more convenient to use the Internet.
Int: Your order reverses mine. I look for books first. If I dont find any, then I go
online.
Tom: I get online first.
Int: When did you start the habit of going online?
Tom: Since I was in senior high.
Int: Senior high. But you just said you went home late.
Tom: I did not work part-time when I was in high school. I went online over the
weekends then. But to tell the truth, I did not consult many pieces of information
on the Internet when I was in senior high. At that time, teachers gave you a lot of
information, so I did not have the need to go on line searching information by
myself. In class, could hardly catch up with my Chinese teacher, putting down
what she said. I did not need to look for more information. It is in college that
you ought to take up responsibility of your own learning.
Int: Yes. Yes. Yes. But not every one of your classmates thinks so. You really have to
take up the responsibility of your own learning. Really!
Tom: I used to put the blame on others when I was a freshman. I wondered why our
teachers taught us so few things. Then one of my classmates who always gets
good grades, told me, You are to look for it by yourself. In college, teachers are
not supposed to give you everything.
.
Int: Can you tell me what kind of books you read other than folk tales in Taiwan that
your mother bought you? Did you read detective stories like Sherlock Holmes?
Tom: No.
Int: How about martial arts novels [or kung-fu novels]?
Tom: No. I am not so interested in martial arts novels as essays.
Int: How about science fiction?
Tom: No.
Int: What you mean by essays includes commentaries like those by Ying-Tai
Lung?

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Tom: Yes. That was when I was still in junior high. When I was small.
Int. What kinds of books did you read?
Tom: I read stories.
Int: Of what kind? Those in Taiwan or from overseas or?
Tom: In Taiwan, folk tales.
Int: So you read Taiwanese folk tales.
Tom: Yes, Taiwanese folk tales and childrens books, picture books. I read those since
childhood.
Int: And what series of childrens books in particular? Whats the name of the
publishers?
Tom: Publishers? I havent noticed.
Int: Are these all bought by your mother or borrowed from the library by yourself?
Tom: My mom bought them for me.
Int: Many of them are childrens picture books?
Tom: Yes. Very many.
Int: One of the students who ranked on the top in the mid-term exam years ago
shares this point with you.
Tom: There are fewer words in the picture books. Children are not able to read too
many words.
Int: Right. Starting from these picture books, children learn more words little by little.
The results can be amazing years later.
Tom: I am good at Mandarin Chinese. After attending your classes, my sensitivity to
Chinese characters is even more sharpened.
Int: I talked about differences between expressions.
Tom: (Nodding.) Before attending your classes, I didnt pay too much attention to the
details, because I wrote by typing Chinese characters. Since you direct our
attention to the structure, now I read what I type after writing a statement or a
paragraph to see if my structure is fine. My classmates found me to be.
Int: Meticulous?
Tom: Exactly.
Int: My translation teacher told us one of her friends was told by a net friend that she
must be more than 40 years of age for there is no mistyping in her net talk.
Tom: My classmates say I sound official [or bureaucratic].
Int: As if you were writing an article.
Tom: Exactly.
Int: People of my generation correct typographical errors all the time. If we mistype
anything and it was already sent out, we apologize for the mistake.
Tom: Me, too. And my friends always say it doesnt matter.
Int. So long as you get your points across,.
Tom: Yes.
Int: [To be a good translator,] you need to have a certain kind of insistence [on word
choices].
Tom: (Nodding.) Yes.

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58

Int: I think both your Chinese teachers in senior and junior highs have a certain
influence on you.
Tom: Yes. Especially the Chinese teacher in my high school years, she rather hates
simplified Chinese characters.

II. Bobs Narratives


1. He Was a Design Major in Senior High School Days
Int: Were you transferred from another university or department?
Bob: I wasnt in the applied foreign language program in my senior high school days. I
was in the advertisement design program.
Int: So, why are you here in this department?
Bob: I started learning English as a primary school boy. I have studied English in the
cram school all the way through the graduation of junior high. When I took the
Joint College Entrance Examination, my mom insisted that my elder sister fill out
the card of priorities for me. I told my elder sister that I never enjoy drawing
pictures, and I do not want to enter any of its relative fields.
Int: Did she do it on purpose?
Bob: I dont know.
Int: Or was it just your destiny?
Bob: She crossed a wrong code and I got into the advertisement design program of a
vocational senior high.
Int: Oh! My!
Bob: For this, I made phone calls and asked for a copy of the card of priorities. I did
not believe how this could take place. I wanted to know what really had
happened. When I received it, I saw that the wrong code was crossed. My elder
sister was speechless. So was I. Then I attended that program.
Int: Ah, huh-huh. You should have transferred to another department when you
were a freshman. Why did you go on studying all the way to your junior year?6
Bob: No, it was when I was a senior high freshman. Then I drew pictures everyday
with my classmates. I did not do well in drawing pictures, but I did well in
computer graphics. Then in my senior high sophomore year, the time came for
mock tests for Joint College Entrance Examination. My teacher asked me what I
would like to study in college? I talked it over with my family. My mom asked
me which subjects I was interested in? I said I was interested only in mathematics
and English. My mom said, Why dont you go on to a department of applied
foreign languages in college? Then I said, O.K. Thats why I am here.
Int: So you took a different set of examination from the one design majors did. And
then?
Bob: In the beginning, it was a pity: in the mock test I scored around 300 to 400 or
more. But I made a gradual progress over time. It took me one year to study on
my own without going to a cram school. Everybody else went to a cram school,
studying, studying, and studying. My mom said, It is not that I do not want you

6 At that time, the interviewer was still at sea about Bobs case.

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59

to go to a cram school. Nor is it that I have no money for you to do so. It is just
that I hope you give it a try to study on your own. You can make it. Then from a
schoolmate I learned how to prepare for the examination by myself. She also
changed her major from art design to English just as I did. Then I know what to
read. Then I bought some of the books she recommended, and I also read some
relative materials online. During that time, I went directly to study after dinner
from 7:00p.m. till 1:00 or 2:00a.m. Every night I studied hard. And that last
throughout a whole year. When the Joint College Entrance Examination was
approaching, the scores I got in the mock test were very close to my first choice,
National Formosa University. Its not far from my home. My home is in Chiayi.
My mom said, It is close. If you try hard enough, you may get into National
Formosa University. The threshold for entering National Formosa University
was then 560 points. I got 550 in the mock test, very close to it. On the first day of
the Joint College Entrance Examination, I found that I know the answers to
nearly all the examination questions. In the past I hardly calculated how many
points I got right after a test. But that day I checked all my answers right after the
Joint College Entrance Examination.
Int: You were sure you would make it.
Bob: Yes, yes, yes. After taking the first days exam, my mom asked me, Will it affect
your exam tomorrow? Why dont you just wait until tomorrow? I said, But Im
confident. I knew I did quite well.
Int: You knew you would make it.
Bob: It turned out that I got very high scores. I thought I would have to study even
harder the next day, for the next day I would take the exam in math. And the
next day when the examination was over, I calculated my total scores, they added
up to at least 570 points.
Int: You made it.
Bob: Then I started to relax and have a good time, waiting for the result. I got 590
points in total, because there were still scores for my compositions. I was even
offered a scholarship. Therefore, I entered this university with a score much
higher than the threshold, which equaled 556. My mom asked me if I wanted to
attend National Yunlin University of Science and Technology. But their
minimum was 597. Also, with my score I could still go on to National First
Kaohsiung University of Science and Technology or National Kaohsiung
University of Applied Sciences. But I decided to attend National Formosa
University as was planned. And my mom kept her promise and bought me a car.
Int: Wow! Huh-huh-huh.
Bob: For it is not far from my home, I can drive home.
Int: Everyday?
Bob: No, on weekends and holidays. Ever since I went on to college, my family
members have tended to trust me. For example, I just have to tell them where I
was going, my mom will say, O.K. O.K. Go anywhere you want to.
Int: She trusts you.

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2. A Bad Boy in Junior High School Days


Bob: But I used to be a bad boy. People who know me well are all aware of that. All
my friends know that when I was in junior high school, I was bad. I was in
low-grade class in the ability grouping system. I skipped classes. After I listened
to teachers lecturing for 5 minutes, I started to fall asleep. In the classroom, I
talked with my classmates and left the classroom once I got bored.
Int: Ho-ho-ho.
Bob: To a degree that my parents had to apologize to the principal of the junior
high. I fought with guys. My parents had to go to the Office of Students Affairs
to clean up the mass for me.
Int: Somebody hit you? Or?
Bob: I hit others and got into troubles. It was a mass.
Int: Huh-huh-huh.
Bob: I smoke cigarettes at that time. I quit it after my mom, crying, begged me to
behave myself and study harder. She only asked me to finish my junior high
school education.
Int: Huh-huh-huh. Poor thing!
Bob: Later I just became good. I was frustrated in the First Basic Competency Test
(BCT). The perfect score was more than 300 points, while I got only 147.
Int: Less than a half.
Bob: Less than a half. My mom said, Study on your own, and take the second BCT.
Then I studied hard and took the second test. The second time I got more than
200 points. I thought, Great, I finally could. My life is indeed a bumpy
journey. Then I have got a national high school to attend. Actually I wanted to
take the applied foreign languages program.
Int: But a wrong code was crossed.
Bob: My elder sister crossed advertisement design program for me. I have a serious
weakness for design majors. A designer should not have color blindness (color
amblyopia) or color weakness (partial tritanopia), but I have color weakness. My
roommates laughed at me when I mixed yellow slippers with green ones in the
toilet. I had a hard time receiving training in advertisement design. Every day
we paint still life. My classmates were having a good time.
Int: They are good at it.
Bob: They were happy doing it, but I just sat there with my drawing paper empty.
Then my teacher came and saw nothing was there on the paper. He knew how I
got there, so he started to teach me how to paint still life. In spite of his
explanations, I did not make much progress. Teachers let me pass, for they knew
what had happened to me. Then I got 590 in the Joint College Entrance
Examination. I came the second in my senior vocational high. In my senior
high,.
Int: You became a legendary figure.
Bob. That same year my schoolmate who scored on top in the senior high got 597
points in the Joint College Entrance Examination.
Int: Was she admitted to National Yunlin University of Science and Technology?

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61

Bob: Yes, she was. And my schoolmates in the applied foreign language program said
how come this person in the advertisement design program did better than the
rest of us. And their home room teacher told them, See, you have been
struggling for all these three years. He spent only one year studying English and
now he outdid you, you see. What have you been doing? Indeed some of them
went on to better universities than I did, such as National First Kaohsiung
University of Science and Technology.
Int: You got enough points for entering that university, too. But you just didnt go on
to college there.
Bob: I didnt go there. Some said I was a fool. But I thought, since I am a
higher-achiever, it will be easier for me to study here. And it wont cost me that
much. I dont have to worry that I might not be able to keep up with others,
either. My mom also said, You want to study in the department of applied
foreign languages? Why dont you just go on to Wenzao Ursuline University of
Languages? Their English is quite good, but it costs a lot more money to study
there.
Int: It is a private one, so it costs more. They do excel in language learning, though.
Bob: Indeed.
Int: Their graduates are competent to work as professional translators.
Bob. My friends in the Department of French said their oral training is very good.
Int: Yes, even their French majors English is better than that of the average college
students. How can it not be? They spent 19 hours weekly speaking English.
Bob: They listen and speak and then listen and speak all along. Though it costs them a
lot, they are surrounded by such outstanding English learners.
Int: You are not in need of money. Why did you not go on to Wenzao Ursline
University of Languages?
Bob: I come from a single-parent family.
.

3. Bob Ran away from the Primary School


Bob: As a child, I lived in Chiayi County. We moved to Chiayi City later on. When my
family moved to Chiayi, I had difficulties adapting myself into the new
environment. I resisted going to the elementary school. So I began to skip classes
when I just started my schoolboy days. In the middle of the class, I would say to
my classmates, I want to pee. Then I went climbing over the fence of the
primary school and walked straight home.
Int: Oh, no. Did you?
Bob: Then I knocked the door of my house and rang the door bells. Then my mom
answered the door. She said, Youre home again. I told her, I dont want to go
to school. I dont like it. Its boring. I watched TV at home. It was my Dad that
brought me back on track. One day he warned me that, You have come home
from school for a week. If you dare to come home once again tomorrow, I will
beat you up. But I wouldnt listen to him, I just went straight home again the
next day after the first period was over. My dad was waiting for me at home with

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62

a stick in his hand. He gave me a discipline. The worst part of it is not that. My
mom sent me back to school. It was hot at the time, and I wore short sleeved
shirts. There were blacks and blues all over my body. My teacher saw that I was
injured, took me to the nurse in school and had my wounds treated. I was much
impressed. Even the primary school principal found that out and came to comfort
me. He wanted to know whether I was O.K. and he wondered why my Dad had
beaten me so badly. My neighbors also saw my injuries. They asked me questions,
too: What happened a few days ago? Why were you beaten up? I said with a
smile, Nothing. I was not good."
Int: Huh-huh.
Bob: And I behaved myself for a time after that.
Int: After being beaten up, you changed.
Bob: Yes.

4. How Bob Got Phrases Needed in Translations


Int: May I have one more question? In your earlier education, you didnt go to school
regularly. Then how did you get enough phrases for doing translations?
Bob: How did I get the phrases? Aww! Yeah. I did outside readings.
Int: Of what kind?
Bob: Novels. And.
Int: By whom?
Bob: I read those by Fujii Itsuki.
Int: A Japanese?
Bob: A Japanese.
Int: But these books were translations.
Bob: Yes. For a time, I read his books.
Int: Can you give me the names of those books?
Bob: Er. They made up a set.
Int: Which Series?
Bob: Sort of bibliotherapeutic series.
Int: When did you read them?
Bob: In my senior high school days. My teacher in high school encouraged us to read
books.
Int: Which teacher? Chinese teacher or home room teacher?
Bob: Chinese teacher. Ah, I read Harry Potter for a time.
Int: These are all translations; they are not supposed to be helpful.
Bob: Most of the books that I read were translations. I did not read many books in
Chinese. In fact, I dont really like to read.
Int: So you hardly read creative literary works of art in Chinese. Most of the books
you read are translations.
Bob: Hardly any.
Int: Oh.
Bob: Yes, its weird. I was not a school frequenter. Where did I pick up those phrases?
Int: There are ways you agglomerate vocabulary.

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Bob: Aww! Yeah. I went to a cram school. It must be the reason why. It was when I
was a primary school boy.
Int: When was that? In which subject?
Bob: I studied in a cram school for nearly three years; I attended Chinese courses
there.
Int: So you went to cram school when classes were over? What kind of institution
was that?
Bob: It is. It is named Stanford. They offer after-school tutoring in the industry of
supplementary education.
Int: You studied English and Chinese there?
Bob: Yes, in the same cram school.
Int: But you would not go to school. How come you were willing to go to the cram
school?
Bob: It was my mom who made me go there. She said, Since you dont go to school,
you must go to the cram school. At least learn something there.
Int: How come you were willing to go to the cram school?
Bob: My mom made me go there.
Int: It was after you had been beaten up by your father?
Bob: Yes, after that. My mom made me go there. Then I did.
Int: Huh-huh-huh.
Bob: My teacher and I came face to face with each other. When I was writing my
homework, she would sit there to make sure I do it. When she taught me, I took
notes.
Int: Did she teach you how to write compositions?
Bob: Yes. She also taught me during summer and winter vacations. She gave me a
thick stack of examination questions and made me answer 2 sheets of them a day.
After I finished doing them, she would correct them for me. Then she taught me
something concerning composition writing.
Int: Which version of examination questions? In which subjects? Chinese?
Bob: Yes, in Chinese by Kang-hsuan.
Int: So they were examination questions on Chinese textbooks.
Bob: Yes.
Int: Were they helpful?
Bob: I also learn something other than schoolwork. Mme, its strange. Aww! Yeah. I
did many assessments. My parents bought a lot of such things.
Int: At home?
Bob: Yes. Before every monthly examination, my mom would tell me, This week you
are to complete answering this much of assessments. Next week that much.
Int: Who was it that corrected your answers for you?
Bob: My mom.
Int: With the answers in the appendix?
Bob: Yes. My mom corrected the answers for me. If she found mistakes, she would
check if I made them right after her corrections. If I still had the wrong answers,
she beat me up.

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64

Int: Huh-huh-huh.
Bob: I can still remember this period. That was when I was still in the primary school.
Int: Werent you a bad boy in the primary school?
Bob: After I had been beaten up by my father, I became good, for I was afraid that I
might have been beaten up again. Every time the monthly examination was
coming, my elder brother and I had to stay home and behaved ourselves,
answering questions in the assessments. At one time, my elder brother found our
mom wasnt in and suggested that we copied the answers in the appendix. But I
dont think that makes any sense. So we were beaten up again and again for
answering wrong. During that time we did get higher scores in the monthly
examinations. It really worked. When I went on to junior high school, I became a
bad boy again. My mom said, Then you go on to study in the cram school.
Int: Huh-huh-huh. It is your elixir.
Bob: Go to the cram school and study there, she said, Ill pay for it.
Int: How many subjects did you study there? What are they?
Bob: Chinese, English, mathematics, and natural sciences.
Int: You also studied Chinese in the cram school.
Bob: Yes.
Int: Tell me what the teachers there did.
Bob: Teachers in cram school.
Int: Chinese teachers.
Bob: They scheduled the progress based on that of the school. The only difference was
that they used assessments by another publisher. Though the textbooks remained
the same, we had a different set of tests in the cram school. They corrected our
answers and explained in greater detail. It was not so in school. School teachers
just checked the answers for us and asked if anyone has questions. If no one
answered, then it was over. We just handed in our examinations. Even though I
studied in the cram school, I still made the same mistakes when I took the
monthly examinations in school. I did not like natural sciences. I am interested in
English and mathematics only. My Chinese is alright. But I didnt do well in
natural sciences. I couldnt figure out what my teacher in natural sciences said.
.
Int: How many students did the primary school Chinese teachers teach?
Bob: There were 20 students in general. But there were only 10 students in the Chinese
class, because many think we are native speakers.
Int: But she offers one-on-one service.
Bob: She usually taught us on the platform. After she finished teaching one lesson, she
would give us an examination. Then she came down to us and saw how we were
doing.
Int: One after the other.
Bob: Yes, one after the other. And she corrected our answers.
Int: Did she explain one answer after another?
Bob: Yes.
Int: So patiently. Can you tell me her educational background?

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65

Bob: She said she graduated from Tunghai University. The other was a graduate from
Tamkang University. I found the latter to be the better, for I could understand her
explanations.
.
Bob: The one from Tamkang University taught me from junior high school to senior
high schools.
Int: What kind of outside readings did she want you to read?
Bob: Some martial art novels [or Kung-fu novels] by Yung Chin.
Int: Did you read them?
Bob: No, I didnt. She brought a lot with her and placed them in the classroom. She
asked us to take them home. But nobody heeded it.
Int: Oh, what a shame. What a shame!
.
Int: What do you think about the Chinese teachers in the cram school and those in
school? Which ones are more helpful?
Bob: Those in the cram school.
Int: Really?
Bob: I hardly paid attention to my schoolwork. It was boring.
Int: How about the Chinese teachers in your senior high school?
Bob Awful. Just awful.
Int: Is that all you can remember?
Bob: Very terrible.
Int: Thats all?
Bob: I had to rewrite many, many times those words that I miswrote. Maybe it is the
reason why my Chinese gets better.
Int: Yet you were much impressed in a negative way.
Bob: In a negative way. We were left standing as a punishment when we did not
answer correctly.
.

Discussions and Reflections


From the narratives of Tom and Bob, differences as well as similarities can be
drawn. As for the differences, Tom and Bob stand on two extremes: Tom is a
lover of literary works of art7 and borrows course-related books from the library
to study on his own. Though he skipped classes in the beginning of the semester,
he went back on the right track because of the researcher teachers warning. Yet
Bob confessed that actually he does not like to read.8

7 So were 2 of his schoolmates: One high-achiever in a former study is also a lover of


literary works of art (Wen & Tseng, 2007). Another high-achiever, who was asked by
the researcher after mid-term examination what she had read, also said that she read
many childrens picture books in childhood.
8 Fortunately, Bob, who was a runner away from school in his earlier school experiences,

admitted that it was never boring in the researcher teachers classes. Even after he has
taken up a part-time job, he insists attending her classes, rejecting the demand by his
boss to stay and work overtime.

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66

In Toms learning experiences, going to school and receiving instructions


contribute to his present performance, for not only did his Chinese teachers
make the lessons interesting to him but also the applied foreign language
program in his senior high reinforced his background knowledge of vocabulary
which is indispensable for doing transitions. In contrast, Bobs earlier learning
experiences hardly ever seemed interesting enough to keep him in school. He
was a class skipper in both the primary school and junior high school. After
being beaten up by his father, he went to school, but he did not like it any better.
He would rather go to the cram school where he received better tutoring. His
personal history of learning is a bumpy journey: He ran away from school in the
very beginning; he was forced to go to school and the cram school; he was a bad
boy again in the junior high; he failed the First Basic Competency Test but got
higher scores in the second after working hard for it; however, he did not enter
the applied foreign language program as Tom did in senior high schools;
nevertheless, he went on to the Department of Applied Foreign Languages in
National Formosa University after studying on his own when school is over for
one year. For Bob, scarcely was learning delightful, nor was it ever easy. It
includes several terrible memories, such as being beaten up by both parents, an
awful senior high school Chinese teacher who punished him all the time for
writing words incorrectly. In addition, he never enjoyed the boring school
instructions. Eventually, Bob professed that the strict disciplines from parents
and school teachers might be a significant factor to his successful translation
learning results.
Bobs senior high school Chinese teachers shared some similarities with Toms:
They both paid much attention to students handwriting; students were
punished if they did not put down words in the correct way.9 Tom and Bob
both consider Chinese teachers in earlier education helpful to their present
translation performance. Two of the teachers shared their own collections of
books with their students and encouraged students to read outside readings: one
in Toms junior high; the other in Bobs cram school. This is part of the reason
why Tom has the habit of pleasure reading. Bob also did some pleasure
reading by himself,10 though he did not take seriously the cram school teachers
advice of bringing martial art novels (or kung-fu novels) home. Still both of them
did some sort of pleasure reading in their leisure time despite the differences in
their responses to their teachers encouragements.
Their parents encouraged them to study hard and did not forbid them to read
outside readings. That is quite contrary to the researchers own personal
experiences. She was persecuted by her mother, a senior high school Chinese
teacher, when she read literary works of art or some books to encourage herself
in the senior high school days. It can be that examinations today require learners
to know more than just schoolwork: Such things as contemporary issues in the

9 In fact, the researcher teacher did the same in translation courses.


10What Bob read were mostly translations, which the researcher considered to be not so
pollution-free as adapted versions for children.

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67

daily news can be tested now in entrance examinations. For parents, only what
is to be tested is to be studied by their children, just like what Tom Peters said,
What gets measured gets done.11 For this sake, parents today are more open
to books other than textbooks. It appears to be a positive change of mode of tests,
students are to learn real-life stuff, authentic issues, and to know more than just
what there is in the textbooks and how to take examinations, lest they should
learn only to get high marks instead of learning to think on their own.
As can be seen, both students are grateful to teachers in the discipline Chinese of
previous education. Their contributions were recognized and came to the fore
after as many as 10 years. Although some strict demands might make negative
impressions on learners, both Tom and Bob regard influences from Chinese
teachers in previous education as one possible reason why they did better than
their group members and classmates. Even the researchers warning can also
serve as a catalyst or incentive that spurred Tom to work harder.
In western educational theories, writers hardly agreed on the issue of corporal
punishment (Lin, 2005). There is a saying, Spare the rod, spoiled the child.
Many parents today do not discipline their children, for many of these children
are the only sons or only daughters in the family. But indulgence does not help
children grow to be a responsible person. It is said in the Holy Bible, Train up a
child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it
(Proverbs 22:6). It is also said, Withhold not correction from the child: for if
thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die (Proverbs 23:13), for He that
spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes
(Proverbs13:24). At least, it works in Bobs case. Without his parents disciplines
and persuasions, he might have gone astray long ago. Bob took up his
responsibility of studying on his own after the researcher had warned him. What
if the researcher had never grown to be aware of his absence? He might have
also stayed in bed sound asleep while he should have been in class. As educators,
what we do is not just teaching, we are also teaching students to be a responsible
person in the society. A timely advice can help change the course of a students
life. In Bobs case, he quit smoking, for his mother begged him to behave himself.
If she had never asked, Bob might have never grown out of it. As translation
teachers or educators, if we never maintained our standards or requirements,
students are bewildered: They do not know where they are up to. And we will
never know what can take place when we do ask.

Conclusion
In this follow-up research, two extreme cases in the mother research were
examined carefully. What is intriguing is that the one who seems most likely to
succeed did fail at last; furthermore, the one who seems most likely to fail
succeeded anyway. To know the reasons why, interviews were taken from both

11
Quoted in Head for the Edge: What Gets Tested Gets Taught by Doug Johnson
(2007), who offered an amusing reflection on this phenomenon. Obviously, it is not the
westerners privilege to do so.

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68

extreme cases. It turned out that Tom succeeded as a result of his own make-up
learning; Bob failed because he simply took another strategy of translating.
In the narrative inquiry, both interviewees reviews on their previous education
and its possible contributions to their present achievements were presented.
Reading in Chinese, supportive parents and Chinese teachers in their earlier
education were considered to be possible conducive factors to their learning
results.
Bob, who was a bad boy in his primary school and junior high school days, was
able to attend a national senior high school and then to go on to a national
university of science and technology, for his loving parents have never ceased to
be caring for him. He was forced by them to go to school and cram school where
he has got most of the phrases he needs in doing translations from the Chinese
teachers there. Though he admitted that he does not like reading that much, he
did some pleasure reading of translations nevertheless. And that can also be a
favorable factor to his translations, too. Without the supervision of his parents,
Bob might not be able to become what he is today. Similarly, Toms mother
bought him outside readings, including Taiwanese folklores, and encourages
him to do a lot of pleasure reading. As a lover of literary works of art, Tom is
himself a reader. That can be part of the reason why he did translations better
than his group members: he has acquired rich phrases in Chinese to employ in
his translations. His previous education in the applied foreign English program
in his senior high school days also has built him a solid knowledge background
from which sufficiently abundant resources can be drawn to do translations.
Tom skipped classes in the beginning of the semester to a degree that the
researcher teacher had to warn him that he might have failed because of it.
Amazingly, he turned himself into a self-learner, made up for the classes missed,
and ended up a high-achiever in both the mid-term examination and the pre-test
as well as post-test in the experiment of the mother research. In these two
extreme cases, attention paid by seniors, including parents and teachers, plays
an indispensably significant role in their turning points. If not for their close
watch over these two learners, they might have gone astray and taken a wrong
turn in their life.
It is revealed in both cases that, as teachers, we had better keep an open mind to
students learning results since we never know who will really make it at the
end. It may not turn out as we expected; somehow the table might be turned any
time without our foreknowledge. What can be done is to offer our advice and
instructions, be mindful and keep watch in case any might fail. From Bobs case,
it can be seen that remedial education offered by cram school sometimes makes
up for what is initiated yet not completed by school education. For students who
do not enjoy going to school, there might as well be a second chance, another
choice, or just an alternative, where they can make it up for what cannot be
picked up in their formal educational experiences.

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69

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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 73-87, March 2017

Can Student Engagement in Online Courses


Predict Performance on Online Knowledge
Surveys?
Bernard BAHATI, Uno Fors, Matti Tedre
University of Rwanda, Stockholm University

Abstract. The link between student engagement and academic


performance has been widely examined. However, most of these
studies have focused on ascertaining the existence of such a
relationship on the summative assessment level. By comparing
students experience points in an online course and students scores on
online knowledge surveys (KS), this study examined the relationship
between student engagement and performance on online KS on the
formative assessment level. Knowledge surveys were developed and
formatively administered in four sections of an online Integration of
ICT in Education course. Using Moodle Feedback Module, knowledge
surveys were designed based on three key elements: learning objectives,
the course content, and the revised Blooms Taxonomy of learning
objectives. Using rated multiple choice KS questions, the correlation
between students scores on KSs and students experience points was
calculated using SPSS. The results show that students confidence
levels in ability to answer KS questions increased in some of the
course sections and decreased in others. The student engagement in
online course was positivelybut weaklyrelated to student
performance on online KS and the strength of this relationship increased
as the course unfolded. Our conclusion is that student engagement in
online courses would not be an accurate predictor of student
performance on online Knowledge surveys right at the beginning of an
instructional process.

Keywords: Formative e-assessment, knowledge survey, student


engagement

1. Introduction and theoretical background


The relationship between student engagement and performance has attracted
many educational researchers and practitioners attention. Student engagement
is a glue or mediator that may establish a link between various contexts of
students learning (Christenson et al., 2012) and for Dunne (2013), "engaged
student" is synonymous with "successful student." Presumably, the more
students engage with a learning subject, the more they learn about it (Kuh,
2009). In their comprehensive review of the research on the influence of colleges
on students learning, Pascarella & Terenzini (2005) are considered as the

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74

pioneers of engagement-learning pairing. They argued "the greater their


engagement with academic work, the greater the level of knowledge
acquisition.

The advent of Internet and digital technologies have profoundly revolutionized


and altered the way teaching and learning events might occur. Online learning
is pervasive, is here, is not going away and the question is not whether it works
but how (Shea-Schultz & Fogarty, 2002). One of the biggest questions or
challenges associated with online learning is student engagement. In her blog on
eLearning dilemma, Gutierrez (2014) observed that while there are already
many issues related to student engagement in other learning settings, online
learning may bring about additional obstacles resulting from a number of
problems, including lack of (or) reduced interaction student-teacher and
student-student interaction. Paradoxically, these interactions are key to an
effective online student engagement and correspond to Moore (1989)s widely
applied approach to designing distance education whereby three online student
engagement types should prevail: learner-learner engagement; learner-teacher
engagement; and learner-content engagement.

Learner-content engagement is at the heart of any instructional activity and


there cannot be education if the learner does not interact with the subject of
study (Moore, 1989). The second type of engagement described by Moore points
to the interaction established between the learner and the expert who prepared
the learning material or any other person who acts as an instructor. Despite the
increasing use of technologies in teaching and learning, the role of the teacher is
as important as ever. Technology will hardly replace a teacher because, as Earle
(2002) put it, technologies are just tools and they can only be valuable when a
"human intelligence" uses them productively. In the classroom, the human in
question is the teacher. The third type of student engagement in online learning
appertains to the interaction between learners. This "inter-learner" interaction,
argues Moore (1989), can take place between one learner and other learners,
alone or in group settings, with or without the teacher s synchronous or
asynchronous presence. A number of research studies have suggested that
student-student interaction in online learning can impact the learning process in
various ways. In his study that examined student success, failure, withdrawal,
and satisfaction in online course, J. Moore (2014) suggested that student-student
interaction is one of the strongest predictors of success and satisfaction in online
courses (see also Chang & Smith, 2008) and the higher the level of student
interaction with other students, the higher the level of student satisfaction as
well as learning (Hiltz, 2005). Moore (1989)s theory of student interaction is
well-known and can be applied to any educational setting. However, as
online learning was growing in popularity, research studies started to
increasingly question the completeness of the three-dimensional construct as a
way to explain student interaction in online learning (Zimmerman, 2012). To
address this concern, the original three-dimension interaction theory was
revisited and a fourth dimension was added: the "learner to interface
interaction was proposed by Hillman et al. (1994) who contended that this

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75

interaction was critical because its failure could inhibit student learning. In this
interaction, interface refers to various technologies, platforms, and applications
students need to use and manipulate in order to interact with course content,
teachers and peers (Bourne & Moore, 2003). Ultimately, the student engagement
in online learning revolves around four dimensions as we conceptualise it in
Figure 1 for the purpose of this study.

Figure 1: Conceptualisation of student engagement in online learning environment

Figure 1 portrays a functional relationship that characterises the four dimensions


of student engagement in online learning whereby the learner-interface
interaction serves as a gateway to other interactions. In other words, a successful
and effective learner-interface interaction will be a catalytic factor for effective
and successful learner-learner, learner-instructor, and learner-content
interactions. Conversely, a failed learner-interface interaction may compromise
other interactions and thus inhibiting successful learning

1.1. Pairing student engagement and performance

The relationship between student engagement and academic performance has


been well investigated. Results from McClenney et al. (2012)s 20-year research
study on undergraduate students were unequivocal: "the more engaged
students are" with teachers, peers and subject matter "the more likely they
are to learn and keep a sustained focus and efforts on their studies and realise
their learning goals. In the same vein, Li et al. (2008) found out that student
engagement was associated with better grades while GUNUC (2014)
demonstrated significant relationships between student engagement and the
student s academic achievement. In a study that involved 1,058 college and
university students, Carini et al. (2006) examined the association between
student engagement and various measures of academic performance and found
out that student engagement was positively linked with targeted learning

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76

outcomes and grades. In general, strong relationships have been found between
students time investment, interest, and effort in various educational activities
and increased performance, persistence as well as satisfaction on academic task,
Trowler (2010) and Kuh (2009) concluded that: "students gained more from their
studies and other aspects of the college experience when they devoted more time and
energy to certain tasks that required more effort than others".

Research studies on the relationship between student engagement and


performance have focused on traditional (face-to-face) as well as online
educational settings. The results from Rodgers (2008)s study that examined the
impact of the student engagement in online learning process on their end-of-
year examination results, showed that greater interaction in online learning has
a positive and statistically significant impact on academic performance (see also
Wong, 2013). Johnson-Smith (2014) compared associations between learners
engagement and academic performance in technology enhanced and traditional
(face-to-face) learning environments, and found out a significant difference
between students grades in those two learning environments. He concluded
that multiple factors, coupled with the use of technology, led to an increased
students involvement in technology enhanced learning environment compared
to the traditional one. Several other research studies concurred with these
findings. Student engagement in online learning activities can be used as
indicator of online learning experience and academic performance (Henrie et al.,
2015); learners who are actively engaged score higher grades compared to less
engaged learners (Kushwaha et al., 2015); and strong association was established
between performance in midterm exams and a deliberate practising and
problem-solving activities using online interactive spreadsheets files
(Bertheussen & Myrland, 2016).

1.2. Knowledge surveys

Knowledge surveys consist of sets of questions that cover the entire content of
the course (Wirth & Perkins, 2005). They can serve as tools students can use for
analysing their understanding of the course contents, and teachers can use them
for organising and reviewing the curricula (Bell & Volckmann, 2011), like a sort
of self-evaluation procedure. The theoretical background of knowledge surveys
is rooted into metacognition, or the students abilities to predict their
performances on various tasks and monitor their current levels of mastery and
understanding" (Bransford et al., 1999). Knowledge surveys build on two key
features: breadth and depth. The breadth of a knowledge survey tool requires that
the survey questions cover the entire content of the course, while depth requires
the coverage of different levels of the cognitive domain (Wirth & Perkins, 2005).
Knowledge survey practices can serve formative assessment purposes by
providing students with an opportunity to monitor their understanding of the
learning material as the teaching and learning process goes on, to know where
and when they have deficiencies, to monitor their progress, and to get a prompt
feedback which allows them to continuously track learning gains as the course
unfolds (Nuhfer & Knipp, 2003). Knowledge survey also enhances student
confidence and self-efficacy (Johnson, 2017; Villafae et al., 2016) thus fostering
self-regulated learning (Nilson, 2013) although student self-confidence and self-

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77

efficacy do not always translate into real skills or knowledge mastery (Forsberg
et al., 2016; Mac Giolla Phadraig et al., 2016; Pantziaras et al., 2015). More clearly,
knowledge surveys may support formative assessment purposes by serving as a
blueprint for students, explicitly laying out the expected competencies to be
learned from the class, indirectly evaluating these competencies and
immediately indicating students strengths and weaknesses which leads to a
more tailored learning experience (Baumgart & Hassemer, 2008).

The use of KS as an instructional tool has not been widely researched. Research
studies in this area focused on examining the link between pre-and post-KS and
student performance in final exams. By using pre-and post-knowledge surveys,
Bowers et al. (2005) claimed that KS was not a reliable measuring tool of student
learning as measured by final marks or exams, while Wirth & Perkins (2005)
compared knowledge survey responses and examination results and suggested
that knowledge surveys provide meaningful measures of learning gains. Later
on, still in contrast with Bowers et al. (2005), Bell & Volckmann (2011)
demonstrated that students confidence levels on knowledge surveys were
accurately reflected in their actual knowledge and Favazzo et al. (2014) showed
that knowledge surveys could be an effective assessment tool of knowledge in
terms of both breadth and depth.

Unlike previous studies that sought to examine the relationship between KS and
final summative exams by using pre-and post-KS, this study used KS not in a
pre-and post-format but rather as an online formative assessment tool that was
implemented throughout the course. This study sought to use KS not as a
diagnostic (pre-KS) and verification (post-KS) assessment tool, but as an
assessment for learning tool that was implemented throughout the course to
assess the student progress and not the end product (Smith, 2014). In addition,
this study focused on the relationship that was examined in this study was
between student engagement and performance on KS and not between KS and
student performance on final summative exams.

2. Context of the study

This study was conducted in one of the colleges of the University of Rwanda
(the College of Education) and focused on the undergraduate teacher training
program. The study was carried out amid drastic reforms in Rwandan public
higher education that led to a merger of all public higher learning institutions
into one University of Rwanda. Among other expected outcomes, the merger
aims at addressing the increasing demand for higher education by means of
streamlining Open and Distance Learning and introducing e-learning. In
addition, this study follows up and builds on others studies previously
conducted at UR in the same area. Ngendahayo (2014) advocated for increased
emphasis on assessment for learning practices. Ngendahayo & Askell-Williams
(2016) called for the use of new assessment methods and practices that focus on
collecting information on student learning and monitoring students learning
and progress, such as the use of technology in production, publication and
engagement with formative feedback in order to address time and large class

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78

constraints (Bahati et al., 2016). These constraints were found to compromise in-
class formative assessment practices, and thus, overlooking students needs as
they prefer to be involved in assessment activities that are integral parts of the
teaching and learning process (Mugisha, 2010).

3. Methodology
3.1. Study design
In this study, a correlational study design was used to assess the relationship
between two continuous variables (SAGE research methods online [electronic
resource], 2011): student engagement in and online course (Integration of ICT in
Education) and performance on online knowledge surveys, gathered from all
students in a single course.
3.2. Research question and hypothesis
By assessing the relationship between the two variables mentioned above, this
study wanted to answer the following research question: Is there a significant
relationship between student engagement in an online course and performance
on online knowledge surveys? The reviewed literature shows links between
student engagement and performance, thus lending support to a testable
hypothesis that student engagement in online courses and and performance on
online knowledge surveys are positively and significantly related.

3.3. Sampling
The participants in this study were selected through convenience sampling.
The study sample was made of third-year student-teachers at the University of
Rwanda-College of Education. Selection of the students invited to participate
in this study was based on them being conveniently and readily available
(Salkind, 2010; Grove et al., 2014). Each and every third-year student-teacher is
required to take Integration of ICT in Education course (EDC 301). In view of
this, 109 students were enrolled in the course and were ipso fact conveniently
considered as research participants and they all gave their consent to voluntarily
participate in this study.

3.4.1 The online module EDC 301


This 10-credits module was taught during the first semester of academic year
2016-2017 at the University of Rwanda-College of Education and was delivered
through the UR online learning platform (Moodle). The instructor used
Knowledge Surveys in 4 of the 5 sections of the module. 109 students were
enrolled in this course. However, since the use of KS was voluntarily based,
some of them opted not to do KS as shown in Table 3 below:

Table 1: Expected and submitted responses to Knowledge Surveys


Knowledge Expected Submitted
Surveys
KS 1 responses109 responses
103
KS 2 109 93
KS 3 109 95
KS 4 109 85

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79

3.4.2 Measuring student performance on knowledge surveys

Knowledge surveys for EDC 301 were developed basing on three key elements:
learning objectives, the module content, and the revised Blooms Taxonomy of
learning objectives (Krathwohl, 2002). The KS question items were developed
using Moodle Feedback module and were sequenced along the four sections of
the module. Questions were distributed among the various levels of the revised
Blooms Taxonomy of learning objectives as follows:

Table 2: Distribution of Knowledge Survey Questions into 6 levels of the Revised


Blooms Taxonomy of learning objectives

Knowle Number of Remem Understa Apply Analys Evaluate Create


dge questions ber nd e
Surveys
KS 1 32 6 8 4 4 4 6
KS 2 27 7 6 4 3 3 4
KS 3 26 4 3 5 3 6 5
KS 4 23 10 3 2 3 3 2

Total 108 27(25%) 20(18.5%) 15(13.5%) 13(12%) 16(14.8%) 17(15.7%)

Sample question-items taken from KSs that were administered to students are
presented in Table 3 below:

Table 3: A sample of Knowledge Survey Question items

Revised % in Sample question-items


Blooms KSs
levels
Remember 25 (1). Define ICT. (2). What is the overall goal of ICT in Rwandan
education policy? (3.). What are the main areas under which
the findings from Coping with change in ICT-based
learning environments" are analysed?
Understan 18.5 (5). Draw a chronological line showing the evolution of ICT
d in Education in Rwanda. (6). Why Rwanda ICT Essentials for
Teachers training module can be seen as a good example of
blended learning?
(7). Write a brief outline about how much/well any in-service
Apply 13.5
teacher would change upon completion of this training
module. (8). What do you think would happen next if all
Rwandan secondary teachers completed this training
module on ICT Essentials for Rwandan Teachers?
Analyse 12 (9). By using convincing examples distinguish between
"teaching ICT" and "teaching with ICT." (10). What do the

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80

authors of this research paper assume about Coping with


change in ICT-based learning environments?
(11). Having in mind the current level of "available
Evaluate 14.8 resources" in Rwandan school What do you think should be
prioritized: (1) Teaching ICT or (2) Teaching with ICT?
Defend your position. (12). The Rwandan ICT policy statement
may appear "utopian" for some and realistic but aiming-too-
high" for others. What is your stand on this? Justify your
answer.
(13). Basing on a SWOT analysis you developed before (or you
Create 15.7 have to develop). Propose an implementation strategy for
the 7th ICT policy area in your school. That is: "management,
support, and sustainability." (14). If you were a head teacher
and had all required resources how would you plan and
implement a school based training for your teachers using
ICT Essentials training module?

3.4.3 Delivery of Knowledge Surveys

Knowledge surveys that were used in this study aimed at serving formative
assessment purposes by helping students to monitor their understanding and
progress throughout the EDC 301 module delivery. Prior to KSs delivery,
students were given explanations on how and why KSs were going to be used in
the EDC 301 module, and it was emphasised that KS was not an exam and thus
they were not expected to know and give all the correct answers. Rather, for
each question item of the KS, students were asked to rate their confidence in
ability to answer the question on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 means "not confident
at all" and 5 means "absolutely confident."

3.4.4 Scoring of Knowledge Surveys

The KSs were not formally graded. However, question items were assigned
scores using Moodle rated multiple choice questions whereby each option had a
numerical value associated with it using one point for "not confident at all"
response, two points for "neither confident or unconfident" response, three
points for "somewhat confident", four points for "confident", and five points for
"absolutely confident. Therefore, the higher the students score, the greater the
students confidence level in ability to answer the KS question-items.

3.4.5 Measuring student engagement in EDC 301 online course

Student engagement in EDC 301 course was measured by using a Moodle block
plugin called "level up". This Moodle plugin automatically captures and
attributes "experience points" to students actions in online course. The block
listens to various events triggered in a learning management system, and

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81

captures and records some events based on pre-defined rules. In this study,
three pre-defined rules that were used to serve as "cheat guard included: (1) the
time frame for maximum actions was set to 60 seconds, which the student could
not exceed; (2) ten actions that would count for experience points during the
time frame and any subsequent actions were ignored; (3) the time required
between identical actions was set to 180 seconds.

4. Results
4.1. Analysis of knowledge survey results
The results from the students who completed the surveys (see Figure 2) show
that, in general, students were confident (KS1: 43%, KS2: 45%, KS3: 40%, and
KS4: 48%) in their ability to answer the KS questions.

Figure 2: Knowledge survey results

Combined with the number of students who rated themselves as absolutely


confident (KS1: 16%, KS2:15%, KS3:13%, and KS4: 21%) in answering the KS
questions, the overall picture of the knowledge survey results changes. The
results show that, for all of the four KSs, more than 50% of the students
perceived themselves as confident or absolutely confident (KS1:59%, KS2: 60%,
KS3: 53%, and KS4: 69%) in answering the KSs questions. As mentioned earlier,
although KSs were not graded per se, KS questions-items were assigned scores
using Moodle rated Multiple choice questions and the students scores are
summarised in Figure 3.

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82

Figure 3: Distribution of students scores on Knowledge surveys

Figure 3 shows that, for all of the four KSs, the distribution of students
performance in all four KSs is negatively skewed thus most of the students
scored above the average. The maximum score obtained for KSs was 150 out of
160 for KS1, 124 out of 135 for KS2, 125 out of 130 for KS3, and 113 out 115 for
KS4 and the minimum score was 64 for KS1, 58 for KS2, 52 for KS3, and 36 for
KS4. To determine whether students experience points could be used as
accurate predictors of students performance on KSs, we plotted KSs scores
against experience points (Figure 4) for each section of the online module EDC
301.

Figure 4 shows that there was no correlation (with Spearmans rho: 0.099)
between students scores on KS1 and students experience points in section one
of the course. The correlation coefficients for section two and three (with
Spearmans rho: 0.212 and Spearmans rho: 0.235) were relatively negligible but
more significant for section four (with Spearmans rho: 0.454).

Figure 4: Plot of the relationship between students performance on KSs and students
experience points

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83

5. Discussion

In this study, KS was used as an online formative assessment tool in 4 out of 5


sections of EDC 301 online course. By completing knowledge surveys, we
expected students to predict their ability to perform in various activities of the
course but also monitor their level of mastery and understanding, and reflect on
their learning. Student engagement in online course and student confidence in
ability to answer KS questions were analysed to ascertain whether experience
points (used to measure student engagement) could accurately predict student
performance on KSs. Unlike Bowers et al. (2005), who observed a significant
increase of students confidence over the semester in all of the sections of the
course, we found out that students confidence in ability to answer KS questions
was not generally following a uniform pattern as students were progressing in
the course. Actually, the students confidence increased in section two,
decreased remarkably in section three and then increased again dramatically in
section four.

We assumed that an increase or a decrease in student perceived mastery was


dependent upon a number of overlapping factors related to the course content,
motivation to learn, teaching strategies, and the learning environment. For the
course content, students level of confidence was higher in two sections (two and
four) whose content was part of the teacher-prepared course textbooks
reliance on textbooks (Kitao & Kitao, 2013) and low in sections whose content
was taken from other readings. We thought student motivation to learn,
learning environment and the unfamiliar teaching and learning strategies were
critical as well. At the beginning of the semester, students were experiencing a
sort of "performance anxiety." Taking an online course (for their very first time)
in a non-conducive learning environment (inadequate ICT facilities) and
student-led assessment practices were putting students in a somewhat
uncomfortable situation characterised by "the fear of failing and affecting their
motivation to learn. The students perceived confidence level in section one (at
the beginning of the semester) and three (where unstable internet connection
and a frequently inaccessible UR e-learning platform were observed) was lower
and increased in sections two and four where the students motivation to learn
and self-assessment skills had been improved (Wirth & Perkins, 2005).

This studys findings concur with some studies (Ehrlinger et al., 2016; Stankov et
al., 2014; Miller & Geraci, 2011; Bell & Volckmann, 2011; and Sieck et al., 2007)
conducted previously about the phenomenon of students overconfidence in
rating their ability to perform. Despite the aforementioned challenges and
uncertainty that students were facing in the course, the knowledge survey
results show that, for all of the four KSs (See Figure 2), more than 50% of the
students perceived themselves as confident or absolutely confident (KS1:59%,
KS2: 60%, KS3: 53%, and KS4: 69%) in answering the KSs questions. This was
also reflected in the students scores in knowledge surveys (see percentiles in
Figure 3) where, in all KSs, 75% of the students scored above 50% of the possible
obtainable score. The results indicate that 75% of the students who submitted

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84

their answers scored at least 100 out 160 in KS1, 86 out of 135 in KS2, 78 out 130
in KS3, and 80 out 115 in KS4. We agree with Favazzo et al. (2014) who
suggested that asking students to provide a reason for their choices or rate their
confidence and answer the questions at the same time would decrease over-
estimated confidence.

This studys data do not support the hypothesis of a positive and significant
relation between student engagement in online course and performance on
online knowledge surveys. There was no correlation at all between student
engagement (as measured by students experience points) and student
performance on online KS (as measured by students scores in KSs) at the
beginning of the course. In subsequent sections of the course, the students level
of confidence in their ability to perform in the course did not follow a uniform
pattern. It increased in section two, decreased in section 3 and increased again in
section four. Although the correlation between their experience points and
scores in KS kept on increasing, it was still negligible. The highest correlation
coefficient (with Spearmans rho: 0.454) was observed in the last section of the
course. Our data suggests that student engagement in online course was
positivelybut weaklyrelated to student performance on KS and the strength
of this relationship increased as the teaching and learning progressed. In view of
this, we contend that student engagement in online course would not be an
accurate predictor of student performance on online knowledge surveys at the
beginning of an instructional process. When the focus is put on the middle and
towards the end of the semester, our data slightly deviate from Bowers et al.
(2005)s claim with regard to an increase in student confidence in their
knowledge of the course material. This studys results indicate that the
students confidence increased and decreased while the correlation between
their level of confidence and their performance in KSs kept on increasing.
Despite clear guidelines and clarifications that were provided to students, there
were some concerns about their ability to accurately rate their level of
confidence in ability to answer the KS questions and this might have impacted
the KS scores. We thought the students ability to self-assessment takes longer
to develop (Carroll, 2009) and can take more than just one course and go well
beyond one semester (King & Kitchener, 1994).

6. Conclusion and future work

In this study, Knowledge Surveys were used as an online formative assessment


strategy. The main purpose of this research was to study whether there exists
any relationship between student engagement in online course and the student
performance on online KS. Additionally, we wanted to answer the question of
whether student engagement in an online course can predict performance on
online KSs. Based on our data, we suggested that student engagement in this
online course was positivelybut weaklyrelated to student performance on
KS and the strength of this relationship increased as the teaching and learning
progressed. In view of this, we concluded that student engagement in online
course would not be an accurate predictor of student performance on online
Knowledge surveys right at the beginning of an instructional process. However,

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85

we think that this studys findings are not based on quite conclusive evidence
due to some limitations relating to the lack of well-established students self-
evaluative skills, the limited scope of the study in terms of the reduced number
of experimentation cases (only one course) during only one semester, and the
teaching and learning environment that was not as conducive as expected.
Therefore, the future research studies to be carried out in this area (and in more
or less similar context and teaching and learning environment) should take into
account these limitations.

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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 88-104, March 2017

Effects of Computerized Cognitive Training on


Working Memory in a School Setting

Tessy T. Pumaccahua, M.A.


University of Rhode Island, Psychology Department
Kingston, Rhode Island, USA

Eugene H. Wong, Ph.D.


California State University San Bernardino, Psychology Department
San Bernardino, California, USA

Dudley J. Wiest, Ph.D.


California State University San Bernardino
Special Education, Rehabilitation & Counseling
San Bernardino, California, USA

Abstract. Academic performance and executive functioning are two


factors strongly related to positive life outcomes; whereas, decreased
cognitive functioning is associated with negative developmental
outcomes. An important aspect of executive functioning is working
memory, which is a strong predictor of academic abilities and life skills.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of
computerized cognitive training to improve working memory in a
school setting. Participants consisted of a total of 81 students, with a
mean age of 12.8 years, who were recruited from a private school in
Southern California that focuses on providing education to children
with learning disabilities. First, participants working memory levels
were assessed prior to the intervention. Next, an intervention consisting
of 20 hours of computerized cognitive training across 10 weeks was
implemented. Results from this study indicated that students with
delayed working memory were able to make gains, in two distinct
measures of working memory, whereas their peers with typical working
memory were not. Additionally, results indicated that delayed students
were able to approximate the visual working memory abilities of their
typical peers by the end of the training. Results from this study support
the use of computerized cognitive training as a promising intervention
for children experiencing working memory deficits, particularly in the
area of visual working memory. Implications of these findings are
discussed.

Keywords: Working Memory; School Interventions; Computer


assisted learning; Computerized Cognitive Training.

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89

Introduction
Academic success is a pivotal component of a child's development.
Recently, executive functions (EF) have been a major focus of school-based
research that has examined factors associated with successful school
performance. Welsh (2002) broadly defined executive functions as the cognitive
processes that are critical for the development of goal directed behavior,
allowing an individual to concentrate on tasks and to control impulses.
Specifically, the core cognitive mechanisms that comprise an individuals EF
includes planning, problem solving, verbal reasoning, task switching, initiation,
cognitive flexibility, inhibition, monitoring of actions, attention, and working
memory (Barkley, 1997; Chan, Shum, Toulopoulou, & Chen, 2008; Monsell, 2003;
Traverso, Viterbori, Usai, 2015).
Research in education has focused on the cognitive mechanism of
working memory (WM) in order to increase learning among children. Working
memory can be generally described as a system with a limited capacity that
stores and processes information (Baddeley, 1986). More specifically, WM is a
higher cognitive process that involves short-term memory (i.e., the amount of
information that can be held over a brief period of time) and also includes other
processes such as attention, and is used to plan and carry out behavior (Miller,
Galanter, & Pribram, 1960). Working memory often requires retrieving
information while simultaneously performing distracting or interfering
activities.
Basic forms of WM are present early during development and continue
to increase rapidly during a child's school-age years (Carlson, Moses, & Claxton,
2004). Studies suggest that an individuals WM is related to a variety of real-
word abilities such as theory of mind (Perner & Lang, 1999) and academic
achievement (Biederman et al., 2004). In fact, performance on WM tasks has been
found to be predictive of academic skills such as literacy (Swanson, 1994) and
mathematics (DeStefano & LeFevre, 2004; Swanson & Jerman, 2006). Moreover,
working memory has also been shown to reliably predict performance on
reading and language comprehension (Daneman & Carpenter, 1980; King & Just,
1991); learning to spell and vocabulary building (Daneman & Green, 1986;
Ormrod & Cochran, 1988); following directions (Engle, Carullo, & Collins, 1991);
note-taking and writing (Benton, Kraft, Glover, & Plake, 1984; Kiewra & Benton,
1988); and reasoning and complex learning (Kyllonen & Christal, 1990; Shute,
1991).
Along with the demonstrated positive relationships between WM and
academic abilities, studies have also found low WM to be associated with
decreased academic abilities. For instance, children between the age of 7 and 14
years who perform poorly on measures of WM also tend to perform poorly on
national assessments of expected standards in science and mathematics
(Gathercole, Brown, & Pickering, 2003; St Clair-Thompson & Gathercole, 2006).
Similarly, working memory problems have been identified as a central issue for
children with mathematical disorders (given that WM plays such a large role in
the ability to solve arithmetic problems; Passolunghi, 2006), as well as with
children displaying reading disabilities and dyslexia (Melby-Lervag, Lyster, &
Hulme, 2012; Swanson, 2006), and have also been related to neurodevelopmental
disorders such as Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD;

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90

Martinussen, Hayden, Hogg-Johnson, & Tannock, 2005) and Autism Spectrum


Disorder (ASD; Kenworthy, et al., 2008).
Given the importance of working memory in supporting strong
academic performance, an emerging empirical question is whether working
memory can be trained or enhanced. The process of increasing WM capacity
in children can involve teaching memory techniques or perhaps exposing
children to repeated trials of WM tasks. Teaching memory techniques usually
involves having children learn mental rehearsal strategies such as chunking,
mnemonics, visual imagery, and method of loci (Brown, Campione, Bray, &
Wilcox, 1973; Butterfield, Wambold, & Belmont, 1973; De La Iglesia, Buceta, &
Campons, 2005; Hulme, 1992; Klingberg, 2010). However, this is not usually
beneficial for young children, given that they do not use mentally based
strategies until approximately seven years of age (Gathercole, 1998). On the
other hand, exposure to repeated WM trials along with reinforcement
contingencies and feedback has been shown to positively impact children's task
performance, working memory, literacy, and mathematical abilities (Klingberg,
2010; Prins et al., 2011; Rabiner et al., 2010).

Building Working Memory with Computerized Cognitive Training (CCT)


One way to potentially increase the effectiveness of WM training has
been to use an adaptive computer-based program to provide the training stimuli
and feedback (Bigorra, Garolera, Guijarro, & Hervas, 2016; Kirk, Gray, Riby, &
Cornish, 2015; Rabiner, Murray Skinner, & Malone, 2010; Shalev, Tsal, &
Mevorach, 2007). Typically, these programs begin with a low-difficulty task and
the computer adjusts the difficulty as the child exhibits increases or decreases in
his/her WM ability. Specifically, the adaptive nature of the computer program
allows it to make adjustments in difficulty based on the performance of the user.
For example, if the user completes an exercise correctly, the next exercise
presented would be more difficult. Conversely, if the exercise is completed
incorrectly the next exercise would be less difficult. Therefore, the training is
always targeted to the child's WM capacity and the challenge is never too hard
nor too easy which may reduce motivation and/or training efficacy. It has been
argued that adaptive training is important because without the automatic
performance-related adjustment, faster reaction times may be produced, which
is reflective of an increase in attention, but not an increase in WM capacity
(Kristofferson, 1972; Phillips & Nettelbeck, 1984).
The results from CCT have demonstrated increases in attention, WM,
scholastic skills, and decreases in diagnostic symptoms in children with ADHD
(Klingberg et al., 2005; Rabiner et al., 2010; Shalev, Tsal, & Mevorach, 2007; Slate,
Meyers, Burns, & Montgomery, 1998). Additionally, Klingberg and colleagues
(2002) showed an improvement in inhibitory control and reasoning abilities in 7
to 12 year old children with ADHD through an intense WM training schedule
(25-40 minutes per day during 5 weeks).
Although Klingberg (2002) supports the efficacy of WM training as an
intervention for children with low WM capacity, other researchers are not as
convinced (Levarg & Hulme, 2012; Morrison & Chein, 2011; Shipstead, Redick,
& Engle, 2010). Altogether the research represents a combination of mixed
effectiveness, with some research demonstrating evidence for limited training

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91

effects, and other studies showing evidence for distantly related transfer effects.
One of the issues raised by the conflicting research involves whether the setting
in which WM training occurs impacts its practical benefits or not.

Computerized Cognitive Training in a School Setting


To investigate the effective integration of CCT in different settings, a
growing trend has been to move WM training and CCT towards applied settings
such as schools. Working memory training has been explored by introducing it
at schools for children with attention problems or those with ADHD. One study
that best exemplifies this transition was reported by Mezzacappa and Buckner
(2010). The researchers conducted a small pilot study in a school setting to
investigate the potential for CogMed's RoboMemo to increase the WM
functioning among young children from an economically disadvantaged
neighborhood in Boston, MA. Mezzacappa and Buckner (2010) utilized a small
group of participants and investigated WM functioning before and after the CCT
training. These students were involved in the WM training five days a week for
45 minutes each session, over a five-week span. The researchers were able to
implement the CCT within the school curriculum as a pullout program from
regular classes, which has generally not been the case with other studies. Other
researchers have introduced the CCT materials at the school, and had students
complete the program at home (Klingberg et al., 2005); or had the programs at
the school, but offered outside of the curriculum (Steiner, Sheldrick, Gotthelf &
Perrin, 2011). After the five-week training period, students showed an
improvement on all measures analyzed by Mezzacappa and Buckner (2010).
Teacher's ratings of the student's behaviors improved by a large magnitude and
students performance on the Finger-Windows task (a visual spatial WM task)
also showed improvement.
Another pilot study, which utilized a pull out program at a specialized
school for students with learning disabilities, was conducted in southern
California (Wong et al., 2012). This study investigated changes in WM
functioning before and after the use of a CCT intervention. The students in the
study were involved in the WM training for a total of 20 hours across 10 weeks.
The results demonstrated significant benefits in working memory for the
participants.
Overall, given that CCT and WM training are still relatively new areas of
research, it is important to conduct larger follow-up studies in order to establish
the effectiveness of CCT within an applied setting. Clearly, children are required
to use their WM capabilities in order to meet the demands of the academic
curriculum; therefore it makes sense to offer them a chance to train their WM
within their schools.

The present study


The purpose of this study is to explore the effectiveness of CCT in
increasing the cognitive abilities of children with learning disabilities in a school
setting over a period of 10 weeks. We expect different levels of gains depending
on the initial levels of WM capacity of the school children, such that children
with delayed WM would display greater gains for visual and verbal WM from
CCT. We also expect gains for visual and verbal WM from those children with
typical levels of WM, although we predict these gains will not be as strong as the

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delayed WM group. Finally, although we expect that both the delayed and
typical groups will have quantitatively different WM capacities after exposure to
the intervention, we predict that the gap between each group will decrease to the
degree that the differences between the two would no longer be significant.

Hypotheses
(H1) Children with delayed WM capacity are expected to significantly improve
in post-test verbal WM by a large magnitude compared to pre-test scores; (H2)
Children with delayed WM capacity are also expected to significantly improve
in post-test visual WM by a large magnitude compared to pre-test scores; (H3)
Children with typical WM capacity are expected to improve by a small
magnitude in post-test verbal WM compared to pre-test scores; (H4) Children
with typical WM capacity are also expected to improve by a small magnitude in
post-test visual WM compared to pre-test scores; (H5) Post-test improvement in
verbal WM for both delayed and typical WM capacity are predicted to not be
statistically different; (H6) Post-test improvement in visual WM for both delayed
and typical WM capacity are also predicted to not be statistically different; (H7)
Given the expected differences in training effects for both delayed and typical
WM groups, it is hypothesized that there will be an interaction for pre and post-
test verbal WM scores and group classification of WM; (H8) It is hypothesized
that there will be an interaction for pre and post-test visual WM scores and
group classification of WM.

Method

Participants
Participants consisted of 49 males and 32 females (N = 81), ranging from
11 to 18 years of age (M = 12.83). Recruitment of participants was conducted
during 2010 - 2013 and took place at a private school in Southern California. This
school specializes in providing education for students with learning disabilities
and related disorders. Specifically, 51 of the 81 participants received one or more
formal diagnosis(es); see Table 1 for the specific diagnoses. Participants in this
study were parent-referred or referred by a teacher. All participants were treated
in accordance to the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct
(American Psychological Association, 2002).

Table 1. Diagnoses of Participants

Type of Disorder Instances

Autism 3
Emotional Disturbances 5
Other Health Impairment 9
ADHD (including ADD) 13
Specific Learning Disabilities 43

Note. A total of 19 children had multiple diagnoses. The number of students with each
type of disorder (as identified in this table) does not sum to 51 because of the multiple
diagnoses.

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93

Measures
Wide Range Assessment of Memory and Learning Second EditionTM
(WRAML2) was developed by Sheslow and Adams (2003) to provide an
assessment of memory for individuals, ages 5 to 90. The WRAML2 consists of a
battery of tests for general memory as well as optional subtests for working
memory and recognition. Specifically, the general memory battery consists of
tests to assess verbal memory, visual memory, and attention. These tests can be
combined into an index of general memory. The WRAML2 has been
demonstrated to have a high reliability for the general memory index (Sheslow
& Adams, 2003).
The Working Memory assessment consists of two tasks, one for symbolic
(or visual) working memory and the other for verbal working memory, which
have been normed for children ages 9 and older. The scores of both subtests can
be combined into a working memory index, which has been demonstrated to
have high internal reliability (Strauss, Sherman, & Spreen, 2006). Only the verbal
and symbolic working memory subtests (from the WRAML-2) were used during
the pre and post-test phases of this project.
Assessment of verbal working memory was based on a task where
participants were provided with a verbal sequence of animals and non-animals
and then instructed to recall the sequence. An additional requirement for the
participants, as they recalled the sequence, was to first report the animals and
then the non-animals. Participants were awarded one point for recalling the
animals correctly, another point for recalling the non-animals correctly, and a
bonus point for recalling both groups correctly without the intrusion of an
incorrect response. If the participants responded incorrectly across two
consecutive items, then the test was discontinued and the participant would
only earn the points up to the point of termination. The total number of points
was used to create an aggregate verbal WM raw score. The raw score was then
transformed into a standardized value.
The assessment of symbolic working memory was based on a task where
participants were provided with a verbal sequence of numbers and/or letters
and then instructed to point on a sheet to indicate the numbers and letters they
heard. Two levels of this test were administered for participants ages 9 and
older. Upon completion or discontinuation of the first level, the second level was
conducted. In the first level, participants were only verbally provided sequences
of numbers ranging from one to eight, and instructed to point on a sheet to
indicate the numbers they heard in order from least to greatest. Points were
summed in order to provide a total symbolic working memory raw score. The
raw score was transformed into a standard score.
Captain's Log, a computerized cognitive training program, was used as
the intervention for this study. Participants interacted with this training program
primarily through the use of a computer mouse and keyboard. Captain's Log is
designed to develop a wide range of cognitive skills through various brain
training exercises and is organized into three training sets: attention skills
training, problem solving skills training, and working memory training
(Sandford, 2007; Sandford & Browne, 1988). Only two of the working memory
training modules from the working memory set were used, specifically the
working memory skills and the auditory working memory modules. Captain's

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Log was programmed to run each module for 15 minutes, with the first session
beginning at the simplest level and adjustments in difficulty were made based
on the child's performance. Specifically, the adaptive nature of Captain's Log
would adjust the difficulty of the modules to become easier if the participant
made an error, or harder if the participant selected a correct response.

Procedure
Assessment of WM was achieved through the use of WRAML2 and was
completed a week before the cognitive intervention. The WRAML2 is a norm-
referenced measure of memory that is administered using a standardized
format. Performance on the subtests of the WRAML-2 are reported in terms of a
scaled score, which have a mean of 10 and a standard deviation of 3. In clinical
settings, a criterion of one standard deviation below the mean is widely used to
establish clinical significance (Kraemer et al., 2003). This same approach was
used to establish a students classification of WM (i.e., delayed or typical) in this
sample. Therefore, participants who scored seven or greater on the WM
measures were categorized into the typical WM group. Conversely, those
students who scored six or below on the same measures were categorized into
the delayed WM group.
Following pretesting, participants began the computerized cognitive
training via the use of the Captain's Log (CL) program. Participants played CL
games/activities 30 minutes per day, four days a week, for a total of 20 hours
across 10 weeks. Students who were absent or late during sessions were given
respective make-up sessions in order to assure that all participants completed
the 20 hours of CL training. A week after CL training was completed, all
participants were assessed on their WM through the WRAML2. Assessment and
cognitive training both took place at the participants' school during the regular
school-day hours.

Analysis of Data/Design
A mixed design was used for this study based on a 2 within-subjects (i.e.,
pre-test vs. post-test) by 2 between-subjects (i.e., delayed vs. typical) pre-
experimental design. A paired samples t-test was used to assess differences
across pre-test and post-test scores of working memory and an independent
samples t-test was used to assess differences between delayed and typical
students. Furthermore, a factorial analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to
determine the presence of any interaction effects on working memory
performance as a result of testing period (i.e., pre-test vs. post-test) and WM
ability (i.e., delayed vs. typical). Finally, the significance level criterion of p < .05
was used and practical significance was assessed through the use of a Cohens
D. (Ferguson, 2009).

Results
Summary descriptive statistics for delayed and typical WM scores are
presented in Table 2. An observed trend was that each group (i.e., delayed and
typical) showed improvement; however, each improvement was analyzed to
discern the statistical difference and magnitude.

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95

Table 2. Descriptive Statistics for Working Memory Measures

Delayed WM

Pre-test Post-test

Mean [95 % CI] SD Mean [95 % CI] SD t df p d

Verbal 5.45 [4.89, 6.0] 0.82 7.27 [6.10, 8.43] 1.73 -3.03 10 p < .05 1.42

Visual 5.43 [4.38, 6.47] 1.13 8.14 [6.59, 9.68] 1.67 -2.8 6 p < .05 1.93

Typical WM

Pre-test Post-test

Mean [95 % CI] SD Mean [95 % CI] SD t df p d

Verbal 10 [9.5, 10.49] 2.07 10.21[9.6, 10.81] 2.53 -0.86 69 p =.39 0.09

Visual 9.67 [9.17, 10.16] 2.13 9.94 [9.27, 10.60] 2.89 -1.1 73 p =.27 0.1

H1: A comparison of pre-test verbal WM scores and post-test verbal WM


scores among children with delayed WM was conducted. The paired samples t-
test indicated a significant difference between pre-test verbal WM scores (M =
5.45, SD = 0.82) and post-test verbal WM scores (M = 7.27, SD = 1.73), t(10) = -
3.03, p = .013. The analysis of magnitude revealed that the difference was large, d
= 1.42. The results of the analysis support hypothesis one, suggesting that
children with delayed WM experience gains after exposure to CCT.
H2: An accompanying comparison of pre-test and post-test of visual (i.e.,
symbolic) WM scores among children with delayed WM was also conducted.
The paired samples t-test was significant, t(6) = -2.80, p = .031. The analysis of
magnitude revealed that the difference was large, d = 1.93. The results of this
analysis indicated that children with delayed visual WM demonstrated gains
after exposure to CCT.
H3: In order to assess differences among children with typical verbal
WM a comparison of pre-test and post-test scores was conducted. The paired
samples t-test for pre-test verbal WM scores (M = 10.00, SD = 2.07) and post-test
verbal WM scores (M = 10.21, SD = 2.53) yielded no significant differences t(69)
= -0.86, p = .394, d = 0.09. Children with typical verbal WM did not make
significant improvements as a result of exposure to CCT therefore hypothesis
three was not supported.
H4: An assessment of the differences among children with typical visual
WM was also conducted to examine the differences between pre-test and post-
test scores. The paired samples t-test for pre-test visual WM scores (M = 9.67, SD
= 2.13) and post-test visual WM scores (M = 9.94, SD = 2.89) were not significant,

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96

t(73) = -1.10, p = .274, d = 0.10. Children with typical visual WM did not exhibit a
significant improvement as a result of exposure to CCT therefore hypothesis
four was not supported.
H5: In order to assess the expected similarity of post-test verbal WM
scores between children with delayed WM and children with typical WM, an
independent samples t-test was conducted. Results of the analysis indicated a
significant difference between the post-test scores of verbal WM of children with
delayed WM (M = 7.27, SD = 1.73) and children with typical WM (M = 10.21, SD
= 2.53), t(79) = -3.70, p = .001. Contrary to what was expected, children with
delayed verbal WM did not approach the verbal WM abilities of their typical
peers in terms of post-test scores, therefore hypothesis five was not supported.
H6: Similar to hypothesis five, the difference in post-test symbolic WM
scores between children with delayed WM and children with typical WM was
evaluated via an independent samples t-test. The analysis demonstrated that
there was no significant difference between post-test scores of symbolic WM of
children with delayed WM (M = 8.14, SD = 1.67) and children with typical WM
(M = 9.94, SD = 2.89), t(79) = -1.62, p = .109. As was expected, children with
delayed visual WM were able to approximate the post-test levels of their typical
peers as a result of exposure to CCT, therefore hypothesis six was supported.
H7: To assess the possibility of an interaction on verbal WM abilities, a
mixed-design 2x2 analysis of variance (ANOVA) with time of assessment (pre-
test, posttest) as the within-subjects factor and verbal WM classification
(delayed, typical) as the between-subjects factor was conducted. The resulting
analysis revealed a significant main effect for verbal WM classification F(1, 158)
= 9.58, p = .002, p2 = .057, but no significant main effect for time of assessment
F(1, 158) = 1.12, p = .290, p2 = .007 (see Table 3 for descriptive data). Similarly,
the predicted interaction of time of assessment and WM classification was not
significant, F(1, 158) = .087, p = .769, p2 = .001. As a result, hypothesis seven was
not supported. Both classifications of WM ability experienced similar rates of
gains in verbal WM as a result of exposure to CCT.

Table 3. Main Effects for Verbal Working Memory

Variable df F eta p
Classification 1 9.57 0.057 0.01*
Time of 1 1.12 0.007 0.29
Assessment
Interaction 1 0.08 0.001 0.77
Note: * p < .05

H8: Finally, one last mixed-design 2x2 ANOVA of visual WM was


conducted with time of assessment (pre-test, posttest) as the within-subjects
factor and visual WM classification (delayed, typical) as the between-subjects
factor. This analysis demonstrated a significant main effect for time of
assessment F(1, 158) = 4.65, p = .032, p2 = .029, and a significant main effect for
visual WM classification F(1, 158) = 19.13, p = .001, p2 = .108 (see Table 4 for
descriptive data). These main effects were not qualified by an interaction
between time of assessment and visual WM classification F(1, 158) = 3.12, p =
.079, p2 =.019. Although the predicted interaction was not significant, it did

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approach significance. As a result, although hypothesis eight was not supported


there appears to be a trend in support of the prediction. Therefore, its possible
children with different levels of WM may experience varying rates of gains in
visual WM as a result of exposure to CCT.

Table 4. Main Effects and Interaction for Visual Working Memory

Variable df F eta p
Classification 1 19.13 0.108 0.01*
Time of 1 4.65 0.029 0.03
Assessment
Interaction 1 3.12 0.019 0.07
Note: *p < .05, p approached significance

Discussion
Overall the results highlight a trend consistent with the hypotheses.
Specifically, students with delayed WM were observed to make greater
significant gains as a result of CCT in comparison to students with typical WM.
Because of this pattern of findings the results will be combined when discussing
their implications.
The first and second hypotheses were related to expected gains for
children with delayed WM as a result of exposure to CCT. Overall, both
hypotheses were supported, and demonstrated large effect sizes. Thus, it
appears that CCT improved this group of children's WM, despite their previous
classification as delayed WM. In fact, the magnitude of change was significantly
large that the post-test scores of this group would have enabled them to be re-
classified as typical WM, in terms of decision making for group classification.
This finding is similar to previous studies that have investigated gains made by
special education children after exposure to CCT (Alloway, Bibile, Lau, 2013;
Dahlin, 2011; Klingberg, Forssberg, & Westerberg, 2002; Klingberg et al., 2005).
This practical gain is important when considering the academic consequences
associated with WM deficits, including difficulty with arithmetic (Passolunghi,
2006) and reading (Melby-Lervag, Lyster, & Hume, 2012; Swanson, 2006).
The third and fourth hypotheses predicted gains for children with typical
WM as a result of exposure to CCT. These hypotheses were not supported.
Although children with typical levels of visual and verbal WM were able to
make a small degree of improvement as a result of CCT, these gains were not
statistically significant. Thus, it appears that children with typical WM abilities,
in both visual and verbal, did not noticeably benefit from exposure to CCT. A
possible explanation could be that levels of WM for this group may already be
near their peak performance leaving little room for improvement. Such a
conceptualization would be consistent with researchers who argue that working
memory has limited capacity (see Cowan, 2001).
The fifth and sixth hypothesis were related to expected similarities
between children with delayed and typical WM abilities at the conclusion of
computer training. The fifth hypothesis, related to verbal WM, was not
supported; however, the sixth hypothesis, related to visual WM, was supported.
Although the children with delayed WM were able to make increases in their

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post-test verbal WM abilities to the extent that they would no longer be


classified as delayed WM, these gains were not great enough to be comparable
with their typical peers. However, the children with initial WM deficits were
able to increase their visual WM to the point that they would no longer be
classified as delayed and were able to approximate their typical peers post-test
level performance of WM. These findings suggests that children with delayed
WM may benefit more from training in terms of visual WM rather than verbal
WM. Consistent with these findings, a 2008 study by Abikoff and colleagues,
which examined a group of 7-12 year old children diagnosed with ADHD, found
that children who attended a six week summer intervention program that
utilized CCT demonstrated significant increases in their post visual-spatial WM,
but no increases with verbal WM. Possible reasons for this particular pattern of
differences between visual and verbal WM functioning may have cognitive and
developmental underpinnings.
Several researchers have suggested that there are increased cognitive
demands related to visual WM rather than verbal WM (Bayliss et al., 2003;
Dahlin, 2011; Gathercole et al., 2004). The taxing cognitive demands creates a
situation where children with visual WM deficits may have a lower initial ability
and consequently more room for improvement once these deficits are overcome
compared to their typically functioning peers. Studies that investigated
differences in the development of verbal and visual WM among children have
demonstrated that the earlier of the two systems to develop is visual WM
(Alloway, Gathercole, & Pickering, 2006; Koppenol-Gonzalez, Bouwmeester, &
Vermunt, 2012; Pickering, 2004). A developmental history demonstrating an
earlier relationship with visual WM, combined with opportunities for
enhancement from CCT, and overcoming cognitive burdens may explain the
large gains observed for visual WM.
The seventh and eight hypotheses were intended to reveal more
information about the differences in rates of benefits that children obtain from
CCT. Findings from our study suggest that rates of benefits for verbal WM were
not observed to vary significantly as a result of initial classification of WM
ability, as a result hypothesis seven was not supported. Additionally, a similar
assessment on the rates of benefits for visual WM was not observed to vary
significantly either as a result of initial classification of WM ability and thus
hypothesis eight was also not supported. However, it is important to note that
the interaction tested by hypothesis eight was observed to approach the level of
significance. This may provide tentative evidence that rates of gains in WM, as a
result of CCT, are different between both verbal and visual WM depending on
initial levels of WM. The results related to hypotheses seven and eight are
similar to the pattern of findings observed for hypotheses five and six, such that
it appears that a positive trend is stronger for visual WM rather than verbal WM
as a result of CCT. As previously discussed, differences in development of WM
may play a role on the observed differences. For example, Jarvis and Gathercole
(2003) found a dissociation between verbal and visual WM among children,
suggesting that even into late adolescence these subtypes of WM develop at
differing rates. Additionally, Koppenol-Gonzalez and colleagues (2012)
observed better performance in visual processing tasks rather than verbal
processing in children, ages 4 to 15, supporting differences between theses two

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subtypes of WM. Specifically, among the older participants it was observed that
children were able to supplement their performance on visual processing tasks
by recoding visual information phonologically, which allowed them to
outperform younger children who lack this ability. Similar to the younger
children, it may be the case that children with delayed WM in the current study
were not able to supplement different domains of WM tasks by utilizing
additional WM skills to the same extent as their peers with typical WM.
Overall, the patterns of findings from this project support CCT as a
potential intervention for children with deficits in WM, particularly in the area
of visual WM. Given the relationship between working memory impairments
and poor academic outcomes, it appears that CCT has a strong potential to be
used in interventions for children at high risk for educational underachievement.
It would be expected that the gains experienced by the children with delayed
WM would translate into improved academic performance, although further
research is required to confirm this.
A possible limitation of this study may have been the unequal gender
distribution across groups. Two thirds of the participants were young males,
and one third of the participants were young females. Previous studies have
mentioned a lack of gender differences on WM assessments (Alloway et al.,
2006; Klingberg et al., 2005), whereas others shared similar distributions of
gender (Dahlin, 2011; Holmes et al., 2010; Klingberg et al., 2002; Mezzacappa &
Buckner, 2010; Prins et al., 2011; Shavlev et al., 2007). Despite expected
differences in occurrences of WM deficits between males and females (e.g.,
males are twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than females; Polanczyk,
de Lima, Horta, Biederman, & Rohde, 2007), gender would not be expected to
function as a confounding variable.
Another possible limitation is that the number of children in the study
with delayed WM was relatively small compared to typical WM. This could
potentially affect the data analysis, however all distributions were found to not
violate homogeneity. Therefore, similar patterns would still be expected given a
larger number of delayed participants.
One final consideration involves a potential regression towards the mean
effect, specifically for the delayed group since their mean scores shifted towards
the overall mean during the post-test measurement. However, it is thought to be
unlikely that such regression towards the mean has occurred, due to the
utilization of a highly standardized and normed measured of WM (i.e., the
WRAML2). Moreover, the pretest and posttest means for verbal and visual
working memory among students in the delayed group were not at the extreme
end of scaled scores (which have a range of 1-19); this reality reduces the
likelihood of a regression to the mean effect.

Future Directions and Recommendations


These results indicate that CCT is a potential strategy for students with
deficits in WM, specifically in the area of visual WM. Given the relationship
between WM, literacy, and mathematics, as well as the potential for CCT to
improve these academic skills, it would appear that CCT could be a valuable
intervention for children identified as having problems with WM within the
Response-to-Intervention (RTI) model. The RTI model is a widely used academic

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100

intervention in American educational settings, which enables educators to


identify different strengths and weaknesses of children (Fuchs et al., 2003). It
involves an initial school-wide screening period followed by placement into
different tiers of instruction that vary in terms of intensity. The intensity of the
instruction is related to the deficits experienced by the students. Future studies
may examine the effectiveness of CCT as an intervention within the RTI model
to improve a student's academic performance by targeting core cognitive
deficits.
Given the possibility for CCT to be incorporated within the RTI model, it
would also be of interest for future researchers to investigate how CCT could
lead to increases in various measures of academic performance. Previous
research has identified that CCT leads to improved performance in
mathematical reasoning abilities (Holmes, Gathercol, & Dunning, 2009) and
reduction of off-task behaviors during academic tasks (Green et al., 2012).
However, a more practical measure of academic benefits such as grades,
teacher/parent ratings, and scores on national assessments would help
demonstrate that CCT provides benefits beyond training WM.
Although not all hypotheses were supported, the general trends
observed among individuals with deficits in WM are particularly powerful. The
benefits of CCT still warrant additional research, the current findings regarding
CCT are largely in agreement with previous literature. As a whole, parents and
educators may find this information particularly useful when considering how
to remedy issues associated with working memory.

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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 105-123, March 2017

How Cooperating Teachers and Interns


Understand Teaching for a Better World
During Internship
Twyla Salm, PhD and Val Mulholland, PhD
University of Regina
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

Abstract. This study utilized a descriptive questionnaire to determine


how interns and cooperating teachers translate the facultys
expectations for teaching for social justice into practice during
internship. The following research questions were formulated to guide
the study: what are the similarities and differences between the
interns and cooperating teachers receptiveness to teaching for social
justice during in internship? And, how do interns and cooperating
teachers differ in their perception of being controversial and
integrating world views and perspectives in content and instructional
approaches during internship? The participants included 142
cooperating teachers and 54 interns. Just over half of the cooperating
teachers described their interns as either rigorously or actively finding
some opportunities to teach for social justice. And, even though over a
third of the interns reported that they were either rigorously or actively
integrating some opportunities, it is notable that fewer interns than
cooperating teachers were certain that they were teaching for social
justice. The site of greatest tension between interns and cooperating
teachers appeared to be in relation to discussing personal biases and
what it means to be intentionally controversial.

Keywords: teacher education; social justice; internship.

Introduction
Like other teacher education programs across North America, our faculty
has collectively made a considerable effort to better prepare teacher candidates
to teach diverse learners within the contemporary context and to attend to social
justice issues in education with more rigor and intention (Mills & Ballantyne,
2016; Edge, 2015; Attwood, 2011). Under the rubric of teaching for a better
world, our facultys mission statement to inspire and transform education
indicates the intent to fully integrate of social justice into the entire program, not
in particular courses. Several new Education Core Studies with a distinct social
justice orientation have been developed to realize the changes envisioned by our
faculty in the renewal process. Although exploring colonialism, racism and
indigenous knowledge in education (Dion, 2009; Earick, 2009) is a primary focus
of our teacher education programs, analysis of other isms such as sexual

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orientation, ableism, and sexism are part of the mandate. Set within an anti-
racist/anti-oppressive framework a significant component of our program aims
to help interns raise questions about oppressive structures and systems that
continue to marginalize some while advantaging others. In an effort to
encourage coherence in our program and to establish a tangible connection
between course work and the major practicum experience, the evaluation tool
for the mandatory 16 week internship has also been revised. The changes to the
evaluation tool reflect substantial requirements for the interns to demonstrate
anti-racist and anti-oppressive teaching in their final practicum.
Although the Faculty offers a unique three-day in-service opportunity for
all cooperating teachers and their interns in which new aspects of the program
are addressed, the adoption and implementation of the anti-racist and anti-
oppressive methods that interns are expected to demonstrate in the field-
placement is often poorly understood, if not resisted by co-operating teachers
(authors, 2015). The task of evaluating interns in areas related to social justice
poses a considerable challenge, even for the cooperating teachers who are
recognized models and advocates in this area. For cooperating teachers who are
unfamiliar, consciously or unconsciously resistant to anti-racist and anti-
oppressive pedagogies, the task of creating an environment conducive for intern
growth in anti-oppressive pedagogy has proven to be a considerable challenge.
The purpose of the study is to determine how interns and cooperating teachers
translate the facultys expectations for teaching for social justice into practice
during internship.

The Challenge of Praxis: Connecting Social Justice to Field Work in


Teacher Education
Universally, interns regard the major practicum as the most important
element of their degree and the nature of their relationship with the cooperating
teacher as critical to their success (Pitt, Dibbon, Sumara, & Wiens, 2011).
Therefore, attending to the ways that cooperating teachers support interns to
excel and teach in socially just ways in field placements is critical to all teacher
education programs interested in making this paradigmatic shift (Sleeter, 2008;
Marx, 2006; Mills & Ballantyne, 2016). Anti-racist approaches which interrogate
racist assumptions that are deeply embedded in curricula and schooling
(Cochran-Smith, 2000) and anti-oppressive research which attempts to disrupt
social norms that marginalize some groups and privilege others (Kumashiro,
2009; Ladson-Billings, 2005) ought to be central features to teacher education
programs committed to social justice (Matias, 2016). In other words, part of
teaching for social justice requires that teacher candidates have the opportunity
to identify sources of inequities and examine how dominant discourses privilege
whiteness as invisible and often exempt from scrutiny (Terwillinger, 2011;
Matias, Montoya & Nish, 2016). It appears that these kinds of opportunities are
most likely to happen in foundations courses where pre-service teachers may be
engaged in critical activities such as counter-narratives or autobiographies
(Convertino, 2016). Such in-class experiences, however, dont necessarily
translate into a change in ideology (Mueller & OConnor, 2007). Additionally,
there are very few studies that research the actual practice of interns when they
work for social justice in classrooms (Cochrane-Smith, Davis & Fries, 2004; Mills

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107

& Ballantyne, 2016). And, even the few studies that have studied interns in
practice concluded that they were not always able to help interns create
meaningful change in their conceptualizations or teaching practices (Ah Lee,
2011; Larkin, Maloney, Perry-Ryder, 2016).
The gap between what happens in course work and how it is taken up in
practicum experiences has long plagued teacher education (Pitt et al., 2011), even
when the focus was technical-rational. Traditionally, a narrow technical focus
which is based on specific competencies and performance skills has over
shadowed the need for interns to engage in critical and culturally responsive
pedagogy in practice (Jackson, Green, Martin & Fasching-Varner, 2016). The
trend to more practice-based teacher education which in its technical approach
to teaching excludes elements related to cultural competency and critical social
action, further exacerbating the issue (Zeichner, 2012). The gap becomes even
more pronounced when internships are merely add-ons to course work and
are disconnected from tenured faculty involvement (Zeichner, 2010). At best, the
quality of internships tends to vary widely and can be structured quite
haphazardly for sake of convenience. Quality is also dependent on the way the
cooperating teachers are recruited, the extent to which they are guided and
supported, and degree to which expectations are placed on both the cooperating
teacher and the intern (Darling- Hammond, 2006). Exemplary programs recruit
cooperating teachers who have a sophisticated way of thinking about teaching, a
refined practice, and where university faculty can work in a reciprocally
beneficial way to ensure practices that are theoretically rich but also eminently
practical (Darling-Hammond, 2006, p. 154). Although our program recruits
many outstanding cooperating teachers, the scale of our program does not
permit every intern to be mentored by a cooperating teacher that is theoretically
rich in social justice pedagogy.
Even under less than ideal conditions, the primary purpose of a
practicum experience in a teacher education program is for the interns to have
an opportunity to practice, take risks and explore and breathe life into the course
concepts in a K-12 classroom. It is this kind of carefully coordinated practical
opportunity, supported by quality feedback and mentoring, that leads to deeper
learning and prepares the intern for complex teaching practices (Schultz, 2005;
Darling-Hammond et al, 2005; Zeichner & Conklin, 2005). However, if
cooperating teachers do not have the capacity to provide feedback that does little
more than support token activities that merely recognizes or celebrates diversity,
the opportunity to explore and practice social justice approaches to teaching
may be lost for the individual intern.
Providing feedback that eventually culminates in both formative and
summative assessment is one of the primary responsibilities of the cooperating
teacher in the practicum relationship; however, the quality of the feedback can
be questionable. After completing a comprehensive literature review on
cooperating teacher participation in teacher education, Clarke, Triggs & Nielsen
(2013) concluded that cooperating teacher feedback is often problematic because
it is narrow, particularistic and technical (p. 13). One might safely describe it
as idiosyncratic. These researchers also noted that they were surprised to find so
little research which has focused on the cooperating teachers role in evaluation
given the significance of this responsibility.

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108

Evaluation of Social Justice Competencies in Internship


The researchers would not argue that the Likert scale used on our
facultys internship evaluation template represents exemplary practice, much
less within the social justice framework the faculty purports to value. That said,
the Likert scale form is the evaluation tool accepted by our faculty, and has the
enthusiastic support of our stakeholders which include the Ministry of
Education, and most importantly the school divisions in which our internship
experiences occur. It is not an exaggeration to say that the evaluation form at the
centre of this paper is a venerable tradition with our stakeholders. Therefore, the
Likert structure of the evaluation form remained intact and the faculty
attempted to integrate social justice assessment into the evaluation template.
Theoretically, the tenets of anti-racist and anti-oppressive pedagogy ought to be
integrated into all aspects of teaching and not appear as isolated concepts on a
Likert scale. We are not so nave to believe that specifically naming particular
competencies in teaching for a better world ensures social action or
engagement with these ideas (Maloney & Perry-Ryder, 2016). Having the social
justice items included on the evaluation template, however, does demonstrate
their importance in the same way that technical skills such as lesson planning
and classroom management are acknowledged on the template. By naming
aspects of social justice pedagogy the faculty effectively threw down the gauntlet
to those who resisted the change in focus teaching for a better world
represents.
In our teacher education program the interns are prepared in their course
work to understand what is expected of them in their field-placement and they
ought to have acquired multiple ways of demonstrating each social justice
competency prescribed on their evaluation tool prior to the major practicum. At
the very least, the concepts and language of social justice pedagogy are infused
in course content across all four-years of their teacher education program.
Nevertheless, we are in the early days of a new program so we recognize that
research is necessary to understand how interns interpret the social justice
components of the evaluation tool. Furthermore, we do not know how
cooperating teachers interpret social justice aspects of the evaluation given the
intermittent relationship we have with individual cooperating teachers. Faculty
who supervise internships have the opportunity to observe the dynamics at
work in classroom where interns are placed, but systematic collection of these
impressions are anecdotal at best.
Although faculty members serve as advisors, liaise with schools and may
be perceived as source of academic and practical support by some, their
influence and authority can be quite minimal. Certainly, in our program, faculty
advisors have some influence but no substantial power because cooperating
teachers have the primary responsibility for evaluation. Zeichner & Liston,
(1985) categorized the discourse of faculty advisors post observation conferences
into four types: factual, prudential, justificatory and critical. The latter two types,
justificatory and critical, open spaces for interns to consider the rationale for
their pedagogical decisions and to encourage alternative and critical
perspectives; however, cumulatively these types only represented 11.9% of the

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109

discourse. Even faculty advisors that are highly invested in providing quality
feedback to the intern are challenged to do so when evaluation tools are reduced
to checklists that reinforce teaching as a set of technical elements to be mastered.
In this way, we recognize the limitations of our evaluation tool and the processes
that we have used to train cooperating teachers in its use.
Bates & Burbank (2008) concluded that when faculty advisors perceived
the intern as having general competence in the technical aspects of teaching,
feedback then shifted focus to individual learning needs of a culturally diverse
classroom. However, if the intern was perceived to have weak technical skills,
feedback focused on specific technical performance standards. While most
programs involve a faculty advisor in some capacity, the quality and quantity of
involvement and feedback varies widely and the ultimate impact of this
feedback is largely unknown. According to Zeichner (2010), interns and their
cooperating teachers are often left to work out the daily business of student
teaching by themselves with little guidance and connection to campus courses,
and it is often assumed that good teaching practices are caught rather than
taught (p.91). By providing course work in social justice and by naming social
justice competencies on the evaluation template, our faculty deliberately staked
out an initial step in valuing and promoting anti-racist and anti-oppressive
pedagogy. The next step was to develop a deeper understanding of the context
in which these competencies are being interpreted.

Research Questions
The following research questions were formulated to guide the study:
1. What are the similarities and differences between the interns and
cooperating teachers receptiveness to teaching for social justice during in
internship.
2. How do interns and cooperating teachers differ in their perception of
being controversial and integrating world views and perspectives in
content and instructional approaches during internship.

Method
This study utilized a descriptive, anonymous questionnaire to determine
how receptive interns and cooperating teachers were to teaching for social
justice during internship in a teacher education program. The participants of the
study included 142 cooperating teachers (51% of population) and 54 interns (20%
of the population). All of the cooperating teachers and interns were invited by
email to respond to an online questionnaire after the completion of the sixteen
week internship. The questionnaire questions were derived from the
requirements outlined on the interns final evaluation template, which is called
the Internship Professional Profile (IPP). Successful completion of all 44 items on
the IPP is required to pass internship. Of the 44 items listed on the IPP, eight
items specifically refer to issues of social justice and demonstrate the necessity to
become competent in this area as well as in other more traditionally valued skills
such as daily planning and instructional competence. This study is specifically
focused on developing a deeper understanding of the eight items on the IPP that
refer to expectations for teaching for social justice.

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In order to establish face and content validity the questionnaire was


reviewed and refined by two researchers specializing in the area of teacher
education and social justice. There was no reliability of the instrument
established since the questionnaire was specifically designed for a particular
context. However, the language and content of the questionnaire was derived
from the IPP, the evaluation template, which is familiar practice to the
cooperating teachers and the interns. Also, the IPP, along with the companion
descriptors and instructions for evaluation were explained during an intensive
three day internship seminar orientation. During this seminar cooperating
teachers and interns have the time and opportunity to develop some
competency and common understanding of the terms and purpose of the
evaluation. Therefore, the potential for a common and deeper understanding of
the language of the questionnaire may have been indirectly enhanced by the
internship orientation program. One open-ended question at the end of the
questionnaire was also analyzed by manually coding for emerging themes using
Strauss and Corbin (1990) constant comparison method.

Limitations
For good or ill, respondents represent a spectrum of attitudes to and
understanding of social justice at work in the field. Even though the return rate
on the questionnaire was high, we know that we do not have the full picture.
Anecdotally, returning interns report that many cooperating teachers tell interns
not to worry or bother about the social justice aspects of their work. We do take
satisfaction knowing that by making social justice competencies part of the
conversation during the seminar, very few evaluations are returned marked
Not Applicable in these categories as once was the case. We recognize, too,
that indicating fulfillment of a particular requirement may not be indicative of
full understanding.

Findings
The results will be reported in two categories that relate to each of the
two research questions. The first research question asked: what are the
similarities and differences between the intern and cooperating teachers
receptiveness to teaching for social justice during in internship? There were five
questions on the questionnaire that contributed to a deeper understanding of
research question #1. In the first question, the participants were asked to select
one of six possible responses that best represented how they made sense of the
items on the IPP that related to social justice. In other words, they identified the
degree of intern participation in teaching for social justice.

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Table 1: Comparison of intern and cooperating teachers response to the extent


interns engaged in teaching for social justice.

f- CT IN
%
Intern engaged in rigorous action related to social f 5 2
justice issues % 3.52 3.70
Intern found some opportunities to integrate social justice f 67 18
issues into teaching % 47.18 33.33
Intern and cooperating teacher discussed social justices f 22 10
issues regularly % 15.49 18.52
Intern & teacher discussed social justices issues only in f 28 11
the context of completing evaluation templates % 19.72 20.37
Intern found it difficult to integrate social justice issues f 30 7
into teaching % 21.13 12.96
Intern mostly did not integrate social justice issues f 11 6
into teaching % 7.75 11.11

Total 142 54
f: frequency, % percentage
CT: cooperating teacher: IN, intern

As Table 1 demonstrates, just over half of the cooperating teachers


described their interns as either rigorously or actively finding some
opportunities to teach for social justice. And, even though over a third of the
interns reported that they were either rigorously or actively integrating some
opportunities, fewer interns than cooperating teachers were certain that they
were teaching for social justice during internship. There was, however, greater
consistency between the cooperating teachers and the interns who engaged less
with social justice issues. Approximately, one quarter of the interns (24.07%) and
cooperating teachers (28.88%) agreed that interns either found it difficult or did
not integrate social justice issues into teaching. A possible explanation for the
discrepancy between cooperating teachers and interns perceptions of
engagement may be related to their interpretation of the term rigorous social
justice action. Given the currency and the intensity of the interns course work
related to social justice, it is possible that the interns held high expectations for
possible internship competencies in social justice. The cooperating teachers may
have been more generous with their interpretation of an activity that might be
perceived by them to be within the realm of social justice. Their generosity may
be rooted in the belief that any overture in a social just direction should be
rewarded (Moffett & Yunfang, 2009). Given the intensity of the interns
education in this area, they may have a broader perspective of what is possible
than do their mentors. Additionally, the researchers queried whether the
advanced social media networking between the interns might have been more
vigorous than with the cooperating teachers and may have contributed to a
higher standard of social justice competencies. This type of social sharing may
have afforded the interns greater insight into practices of their peers, as reported
in social media networks, especially by those who were excelling. Without
similar networks in which to compare their interns level of social justice

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112

engagement, the cooperating teachers might have been satisfied with relatively
superficial efforts. More research in this area is warranted.
The second question that contributed to understanding the similarities
and differences between the intern and cooperating teachers receptiveness to
teaching for social justice during in internship asked the pair to identify the
degree to which interns ought to be expected to exhibit knowledge about
historical and social injustices and inequities. (See Table 2).
Overall, we were encouraged by the results in this section. The majority
of cooperating teachers (62.85%) and interns (66.04%) stated that exhibiting
knowledge about historical and social injustices and inequities is a priority or a
reasonable expectation. Given the limitations of the questionnaire, we are not
sure what they think constitutes historical and social injustices and inequities.
This query warrants further investigation in another study. Given, for example,
that a third of interns and cooperating teachers selected maybe in some
settings we wonder if some participants believe that learning about historical
and social injustices is only warranted if the participants live within a particular
demographic or geographical area which is recognized as a site of historical
injustice (St. Denis, 2011). Within the context in which the study is set, the social
and economic disparities between white-settler and Indigenous peoples are
readily apparent. As a demographic category, Indigenous people experience
higher rates of unemployment, poverty and other social ills, including under-
funded schools on reservations (Palmater, 2011). However, some of our teacher
education students grew up in relatively racially homogenous communities
dominated by white-settler populations. It is conceivable that participants from
such communities may not believe that learning about historical injustices
applies to their context. In fact, they often say as much. Although our course
work has attempted to disrupt this myth, a third of our interns continue to be
tentative about the necessity to exhibit knowledge about historical and social
injustices (Tupper & Cappello, 2008). Clearly, we have more work to do in this
area. While a small percentage of cooperating teachers (4.29%) and (1.89%)
interns reported that this competency was not a reasonable expectation, we
aspire to 0%. We are hopeful that resistance to acknowledging our shameful
past and complex present will decline over time.
We were also encouraged by the cooperating teachers overall response.
We know the kind of social justice concepts that are taught in our course work to
the interns and we expected a positive response in this area. It is difficult,
however, to know the quality and extent of cooperating teacher professional
development beyond the in-service we provide through the internship seminar.
The data suggests that some cooperating teachers have received a similar type of
professional development that supports a greater understanding of historical
and social injustices and inequities. This alignment with our field partners is
promising.

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Table 2: Comparison of Responses: Need for Interns to Teach Historical & Social
Injustices Inequities
f-% CT IN
Yes this is a priority expectation f 31 9
% 22.14 16.98
Mostly- this is a reasonable expectation f 57 26
% 40.71 49.06
Maybe in some settings this might be f 47 17
reasonable % 33.57
32.08
No this is not a reasonable expectation f 6 1
% 4.29 1.89
Total 140 53
f: frequency, % percentage
CT: Cooperating teacher, IN: intern

The next three questions posed to the participants explored injustices and
inequities relating to ways interns had the opportunity to explore sexism,
racism, and ableism during internship. Specifically, the questions asked: in your
setting, do interns find multiple ways to explore injustices related to sexism,
racism and ableism? (See Table 3).
Of the three isms in play, both cooperating teachers and interns
suggest that interns are the least likely to explore issues related to sexism.
Similarly, ableism was just marginally more likely than sexism to be explored by
interns. Racism, however, was highlighted much more frequently as the most
likely issue to be explored by interns, according to both interns (68.52%) and
coops at (80.44%) respectively. The researchers were somewhat surprised by the
discrepancies between the isms. While our teacher education program
intentionally emphasizes race issues, sexism and ableism are also part of the
social justice agenda. This data suggests that sexism may not be taken up with
the same vigor or purpose as the other isms in our courses. Comparatively,
cooperating teacher participants selected responses in the true range
(definitely, mostly and somewhat) more often than did the interns. This
difference may be, at least in part, attributed to the age and experience of the
teachers who may be more familiar with ways sexism can be taken up in
classrooms or indeed, they may have had actually experienced sexism. Given
that there are plenty of ways sexism can be enacted in school settings, we
wondered if the participants, particularly the interns, resisted challenging
sexism in their classroom because it was too close to home. We recognize that
statistically there are more women than men engaged in teaching as profession.
The legacy of colonization in a white-settler society is the discourse associated
with the good woman, a salient figure in the settlement saga. Van Kirk (1980)
and Erickson (1995) studied the roles of white women in the civilizing of the
west, as partners to the men who broke the land but also as the virtuous
school marms who taught the values and language of the Empire to non-English
settler children and especially aboriginal children. Christian churches are
implicated in this Grand Narrative too, but the good woman fits in easily there.
She is busy saving those who might not even want saving. The echoes of the
good colonial woman discourses persist in many contemporary quarters, not
least in schools (Staples, 2010). Couple this history with the backlash to more

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114

current waves of feminism, and as repugnant as identifying as a racist may be to


our participants, it often proves more palatable that being identified as being
oppressed because or gender, or worse, a feminist. Given that the vast majority
of our students are white and more than half are female, they might have a
greater affinity to help out a racialized population, a social positioning that fits
more comfortably with the discourse of the good woman (Gambhir, Broad,
Evans & Gaskell, 2008). Indeed, sexism might have more direct impact on their
lived experience and consequently be more difficult to address (Hossain, 2015).
We wondered if challenging sexism disrupts their identity more dramatically
and produces a discomfort they have not been adequately prepared in their
course work to recognize and resist.
Interns may think they can minimize the implications of critical
pedagogy because they do not perceive the relationship between racism and
their mostly white-settler lives (Stapes, 2010). Approximately, one third of the
interns could not find multiple ways to explore examples of injustice related to
racism during their internship (See Table 3a). Also, it is possible that some
interns (those in the false range: 30.60%) may have felt unable to address race
issues if the cooperating teacher did not provide an encouraging environment or
may have prohibited certain anti-racist approaches to teaching. Although not
ideal, the fact that 69.40% of the interns found multiple ways to explore
injustices related to racism is promising. Similarly, the fact that 80.44% of
cooperating teachers state that their interns definitely, mostly or somewhat
explored issues related to racism during their internship suggests to us that the
majority of interns are able to connect some social justice course work with their
field placement practice.
Cooperating teachers also responded more frequently (75.19%) than
interns (55.10%) that there were multiple ways to explore examples of injustices
related to ableism (See Table 3a). The assumption here is that teachers perceive
more opportunities than interns to disrupt practices and beliefs that assign
inferior worth to students who have developmental, emotional, or physical
disabilities. It is possible that interns have more difficulty identifying less overt
disabilities and therefore, perceive they are meeting a wider spectrum of needs
than they are actually doing (Lyons, 2013). Also, inclusion is a named focus in
many school divisions and the interns may be aware of many visible and
tangible efforts that directly challenge ableism. From that perspective, interns
may have focussed on the positive advances and neglected to notice the gaps in
services, skills or attitudes that foster ableism. Because almost half of interns
cannot identify ways that they can address ableism, our teacher education
program may need to improve how we prepared pre-service teachers in this
area.

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115

Table 3: Cooperating teachers responses to: Interns Have Multiple Ways to Explore
Sexism, Racism and Ableism

f-% DT MT ST SF MF DF T
Interns Have Multiple Ways f 21 35 43 16 26 4 140
to Explore Sexism % 15.00 5.00 30.71 11.43 18.57 2.86
Interns Have Multiple Ways f 38 34 39 19 2 6 138
to Explore Racism % 27.54 24.6 28.26 13.77 1.45
4.35
Interns Have Multiple Ways f 25 31 47 21 1 12 137
to Explore Ableism % 18.25 22.6 34.31 15.33 0.73 8.76
f: frequency, % percentage
DT: Definitely true, MT: mostly true, ST: somewhat true, SF: somewhat false, MF:
mostly false, DF: definitely false
T: total

Table 3a: Interns responses to: Interns Have Multiple Ways to Explore Sexism, Racism
and Ableism

f-% DT MT ST SF MF DF T
Interns Have Multiple Ways f 3 8 19 6 10 6 52
to Explore Sexism % 5.77 36.54 11.54 23.00 11.54
15.380.
Interns Have Multiple Ways f 8 14 15 5 7 9 54
to Explore Racism % 14.81 25.9 27.78 9.26 12.96
9.26
Interns Have Multiple Ways f 5 12 13 8 12 4 54
to Explore Ableism % 9.26 22.2 24.07 14.81 22.22
7.41
f: frequency, % percentage
DT: Definitely true, MT: mostly true, ST: somewhat true, SF: somewhat false, MF:
mostly false, DF: definitely false
T: total

The next set of questions responded to query posed in research question


#2: how do interns and cooperating teachers differ in their perception of being
controversial and integrating world views and perspectives in content and
instructional approaches during internship?
In this question, participants were offered four responses to the question:
should interns be purposefully controversial as they integrate world views into
their teaching? (See Table 4). More interns (16.67%) responded yes interns
ought to be regularly controversial than cooperating teachers (8.03%).
However, there was general agreement between the cooperating teachers
(66.42%) and interns (70.37%) that maybe if it fits the content interns should
be controversial. Similarly, 15.33% of cooperating teachers stated that they were
not sure and 9.96% of interns responded the same. Only 3.70% of the interns
stated no, interns should avoid controversy whereas 10.22% of cooperating
teachers stated interns should not be purposefully controversial.

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116

Table 4: Comparison of Responses: Interns Ought to be Controversial

f-% Yes M NS No Total


Should interns be
purposefully
controversial as they integrate
world view into
their teaching?
Cooperating f 11 91 21 14 137
Teacher % 8.03 15.33 10.22
66.42
Intern f 9 38 5 2 54
% 16.67 9.96 3.7
70.37

f: frequency, % percentage
Y: Yes regularly controversial, M: Maybe if it fits the content, NS: I am not sure, No
they should avoid controversy

There appears to be some alignment in the expectation that interns ought


to provoke some controversy in teaching for social justice given that two-thirds
of teachers and interns indicated that they were at least contemplating being
controversial as they integrated world views into their teaching. It is also
reasonable to assume that they knew that challenging oppressive norms is often
met with resistance (Matias, Montoya & Nishi, 2016). In this question, the
discrepancy between the cooperating teachers and the interns appeared wider at
the extreme ends of the Likert scale. Since more interns than teachers agreed
with being controversial, we speculate that they understood from course work
that controversy is a necessary part of challenging oppressive norms and
worked towards that end. Being controversial was not presented as an
undesirable space, and being neutral was cast as an unachievable. Alternatively,
cooperating teachers may have felt the need to be protective of their interns,
shielding them from some of the unpleasant consequences that can come from
sparking controversy. Since 87.04% of the interns said yes or maybe to being
controversial, the message in our program about the necessity to challenging
oppressive norms appears to largely be accepted. Perhaps, the next step for our
program is to assist more cooperating teachers to learn how they can be
supportive of this sometimes contentious instructional competency. Ostensibly,
just because interns said they ought to be controversial does not mean they
necessarily realized that value in their teaching.
In the next related question the questionnaire asked in your internship
setting, were you (the intern) able to integrate a variety of world views and
perspectives (including indigenous ways of knowing) in content and
instructions. This question offered insight into whether interns had the
opportunity to teach for a better world, regardless of whether they wanted to or
not (See Table 5). The majority of interns stated that they did (44.44%) or
sometimes (38.89%) had the opportunity to integrate world views into their
teaching. Slightly more cooperating teachers perceived their interns integrating
world views, with 60.61% of teachers stating yes and 27.27% selecting
sometimes. Given that 83.33% of interns and 87.88% of teachers selected yes

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117

or sometimes we suspect there was relatively high level of acceptance of, at


least, talking about our social history. It appears that accepting that there are
other ways of knowing is almost normalized in our context. We recognize there
are many factors beyond our program/courses that might contribute to interns
and teachers acceptance of other world views and culturally responsive
practices. Many social institutions, including justice, health and other
government services acknowledge Indigenous ways of knowing in our province.
For example, in our context, significant changes to language in provincial
curriculum documents have also supported this potential paradigm shift. The
term ESL has been supplanted by the EAL (English as an additional language) to
draw attention to the notion that speaking one language, English, is not the
norm in the world beyond our borders. We are not so naive to think that a
certain degree of acceptance changes behaviour but if there is less resistance to
other ways of knowing, we view this knowledge as a positive step in a
potentially less oppressive direction.

Table 5: Comparison of Responses: Interns Integrating World Views and


Perspectives

f-% Y ST R AN N
Total
Intern was able to integrate a
variety of world view and
perspectives (including
indigenous ways of knowing)
in content and instruction
Cooperating f 60 27 8 4 0 99
Teacher % 60.61 27.27 8.08 4.04 0
Intern f 24 21 3 6 0 54
% 44.44 38.89 5.56 11.11 0

f: frequency, % percentage
Y: Yes, ST: Sometimes, R: Rarely, AN: Almost Never, N: Never

Table 6 shows the responses to question related to culturally responsive practice


and classroom management approaches.The vast majority of cooperating
teachers (91.31%) and interns (98.15%) reported agreement in the true range of
responses related to expectations that interns use culturally responsive
classroom management approaches. In other words, almost all the participants
agreed with the idea that classroom management practices ought to be
conducted in a culturally responsive way. There was, however, greater
discrepancy between interns and cooperating teachers responses to their own
ability to discuss how their own biases influence classroom management
expectations. The majority of teachers (88.99%) claimed that they, at the least
somewhat, discussed their biases, whereas 71.69% of interns responded in the
affirmative range.
Given the power differential between the cooperating teachers and the
interns, it was not surprising to us that fewer interns than teachers were able to
discuss their biases. We have used some strategies, including the introduction of

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118

the Adaptive Mentorship Model (Salm & Mulholland, 2015), in an attempt to


support a mutually beneficial dialogue but we recognize this level of discussion
is not possible for every pair. The responses to these two questions prompted us
to consider how cooperating teachers and interns take up the concept of
culturally responsive classrooms and what they talk about when the discuss
their biases. Given the positive responses to both questions, interns and
cooperating teachers report to believe in these activities but how they engage
and interpret these questions warrants further investigation. Some insight into
their interpretation of teaching for social justice can be gleaned by analysis of the
responses to the open-ended question at the end of the questionnaire.

Table 6: Comparison of Responses: Being Culturally Responsive and Discussing


Biases

f-% DT MT ST SF M DF T
F
Interns should be
expected to use
culturally responsive
classroom management
approaches?
f 64 38 24 9 2 2 139
% 46.3 27.5 17.39 6.52 1.5 1.45
Intern f 26 17 10 1 0 0 54
% 48.1 31.4 18.52 1.85 0 0
8
You were able to discuss
with your coop/intern
how your own biases
influence classroom
management
expectations?
Cooperating Teacher f 31 56 36 10 1 5 139
% 22.4 40.5 26.09 7.25 0.7 3.62
2
Intern f 8 21 9 5 3 7 53
% 15.1 39.6 16.98 9.43 5.7
2 13.21

f: frequency, % percentage
DT: Definitely true, MT: mostly true, ST: somewhat true, SF: somewhat false, MF:
mostly false, DF: definitely false
T: total

Cooperating Teachers Responses to the Open-Ended Question


The participants were invited to respond to an open-ended question
which asked them to make comments that help us understand how to support
cooperating teachers and interns teach for a better world. There were 36
responses that ranged from 20 300 words. Many of the comments reflected an

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119

affinity to a technical-rationale approach to teaching that is often considered the


dominant discourse and consistent with a cultural transmission rather than a
transformative paradigm. This question seemed to give the teachers who are
resistant or do not understand teaching for social justice an opportunity to share
their concerns.
Central to their argument was a sentiment that if the IPP included social
justice requirements, as one teacher said, other important content is dropped to
accommodate for implementing social justice issues. Similarly, resistance to
social justice issues was challenged as part of the evaluation which was
sometimes interpreted as imposing compliance. A teacher comment illustrates
this form of resistance is reflected in: forcing them [taking up social justice
issues] to happen during internship just felt like something we had to do, not
something that helps my intern become a better teacher. Another teacher
reported that the social justice issues on the IPP were contrived and forced
the issue of social justice. In these and similar comments, teachers position
themselves secure in their epistemological positioning that education is a neutral
act of dependent upon technological skills and procedures. As one teacher
explained, we need to focus on education and not be used by others as a means
for indoctrination. Another described teaching for social justice as characterized
by far too much emphasis is being placed on politically correct, fringe issues.
This position is difficult to reconcile in the face of irrefutable knowledge that
over 40% of Indigenous children live in poverty in our province. Others were
more direct, I would be happy to have the social justice criteria removed from
the IPP. While we might argue that some teachers are enjoying a false sense of
security with their static positions, our efforts to disrupt their certainty have
seemingly created an uncomfortable and unsettling environment for them. Our
next challenge might be indeed to consider ways to continue promoting a social
justice dialogue within the internship seminar, whilst the cooperating teachers
grapple with their discomfort with challenges to their teaching identities.
Part of this education must include helping cooperating teachers understand the
structural and systemic nature of oppression. One teacher commented that the
questionnaire questions implied that racism and other isms in fact, truly exist,
even in his/her school. By answering the questionnaire in the affirmative, this
teacher reported that we were implying that his/her school is riddled with
examples of discrimination and injustice. What a shock it might be for this
teacher to recognize that in fact, all our institutions are implicated in injustices
and the opportunity to teach about the injustices permeates all aspects of
pedagogy, not just the personal spaces in her/his classroom. As with all
transformations, change that involves assisting cooperating teachers as they
develop a deeper understanding of teaching for a better world will involve time
and fortitude (Mills & Ballantyne, 2016).

Cooperating Teachers Responses to the Open-Ended Question


Almost half (47%) of the interns made comments in this section and their
responses ranged from 6 200 words. Intern responses for this open ended
question did not mirror the teachers resistance to a more critical approach to
teaching, nor betray an unwavering confidence in the technical rationale
approach to teaching. The vast majority of comments acknowledged the

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120

importance and their desire to teach for social justice, but the interns were more
concerned about their competency to engage in meaningful social action. There
appeared, however, to be a technical dimension to their call for this competency
in their request for more concrete descriptions and criteria and more
professional development for [cooperating] teachers. Even though their
comments tended to request a desire for more support on how to do it, there
was little question that they ought to engage in teaching for social justice. We are
left to wonder what social action and teaching for social justice activities and
attitudes were sufficiently developed during internship. A further examination
of the ways interns imagine themselves teaching for social justice would
augment this data from this study.

Conclusion
The significance of this study is that the results will act as a heuristic to
talk about how to move the social justice agenda ahead not only in our Faculty
but with field partners. In summary, we found that interns perceived their
internship as relatively receptive to teaching for social justice. Similarly,
cooperating teachers agreed, at even a higher rate, which we attempted to
explicate in our discussion of findings. The site of greatest tension between
interns and cooperating teachers appears to be in relation to discussing personal
biases and what it means to be intentionally controversial. Both co-operating
teachers and interns agreed that integrating a variety of world views in content
and instructional approaches, but we are not convinced that such positioning is
more tokenism than an indication of shared understanding consistent with the
tenets of social justice practice.
Over many years our Faculty has developed a strong relationship with
teacher partners in the field. In an effort to continue in a mutually beneficial
dialogue about how we move forward together, we will present the findings of
this study to the next cohort of cooperating teachers (n=270) and interns (n=270).
In our context, we have a forum, the internship seminar, where all cooperating
teachers and interns will hear the presentation and discuss the results with us in-
person. Just as the interns face trepidation as they aim to be purposefully
controversial, we share this apprehension knowing that it will disrupt a
normally comfortable and easy relationship between Faculty and field partners.
There is some safety in critiquing as the participants at the next seminar will
not be the same as the population that completed the study. There will, however,
be some overlap as there will be many teachers who regularly volunteer and will
be returning. Regardless, we are confident that some of the teachers and interns
will hear their personal sentiments reflected and analyzed in the study, even if
they were not participants. At the same time, much of what we believe to be true
reflects quite positively on a population of cooperating teachers and interns that
are no doubt struggling alongside us, but also embracing what it means to teach
for a better world.

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121

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