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Attitude of esl chinese students towards call

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  1. 1. ATTITUDES OF ESL STUDENTS TOWARD THE USE OF COMPUTER-ASSISTED LANGUAGE LEARNING (CALL) IN A UNIVERSITY IN CHINA by SHIKUN ZHANG Submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School Texas A&M University-Commerce in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF EDUCATION May 2011
  2. 2. UMI Number: 3467974 All rights reserved INFORMATION TO ALL USERS The quality of this reproduction is dependent upon the quality of the copy submitted. In the unlikely event that the author did not send a complete manuscript and there are missing pages, these will be noted. Also, if material had to be removed, a note will indicate the deletion. UMIDissertation Publishing UMI 3467974 Copyright 2011 by ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. This edition of the work is protected against unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code. ProQuest LLC 789 East Eisenhower Parkway P.O. Box 1346 Ann Arbor, Ml 48106-1346
  3. 3. ATTITUDES OF ESL STUDENTS TOWARD THE USE OF COMPUTER-ASSISTED LANGUAGE LEARNING (CALL) IN A UNIVERSITY IN CHINA Approved: lfoujj*}o ( y f e j£pQ&nj Adviser /TUii^^^v^ Dean of the College ofJEducation and Human Services Dean of Graduate Studies and Research ii
  4. 4. Copyright ©2011 Shikun Zhang in
  5. 5. ABSTRACT ATTITUDES OF ESL STUDENTS TOWARD THE USE OF COMPUTER-ASSISTED LANGUAGE LEARNING (CALL) IN A UNIVERSITY IN CHINA Shikun Zhang, EdD Texas A&M University-Commerce, 2011 Adviser: Jason Davis, PhD With the development of educational technology, it is important to determine ESL students' attitudes toward the effectiveness of technology used in the ESL classes in a university in Central Eastern China. Students' attitudes can reflect the reality of utilization of computer technology-based ESL courses. The findings can help educators to effectively use computer technology. This study utilized two instruments: A demographic survey and a separate Scale of Attitudes toward Computer-Assisted Language Learning (SACALL). The research questionnaires were administered to 208 participants. Statistical methods including t- tests, correlation coefficient tests, and a one-way ANOVA were used to analyze the data. iv
  6. 6. V The study findings indicate that Chinese ESL learners had positive attitudes toward CALL. The r-test findings showed that female ESL learners in the university had more positive attitudes toward CALL than their male counterparts. The r-test also found that undergraduate learners had more positive attitudes toward CALL than did graduate learners. The ANOVA findings confirmed that students expressed different attitudes toward CALL based on the previous number of CALL courses taken and the frequency of the students' computer usage. The results of the Pearson's r correlation indicated that five out of six correlations were statistically significant among the following variables: (a) students' perceived abilities in computer use, (b) students' number of CALL-based ESL courses, (c) students' frequency of computer usage, and (d) students' attitudes toward CALL. In the ESL field, this study found that students' attitudes toward CALL were a key factor for predicting the success of computer assisted learning. The findings of this study should be useful for both administrators and faculty who use CALL in their ESL courses.
  7. 7. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to express my sincere appreciation to my major advisor and chair of my doctoral degree committee, Dr. Jason Davis, for his patience, understanding, kindness, and support. My appreciation also extends to my other committee members: Dr. Madeline Justice and Dr. Chris Green for their encouragement and constructive suggestions. Special thanks are extended to Dr. Fang Chuanyu for his assistance in the process of data collection in China. I would like to express my appreciation to Bob and Jerry Titus. They are like grandparents who took care of me while I lived in Commerce. Thanks are also expressed to all my friends, classmates, and co-workers who supported and assisted me when I had any kind of problem. Most of all, my deepest gratitude is expressed to my parents in China. They gave me all kinds of support, especially emotionally. They also trusted and encouraged me, even when I almost lost my confidence. Without all their help, I could not have completed this study. VI
  8. 8. TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF TABLES x CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION 1 Statement of the Problem 6 Purpose of the Study 7 Research Questions 8 Hypotheses 9 Significance of the Study 10 Method of Procedure 17 Human Subjects Committee Approval 18 Development of Survey Instrument 18 Selection of Subjects 20 Collection of Data 20 Treatment of Data 21 Definitions of Terms 21 Limitations 22 Delimitations 22 Assumptions 23 2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE 24 Utilization of Computer Technology in ESL Education 25 The Application of CALL 27 vii
  9. 9. viii The Advantages of Using Computer Technology in ESL Education ... 31 The Concerns of Using Computer Technology in ESL Education 37 Future Trends in Using Computer Technology in ESL Education 40 The Current Situation of Using CALL in Universities in China 42 Attitudes toward Using Computers in Language Learning 49 3. METHOD OF PROCEDURE 52 Development of Survey Instrument 53 Part One: Demographic Data 53 Part Two: Scale of Attitudes toward CALL (SACALL) 54 Validation of Survey Instruments 55 Translation of Survey Instruments 57 Reliability of Survey Instruments 58 Selection of Subjects 58 Collection of Data 66 Treatment of Data 68 4. ANALYSIS AND PRESENTATION OF DATA 69 Research Question 1 69 Research Question 2 70 Research Question 3 71 Research Question 4 72 Research Question 5 72 Research Question 6 73
  10. 10. ix Research Question 7 76 Research Question 8 77 Research Question 9 78 5. SUMMARY, FINDINGS & DISCUSSION, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 80 Summary 80 Findings & Discussion 82 Conclusions 85 Recommendations 86 Recommendations for Further Study 89 REFERENCES 91 APPENDICES 107 Appendix A: Faculty Informed Consent Letter 108 Appendix B: Faculty Informed Consent Letter (Chinese Version) 110 Appendix C: Student Informed Consent Letter 112 Appendix D: Student Informed Consent Letter (Chinese Version) 114 Appendix E: Permission for Using Instrument 116 Appendix F: Survey Questionnaire 119 Appendix G: Survey Questionnaire (Chinese Version) 124 VITA 129
  11. 11. LIST OF TABLES Table 1: Participants by Gender 59 2: Participants by Degree 60 3: Participants by Self-perceived Computer Ability 60 4: Participants by Major 61 5: Participants by Access to a Computer 62 6: Participants by Course Preference 63 7: Participants by Attitudes toward Helpfulness of CALL in ESL Course 63 8: Participants by Frequency of Using Computer 64 9: Participants by Number of Received CALL-Based ESL Course 65 10: Participants by Places of Receiving CALL-Based ESL Course 65 11: General Attitudes toward CALL 70 12: Gender and Attitudes toward CALL 71 13: Degree of Pursuing and Attitudes toward CALL 72 14: Major and Attitudes toward CALL 73 15: Accessibility to a Computer and Attitudes toward CALL 74 16: Number of Classes Taken and Attitudes toward CALL 75 17: Frequency of Computer Usage and Attitudes toward CALL 77 18: Setting of Receiving CALL-Based ESL Courses and Attitudes toward CALL 78 19: Comparison of Four Factors 79 x
  12. 12. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The computer is an inevitable technology that is widespread in daily life. Combined changes in computer technology, the economy and social structure have propelled technology into the 21st century. Braul (2006) stated that "certain sectors of society have developed an increasing reliance on computers to carry out jobs, maintain and establish lines of communication, as well as to meet needs of leisure" (p. 7). Muffoletto and Knupfer (1993) also found that the influence of the computer on education, business and entertainment is not only situated within the social world, but also has affected the social world. Education is an area with varied degrees of success. Muffoletto and Knupfer (1993) said that the computer is the motif of academic excellence and quality education. Technology has helped engage students in meaningful learning that enhances their abilities in critical thinking skills, problem solving skills and cooperation skills (Monsakul, 2005). Computer-assisted instruction (CAI) refers to the use of the computer as a tool to facilitate and improve instruction (Sharp, 2005). The term CAI came into being in the early 1960's when computers were first used in education (Zhao, 1996). Sharp said the invention of the microcomputer has led to the development of computer technology in the education field. Also, Sharp stated that there are five different types of CAI that can facilitate students learning through various methods including: (1) tutorial, (2) simulation, (3) drill and practice, (4) problem solving and (5) instructional games. 1
  13. 13. 2 Bruess (2003) described the current situation of computer technology usage in universities by stating that "the ever-growing use of computer technology in the classroom is being realized in the universities" (p. 1) and that there has been an increase in the use of instructional technology in higher education classrooms. Integrating computer technology into education can maintain students' interest as well as engage them in the classroom (Pemberton, Borrego, & Cohen, 2006). Zaremba and Dunn (2004) summarized in their report that "students have greater enjoyment of classes using active learning techniques like using computer technology in the classroom" (p. 192). As technological developments accelerate in educational settings, integrating computer technology into academic learning provides students with more opportunities to gain interest in exploring learning content (Wright, 2008). Orshalick (1982) wrote a chapter entitled Instructional Computing at the University Level in the book Computer Supportfor Education. Orshalick listed the advantages of computer usage at the university level, which include: "it frees the instructor of repetitive tasks, it provides individualized instruction, it's more accurate, it's more patient, and it lets the student progress at his own pace" (p. 22). Computer technologies bring some problems and challenges that may keep educators from achieving the full potential of the computer. Simonson and Thompson (1997) found three problems with using computers effectively in the classroom: (1) inadequate teacher training, (2) lack of integration into the curriculum and (3) the dynamic nature of computing. Computers have also become a valuable component in language programs. Jonassen (1996) indicated that current computer technologies offer many advantages for second language learning. According to Dhaif (1983) the
  14. 14. 3 introduction of the computer as an aid in the language classroom was the most significant milestone in recent language teaching. Teachers of contemporary language education are currently discovering new and innovative ways to use computers to assist in the acquisition of second languages (Braul, 2006). "The computer and its attached language learning programs could provide second language learners more independence from classrooms and allow learners the option to work on their learning material at any time of the day" (Lai & Kritsonis, 2006, p. 2). It can be expected that, according to Lai and Kritsonis, the cost for computer technology is considerably lower than for face-to- face classroom teaching under the condition that it is implemented, and when used in conjunction with traditional second language classroom study, students can study more independently, leaving the teacher more time to concentrate effort on those parts of second language teaching that are still hard or impossible by the computer, such as pronunciation, work on spoken dialogue, training for essay writing and presentation, (p.2) Lee (2000) further stated that the reason why computers should be applied technology in second language instruction is that with the computer and its attached language learning programs, the technology can (a) improve practices for students through experiential learning, (b) motivate students to learn more, (c) enhance student achievement, (d) increase authentic materials for study, (e) encourage greater interaction between teachers and students and students and peers, (f) emphasize individual needs, (g) escape from a single source of information and, (h) enlarge global understanding. Taylor
  15. 15. 4 (1980) also expressed that computer assisted language learning programs can be a wonderful stimulus for second language learning. As a specialized term for second language computer-assisted learning, Computer- Assisted Language Learning (CALL) was adopted at the 1983 Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) conference in Toronto, Canada to refer to the applications of computer technologies to second language acquisition (Chapelle, 2001). The development and innovation of CALL'S development and innovation illuminated more possibilities for language teachers and learners. Braul (2006) summarized CALL'S advantages in second language teaching in the dissertation ESL Teacher perceptions and attitudes toward using CALL as being "individualized instruction, exposure to more authentic materials and communicative opportunities, self-paced instruction, feedback, lower anxiety levels, student positive perceptions of CALL, and experiential learning and interaction" (p. 26 - 27). Some scholars, however, have negative viewpoints about CAI. Olsen (1980) found that some faculty thought CAI was a waste of time, energy, and money and feared it would dehumanize language learning. To be more specific, Gips, DiMattia, and Gips (2004) indicated that the first disadvantage of the computer and its attached language learning programs is that they would increase educational costs and cause educational inequity. To illustrate this point, expensive hardware and software can become major obligations for schools and parents. Second, it is necessary that both teachers and learners should have basic technology knowledge before they use computer technologies to assist in second language teaching and learning. Students do not have the ability to utilize the computer if
  16. 16. 5 they lack training in basic computer literacy skills. Unfortunately, most teachers have not received technological training to guide their students in exploring computers and in using them for language learning. As a result, the benefits of computer technology for those students who are not familiar with the computer can be missed (Roblyer, 2003). Third, the software programs that are used for computer-assisted language learning programs are far from perfect. Current computer technology deals the most with reading, listening and writing skills. Programs for improving speech skills, which are the most useful skills for foreign language learners in order to communicate with native speakers, are still underdeveloped. Even though some speaking programs have been developed recently, their functions are still limited. Warschauer (2004) indicated that an ideal speaking skills improvement program should be able to understand a user's 'spoken' input and evaluate it, not just for correctness, but also for 'appropriateness'. In addition, it should be able to diagnose a student's problems with pronunciation, syntax or usage and then intelligently decide among a range of options. Fourth, computers are still machines. They do not have the ability to deal with unexpected situations. Second language learners' learning situations are varied and ever changing. Due to the limitations of artificial intelligence, computer technology is unable to deal with learners' unexpected learning problems or to respond to learners' questions immediately as teachers do. The reasons for the computer's inability to interact effectively can be traced back to a fundamental difference in the way humans and computers utilize information (Dent, 2001). Blin (1999) also expressed that computer technology with a degree of intelligence does not yet exist and is not expected to exist for quite a long time. In summary, today's computer technology and its attached language
  17. 17. 6 learning programs are not yet intelligent enough to be truly interactive. More effort is needed in developing and improving computer technology in order to assist second language learners. Despite the frustration and barriers confronted by some faculty, the field of English as a Second Language (ESL) can be enhanced through the use of computer technology (Zhao, 1996). Ybarra and Green (2003) included computer technologies in their classroom and concluded that computers can play an integral part in providing English language learners with valuable language experiences as they acquire a new language. Warschauer (2004) addressed how ESL teaching and learning was promoted by incorporating technology into instruction. Claybourne (1999) listed two advantages of CAI-based ESL courses which include: creation of a safe and interactive teaching and learning environment and language learning software programs that can stimulate the interest of students. With the development of the computer and its related software industry, integrating language arts computer programs into the curriculum is easier than other types of programs (Sharp, 2005). However, the field has not been studied very much (Zhao, 1996). Students' attitudes toward CAI-based ESL classes is a topic that deserves researchers' attention. Statement of the Problem The information revolution has challenged the traditional means of knowledge processing and is driving higher education's response to it. With the advancement of computer technology in the field of education, English as Second Language (ESL) teachers in the universities of China, influenced by scholars in western countries, started
  18. 18. 7 to use computer-assisted instruction (CAI), especially computer-assisted language learning (CALL), in their classrooms. Researchers in the past have questioned the effectiveness of CAI for language learners (Al-Shammari, 2007). Understanding why people accept or reject information technology has proven to be one of the most important and challenging issues in educational research (Davis, Bagozzi, & Warsaw, 1989). Also Horvat, Petric, and Mikrut (2004) said that no matter how sophisticated and how capable the technology, its effective implementation depends upon users having a positive attitude. There are many studies focused on the effectiveness of CAI and CALL on teachers' attitudes toward computer usage in the language arts classroom. Only a few studies pay attention to students' attitudes about computer usage in the classroom, especially in the ESL classroom. The success of efforts to integrate technology with education is largely affected by students' attitudes toward technology (Pektas & Erkip, 2006). The problem for this study is the attitudes of ESL students regarding the computer and its application in ESL programs in a university in Central Eastern China. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to determine the attitudes of ESL students toward CALL and to describe the demographic characteristics of students in a university in Central Eastern China. The specific purposes are as follows: 1. To examine the attitudes of students toward computer usage in ESL courses based on gender, academic level, major, access to a computer, self-perception of computer ability, prior experience in a course utilizing CALL, frequency of
  19. 19. 8 computer usage, and the kinds of lab settings in which the ESL course is received. 2. To discover the relationship among the following variables: (a) students' perceived ability in computer use, (b) students' number of CALL-based ESL courses, (c) students' frequency of computer usage and (d) students' attitudes toward CALL. Research Questions The following research questions will direct this study: 1. What are the ESL students' attitudes toward CALL in general at the university as indicated by the SACALL instrument? 2. What is the difference in the attitudes regarding the receiving of CALL between male and female ESL students? 3. What is the difference in the attitudes regarding the receiving of CALL between undergraduate and graduate level ESL students? 4. What is the difference in the attitudes regarding the receiving of CALL between students with majors in Arts and those with majors in Sciences? 5. What is the difference in the attitudes regarding the receiving of CALL between ESL students who have access to a computer and those who do not? 6. What is the difference in the attitudes regarding the receiving of CALL among ESL students who have taken a different number of CALL courses? 7. What is the difference in the attitudes regarding the receiving of CALL between ESL students based on frequency in computer usage?
  20. 20. 9 8. What is the difference in the attitudes regarding the receiving of CALL between ESL students based on the laboratory setting: computer lab and language lab? 9. What is the difference in the relationships among the following variables: (a) students' perceived ability in computer use, (b) students' number of CALL- based ESL courses, (c) students' frequency of computer usage, and (d) students' attitudes toward CALL? Hypotheses The following hypotheses will be tested and reported at the .05 level of significance. 1. There is no significant difference in attitudes regarding the receiving of CALL between male and female ESL students. 2. There is no significant difference in attitudes regarding the receiving of CALL between undergraduate and graduate level ESL students. 3. There is no significant difference in attitudes regarding the receiving of CALL between ESL students majoring in Arts and Science. 4. There is no significant difference in attitudes regarding the receiving of CAI between ESL students who have access to a computer and those who do not. 5. There is no significant difference in attitudes regarding the receiving of CAI between ESL students based on the number of CALL courses taken. 6. There is no significant difference in attitudes regarding the receiving of CAI between ESL students based on frequency of computer use.
  21. 21. 10 7. There is no significant difference in attitudes regarding the receiving of CAI between ESL students based on the laboratory setting: computer lab and language lab. 8. There is no significant difference in the relationships among the following variables: (a) students' perceived ability in computer use, (b) students' number of CALL-based ESL courses, (c) students' frequency of computer usage, (d) students' attitudes toward CALL. Significance of the Study "Computers have become important tools in today's society and have proven beneficial in the field of education" (Morton, 1996, p. 416). Educational institutions rely increasingly on computers to modify the teaching and learning process (Mitra & Steffensmeier, 2000). Computer technology brings a new way of teaching to teachers. Calero (2001) said that after experiencing teaching English as a second language with 50 students "the use of the computer in the classroom was proposed as an ideal solution to make up for the limitation of the traditional classroom" (p. 6). Research showed that students learn more using a computer than other students receiving traditional instruction (Murray, 1999). Sharp (2005) also said that, Because of the multitude of good language art programs, it is often easier to integrate language arts programs into the curriculum than any other types of programs. Language arts programs are subdivided into many categories: writing, spelling, grammar, reading, and more. (p. 299) Forcier (1996) wrote in his book that the computer is a valuable tool in teaching written and spoken communication to students who are culturally and linguistically
  22. 22. 11 different in bilingual/ESL education. Otlowski (1998) conducted research on ESL students and found that computers encourage students to write. Huang (2006) summarized from research that Chinese students generally have weaknesses in college level English learning in terms of communication including speaking and listening. In this area, numerous studies have compared the achievement scores of students using CAI/CALL with the achievement scores of students receiving regular instruction. Generally, the results indicate that CAI/CALL produces equal or greater achievement (Bayraktar, 2002). The research over the potential of CAI/CALL in the field of the foreign language acquisition has indicated that computer technology has the potential to play a major role in foreign language learning and instruction (Gillespie & McKee, 1999; Levy, 1997). At the same time, Haugen (2000) observed that "learning environments based on new technology impose new challenges on the teachers" (p. 26). Cameron (1999a) also wondered about the effectiveness of the computer and said the efficiency of computers in learning is being questioned. Under the condition of the acceptance of computer technology, teachers have to adapt themselves to correspond with the classroom integrated with computer technology. Calero (2001) said that the presence of the computer in the classroom would require significant changes in the teacher's role from Transferor of knowledge to facilitator; authority to consultant and facilitator; director of learning to facilitator of learning; sage of the stage to guide on the side; transmitter of knowledge to coach, mentor, manager of the learning;
  23. 23. 12 expert on learning psychology, technical expert; someone in charge of telling to someone in charge of facilitating learning. (p. 7). In addition, teachers are reluctant to express their willingness to integrate computer technology into their courses because they are afraid of being replaced by machines. Moreover, teachers with less professional training in computer technology insist on not using computer technology. In a National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) survey in 2000, only one-third of regular public-school teachers reported that they were well prepared or very well prepared to use computers and the Internet in classroom instruction (National Center for Education Statistics, 2000). Jones (2001) reported that most teachers said they need more help because they had not received the technology training necessary for them to incorporate technology into their classrooms. In order to solve this problem, many teacher education programs are beginning to integrate technology training into a professional education course (Abbott & Faris, 2000). In the field of CAI, computer-assisted language learning (CALL) is well known in the field of foreign language teaching and learning process. CALL classes represent new ways of language learning in highly institutionalized and examination-based education systems (Holmes, 1998). The definition of CALL is defined as the search for and study of applications of the computer in language teaching and learning (Levy, 1997). CALL has followed technological advances closely, starting with text-based software, which later became augmented with multimedia applications and additions and presently with the ever increasing network of the World Wide Web in order to stimulate user interaction (Cameron, 1999b). CALL can be regarded as a useful tool, a subject and a way of
  24. 24. 13 focusing student perceptions of language education. Students, after taking CALL-based courses, will begin to think critically about the way technology influences how they study language and their educations in general (Holmes, 1998). English as a second language (ESL) education is required for both undergraduate and graduate level students in China. Students that graduate with a satisfactory ESL GPA can receive an official diploma. Vice Minister of Education in China Wu (2005) said that the reform of a higher educational level ESL education is necessary to improve the students' ability to implement English as a communication tool in their daily life. The Requirementfor College Level English Teaching Handbook was introduced to college ESL teachers after the college ESL teaching and learning revolution had been in place for a year. The handbook emphasized the computer as a powerful educational technology and its application in the teaching and learning of ESL. China, as one of the leading countries which advocates the importance of education, requires more scholars to do research in computer technology in order to discover the best way to use it effectively. In China, computer technology used in the field of education has lagged behind compared with other countries. Cai and Guo (2006) said that "compared to the advanced industrial countries, the use of information technology in Chinese higher education came relatively late" (p. 353). In 2005, Wu pointed out that educational technology will have a profound impact on the reform of the country's educational concepts and educational process; it is the command post of educational and teaching reform. Zhang, Dong, and Chen (2005) stated that the situation of using computer technology in China is a productive force which can grant educators a tool to facilitate their teaching. Cai and Guo (2006) also said that
  25. 25. 14 "recent Chinese practices have achieved significant progress in the country's efforts to bridge the digital divide" (p. 353). One of the most successful and distinguished leaders in computer-enhanced education is Yuanchun Chi, a professor at Tshinghua University, Beijing, China. A survey of CAI development and application in various engineering colleges and universities in China in 1994 by Lang (1999) showed that There were a total of 142 pieces of software developed and used in the colleges and universities of arts, 125 in science, 123 in engineering, and 102 in medical sciences. Among them, 346 were course software, including 27 for foreign languages. As shown by recent data, 30% of the engineering colleges and universities have established their own CAI labs and 20% of them have used a computer network as support for CAI in education, (p. 400) Lang summarized from the study that CAI has been widely applied in basic courses in higher educational institutions, although the level of development and the extent of application varies greatly among colleges and universities in China. The college English syllabus has been revised several times. The latest revised version in 2003 listed the new requirements for the students in their English courses which aimed to develop their abilities in listening, speaking, writing, and translation. For listening, it requires students to understand the key points in conversation and speech at a speed of 150-170 words per minute. After listening, students should make the right judgment about a speaker's attitude and opinion. For speaking, it requires students to have the ability to carry on a conversation with others about everyday life. For writing, it
  26. 26. 15 requires students to write about a topic, abstract or summary of about 150-180 words in half an hour with correct grammar and spelling. For translation, it requires students to translate between Chinese and English with the consultation of the dictionary under the condition of 300 words per hour. In order to fulfill the requirements of the college English syllabus, school administrators pay more attention to the ESL teaching and learning process. For non- English major students, they will have more than 4 hours of English courses per week, more than 70 hours per semester, and more than 280 hours total for four continuous semesters in their freshmen and sophomore years. In addition, all the English courses are mandatory for every major in college. There are eight questions and challenges mentioned as well in the college English syllabus in China. One of the major issues that deserves time and patience in ESL teaching is the integration of the modern and latest technology into the teaching process. The revised syllabus (2003) states that technology initialization in English as a second language teaching techniques should be taught through audio, video, film, TV, Internet and multimedia projects. The suggestion is that faculty members, curriculum designers, and technology staff should cooperate in order to learn the appropriate way to deliver the ESL college level courses utilizing technology, especially computer technology. The consequences of the college English syllabus reformation are obvious. Yu (2007) said, "with the technology, the lecturing method of teaching is being replaced by the teacher-assisted teaching method gradually" (p. 22). In addition, he said the interests of students during the learning process are important. The usage of technology can have a positive impact for students by encouraging them to accept knowledge in an easy way.
  27. 27. 16 Some negative results are also listed as a result of computer usage in ESL course teaching. One major problem is that students with different backgrounds in computer technology show different learning capabilities during their computer-based ESL courses, which causes the teacher a lot of trouble when deciding whether or not to integrate the new technology into the learning process. Simonson and Thompson (1997) listed the findings of several researchers on computers in education that deserve further attention. Attitude is a factor that needs further research. Attitude toward technology is a popular research topic among the scholars. In terms of the teachers' attitudes toward computer technology utilization, Davies and Crowther (1995) summarized that "if there was a lack of motivation or an unfavorable attitude on the part of the teacher, this attitude would be directly transmitted to the student and the system would fail" (p. 4). Fernandez (2001) did a field study about English faculty's attitudes toward the introduction of multimedia in the classroom in Spain. The result showed that the average ESL teacher would be in favor of the introduction of the computer into the classroom. In terms of students' attitudes toward computer technology utilization, Brownell (1992) said that the attitudes of students toward technology may need to be challenged and explored. This controversial topic has been studied by several researchers. The effect of experience on the development of positive attitudes has been identified in several studies (Mergendoller & Sacks, 1994), though some have found that the attitudes affect the nature of a computer experience, with negative attitudes contributing to the experience as well (Rosen & Weil, 1995).
  28. 28. 17 Student attitudes toward computers can be related to their computer use and, ultimately, the benefits they can reap from computer use (Mitra & Steffensmeier, 2000). According to Clement (1981), "students' attitudes toward computer-based education have been positive at all levels — elementary school, junior high school, high school and college" (p. 29). Pektas and Erkip (2006) summarized that the success of efforts to integrate technology with education is largely affected by the attitudes of students toward technology. However, Al-Shammari (2007) said that only a few studies focused specifically on student attitudes toward CALL in ESL learning. In his research, he studied English as foreign language learners' attitudes toward computer-assisted language learning in Saudi Arabia for 1500 students on four campuses. The results indicated the ESL learners had positive attitudes toward CALL and software in their ESL courses. The usage of computer technology in college level ESL education in China is a major component in the ESL teaching and learning process. The attitude of ESL students toward the utilization of CALL technology was recommended by the above researchers to be studied because of the positive/negative correlations between students' attitudes and the effectiveness of the usage of the computer technology. Method of Procedure The purpose of this study was to investigate (a) the attitudes of ESL students in a university in China toward the use of computer-assisted language learning (CALL), (b)the demographic characteristics of students who are taking ESL courses in a university in China, (c) the relationship of some of the demographic characteristics with ESL
  29. 29. 18 students' attitudes in China and (d) the demographic factors which can predict the students' attitudes toward CALL. The specific procedures included: 1. Human Subjects Committee Approval 2. Development of Survey Instrument a. Survey Instrument: ESL student demographics and their attitudes toward CAI in ESL courses i. Part One: Demographic ii. Part Two: Scale of Attitudes toward CALL (SACALL) b. Validation of Survey Instrument c. Translation of Survey Instrument d. Reliability of Survey Instrument 3. Selection of Subjects 4. Collection of Data 5. Treatment of Data Human Subjects Committee Approval Permission to conduct the study was obtained from the University's Internal Review Board (IRB) in order to protect the rights of participants. The study was conducted after receiving the permission from the IRB. Development of Survey Instrument The survey instrument used for this study consists of two parts. Part one gathered demographic and background information concerning students who participated in this survey in the university in China. Part two, Scale of Attitudes toward CALL (SACALL)
  30. 30. 19 survey, was employed to examine students' attitudes toward computer usage in ESL courses. Validation of Survey Instrument A panel of three experts who are in the fields of both educational technology and English literature were asked to judge the validation of the combined survey instrument. The panel made suggestions for improvement and then approved the modified instrument. Translation of Survey Instrument After validation of the survey instrument was completed, the survey instrument was translated into the home language of the participants (Mandarin) by the researcher in order to eliminate the possibility of students' confusion about the survey questions in English. A panel of two experts, who have PhDs in English literature were asked to critique the translated Chinese version of the instrument. They gave positive comments on the translation because the essential meanings were matched. Panel members recommended some better ways to translate specific words in part two which were more appropriate to the survey. Reliability of Survey Instrument In order to ensure that the survey instrument achieved reliability, the researcher used Cronbach's coefficient alpha to compare with the coefficient alpha in Al- Shammari's SACALL instrument. The coefficient alpha of .89 used in the SACALL instrument is higher than a standard reliability level of .80, which is referenced in several literature reviews in chapter two.
  31. 31. 20 Selection of Subjects This study focused on students' attitudes toward the utilizing of CALL in their ESL courses in a university in China. This comprehensive university was chosen because it is representative of more than 200 four-year universities in China in terms of size, location, ranking and program setting. The university was one of the key comprehensive provincial institutions in Middle Eastern China. It is now a well-developed higher education institution supported by the government under the State 211 project the ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China initiated in Key universities and colleges in 1995 to help them move into the 21st century. The project aimed at cultivating high-level elite universities for national economic and social development. The university where the study was done consists of approximately 20 schools and 40 departments, including undergraduate, masters, and PhD programs. The university has a staff of approximately 2,400 among which are about 200 professors and 500 associate professors. The student population totals about 30,000. The subjects of this study were students who took undergraduate level or graduate level ESL courses in the university during the spring semester 2010, but were not English majors. The total number of participations at the university was 320 students in April 2010. The participation included all students, excluding English majors. 214 students responded to the survey. Among the 214 returned surveys, 208 were considered valid surveys for this study. Collection of Data The researcher received oral permission to conduct the survey from the vice president in curriculum at the Chinese university in October 2009. The instructors who
  32. 32. 21 administered the survey received the survey package including a cover letter and the survey materials. The instructors printed out and brought the survey questions to the classroom. According to the instructions from the cover letter, students who were willing to do the survey signed the consent form and then finished the survey. For students who could access the Internet, they were given the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) which is an address for a particular webpage to the survey website after signing the consent form. Treatment of Data Descriptive statistics were used to examine part two of the survey which was the students' attitudes toward the using of CALL in their college level ESL courses. T-test, ANOVA and correlation coefficient, were used for the demographic factors toward the attitude to CALL courses. The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to analyze the data from the survey. The .05 alpha level of significance was used to test all hypotheses in the study. Definitions of Terms The following terms are defined according to their use in this study: CAT. Computer-assisted instruction, which refers to the use of the computer as a tool to facilitate and improve instruction (Sharp, 2005). CALL: Computer-assisted Language Learning, which is the use of computers to assist in second - or foreign -language instructional activities (Merrill et al., 1986). Educational technology: Educational technology which includes any technologies that facilitate and enhance classroom instruction and students' learning. Educational
  33. 33. 22 technology includes relatively new electronic media and devices such as computers, peripheral hardware and software, and basic equipment such as video, overhead, and projectors. Educational technology can be employed in various ways, such as use in the classroom setting, use to support personal productivity, etc. (McCampbell, 2002; Mehlinger & Powers, 2002). The primary concern in this study was the use of computer technology in a classroom setting. ESL: English as a second language, that is the field of teaching Standard English as used in the United States to persons who have a different native language (Hawes & Hawes, 1982). Hu (2007) mentioned that Chinese students who take English courses can also be called ESL students. TESOL: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. Limitations The study is limited by the following: 1. The study was limited to the completed surveys returned. 2. The study was limited to the faculty members who were willing to participate. 3. The study was limited to the ESL courses taught in the university in China. Delimitations The study is delimited by the following: 1. The study was delimited to students who were enrolled in the ESL courses in the university in spring 2010. 2. Only one major comprehensive provincial university in China in the city of Hefei in Anhui province was selected. 3. All students who returned the survey were not English majors.
  34. 34. 23 Assumptions The basic assumptions for the study included: 1. Every student was to complete only one survey questionnaire. 2. The students reported demographic and background information accurately. 3. The students self reports were accurate in their assessments about their computer ability. 4. Students were honest in answering the survey about their attitudes toward CALL. 5. All the survey instruments used in the study were valid and reliable.
  35. 35. CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE The development of civilization is influenced by the evolution of technology (McGinn, 1991). The emergence of new technologies injects new ideas and various changes into life in various domains. One of technology's major contributions has been to education. From the introduction of the concept of technology-integrated education, the development of technology brings educators new tools which can facilitate their delivery of knowledge. Among the educational technologies which were used in the past and in recent years, the computer and its associated applications (software, the Internet, networks, servers) is regarded as a major step toward enhancement of learning. Currently, educational technology is not a new term that is feared by educators. Norton and Wiburg (2003) said education in modern days has sustained a long-term interest in the use of electronic technology as a remedy for educational problems. In 1996, Chickering and Ehrmann updated the famous Seven Principles of Good Practice by Chickering and Gamson (1987). In the articles, the authors introduced the principles of the Good Practice philosophy with regard to technology. More educators agreed on the important roles that educational technology plays. The successful implementation of educational technology settles controversies about the effectiveness of using technology in teaching and learning. Both educators and learners gave positive feedback about the effectiveness of technology in assisting lecturing (Brothen, 1998). The areas of ESL teaching and learning are not an exception. This chapter summarizes the results of a thorough review of literature pertaining to educational technology in ESL education. The related background information, 24
  36. 36. 25 including the current situation of CALL application in universities in China is also presented. In addition, the second part of this chapter will focus on attitudes. The specific areas that have been addressed include: 1. Utilization of computer technology in ESL education , 2. The application of CALL, 3. The advantages of using computer technology in ESL education , 4. The concerns about using computer technology in ESL education , 5. Future trends in using computer technology in ESL education, 6. The current situation of using CALL in universities in China, 7. Attitudes toward using computers in language learning. The literature review provides the reader with a clear idea about the theoretical foundation for the study. Utilization of Computer Technology in ESL Education Historically, Deal (2002) said teaching and learning were confined to classroom settings with few instructional strategies including lecture, discussions, and field trips to stimulate the learning process. This method of knowledge delivery has been used for many years. The classroom today is similar to even Aristotle's in his age. With the social, economic, and technology changes and some critical programs that relate to education in recent years, educators are thinking of new ways to deliver knowledge. Computer technology as a tool was introduced for use in the transformation of education. Computer technology is appropriate to use for various fields in education (Abu Bakar, Tarmizi, & Ayub, 2010). Bruess (2003) said "the use of technology in ESL settings is not a new application and has sparked keen interest among researchers and
  37. 37. 26 practitioners since 1970, when computers were used to support second and foreign language learning" (p. 12-13). Because English is one of the most important languages used to communicate internationally, especially in business, people around the world are eager to learn English. Beckett et al. (2006) said effective education and computer literacy skills for English language learners have gained increasing importance in several areas of the United States including Arizona, California, and Massachusetts. During the 1960s and 1970s, the most prominent technological device for second language instruction was the language learning laboratory, which used a series of audio devices (Angelis, 1973). In the 1980s, the application of technology in language classrooms included the use of film, radio, television, language labs with audio and videotapes, computers and interactive video (Cunningham, 1998). During the 1980s, various types of computer-assisted language learning (CALL) also became commonplace (Iandoli, 1990). Into the mid 1990s, the use of hypermedia, multimedia, the Internet, and various forms of distance learning became widespread (Macy & Flache, 2002). Presently, the analysis by Song (2006) showed the rapid growth and development of the web has become an important issue in recent computer-assisted language learning (CALL) research and practice. Coniam (2004) said if CALL can be integrated into teaching in a worthwhile manner, it can impact teaching and learning in a good way. The precise definition of CALL is an issue that has been debated since the field's birth because CALL is a relatively new field in language learning. After the first appearance as the specific term 'CALL' at the TESOL conference in Toronto in 1983, controversy has existed in defining "CALL". Al-Shammari (2007) said "researchers have set broad definitions that consider the current situation of the field and approximately try
  38. 38. 27 to cover all technology use in language learning" (p. 20). Davies (2007) defines CALL as the search for and study of applications of the computer in language teaching and learning. Beatty (2003) defines CALL as "any process in which a learner uses a computer and, as a result, improves his or her language" (p. 7). Levy (1997) defines CALL as "the research for and study of applications of the computer in language teaching and learning" (p. 1). All three definitions encompass three main words of the term CALL: "computer", "language", and "learning". In this study, CALL refers to the integration of the computer into college level ESL learning in a university in China. The Application of CALL Computers can be used in different ways in the field of education. In terms of CALL, Jia (2007) summarized "it can be a cover term to include Computer-Aided Instruction (CAI), Computer-Assisted Learning (CAL), Computer-Assisted Language Instruction (CALI), Computer-Assisted Language Teaching (CALT) or even other teaching media involving high technology by means of the computer"(p. 60). Warschauer (1996) divided CALL typology and applications in language learning into three parts: computer as tutor, computer as stimulus, and computer as tool. Computers as a tutor mean that the computer offers tutoring to students. For example, the computer provides learning material, gets the responses from students, assesses those responses, and then decides what to present next based on the learners' responses (Taylor, 1980). Computers as a stimulus means that the computer is used to help learners generate discussions, synthesize information, critical thinking, and discussion. Computers as a tool mean that students seek help from computers. For example, grammar checking, word processing, reference, collaborative writing, Internet, and authoring programs are typical uses.
  39. 39. 28 Beatty (2003) provided a wider range of CALL applications that meet different learner needs in language skills. These applications are found in nearly all the recent CALL labs: 1. Microsoft Office package: Word processing is one of the most useful software in the Microsoft Office package. It comes under the category of the computer used as a tool. The usage of word processing is one of the basic applications of CALL. It can enhance learners' motivations toward writing. With the help of word processing software, students are willing to spend more time practicing. 2. Games: The purpose of using games for pedagogical purpose in second language learning is to make learners unaware of the objectives, which means that learning is regarded as an activity that is peripheral to play (Beatty, 2003). Azriel, Erthal, and Star, (2005) said that games give learners a creative environment which helps them to work with their peers, solve problems, and also communicate with each other. As a result, learners become involved in an active way in the learning process that improves their motivation. Jones (1997) recognized two types of games in ESL including strategy games and twitch games. Strategy games require higher-order thinking skills and problem-solving skills for successful completion. In this type of game, they require users to perceive the larger problems and to plan strategies to solve them. Alessi and Trollip (1991) classified under strategy games, (1) adventure and role-playing games, (2) board games, and (3) logic games. Twitch games require users to react quickly to stimuli. Felix (2002) said the advantage of these games is that movement is quick and feedback is immediate. Alessi
  40. 40. 29 and Trollip (1991) identified as twitch games: (1) arcade games, (2) gambling games, (3) combat games, and (4) psychomotor games. 3. Corpus linguistics: Corpus linguistics refers to the study of the body of texts (Beatty, 2003). It is the study of the language as expressed in samples (corpora) or "real world" text. Chapelle (2001) said "corpus linguistics tends to focus on the result that can be obtained through observation of a large database comprised of text"(p.36). Originally done by hand, corpora are now largely derived by an automated process. The first computerized corpus of transcribed spoken language was constructed in 1971 by the Montreal French Project, which contained one million words (Sankoff & Sankoff, 1973). The purpose of corpus linguistics is to understand the models of authentic language use through actual usage analysis (Krieger, 2003). The application of corpus linguistics helps teachers develop their learning material by offering learners an analysis of their systematic errors (Beatty, 2003). Chapelle (2001) considered corpora as a central area for computer applications in second language acquisition that helps learners create their own profile of words, meanings, and uses. For the benefit of students, they could also be given a window to use authentic language that is derived from real contexts rather than constructed for pedagogical purposes (Krieger). 4. Computer mediated communication (CMC): Warschauer (1996) said CMC is seen as one of the computer applications that has the greatest potential impact on the field of language learning. McQuail (2005) defined CMC as any communicative transaction that occurs through using two or more networked computers. To be more specific, the term refers to those communications that occur via computer-mediated formats (e.g.
  41. 41. 30 instant messages, emails, and chat rooms) and also refers to other applied forms of text- based interaction such as text messages (Thurlow, Lengel, & Tomic, 2004). There are two kinds of CMS, synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous CMC means that the interaction is taking place in real time. The best example is the online chat room via Internet. Smith, Alvarez-Torres, and Zhao, (2003) said "Internet Relay Chat (IRC) exemplifies synchronous communication" (p. 705). Asynchronous communication is the opposite of synchronous and means that interactions do not take place in real time. This type of CMS gives a learner the opportunity to receive instant feedback from teachers. Smith, et al. (2003) said Bulletin Board System (BBS) and email are good examples of asynchronous communication. One advantage of this type is to give learners the time to think carefully about the language they will use because, for the second language learner, it is necessary to spend time in checking the writing before sending. Another advantage for BBS boards or forums is that everyone in the group can share information. The feedback from peers sometimes is more helpful than that from teachers. CMC is widely discussed in language learning because CMC provides opportunities for language learners to practice their language (Abrams, 2006). Peterson (1997) stated that email and asynchronous conferencing are the most common applications of CMC that are found in the language classroom. Gillespie and McKee (1999) said there was strong acceptance of email, which is used to communicate with tutors, instructors, and other class members, and it became the means of social communication within the class. For example, Warschauer (1998) conducted several case studies on using email or discussion boards in different language classes. The claim was that information and communications technology bridge the historic division between speech and writing. As a result,
  42. 42. 31 considerable concern has arisen over reading and writing research in second language (L2) due to the booming of the Internet (Warschauer, 2006). 5. World Wide Web (WWW) resources: Silc (1998) said "the World Wide Web is an immense library of authentic materials for the language learning classroom." (p.5). Compared with traditional ESL learning with textbooks, Mosquera (2001) also said that the language that students can learn through the WWW is more real and authentic. Students found great enjoyment in using the World Wide Web, both during and outside class (Gillespie & McKee, 1999). To be more specific, Yang and Chen (2007) illustrated that through the WWW platform, learners are able to learn and practice all language skills including reading, listening, and writing. The Advantages of Using Computer Technology in ESL Education The advantages of using computer technology in ESL education were mentioned by researchers in their reports. Administrators, teachers, and students can benefit from different advantages as describing in the following detailed analysis. From the perspective of school administrators, Kearsley (1990) said educational administrators were responsible for managing their schools or school systems. To perform their duty as administrators, they needed information and facts upon which decisions and actions can be based. One of the most important ways that the computer can improve school productivity is to make information more available, faster to obtain, or easier to understand. Over the past two decades, a large number of computer programs have been developed and used for a variety of school functions including accounting, scheduling, attendance, grading, inventory,
  43. 43. 32 student information systems, library use, guidance, transportation management, food service, energy monitoring, and decision support systems. (Kearsley, 1990, P.52) From a teacher's perspective, computer technology can improve the teaching effectiveness during class delivery. Waters (2007) concluded that teachers are broadening their ESL programs with the one tool that translates into all dialects as computer technology. Computer technology, like the Internet, facilitates ESL teaching. Hirvela (2006) said it is safe to say that the advent of the personal computer and the Internet in the 1990s revolutionized language teaching. Eastment (2007) in her website review said there is a wealth of video-based material which can be used for language teaching purposes. The teacher's responsibility is to create an effective learning environment which can facilitate students in their learning process. Hirvela (2006) said real life situations are as good as we expected for improving language learning. He implied it is not always easy to achieve this goal in a conventional classroom setting, where learning is confined to the time allotted for class sessions and is dependent upon the willing, active involvement of students under circumstances not always conductive to full participation. Educational technology is a tool that can be utilized by teachers to approach this goal of connecting language learning to real life situations. Nunan (1999) said technology can help teachers make links between the decontextualized knowledge of the textbook and the realities of one's work situation. Another advantage for a faculty member helped by educational technology is that it gives a chance for faculty members to collaborate with each other. Kamhi-Stein (2000)
  44. 44. 33 found that technology allowed teachers to develop knowledge as a social, rather than an individual, activity. He also pointed out in the same article that it has the potential to promote cooperation among teachers-in-preparation and to reduce the isolation felt by novice teachers. Kamhi-Stein's research proved that new teachers can have more benefits if computer technology is introduced into ESL program design. Some computer software can facilitate teaching during the teaching process. Hincks (2003) said in her book that one of the problems that a non-native English speaker always encountered is pronunciation. She said even the teacher sometimes cannot give correct guidance to students about accurate pronunciation. Some ESL computer software, for example, ELLIS (English Language Learning Information Software) which is one of the most respected language learning software programs, can help teachers correct students' pronunciation as they learn English. Mansoor (1993) also mentioned using the computer to teach ESL and literacy. He said there was software on the market that can enable a teacher to customize it for their own K-12 ESL courses. Such programs allowed a teacher to create crossword puzzles, cloze exercises, vocabulary drills, and even pronunciation exercises. Maurer and Davidson (1998) found the learning benefits included attitudes of excitement and a boosting of self-esteem for students who take an ESL writing class which incorporates using Microsoft Word. From the perspective of students, Claybourne (1999) said computer technology is the ideal tool to help students learn English as a second language. First, Claybourne said that because of the Internet, students can learn ESL from students around the globe. Research showed that students can learn best when they use the language in context and not just through role repetitions of the language. The Internet gives an ESL learner a great
  45. 45. 34 opportunity to keep in touch with native speakers via email and voice chatting. Hirvela (2006) also emphasized computer networks and their influence on ESL learning. Computer networks were allowing students to transcend boundaries of classroom walls and to learn in new ways. Moreover, he said learners are no longer confined to the traditional types of classroom-based activities and interaction with their peers that they may find unappealing and counterproductive in the 'wired' realm of the 21st century. Son (2007) also mentioned the usefulness of the Internet as a database around the world. His research demonstrated that the web is a useful tool and a supplementary resource for learning ESL. In ESL learning, the Internet also creates an environment that students can use to visualize their partners in other places. CMC (computer-mediated communication) is a concept that is widely accepted by the foreign language learner in their language learning process, especially for the oral practice. Jerram (1995) predicted that the future of video conferencing would increase, especially as equipment and line costs became cheaper and resources got easier to use. His predications have come true through the use of free text-based and audio chat supported by webcam visuals. Second, Claybourne (1999) also mentioned that computer software gives students another approach to learning language skills. Waters (2007) pointed out that ESL software provides privacy to English language learners. In other words, the software gives students a safe and non-threatening environment for learning without interruption from others. Some audio and video clips on DVD or online can provide students with real life examples of conversation among native speakers. Some pictures can give visual learners the opportunity to more easily acquire the knowledge that they need.
  46. 46. 35 Third, according to personality theory (Rodgers, 1951), Simon (2008) did a study about individual personalities. In her report, she said that different persons should be treated in different ways in the learning process. Computer technology, if used appropriately, not only can motivate, but also can include both introverted and extroverted students. In terms of motivation, a student with a different personality should be taught in different ways which can be realized with technology. Introverted students in an ESL class feel nervous and uncomfortable if they are assigned to do a presentation or do public speaking in front of the whole class. Graziadei (1996) pointed out the computer seemed to minimize the risks involved in communication in a foreign language. In his research, he found in a networked environment students will 'say' things to a computer terminal that they will not say in the classroom environment. The student performance in computer technology courses shows introverted students can be motivated as well when it is hard for them to succeed in a face-to-face classroom. Kamhi-Stein (2000) also found educational technology, especially communication technologies in ESL programs, can reduce anxiety, in particular among non-native-English-speaking students. Payne and Whitney (2002) noted one of the three primary themes in the research about technology in the classroom was that participation increased online with 'quieter' students participating as much or even more than those individuals who normally dominate classroom discussion. In terms of cooperation, Steinberg (1992) expressed his thought that by integrating technology into ESL teaching, the technology can enhance interpersonal and communication skills. Johnson, Johnson, and Stanne (1986) and Schlechter (1990) added
  47. 47. 36 that technology provides opportunities for cooperative learning which not only increase instructional effectiveness and efficiency, but also promote positive social interactions. Fourth, based on a survey on students' perspectives on attending a computer technology-based classroom, it is said that the majority of students feel the technology can motivate their learning. Son (2007) said that student engagement in the suggested activities was observed and their attitudes toward the activities were found to be positive. Meskill, Mossop, and Bates (1998) did a research study on English as second language learners. They found integration of technology into instruction can enhance motivation. To be more specific, Roblyer, Edwards, and Havriluk (2000) also mentioned computer technology and its power to motivate students to engage in drill and practice activities. They said many students refused to do the practice they need on paper, either because they failed so much that the whole idea is abhorrent, they had poor handwriting skills, or they simply dislike writing. In these cases, computer-based practice may motivate students to do the practice they need. Computers did not get impatient or give disgusted looks when a student gave a wrong answer. Fifth, John Dewey's philosophy in pragmatism portrayed the student as the center of education (Hickman, 1992). In the field of foreign language learning, Bailey, Daley, and Onwuegbuzie (1999) suggested benefits in considering a move toward more learner- centered approaches to language learning. In a computer-based foreign language environment, students can find their own approaches to learning the content with facilitation from the instructors. Beckett et al., (2006) proved the concept that technology-based activities can transform the classroom into a rich learning environment.
  48. 48. 37 Sixth, a computer technology-based classroom gives students the opportunity to follow their own paths of learning which is more appropriate for individuals who are not comfortable with the setting of a face-to-face class. Hirvela (2006) concluded after his research that in the "anytime, anywhere" configuration of a computer-based learning environment, students have more time and space to think in a deeper way. His research showed that students take more time and ponder carefully what they want to say so as to make a genuine contribution to the negotiation of common understandings and feel empowered in the process. Finally, Daud and Husin (2004) found that the students' critical thinking abilities are improved in computer aided ESL reading classes. Critical thinking is one of the core purposes for student success as well as in other subjects like English and mathematics. The Concerns about Using Computer Technology in ESL Education The concerns about using computer technology in ESL teaching as well as its advantages are considered by researchers. Hirvela (2006) said specifically for his research on computer use in an ESL course that it is not without flaws. Gillespie and McKee (1999) said "it is not surprising that the effective integration of CALL into the languages curriculum is a question which is being addressed by many teachers and institutions at the present time" (p.442). Chinese educators should be concerned about flaws in the process of using technology in high school ESL courses. First, there is a lack of hard evidence on the effectiveness of utilizing computer technologies in ESL courses. Although Al-Musawi (2007) found by his studies that there is a modest but positive relationship between technology and achievement at all level of education and subject areas, Roblyer et al.,
  49. 49. 38 (2000) said it is difficult to propose expensive technology with hypothetical rather than proven benefits. The next concern is the cost of initial implementation and the cost of a sustained commitment of resources (Mansoor, 1993). Remarkably general agreement exists that adequate funding can determine the success or failure of even the best technology plans (Bullough & Beatty, 1991). Maughan (2001) summarized the major expenses for building the infrastructure of computer technology in schools which included capital expenses and operating expenses. Operating expenses include personnel, bandwidth, expendable equipment, equipment maintenance and repair, software licensing and maintenance, research and development, and finally college and university administrative overhead. Kearsley (1990) made a sample annual computer technology budget for a school. According to the price back in 1990, the total budget based on Kearsley's template was $ 182,400. Pliss (2008), who is the department director of information & instructional technology in the Ithaca City school district in Ithaca, New York, made a presentation about the Information & Instructional Technology (IIT) budget. In the budget trend detail chart, it showed the grand total budget per year for technology in the school was about 2 million dollars, with an increasing rate of about 10 percent per year. According to the school proposed budget, which is approved by the Board of Education, the total budget was 90 million dollars. The cost of educational technology was a major portion of the total budget, which has a tendency to increase. Pliss (2008) said it was always a tough decision to decide to invest in technology because one must consider the cost of not only the technology equipment, but also of the follow up expenses. Roblyer et al., (2000) said
  50. 50. 39 there was both a high initial cost and the cost of keeping current with technology. Educators often were surprised at how quickly their equipment became out-of-date, its lack of incompatibility with newer models, and how quickly the perspective on "best applications" changed. This is the predominant reason that universities in China hesitate to introduce computer technology into the classroom. The university studied in this dissertation is one of the biggest and most famous universities in China, with approximately 2,400 staff including administrators and faculty members and about 30,000 students. The fiscal budget for the school is less than 100 million dollars which is less than the budget for the Ithaca city school district which has 12 schools, 5,506 students, and 506 teachers. Even investing the same percentage of the total budget in the university in China on technology, which is considered to be ideal, would not make teachers and students feel satisfied. Mansoor (1993) said another concern is to evaluate the learning especially in an online class. He said that unfortunately the software, which can monitor the learner's activities "online," was not widely available for ESL educational programs. The creation of comprehensive ESL software with the capability to evaluate students might be more difficult than we would expect. However, with the increased university enrollment in China, state funding for higher education has increased sharply. The funding increased from four billion in 1999 to over 10 billion in 2003 (Wu, 2005). A shortage of time, role changes, and lack of training for teachers to adjust themselves to classrooms facilitated with technology are other problems in implementing computer technology effectively. Jin (2004) assumed that some teachers in China may not be comfortable with high technology, since unlike so many of their students, they
  51. 51. 40 have not grown up with computers. Knupfer (1993) also said many teachers have refused even free training, due to lack of time. Moreover, specific challenges that teachers face include not only technical training, but also a shift in attitude. Kunpfer found reasons that teachers were reluctant to accept technology in their classrooms included fear of changes in the existing pedagogy and in their roles as teachers, and a lack of confidence in their abilities to master the technology. Time and effort are required to persuade a majority of teachers to use the technology they have in the teaching process. For foreign language teachers, the challenges in utilizing computer technology in a classroom setting were also addressed by Tedick and Walker (1996). They stated that the emphasis on technology for foreign language learning and teaching requires teachers to stay informed about new technologies and their instructional uses. Last but not least, students' technical problems are a constraint when integrating technology in education. Because of financial reasons, a majority of university students nowadays are not acquainted with technology in their lives. Also, computer literacy training for students in China is underevalued by educators. To initiate a computer technology-based classroom for which students are not prepared is not reasonable. Future Trends in Using Computer Technology in ESL Education The future of computer technology and its impact on the field of education is difficult to predict. Limited research exists on trends in computer technology in ESL education especially in China because there is only a short history of acceptance and development for this concept. Akkoyunlu (2002) predicted the future is ambiguous for today's student in a rapidly changing world. The speed and uncertainty of this change makes it impossible to predict with any precision what skills students will need to
  52. 52. 41 function as adults. The need for students to be able to cope with daily problems in a dynamic world has led many educators to conclude that technology integration into education will enrich the learning environment in schools. It is obvious that technology has brought widespread and fundamental changes in education. Therefore, major developments in the use of technology must take place in schools. Newby, Stepich, Lehman, and Russell (2000) envisioned a future of education where teachers and learners embrace and integrate instructional technology and use it to improve both teaching and learning. They even said without instructional technology, it would be difficult for educators to achieve their goals. Maurer and Davidson (1998) said that educational technology in the future will continue to get easier for the average person to understand and operate, and their capabilities will continue to increase concerning emerging technologies. Norton and Sprague (2001) said there are technologies that will continue to emerge and develop. Educational technology in the future is a question that is mentioned by some educators in different areas and disciplines. In terms of areas that are related to foreign language teaching and learning, Charp (1994) listed wireless communication and the information highway. Roblyer et al., (2000) focused on three technologies: personal digital assistants (PDAs), artificial intelligence, and virtual reality. As a result, digital natives, who come from Generation X and Y (also known as the Millennial Generation), would feel familiar with educational technology and easily accept using it in their classrooms. Computer technology will play an important role in education based on research about ESL as one of the major subjects. The potential of the impact from computer
  53. 53. 42 technology is difficult to predict, but the fact is that there will be more and more computer technologies that can facilitate both teachers in their teaching and students in their learning. The Current Situation of Using CALL in Universities in China There are limited research articles about educational technology, especially computer technology in ESL education in China, although there have been over 40 years of systematic ESL education from elementary to university level. The importance of English learning was emphasized by educators as well as politicians. In China, the mainstream of higher education carries aspects both of the United States and the United Kingdom systems with a stronger affiliation to the US system (Brandenburg & Zhu, 2007). To be more specific, Brandenburg and Zhu said: Two- and three-year colleges which are referred to as short-cycle colleges, typically awarding associate degrees, exist next to typical four-year colleges and universities which offer academic as well as vocational courses leading to bachelor degree or higher. Master's degrees and PhDs are offered by universities and research institutions which are accredited by the State Council, (p. 18) There are some major reasons for ESL teaching and learning in China. First and foremost, Brandenburg and Zhu (2007) said "students should pass the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE) and then be admitted to study at a higher education institution, if the results fit the requirement of the institution" (p.7). ESL, Chinese, and math are the three core courses in the NCEE.
  54. 54. 43 As far as learning English as a foreign language, a job seeker with English communication abilities has more opportunities than one without English skills. The employee who understands English usually is paid at a different rate, which is usually ten percent more than normal. Also, the student who is fluent in English can choose to study abroad in some advanced countries like the United States or England where the native language is English. Teaching English as a foreign language provides students with the ability to open their minds and broaden their knowledge through Internet searching, as 90% of the information online is written in English. China currently is not the most powerful and prosperous country in the world. The best way to empower itself is to learn from the strongest countries including the United States and European countries in which most are native English-speaking countries in terms of business, education, marketing, and other activities. Beckett et al. (2006), in staff development said that students need opportunities to develop computer literacy and information technology skills. Unfortunately computer literacy learning in China was emphasized by Chairman Deng 30 years ago, but not implemented. He said we should give all children the opportunity to learn computer technology because it will become an important tool that everyone should have in the near future. The growth of computer literacy learning among children did not meet his expectations. The reasons for this are: First, the personal computer (PC) was introduced to China at the beginning of 1990 which means the students who are now in higher educational institutions including universities and vocational academies lacked basic computer literacy education during their childhood. As a result, they feel embarrassed or at least uncomfortable in the learning processes associated with computer technologies.
  55. 55. 44 Second, the price of the personal computer was so expensive that the common Chinese customer could not afford it. Third, there are no computer literacy courses in elementary, junior high, high school, or even the university. In other words, for a student, it is not an academic requirement to be educated in computer literacy from the beginning to the end of his or her schooling. Last, computer ability is not emphasized by educators in the classroom. As complete obedience of students is one of the classroom rules in China, students are confined to learning what teachers are interested in teaching or what appears on the test. Because computer literacy is not a core or even an elective course, this subject is not considered important. The concept of using educational technology, especially computer technology, was introduced and applied in educational institutions in China at the end of 1990s, which was far behind countries like the United States and European countries. Like every new idea in the field of education, the effectiveness of educational technology in classroom and curriculum design was questioned by educators. The effectiveness and questioning about whether educational technology can be adapted by the Chinese educational system was discussed among educators. The lecture teaching method usually does not co-exist well with educational technology. More time and effort is required in China than other countries to implement educational technologies in a classroom setting. Cai and Guo (2006) said that compared to the advanced industrial countries, the use of technology in Chinese education came relatively late. The first real usage of technology was in universities. Universities with financial support adopted the ideas from administrators and faculty members who had the experience of studying abroad or had the knowledge after investigating the success of
  56. 56. 45 some real life examples. The addition of educational technology made governors, school administrators, faculty members, parents, and students feel that it was important. As a result, governors from the educational bureau gave more financial support to different levels of schools for equipment purchasing and faculty training. School administrators paid more attention to technology enforcement on campus and also gave opportunities to faculty members to be trained by experts in the field of educational technology. Faculty members spent time developing their skills in educational technology. Parents decided to purchase laptops for students because they believed the computer could facilitate their children in the learning process. Students were given a core course in educational technology, which would be used by teachers in the classroom. During the past decade in China, CALL has increased dramatically. "As a new resource to help promote, enhance and facilitate learning, the computer has fostered high expectations of a more effective, more motivating and more innovative new learning experience." (p. 61) Research by Chinese educators can prove the possibility of using computer technology successfully in the college level ESL classroom. Liang (2001) did research about the benefits for Chinese students in the ESL classroom, which was integrated with computer technology. He pointed out the recent pedagogy for ESL teaching in Chinese universities emphasizes language itself like vocabulary and grammar. The computer- based class can be designed to explore the potential of the right brain, and the development of students in learning ESL through the stimulation of video, audio, and pictures delivered by computer technology. Professor Hu (1997) said in his book "R^MM^, , M ^ ^ ^ i I W W l * l S ^ ¥ ^2?^I4n &5". Translated in a simple way, it means it is impossible to learn a foreign
  57. 57. 46 language without understanding the culture. American linguist Sapir (1949) said language was born in the environment with culture, tradition, and faith. Chinese linguist Hu (2004) said " ^ - # i f = , #S!l^*H3££ij^~&7]c¥ , MffrmtfteW^g- #£ito -$&*, &¥?in=ftmwmj)tetit&, ^itmm^mmm^w&®0 MM^ttlWiA , £ffcS^A<I^HRl£®3fejffiHJ3S" (p. 1). This means it is important to understand the influence of culture on foreign language learning. Fan (2004) in a speech about using technology in college level ESL classes said computer and Internet technology has the power to connect culture to language in ESL teaching and learning. "^IJffiiimftTR , SsfflqT&fc '&£' ^ & ± ^ D / f H B I t A $ l $ l ^J^Jn" (p. 1). He used an example of watching a video clip on a computer of the T have a dream' speech by Martin Luther King which can give students a better idea about this speech than does traditional reading. Teachers can also analyze their own teaching method to illustrate King's ideas better. Fan (2004) also said "ffl|*l ^ M f c f c ^ l i m ^ t t t e ^ S S S T i & ^ l l M S t o
  58. 58. 47 #"(p. 1). His idea was that the root of the problems of Chinese students in ESL learning is that there is no English learning environment in China. Computer technology can create an English learning environment in the classroom, something which has been desired by several generations of ESL educators for Chinese students. Xue (2006) summarized his applications of computer technology in ESL courses. He said the revolution of ESL education was associated with the development of computer technology in terms of four abilities that are necessary for ESL learning including listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The result proved that students showed improvement in all aspects of ESL learning. Some problems also occurred in computer assisted ESL programs. Xie (2004) found some problems in computer assisted university ESL classes in China after observing computer assisted ESL classrooms for several years. Incorrect and out-dated concepts: In some teachers' minds, the more computer technologies were used in class, the more effectively students learned.
  59. 59. 48 fljl¥f£?#^Fi!> , ^I'JpJf^'ff PS. Less concentration on key points in teaching: Some teachers only used technology to attract students through various audio and video effects. Students could not learn what the syllabus required. • %Lm^4L®k%.m&±.to&%Lo wte CALL T^mmi^^^mmmi mm, mmp^-^&mmfcR , m%-im&Enterma n^xmmmftK* was no communication between teacher and students. In a CALL class, some teachers regarded themselves as clickers who only needed to click the mouse to run the computer. • cAisffl^nSo &mmm%® cAmfts&m^mnxm , ^^^mmp, Pftm , EtiMft. , i®fcSE¥Cm-M^n* , # - | t f £ T Sherlock Holmes
  60. 60. 49 & £ $ Noises in The Nighto •S^JsU&HJgjSaSftttJSfcft , S^JJ , M*£ ^BWRig&^#J#to3£*I-J*ffl-ifia*TT£ , WmR^M^m® ^ / S AJJiff ftlo Using CAI in an inflexible way: Some teachers used the existing CAI software or video clips without selecting those which were more appropriate for their class. This lead to the result that students at different levels lost their interest. Also, self-designed courseware by teachers was sometimes unsatisfactory for students because teachers were not qualified to design courseware. £ # J £ , m%^±m%%m&^Ammi£®jfmm$i®L^0 Less time
  61. 61. and energy to think of using computers in education: Teachers always complained about the pressure to guarantee academic success at the university. Some teachers thought it was a waste of time to research how to use computer technologies in a classroom setting. During the development of educational technology, with the availability of more powerful computers at lower less cost, more and more universities facilitated technologies in their classroom. According to Xue's survey, an ESL class is the one which has the most frequent usage of the technology because of the advantages referred to in the survey. Attitudes toward Using Computers in Language Learning The word "attitude" is a term with different meanings in different fields. Mantle- Bromley (1995) and other experts in psychology said attitude consists of three components in general: (1) affect: which refers to that degree of like the person has; (2) cognition: which refers to the person's knowledge about the attitudinal object; and (3) behavior: which is related to reactions and intentions regarding the object. Bruess (2003) said attitudes toward technology play an important role in the adoption of instructional technology and the likelihood of influencing students' learning in the classroom. Attitude is considered one of the affective variables that have a major role in the second or foreign language learning process. In terms of factors that affect attitudes toward computer use, computer anxiety, computer knowledge and gender are the top three important ones (Al-Shammari, 2007). Al-Shammari (2007) said students' attitudes toward using technology in the classroom are of high importance in the success of implementing technology. Several
  62. 62. 51 studies have been conducted to research students' attitudes toward using computers in the ESL learning process. Ayres (2002) researched students' attitudes toward CALL in their study at UNITEC Institute of Technology in Australia. The results showed that students have positive attitudes toward using computers in their learning process. In addition, it showed that 80% of the students believed that CALL is relevant to their needs, 77% of the students agreed that CALL gives useful information, and 66% of the students thought that more CALL should be used in their learning. Jabir and Omar (2000) investigated the attitudes of learners in the Southern area of Jordan. The findings showed that learners hold positive attitudes toward computer use and look forward to making more use of computers in their classrooms. For Chinese ESL students, several studies were done to investigate their attitudes toward CALL and found there was a positive relationship between the students' attitudes toward CALL and academic achievement. Chen (2004) did a study in order to investigate the attitudes of ESL learners in National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan toward the use of the computer in an ESL class. The participants in this study expressed their positive attitudes toward the integration of the computer into their ESL study. Liu (1997) conducted a study on Chinese students at the University of Tennessee on their preference of selecting either a face-to-face or an online class. Chinese students in this study showed positive attitudes toward the use of online class in their university studies.
  63. 63. CHAPTER 3 METHOD OF PROCEDURE This study examined attitudes of ESL students toward the use of computer- assisted language learning (CALL) in a university in China. Specifically, this study was to investigate (a) the attitudes of ESL students in a university in China toward the use of computer-assisted language learning (CALL), (b) the demographic characteristics of students who are taking ESL courses at a university in China, (c) the relationship of some of the demographic characteristics with ESL students' attitudes in China, and (d) the demographic factors which can predict students' attitudes toward CALL. The specific procedure included: 1. Development of the Survey Instrument 1.1 Survey Instrument: ESL student demographics and attitudes toward CAI in ESL courses 1.1.1 Part One: Demographics 1.1.2 Part Two: Scale of Attitudes toward CALL (SACALL) 1.2 Validation of the Survey Instrument 1.3 Translation of the Survey Instrument 1.4 Reliability of the Survey Instrument 2. Selection of the Subjects 3. Collection of the Data 4. Treatment of the Data 52
  64. 64. 53 Development of Survey Instrument The survey instrument used for this study consisted of two parts. The items in part one were developed by Tang (1995) in his dissertation Whole Language Instruction in the CAI Setting. The items in part two were developed by Al-Shammari (2007) in his dissertation Saudi English as Foreign Language Learners' Attitudes toward Computer- Assisted Language Learning. The instrument was used to measure participants' attitudes toward CALL. It included 30 statements to which participants provided answers by circling a number indicating their level of agreement. Part One: Demographic Data The demographic survey was originally created by Tang in 1995. The survey had 13 items concerning the demographic background of each student who participated in the research. The demographic survey asked the participants their gender, age, home country, native language, class level, first time of being in the United States, their reason for being in the United States, preference of using a computer, possession of a personal computer, frequency of using a computer, and the most useful occasion for using a computer. The participants for Tang's questionnaire were forty-eight international students attending the intensive English as a Second Language Program (CESL) at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. The results provided support for demographic toward CAI as a practical measure. Tang completed a pilot study to prove the reliability and validity for this instrument. The reliability for the version with controlled sentences and vocabulary was .67. The reliability for the version with controlled sentences and vocabulary pattern was .85.
  65. 65. 54 Tang's survey was modified by deleting and adding questions because the target population was different. The instrument for the research gathered demographic data from students who were enrolled in a college level ESL course with the integration of CALL in a university in Middle Eastern China. The collected information included gender, academic level, major in Arts or Science, access to computers, self-perception of computer ability, prior experience in a course utilizing CALL, and frequency of computer usage, all of which were used to test the null hypothesis. Part Two: Scale of Attitudes toward CALL (SACALL) Al-Shammari (2007) designed this attitude questionnaire by using a 5 - point Likert scale (SA = Strongly Agree, A = Agree, U = Uncertain, D = Disagree, SD = Strongly Disagree) in order to determine participants' perception toward language instruction with CAI for learning ESL. The instrument designed for this section was a questionnaire consisting of 30 questions. The questions asked for participants' opinions about the efficacy of CAI in the process of learning ESL. The researcher translated the 5 - Point Likert scales responses in the following way: Strongly Agree = 5, Agree = 4, Uncertain = 3, Disagree = 2 and Strongly Disagree = 1. The higher the score, the more positive attitudes the learner had toward CALL. Based on the translation method, a score of 5 and 4 indicate positive attitudes, a score of 3 indicates a neutral attitude, and scores of 2 and 1 indicate negative attitudes. The participants for Al-Shammari's questionnaire were 1500 ESL learners on four campuses in Saudi Arabia. SACALL consists of 30 items designed to measure the learners' attitude toward CALL. These items were divided into three subscales. The first two subscales focused on attitudes toward computers in general and the use of a computer
  66. 66. 55 in language instruction (20 items). The last subscale concentrated on the attitudes toward the CALL lab. The instrument adopted by Al-Shammari was based on two well-known computer attitudes scales: the Computer Attitudes Scale (CAS) (Loyd & Gressard, 1984) and the Scale of Educational Technology Attitude (SETA) (Chen, 2004). Respectively, the CAS scale reported Cronbach-alpha reliability coefficients of .90, .89 and .82 for subscales and .95 for the total (Loyd & Loyd, 1985), and the SETA reported Cronbach- alpha reliability coefficients of .89 (Chen). Validation of Survey Instruments The combined survey was validated for the purpose of testing the instrument's reliability. The demographic portion was previously validated by Tang with some changes. The SACALL portion was previously validated by Al-Shammari with no change. To ensure the validity of the combined instrument, a panel of three experts with an established reputation in the fields of English and Educational Technology were consulted. One expert worked in the secondary and higher education field and specialized in using technology in the field of education at a state university in Louisiana. This expert also held an EdD in secondary and higher education. The other two experts worked in the English department in top universities in China and held their PhD's in English literature and linguistics. The three experts each had at least 20 years experience of teaching or researching ESL courses at the university level in China. The survey validation package included a cover letter to explain the purpose of this study, the importance of the survey to this study, demographic information, the attitudes survey toward CAI in ESL courses (SACALL), and the form for those experts to sign for the validation. The package was distributed to the three experts for them to judge
  67. 67. 56 the clarity and the appropriateness of the survey questionnaire. Along with the validation forms, instructions for grading each of the items in the two questionnaires were attached. The panel of experts followed the instructions to evaluate each item in three questionnaires by circling Yes or No for clarity and Definitely Yes, Somewhat Yes, No opinion, somewhat No, and Definitely No for the appropriateness and importance of the items. From the returned validation forms from the panel of experts, the items with two or three of the panel experts rated Yes or Somewhat Yes for clarity and appropriateness were retained. The items with one or two ratings of No or Somewhat No were modified according to suggestions and recommendations provided in terms of grammar, structure, tense, and the possibility for research. The items with three ratings of No or Somewhat No were discarded without any modification. The modified questionnaire was sent to the panel of experts again in order to ensure all the modifications reflected their corrections. The results showed that all the items in the survey were understood by the panel of experts. However, some items needed modification because the participants in Tang's survey were international students who took CAI-based ESL courses in the United States. In this study, the participants were Chinese students who took ESL courses in a university in Middle Eastern China. The demographic items were modified according to the research questions. The survey was revised based on some of the items recommended by the panel members in order to be suitable for this research. For part one, survey items 3 through 9 were deleted because they were not relevant to this research. For part two, the survey questionnaire was found to be appropriate and understandable for this research and was retained in its entirety.