Purpose of the studyBased on the gaps which have been mentioned, and by addingthis point that all these variables have been investigated in different studiesone by one, not altogether in a single article, this study intends to examinethe effects of different levels of proficiency on learning conjunctions duringsymmetrical and asymmetrical convergent tasks in a MALL context. By codingtheir language related episodes, this study will consider both qualitative andquantitative aspects.
Specifically, due to paradoxical of findings of previousstudies, this research intends to examine the effects of proficiencydifferences of learners on characteristics of LREs, such as frequency andoutcome. It will also investigate the effects of proficiency levels on learningEnglish conjunctions in these two tasks.Adopting the technology-oriented approach, this study willattempt to familiarize Iranian students to interact even outside the classroomin mobile-assisted language learning environment, and analyze their attitudetoward this collaboration. 10- ????? ???? ?????: (?? ???? ????)Theoretical framework In opposition to Krashen’s view, Swain (1985) stated that comprehensibleinput is not sufficient, and highlighted the role of output for learning totake place. She claimedthat output helps learners to move from semantic to syntactic processing.Furthermpre, it preparesopportunities for collaboration with others. Based on sociocultural theory, which is related toVygotsky (1978), knowledge is constructed through interaction. Within this theory, a child’s cognitive development isformed by interacting with more knowledgeable people such as parents, teachers,and even peers (McCafferty, 1994).
Although the main emphasis of Vygotsky was on children, Van Lier(1996) stated that this theory is also suitable for both expert-novice as wellas equal-ability groupings. Therefore, the idea that peer-peer interaction can lead tolearning has been developed. This kind of dialogic interaction is called collaborativedialogue in which “learners engage in problem solving and knowledge building”(swain, 2000, p.
102). Through collaborative dialogue, learnersscaffold each other reciprocally during the process of interaction. It can befeasible by engaging learners in collaborative tasks, which require them tonegotiate meaning and participate in meaningful communication.
In other words,collaborative tasks provide full opportunities for both input and output, whichhave paramount significance in language learning. Learners with the same anddifferent proficiency levels can develop a shared responsibility over finaloutcome of the task. During their joint-interaction they will producelanguage-related episodes (LREs), which indicate improvement in languagelearning (Ewald, 2005; Swain & Lapkin, 2002). Swain and Lapkin (1998)have described LRE as “any part of the dialogue where the students talk aboutthe language they are producing, question their language use, or correctthemselves or others” (p. 326). My study is related to sociocultural theory, byfocusing on joint interaction between peers. They will collaborate by providingcollaborative dialogues, and mutual scaffolding.Limitations There will not be any random selection, since I am going to choose students from intact classes.
Therefore, the results may not be generalizable. My sample in this study will be limited to students of institutions not universities or schools. This study will be conducted for high and low intermediate learners. Therefore, it cannot be generalized to other levels of proficiency. (More limitations may be announced during the study) 11- ??? ????? ?????:???- ????? ???? ?? ??? ???:Participants The participants will be 36 intermediatestudents. Their age range will be between 15 and 25. This study will be carriedout in three institutions in Gorgan, and the participants will be invited fromintact classes.
The element of language proficiency will be considered throughan English proficiency test to classify students into 18 pairs. By classifyingthem according to this feature, each learner will be assigned to one of three types of dyads: adyad containing two higher proficiency learners (H–H); a dyad containing onehigher proficiency and one lower proficiency learner (H–L); or a dyadcontaining two lower proficiency learners (L–L). Half of these participantswill perform symmetrical and the other half will begiven asymmetrical convergent tasks.Table 1.
Demographics ofparticipants Task proficiency Symmetrical convergent task Asymmetrical convergent task High-high 3pairs 3pairs High-low 3pairs 3pairs Low-low 3pairs 3pairs Total 9pairs 9pairs Instruments A variety of instruments will beused to fulfill the objectives of this thesis:a) Oxford placement test: It is an English languageproficiency test, which will be administered to assign learners intointermediate with mixed proficiency levels (high-high, high-low, and low-low). Thetest will evaluate overall ability of learners in grammar, vocabulary, reading,writing, speaking, and listening. This classification based on (OPT) has beenused to stimulate negotiation of meaning between interlocutors (Iwashita,2001). b) Grammaticality judgment test (GJT): In order toevaluate their knowledge of conjunctions, a grammaticality judgment test willbe designed for pre and post-test. This test consists of40 items. 20 items will assess English conjunctions, while the othernon-targeted half will be distractors. They will evaluate knowledge of othergrammatical structures.
Only the results of 20 targeted items will be used forfurther analysis. The time limit will be almost one hour.c) Moodle (a mobile App): I have created a Moodle accountas a teacher through which learners can be added to collaborate in thislearning-centered atmosphere. They can share-ideas and engage in theconstruction of knowledge (Cole & Foster, 2007).
In fact, Moodle is an opencourse management system. It has both website and application, the use of whichhas a lot of advantages. It provides an easy way for teachers to sharematerials by uploading photos, PDFs, articles, and power points, so learnerscan have access whenever they want.
By having text-based chats, onlinediscussions will be generated. Since, they can think before answering, morethoughtful responses will be created. Another importantfeature of this application is online quizzes which can be graded by teacher.Thus, rapid feedback can be provided to evaluate their comprehension ofmaterials. These grades can be recorded in an online course book which givesstudents up-to-date information about their performances. Itwill also encourage peer interaction, which increases motivation of learners.Based on the above-mentioned features, eighteen chat rooms will be created, and each pair will tryto carry out the assigned tasks.
Their collaborative dialogues will beautomatically recorded and retrieved by the teacher for further analysis.d) Dictogloss as asymmetrical convergent task: In a convergent task, each pair collaborates toachieve the task goal, and learners in a pair have equal information to solvethe problem. Dictogloss will be used in this study as a symmetrical convergenttask. An authentic text, which is replete with English conjunctions, will beread twice to the learners. Since we are not in the classroom environment, Iwill read the stories myself, and record them, then the recorded voices will besent to them via Moodle. Both learners in a pair will be provided with thewhole story equally. For the first time, students should just listen, but forthe second time, they can take notes of the key words that can be helpful inreproducing the original text.
Then, the pairs will collaborate in chat roomand combine what they have written down to reproduce the original version ofthe text. The authentic text for dictogloss task will be adapted from anintermediate grammar book. Several changes of the text may be necessary,because the aim of the task should be grammatical conjunctions. Learners willproduce language-related episodes, while they discuss grammatical featuresduring this task, which will be analyzed.e) Picture-cued as an asymmetrical convergent task: in anasymmetrical convergent task, one of the learners is provided with moreinformation than the other. I want to know whether this extra information willlead to initiative in collaboration or not. The stories which are going to beused here are exactly the same as dictogloss task. However, this group oflearners will not be provided with voices.
In other words, several relatedpictures with appropriate conjunctions will be sent to them. One learner ineach pair will be provided with more pictures than the other. After that, theyshould try to fabricate a story by collaboration. Their sentences should beconnected to each other by appropriate use of conjunctions.f) Attitudequestionnaire about MALL: As a pre and post-task survey, learners shouldcomplete an attitude questionnaire. Thus, their perspectives toward onlinelearning via mobile will be revealed.
The aim is to see whether their attitudechanges during the study or not. A questionnaire with five-point scalequestions (from strongly agree to strongly disagree) will be administered toelicit their attitudes towards MALL environment. This questionnaire will be takenfrom an article by Al-Fahad (2009). Some changes may be needed.