An analysis of ESL students' attitudes about the use of listserv discussions in their college composition classrooms
Junko Otoshi, The Ohio State University, United States
Doctor of Philosophy, The Ohio State University . Awarded
The purpose of this study was to investigate and describe the use of listserv discussions from the perspectives of college ESL students, focusing on three factors of listserv discussions: linguistic, affective and interpersonal. The study was conducted in a college ESL composition program at a Midwestern university in the United States in Autumn Quarter in 2001, and 70 students and 5 instructors participated in questionnaire and follow-up interviews. The data obtained from the questionnaire were analyzed students' data quantitatively using descriptive statistics, correlational statistics and multiple regression. Additionally, follow-up interviews were conducted involving both ESL students and their instructors.
The results of the both data showed that a majority of participant students reported mixed attitudes toward listserv discussions across the three factors showing between slightly positive and slightly negative. Regarding the linguistic factors, although participant students agreed on the benefits of practicing English in a more informal setting, they reported negative views on linguistic accuracy in listserv discussions. With respect to affective factors, a majority of participant students reported that they felt more secure on the listserv than in the classroom because of the flexibility of time, place and their own choice of participation. However, the data also showed participant students' stressful feelings by a large quantity of postings in the listserv discussions. Participant students also showed mixed attitudes about interpersonal factors. They reported positive attitudes concerning knowledge development through their interactions with each other; however, they showed negative attitudes on the speed of listserv communications, miscommunication happening in the posted messages, and less active involvement of their instructors in the listserv discussions.
Comparing the results of the data from individual interviews between students and their instructors, it was noted that both students and instructors reported the similar views on each factor. However, the findings also revealed that the instructors' expectations on listserv activities may not have been communicated clearly to the students. Therefore, although students shared a number of similar views about listserv discussions with their instructors, they showed more complicated attitudes toward listserv discussions than their instructors reported, especially towards interpersonal factors. Considering such differences between students and instructors, a specific set of pedagogical implications was presented to improve listserv activities to meet students' needs. Those implications included the following: appropriate guidance by ESL instructors, establishment of preparation sessions, choice of topics, and dividing into smaller groups. The study also included recommendations for further study, limitations, references, and a set of appendices related to the study.
Otoshi, J. An analysis of ESL students' attitudes about the use of listserv discussions in their college composition classrooms. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, The Ohio State University.
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