Anda di halaman 1dari 21

This article was downloaded by: [Kyungpook National University]

On: 06 October 2014, At: 19:42


Publisher: Routledge
Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered
office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

Computer Assisted Language Learning


Publication details, including instructions for authors and
subscription information:
http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ncal20

Analysis of the effect a student-centred


mobile learning instructional method
has on language acquisition
a

Andrew Oberg & Paul Daniels

Language Education Center , Surugadai University , Saitama ,


Japan
b

Department of Core Studies , Kochi University of Technology ,


Kami , Japan
Published online: 01 Feb 2012.

To cite this article: Andrew Oberg & Paul Daniels (2013) Analysis of the effect a student-centred
mobile learning instructional method has on language acquisition, Computer Assisted Language
Learning, 26:2, 177-196, DOI: 10.1080/09588221.2011.649484
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09588221.2011.649484

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE


Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the
Content) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis,
our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as to
the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions
and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,
and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content
should not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sources
of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,
proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever
or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or
arising out of the use of the Content.
This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any
substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,
systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &
Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/termsand-conditions

Computer Assisted Language Learning, 2013


Vol. 26, No. 2, 177196, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09588221.2011.649484

Analysis of the eect a student-centred mobile learning instructional


method has on language acquisition
Andrew Oberga and Paul Danielsb*

Downloaded by [Kyungpook National University] at 19:42 06 October 2014

a
Language Education Center, Surugadai University, Saitama, Japan; bDepartment of Core
Studies, Kochi University of Technology, Kami, Japan

In this study a self-paced instructional method based on the use of Apples iPod
Touch personal mobile devices to deliver content was compared with a grouporiented instructional method of content delivery in terms of learner acquisition of
course material. One hundred and twenty-two rst-year Japanese university students
in four classes were used in the study. The subjects were placed in two experimental
groups and two control groups, and each researcher taught one control and one
experimental group. An independent samples t-test performed on the groups
placement scores on the universitys English entrance examination showed no
signicant dierence between the two groups in terms of general English ability at
the outset of the experiment. During the treatment sessions the control groups
studied in a group-oriented classroom environment while the experimental groups
studied the same course material but did so with a self-paced method that used
Apples iPod Touch personal mobile devices. As such, the subjects in the experimental group were allowed to study at a rate they chose rather than having the
timing of the language input controlled by the teacher. The curriculum for both the
control and experimental groups was based on the course textbook (Science English:
Communication skills for scientists and engineers, Daniels, 2007, Tokyo: Thomson).
The same standardized tests were given to all students involved in the study and the
scores of the control and experimental groups were analysed using independent
samples t-tests supported by MannWhitney tests. The post-treatment data showed
a signicant dierence emerge between the groups, while the experimental group
scored consistently higher than the control group. Results of a post-treatment survey
given to the experimental group also indicated very positive learner attitudes
towards the self-study iPod Touch-based instructional method.
Keywords: mobile learning; iPod Touch; self-study

Introduction
With the development of new communication tools, our world is becoming
increasingly mobile and inter-connected. One of the standouts of the recently
released personal mobile devices is Apples iPod Touch, a tool that combines touchscreen technology with many of the features of a standard personal computer in a
size similar to that of most mobile phones. Given these developments, along with the
ubiquitousness of mobile devices, it is important to ascertain just what, if any,

*Corresponding author. Email: paul@hokulele.us


2013 Taylor & Francis

Downloaded by [Kyungpook National University] at 19:42 06 October 2014

178 A. Oberg and P. Daniels


advantages to foreign language education can be achieved through their use. If the
use of mobile tools to support self-paced study in the classroom does indeed have a
signicantly better eect on the acquisition of material, then their inclusion in
curricula should be given greater consideration. Few studies have focused on mobile
devices and language acquisition, and most current research on mobile devices in
English language teaching (ELT) focuses on pre-smart phone mobile phones (e.g.
Dias, 2002; Kukulska-Hulme & Shield, 2008; Stockwell, 2007, 2008, 2010; Thornton
& Houser, 2002, 2005). Those studies have highlighted a number of disadvantages
with such devices, including: (1) students viewing studying with mobile devices
outside of the classroom as an intrusion (Dias, 2002), (2) small screen size and added
cost (e.g. for extra text messages sent or for accessing the Internet) that studying with
mobile phones entails (Stockwell, 2007) and (3) text input diculties (Thornton &
Houser, 2002). In that light, the current research attempts to address these concerns
through a comparison of the results of a group-oriented approach with those of a
self-paced approach based on the use of Apples iPod Touch. The iPod Touch has
advantages for language study over standard (non-smart) mobile phones, including a
large screen size and touch screen control. Moreover, having a class set of iPod
Touches also has the advantages of guaranteeing that all users have the same
learning experience as language learning applications have a standardized function
and appearance, that a separation of learners private devices (their mobile phones)
and learning devices (the iPod Touches) is possible, and that no network fees are
involved when using a Wi-Fi network in the classroom or elsewhere. By conducting
the study entirely in the classroom and in conjunction with the use of the course
textbook the researchers hoped to overcome learner aversion to studying with the
mobile device on personal time, data transfer costs and text input diculties.
Cognitive psychology ndings regarding memory were taken into account here, as
were ELT ndings on language skills and the use of CALL activities, and self-paced/
blended learning.
Previous research
Human memory formation
The acquisition and retention of a new language is largely a question of memory
formation. As such, knowledge of the physical processes involved in memory
formation, particularly those leading to the formation of long-term memories, can be
benecial to the language teacher. In this regard, recent ndings from research done
in experimental psychology are especially pertinent. When a piece of information is
encountered and engaged, be it linguistic or otherwise, the brain rst stores it in the
working memory, which is thought to contain three primary components: . . . a
visuo-spatial short-term memory, a verbal short-term memory and a central
executive, which controls the ow of information to and from the other components
(Gupta & MacWhinney, 1997, p. 270). If the piece of information in question is
completely new it will fail to activate the central executive (a neural mode, or mass of
dierentiated tissue, referred to as a chunk node), this in turn will lead to the brain
creating a new chunk node that releases an associated context signal. The
connection between the context signal and new piece of information is initially very
fragile, however, remaining activated for only 230 s, after which time it is subject to
decay if not reactivated by an additional stimulus or thought process (Cowan, 2000).
One of the simpler ways to achieve this reactivation is through repetition of the

Downloaded by [Kyungpook National University] at 19:42 06 October 2014

Computer Assisted Language Learning 179

material, a topic that has received much discussion in second language acquisition
(SLA) literature and has been notably supported by Ellis (2002) who states that,
Frequency is a necessary component of theories of language acquisition and
processing. (p. 178). Repetition of input to promote memory has also enjoyed
widespread and longstanding support from both within and outside of the SLA
literature (Bahrick, Bahrick, Bahrick, & Bahrick, 1993; Bley-Vroman, 2002; Cowan,
2000; Ellis & Beaton, 1993; Ericsson & Kintsch, 1994; Gass & Mackey, 2002; Gupta
& MacWhinney, 1997; Henriksen, 1999; Hulstijn, 2002; Knowles, 2008; Lewis, 1993;
Mohseni-Far, 2008a,b; Nakata, 2008; Nation, 2001, 2005; Papagno & Vallar, 1992;
Schmitt, 2000; Segler, 2002; Tarone, 2002; Wei, 2007; Weil, 2008). In addition to
strengthening the specic relationship between the new piece of information and its
context signal, such repetition also helps to secure the context signal into the wider
neural network (Henriksen, 1999). Once complete, this process leads to information
being stored in the long-term memory. An intermediary state, termed the long-term
working memory, has also been suggested by Ericsson and Kintsch (1994), who
state that, Information in LT-WM (long-term working memory) is stored in stable
form, but reliable access to it may be maintained only temporarily by means of
retrieval cues in ST-WM (short-term working memory). (p. 3, authors italics) Much
more research in this area is needed, but the broader lesson that can be drawn in
relation to foreign language learning is the need for multiple exposures and
repetitious interactions with the target material, an area where CALL and/or mobile
tools could be of potential benet with the ease of repetition that they provide. The
use of such tools may be particularly eective in self-paced study programmes where
students are able to repeat exercises as desired, a possibility the current research aims
to investigate.
CALL, motivational and self-paced/blended study issues
There has traditionally been a line drawn between study methods that are: (1) purely
self-paced and independent, where students fully determine their own schedule and
pace, (2) asynchronous but interactive, where students participate to some degree
with an instructor or other students, largely determined by their own need, until
course materials are completed and (3) synchronous learning, which can be
conducted in a traditional classroom environment or via the web given that it is done
in real-time and the pace is determined by the instructor (Burgess, 2003). Of these
methods, the rst naturally requires the largest degree of motivation on the part of
the learner, necessitating decisions of kind of processing, study time, duration of
study and study strategies employed (Kornell & Bjork, 2007). Although this places a
number of burdens on the student, such self-regulation has been shown to involve, a
high level of cognitive engagement, including actively receiving and selecting
information, making connections with existing knowledge, organizing the approach
to learning tasks, and continuously monitoring learning (Kinzie, 1990, p. 6), and
further that the self-ecacy, degree of control, and personal relevance involved helps
to actually increase motivation (Kinzie, 1990). Such purely self-regulated study
experiences are likely to be few, however, particularly in the typical institutional
settings in which most instructors and students nd themselves. Evidence has also
shown that some degree of external pacing may lead to more eective overall
acquisition of content, as well as a deeper degree of competency with said content
(Belland, Taylor, Canelos, Dwyer, & Baker, 1985). As such, so-called blended

180 A. Oberg and P. Daniels


learning programmes, in which elements of event-based activities, e-learning, selfpaced study and live classroom interaction are mixed together (Singh, 2003), can be
highly eective methods of instruction. Based on these considerations, the current
study can be considered to contain blended rather than purely self-paced learning
(see Procedure section, below), although the subjects in the experimental group did
use the iPod Touch devices in a self-paced manner.

Downloaded by [Kyungpook National University] at 19:42 06 October 2014

CALL and language skills


Both top-down processing, which uses background knowledge and context to assist
in comprehension, and bottom-up processing, which involves analysing the linguistic
signals themselves, can be assisted by the application of CALL tools. One primary
way this can be done is by appealing to the strong connections of the regions of the
brain that are used when reading and listening. Research has shown that, . . . our
ears are not the primary channels of listening, nor are our eyes the primary channels
of reading. Rather, during comprehension experiences, it is the mind which engages
with samples of written or spoken language. . .while listening or reading in an L2 it is
the functioning of the mind itself which leads to comprehension and learning
(Murphy, 1996, p. 106). Although the mind is a notoriously dicult concept to
concretely pin down, the broader point of viewing the brain as a holistic organ,
rather than as a collection of specialist parts, is not one that should be ignored.
Listening and reading activities should ideally be done simultaneously (Murphy,
1996); by making use of CALL tools in such cases, these tasks can be repeated as
often as the learner or instructor deems necessary, depending on the degree of
autonomy under which the student is operating. Such methods can also add a great
deal of context to the listening (such as by concurrently viewing support text or
images), which can aid in understanding the L2 under reciprocal and temporal
constraints like those imposed by real-time listening (Rost, 1990). Perhaps here again
though, the primary advantage to using CALL methods is the ease of repetition, and
hence increased potential for acquisition (see Human memory formation section,
above), that they allow. Furthermore, in addition to aiding reading and listening
skills, both the ease of repetition and use of supporting images can help promote
vocabulary acquisition (Mohseni-Far, 2008a,b; Papagno & Vallar, 1992; Schmitt,
2000; Segler, 2002). CALL tools can also be used to provide structured practice,
testing at timed intervals, personalizable study functions, examples in context and
general tools such as online dictionaries and thesauri to further stimulate vocabulary
gains (Ellis, 1995).
Personal mobile devices
As mentioned above (see Introduction section), the majority of research heretofore
in the eld of MALL or m-learning (Mobile Assisted Language Learning or mobilelearning) has been concerned with traditional mobile phones, not smart phones (e.g.
Dias, 2002; Kukulska-Hulme & Shield, 2008; Stockwell, 2007, 2008, 2010; Thornton
& Houser, 2002, 2005). These have presented a number of problems, however, and in
addition to those mentioned above can be added learners reported perception that
the mobile phone was not a tool for study (Stockwell, 2010), an apparent focus on
teacher-centred pedagogies (Kukulska-Hulme & Shield, 2008), and that it can be
questioned whether current methods are actually taking advantage of the mobility

Downloaded by [Kyungpook National University] at 19:42 06 October 2014

Computer Assisted Language Learning 181

available from such tools or not (Stockwell, 2008). Despite the problems associated
with using mobile phones for learning, there are signicant potential advantages that
these and other mobile tools can bring to language learning. The number of
subscribers to wireless Internet services is growing rapidly, allowing for many new
Internet-based and interactive learning activities to take place (Ally, 2004). Whether
accessed via a mobile phone, tablet computer or other device, the educational
opportunities provided are vast. In fact, a recent European study showed that 52%
of everyday learning episodes contained the use of at least one piece of electronic
technology (Sharples, Taylor, & Vavoula, 2010). Additionally, since mobile devices
can be applied to a great variety of learning situations, students can be simultaneously engaged in activities that are both social and informatic in nature
(Roschelle, 2003). In practical terms, this allows the educator to ensure that some
humanhuman interaction remains, fullling all of Sharples three Cs of education
(Construction (building an understanding), Conversation (with teachers, other
learners, selves), and Control (of the process, pursuing knowledge); Sharples, 2002)
and taking heed of the advice regarding computer/digital-related activities that a
social element be maintained (Holliday, 1999). In the current study, this was
achieved via the classroom setting in which the self-paced use of mobile devices took
place, allowing learners to interact with each other and the instructor when they so
desired, and to proceed through the learning activities individually when they so
desired (see Procedure section, below). Thus, the use of mobile devices does not need
to be limited by such factors as students unwillingness to use mobile phones to study
during their personal time (Dias, 2002), but can be applied to course work in any
number of locations and indeed to the traditional classroom itself.
Research question
Based on the research in the eld reviewed above, the following research question is
formed:
. Can the self-paced use of a personal mobile device enhance the acquisition of
course material over a group-oriented approach?

Experimental method
Participants
A total of 122 rst-year university students participated in the study. The students
were divided into classes based on their major of study and separated into control
and experimental groups. All of the students involved in the research were studying
engineering, with only the type of engineering varying among the classes (e.g.
systems engineering, engineering management, and environmental science and
engineering). One class in the control group consisted of 33 subjects, and the other
class in the control group was composed of 28 subjects. One class in the experimental
group consisted of 31 subjects and the other class in the experimental group was
composed of 30 subjects. These four classes comprised the two groups used in the
study. Each researcher instructed one control group and one experimental group to
mitigate any potential teacher eects. Furthermore, to ensure that the groups could
be considered equal from the outset of the research, an independent samples t-test

Downloaded by [Kyungpook National University] at 19:42 06 October 2014

182 A. Oberg and P. Daniels


analysis was performed on the subjects scores on the universitys general English
entrance examination. This examination is based on the STEP EIKEN test, presecond level, a widely used English prociency test in Japan. The alpha level for this
analysis was set at 0.05, and only the data of those who participated in the study
were used in the analysis. As can be seen from the results in Table 1, the two-tailed
signicance score was 0.339, well above the alpha level. The null hypothesis, that
there was no signicant dierence between the two groups at the outset of the
treatment, can therefore not be rejected. The range of the upper and lower bands of
the 95% condence interval of the dierence was also narrow and both ends were
close to zero (70.715 and 2.059), while the means were very close to each other at
49.17% for the control group and 47.31% for the experimental (17.70 and 17.03,
respectively, out of a possible score of 36). These factors support the view that the
null hypothesis cannot be rejected at the beginning of the study, and therefore the
researchers proceeded on the assumption that the groups could be considered equal.
Variables
Care was taken to limit the variables in the present study. As described above, the
experimental and control groups could be considered equal in terms of general
English abilities at the outset of the research. In addition, both researchers were
assigned one control and one experimental class each to help reduce any possible
teacher eect on either group. The images, audio, and text used in the iPod Touch
applications were the same as those used in the textbook, ensuring that any mental
association, and potential memory benets derived from such an association
(particularly for images; Mohseni-Far, 2008a; Nikolova, 2002; Papagno & Vallar,
1992; Schmitt, 2000), were equal across the groups. All of the testing items given to
the subjects were marked by the researchers using a single scoring template so that
potentially subjective marking decisions (such as those on sections where students
were asked to produce their own sentences) were limited, and in the cases where a
variety of answers could be considered correct all valid answers were accepted.
Furthermore, the varying degrees of exposure to the material that can occur outside
the classroom, such as in the present studys setting, was not likely to have had much
impact on the subjects acquisition of the material as the studying habits, and hence
exposure, of each student diered both within and across groups, being based on the
individual. Additionally, none of the subjects were enrolled in other English courses

Table 1. Independent samples t-test results for subjects scores on the universitys general
English entrance exam.

Group statistics
N
Mean (%)
Standard deviation
Test statistics
t-value
df
2-tailed signicance score (p)

Control group

Experimental group

61
49.17
3.822

61
47.31
3.916
0.959
119.931
0.339

Downloaded by [Kyungpook National University] at 19:42 06 October 2014

Computer Assisted Language Learning 183

concurrently with the course used in the study, however, it should be noted that some
incidental exposure of the material cannot be entirely ruled out. A nal pair of
variables, both unique to the use of personal mobile devices such as the iPod Touch
are network speed and lack of learner experience in using such tools. Depending on
the network connection and number of simultaneous users, the access speed of webbased applications such as those used in the study might vary widely. This could
result in an overall reduction of time spent with the material in instances where the
applications were signicantly slowed down. In the present study, however, this was
not found to be a problem. Finally, a lack of familiarity with the use of devices like
the iPod Touch could also result in less actual study time of the material, but both
this factor and that of network speed can be considered as parts of the whole that
was examined; namely, does coursework done at ones own pace with a personal
mobile device, including all of the accompanying technological issues that that
implies, benet the acquisition of material over a teacher-directed method without
the use of said device or does it not?
Procedure
The present study was conducted over the course of one quarter, during which the
control and the experimental groups alternated between classes held in a standard
classroom and those held in one of the universitys CALL labs. The control and
experimental classes followed the same schedule, and the entire quarter consisted of
15 sessions. During the sessions that took place in the CALL lab, both groups
participated in task-based activities such as group presentations, conducting student
surveys and reporting on the results, and blog writing. During the sessions that took
place in the classroom, however, the control group was instructed as a group,
completing listening activities and exercises in the textbook in a more structured
fashion compared to the experimental group, while the experimental group was
loaned iPod Touch devices to use in a self-directed manner for the duration of the
class period, after which the devices were once again collected and stored by the
researchers. Both groups used the same course textbook, based on a four skills
approach, for the classroom sessions, but whereas all students in the control group
completed the textbook activities as directed by the instructor, those in the
experimental group were allowed to choose how they used the textbook as the iPodbased activities matched those in the textbook. (Headphones were also made
available to students to use for the listening activities if they did not have their own
set.) During the class sessions with the experimental group both researchers
suggested which units and activities to cover and also circulated the room to assist as
necessary. This approach further allowed the researchers to hold additional small
group discussions and/or give extra individual attention over that typically possible
in a group-oriented environment. The study content that the experimental group
used was hosted online and contained the same listening and multiple choice
activities as those in the textbook. Rather than working through the textbook in a
synchronous manner, such as the control group did, the experimental group were
recommended sections of the textbook-based mobile content to study during that
particular class period, and then allowed to do so at their own pace. While working
through the activities students in the experimental group were encouraged to write
down the answers in their textbooks for later review, although this was not required
of them. These iPod-based activities matched those of the textbook and consisted of

Downloaded by [Kyungpook National University] at 19:42 06 October 2014

184 A. Oberg and P. Daniels


reading, listening, matching, multiple choice, and T/F sections (see Figure 1). The
textbook, but not the iPod Touch content, also contained short writing activities,
though again those in the experimental group were only encouraged to do those
sections, but it was not required. Students in the experimental group were able to
repeat any of the activities as they saw t, could make use of the on-demand listening
available, and could also check correct answers for each item after completion. iPod
Touches were chosen as the medium for the self-paced portion of this study for the
following three reasons. First, the instructors can make greater use of the devices as
they are far more portable than the alternatives, e.g. instructors could easily load a
classroom set of iPod Touches onto a cart or even carry them by hand. Secondly, for
the nancial reasons that it is more feasible for an institution to obtain a set of iPod
Touches than to build a CALL lab or to purchase a large number of notebook
computers. Finally, the study was a pilot study conducted in a classroom, with a subaim being to explore the possibilities of taking such an approach out of the
classroom. (It should be noted, though, that one detriment iPod Touches have is
their limited Internet access, which can be guaranteed in a classroom equipped with
Wi-Fi but cannot be elsewhere. Purchasing a set of smart phones, which is a possible
alternative, would also carry a heavy nancial burden for an institution, however, as
the service charges would be high and ongoing.) After each full unit was completed,
be it via the textbook or online, the control and experimental groups took identical
four skills-based unit-specic paper tests drawn from the activities completed in
class; the tests used were part of the course curriculum and both groups took the
tests on specic testing days as opposed to immediately following a class session (see
Appendices 13). These tests were also given three times during the course on the
same dates to the dierent groups, and the subjects were not allowed to reference
either their textbooks or the iPods during the exams. The exam results were then
analysed using independent samples t-tests supported by non-parametric Mann
Whitney tests as the data were not normally distributed. Following the treatment
sessions, a brief Likert-scale survey was given to the experimental groups (see
Appendix 4). All of the survey questions and answer choices were given in the
students L1 to ensure that there were no issues of misunderstanding obstructing

Figure 1. Sample screen shots of the iPod Touch web-based applications: (left) text input,
(middle) a multiple choice activity and (right) a reading and listening activity.

Computer Assisted Language Learning 185

their responses, and the survey was also conducted during class time to allow the
researchers to provide further explanation where necessary.

Downloaded by [Kyungpook National University] at 19:42 06 October 2014

Results
Scores
Both the control group and the experimental group showed improvement in their
scores over the course of the three tests given. The mean scores for the control group
were 63.42%, 66.23% and 77.80%; those for the experimental group were 66.74%,
70.76% and 84.57%. A visual inspection of this distribution indicates that the
experimental group showed more acquisition of the material than the control group,
and indeed a signicant dierence did emerge (see Analysis section, below).
Responses to the post-study survey given to the experimental group revealed very
positive opinions about using the iPod Touch (see Appendix 4). Eighty three percent
reported that they thought the method was an eective way to study language, 78%
reported that it was more helpful than studying with only the textbook, and 83%
reported wanting to study with the iPod Touch again. On the questions regarding the
device itself, 81% reported that it was fairly easy to learn how to use and 85%
reported that studying with the device was overall a positive experience. Just 27% of
the subjects reported having used an iPod Touch before, yet nevertheless only a small
number of respondents reported that they had some diculty navigating the
applications (at 25%). On the questions related to self-paced study, 85% reported
that they felt it was productive, 64% reported that it was more eective than
studying at a set pace with their classmates and teacher, and 78% reported that they
would like to do more self-paced study in the future.
Analysis
No prediction was made as to which method was likely to be more advantageous,
and therefore independent samples two-tailed t-tests, supported by non-parametric
MannWhitney tests, were used in the analysis of the learners test data. (The nonparametric analysis was necessary as the data were not normally distributed in all
cases, showing negative skewing for both groups after the rst unit test, negative
skewing for the control group and positive for the experimental group following the
second unit test, and positive skewing for both groups following the third unit test.)
(Woods, Fletcher, & Hughes, 1986; see Tables 24, below). The alpha levels set for
each test were 0.05. On the t-test performed on the scores from the rst test the twotailed signicance score for equality of means is 0.203. The MannWhitney test
yielded a further two-tailed signicance score of 0.091, closer to the alpha level but
also still above it. Cohens d, showing the eect size of the comparison between the
two means, was calculated here at 0.234. (Note that for this eect size and all
following separate pooled standard deviations were used as the samples compared in
each case are independent.) At this point the null hypothesis, that there is no
signicant dierence between the control and experimental groups, cannot be
rejected.
The independent samples t-test performed on the data from the second of the
three tests gave a two-tailed signicance score for equality of means of 0.097, with
the supporting MannWhitney score at 0.122, and Cohens d for this data at 0.303.
Here again both signicance scores are above the alpha level and therefore the null

186 A. Oberg and P. Daniels


Table 2. Independent samples t-test and MannWhitney results for subjects scores on the
rst unit test.

Downloaded by [Kyungpook National University] at 19:42 06 October 2014

Group statistics
N
Mean (%)
Standard deviation

Control group

Experimental group

59
63.42
12.99

61
66.74
15.32

Test statistics
t-value
df
2-tailed signicance score (p)
MannWhitney (U)
MannWhitney (p)
Cohens eect size (d)

71.281
118
0.203
1478
0.091
0.234

Table 3. Independent samples t-test and MannWhitney results for subjects scores on the
second unit test.

Group statistics
N
Mean (%)
Standard deviation

Control group

Experimental group

61
66.23
14.77

61
70.76
15.17

Test statistics
t-value
df
2-tailed signicance score (p)
MannWhitney (U)
MannWhitney (p)
Cohens eect size (d)

71.671
119.914
0.097
1558.5
0.122
0.303

Table 4. Independent samples t-test and MannWhitney results for subjects scores on the
third unit test.

Group statistics
N
Mean (%)
Standard deviation
Test statistics
t-value
df
2-tailed signicance score (p)
MannWhitney (U)
MannWhitney (p)
Cohens eect size (d)

Control group

Experimental group

60
77.80
13.98

59
84.57
10.00
73.032
117
0.003
1256
0.006
0.557

Downloaded by [Kyungpook National University] at 19:42 06 October 2014

Computer Assisted Language Learning 187

hypothesis once more cannot be rejected. Nevertheless, overall movement towards


the alpha level is demonstrated in these scores taken together (despite the slight
movement away in the second MannWhitney score).
The independent samples t-test performed on the data from the nal test
produced a two-tailed signicance score for equality of means of 0.003, with the
MannWhitney two-tailed signicance score at 0.006, and Cohens d at 0.557. At this
point both signicance scores are below the alpha level of 0.05 and therefore a
signicant dierence between the two groups has emerged. The eect size also
considerably increased after the third test and indicates that on average the treatment
appears to have improved scores noticeably in the experimental group. Moreover,
the experimental groups standard deviation itself is also at its smallest here, at 10.00,
and well below those of the rst and second tests (at 15.32 and 15.17, respectively).
This signies a tighter grouping of the scores around the mean, which, as above, was
high at 84.57%.
An additional interesting feature of these results is the movement of the lower
and upper bounds of the 95% condence interval of the dierence gures, which
began at 8.469 and 1.816 on the rst t-test, shifted to 9.899 and 0.838 on the
second, and moved further to 711.187 and 72.348 on the third. The corridors
provided here range from 8.839 to 10.737, and therefore another group of subjects in
alternative conditions can be reasonably expected to produce scores within these
corridor ranges provided that their standard deviation is the same as the subjects
here. Relatively narrow corridors such as these grant a measure of condence in the
two-tailed signicance scores yielded.
Discussion of results and conclusion
Interpretation
In response to the original research question, it was found that the self-paced use of a
personal mobile device may have been advantageous for the acquisition of material
over a group-oriented approach. Statistical analysis revealed a signicant dierence
between the control and experimental groups following the third test, with the
experimental group scoring higher on each test (means of 66.74%, 70.76% and
84.57% versus 63.42%, 66.23% and 77.80% for the control group). This may
possibly be due to the fact that students in the experimental group using the iPod
Touch devices could revisit the material at will, without the need for an instructor,
and hence had the potential for much more repetition (and therefore stronger
retention) of the material during the 60 minutes every other class session when they
accessed the online content. Students in the experimental group were also able to
check their answers by themselves, and could access any study task multiple times,
two more factors that may have contributed to the higher scores demonstrated by
the experimental group. With the experimental group, the instructors circulated in
the classroom to assist students who had questions and to check whether learners
were completing the activities in the textbook. This approach may have had a
limitation in which it was not possible to record the exact number of times each
student accessed the hosted material, although it should be noted that data logging
techniques are also unreliable as students could simply click through menus or access
media rather than actively reading, listening to or utilizing the online content, thus
providing inaccurate log data. Since there are drawbacks with both approaches, the
researchers felt that in their classroom environments they were able to obtain more

188 A. Oberg and P. Daniels

Downloaded by [Kyungpook National University] at 19:42 06 October 2014

accurate measures of student usage of the online material through classroom


observation and textbook use rates. That the signicant dierence between the
groups did not emerge until after the third test may mean that some time is required
for the benets of the self-paced methodology using the personal mobile device to
become eective. However, as the post-study survey suggested, few students were
familiar with the device at the outset of the study, and therefore the same study done
with subjects already able to condently use an iPod Touch may produce an earlier
signicant dierence. Finally, the positive feedback from the experimental group
indicates that the subjects preferred studying in the manner described, which in turn
likely meant higher levels of personal motivation.
Future research
The ndings of the present study would benet from similar research done in the
future, particularly in ascertaining the eectiveness of self-paced instructional
methods using personal mobile devices other than mobile phones, on which the large
majority of research has been done heretofore (e.g. Dias, 2002; Kukulska-Hulme &
Shield, 2008; Stockwell, 2007, 2008, 2010; Thornton & Houser, 2002, 2005). Similar
research done on a longer scale would also help to verify the results reported in the
present study, as would research done with a wider variety of subjects. Finally, a
study lacking any blended learning elements, one that was purely a comparison of
self-paced and group-oriented methods, might also help support the current ndings.
Such a study, however, may be dicult to achieve outside of a clinical setting.
Limitations
The present study had its limitations, primarily in the duration of the treatment
sessions. A longer, perhaps semester or even year-long, study would likely yield more
reliable data. Moreover, since both the experimental and control groups shifted
between time spent in the CALL lab and standard classroom, the experimental
group did not participate in self-paced study in its purest sense. However, the study
done with the personal mobile device, the iPod Touch, was done in a self-paced
manner as described above (see Procedure section). As the unit tests used in the study
were part of the course curriculum and not uniform in structure, the validity of such
scores as interval data (necessary for the statistical analysis) could be questioned.
While laboratory-type assessment instruments may have high validity, they generally
are of limited use within authentic educational settings. The focus of this research is
to investigate the potential practical advantages of applying such a teaching
methodology, and to gauge whether higher outcomes could be achieved on syllabusbased evaluations (as opposed to conned laboratory-type tests) using this
alternative instructional approach. Additionally, a further problem arising from
the quasi-experimental setting was that the subjects could not be randomly divided
between the two groups and there were no reliable measures available to limit
exposure outside of the classroom. As both groups used the course textbook it is
possible that the experimental group may have simply studied more for the unit tests
than the control group, which could have aected their scores and hence the later
statistical analysis based on those scores. However, the issue of incidental/
uncontrollable exposure is common in non-laboratory studies. Finally, both groups
suered from unexpected absences of subjects, another uncontrollable aspect of the

Computer Assisted Language Learning 189

non-laboratory setting. The numbers of absences on test days were as follows: The
rst unit test had two students absent from the control group and none from the
experimental; the second unit test had no absences in both groups; and the third unit
test had one student absent from the control group and two from the experimental.

Downloaded by [Kyungpook National University] at 19:42 06 October 2014

Conclusion
In the research reported in this article a signicant dierence was found in the
acquisition of course material between a control group, where a group-oriented
instructional approach was employed, and an experimental group where a self-paced
approach using a personal mobile device was employed. The experimental method
made use of recent ndings on memory formation, issues related to CALL, selfpaced/blended learning, and the use of mobile devices. Moreover, subjects in the
experimental group reported positive opinions regarding both studying at their own
pace and studying with the iPod Touch. It is therefore argued here that a self-paced
and personal mobile device-based methodology may be advantageous over a grouporiented approach in certain settings. The methodology described above may be
particularly useful in situations where use of a CALL lab is either restricted or
unavailable, the instructor cannot be sure that all students will have smart phones
and be able to use them for online study activities, and Internet access can be
provided via a portable network or other device.
Notes on contributors
Andrew Oberg is an assistant professor at Surugadai University. His academic interests
include vocabulary learning, memory and neural change, and applying CALL methods to the
language classroom.
Paul Daniels is a professor at Kochi University of Technology and enthusiast of the
development and use of course management systems. His academic interests include CALL
applications to the classroom and ESP software development.

References
Ally, M. (2004). Using learning theories to design instruction for mobile learning devices. In J.
Attewell & C. Savill-Smith (Eds.), Mobile learning anytime everywhere: A book of papers
from MLEARN 2004 (pp. 58). London: LSDA.
Bahrick, H.P., Bahrick, L.E., Bahrick, A.S., & Bahrick, P.E. (1993). Maintenance of foreign
language vocabulary and the spacing eect. Psychological Science, 4, 316321.
Belland, J.C., Taylor, W.D., Canelos, J., Dwyer, F., & Baker, P. (1985). Is the self-paced
instructional program, via microcomputer-based instruction, the most eective method
of addressing individual learning dierences? Educational Technology Research and
Development, 33, 185198.
Bley-Vroman, R. (2002). Frequency in production, comprehension, and acquisition. Studies in
Second Language Acquisition, 24, 209213.
Burgess, L.A. (2003). WebCT as an e-learning tool: A study of technology students perceptions. Journal of Technology Education, 15(1), 615.
Cowan, N. (2000). The magical number 4 in short-term memory: A reconsideration of mental
storage capacity. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 24, 87114.
Dias, J. (2002). Cell phones in the classroom: Boon or bane? Calling Japan, 10, 1621.
Ellis, N.C. (1995). The psychology of foreign language vocabulary acquisition: Implications
for CALL. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 8, 103128.
Ellis, N.C. (2002). Frequency eects in language processing. Studies in Second Language
Acquisition, 24, 143188.

Downloaded by [Kyungpook National University] at 19:42 06 October 2014

190 A. Oberg and P. Daniels


Ellis, N., & Beaton, A. (1993). Factors aecting the learning of foreign language vocabulary:
Imagery keyword mediators and phonological short-term memory. The Quarterly Journal
of Experimental Psychology Section A, 46, 533558.
Ericsson, K.A., & Kintsch, W. (1994). Long-term working memory. Institute of Cognitive
Science Technical Report #94-01, University of Colorado at Boulder, 256.
Gass, S.M., & Mackey, A. (2002). Frequency eects and second language acquisition. Studies
in Second Language Acquisition, 24, 249260.
Gupta, P., & MacWhinney, B. (1997). Vocabulary acquisition and verbal short-term memory:
Computational and neural bases. Brain and Language, 59, 267333.
Henriksen, B. (1999). Three dimensions of vocabulary development. Studies in Second
Language Acquisition, 21, 303317.
Holliday, L. (1999). Theory and research: Input, interaction, and CALL. In J. Egbert & E.
Hanson-Smith (Eds.), CALL environments: Research, practice, and critical issues (pp. 181
188). Bloomington, IL: Pantagraph Printing.
Hulstijn, J.H. (2002). What does the impact of frequency tell us about the language acquisition
device? Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 24, 269273.
Kinzie, M.B. (1990). Requirements and benets of eective interactive instruction: Learner
control, self-regulation, and continuing motivation. Educational Technology Research and
Development, 38(1), 121.
Knowles, L. (2008). Mind blocks. Language, 7, 2834.
Kornell, N., & Bjork, R.A. (2007). The promise and perils of self-regulated study.
Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 14, 219224.
Kukulska-Hulme, A., & Shield, L. (2008). An overview of mobile assisted language learning:
From content delivery to supported collaboration and interaction. ReCALL, 20, 271289.
Lewis, M. (1993). The Lexical approach: The state of ELT and a way forward. London: Heinle,
Cengage Learning.
Mohseni-Far, M. (2008a). In search of the best technique for vocabulary acquisition. Estonian
Papers in Applied Linguistics, 4, 121138.
Mohseni-Far, M. (2008b). A cognitively-oriented encapsulation of strategies utilized for
lexical development: In search of a exible and highly interactive curriculum. Porta
Linguarum, 9, 3552.
Murphy, J.M. (1996). Integrating listening and reading instruction in EAP programs. English
for Specic Purposes, 15, 105120.
Nakata, T. (2008). English vocabulary learning with word lists, word cards, and computers:
Implications from cognitive psychology research for optimal spaced learning. ReCALL,
20(1), 320.
Nation, I.S.P. (2001). Learning vocabulary in another language. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Nation, P. (2005). Teaching vocabulary. Asian EFL Journal, 7, Article 4. Retrieved from
http://www.asian-e-journal.com/sept_05_pn.pdf.
Nikolova, O.R. (2002). Eects of students participation in authoring of multimedia materials on student acquisition of vocabulary. Language Learning & Technology, 6(1), 100122.
Papagno, C., & Vallar, G. (1992). Phonological short-term memory and the learning of novel
words: The eect of phonological similarity and item length. The Quarterly Journal of
Experimental Psychology Section A, 44(1), 4767.
Roschelle, J. (2003). Unlocking the learning value of wireless mobile devices. Journal of
Computer Assisted Learning, 19, 260272.
Rost, M. (1990). Listening in language learning. London: Longman, 150174.
Schmitt, N. (2000). Vocabulary in language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press.
Segler, T.M. (2002). Second language vocabulary acquisition and learning strategies in ICALL
environments. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 15, 409422.
Sharples, M. (2002). Disruptive devices: Mobile technology for conversational learning. International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life Long Learning, 12, 504520.
Sharples, M., Taylor, J., & Vavoula, G. (2010). A theory of learning for the mobile age. In B.
Bachmair (Ed.), Medienbildung in neuen Kulturraumen (pp. 8799). London: VS Verlag fur
Sozialwissenschaften.

Downloaded by [Kyungpook National University] at 19:42 06 October 2014

Computer Assisted Language Learning 191

Singh, H. (2003). Building eective blended learning programs. Educational Technology, 43,
5154.
Stockwell, G. (2007). Vocabulary on the move: Investigating an intelligent mobile phonebased vocabulary tutor. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 20, 365383.
Stockwell, G. (2008). Investigating learner preparedness for and usage patterns of mobile
learning. ReCALL, 20, 253170.
Stockwell, G. (2010). Using mobile phones for vocabulary activities: Examining the eect of
the platform. Language Learning & Technology, 14, 95110.
Tarone, E. (2002). Frequency eects, noticing, and creativity. Studies in Second Language
Acquisition, 24, 287296.
Thornton, P., & Houser, C. (2002). M-learning: Learning in transit. In P. Lewis (Ed.), The
changing face of CALL: A Japanese perspective (pp. 229243). the Netherlands: Swets &
Zeitlinger.
Thornton, P., & Houser, C. (2005). Using mobile phones in English education in Japan.
Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 21, 217228.
Wei, M. (2007). An examination of vocabulary learning of college-level learners of English in
China. Asian EFL Journal, 9, 93114.
Weil, N. (2008). Vocabulary size, background characteristics, and reading skill of Korean
intensive English students. Asian EFL Journal, 10, 2659.
Woods, A., Fletcher, P., & Hughes, A. (1986). Statistics in language studies. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.

192 A. Oberg and P. Daniels


Appendix 1.

First test during treatment sessions

Science English Unit 4 Test


Name: ____________________________ Student Number:___________________
Matching: Materials [Write the letter for the correct material under the object.]

Downloaded by [Kyungpook National University] at 19:42 06 October 2014

A. Metal

B. Ceramic

C. Polymer

D. Composite

E. Biomaterial

1. paper

2. wrench

3. eraser

4. glass
window

5. carbon
ber

Material:_______

Material:_______

Material:______

Material:______

Material:______

6. steel reinforced
concrete

7. magnet

8. elastic
band

9. leather belt

10. staples

Material:_______

Material:_______

Material:______

Material:______

Material:______

Computer Assisted Language Learning 193

Downloaded by [Kyungpook National University] at 19:42 06 October 2014

Listening
Most _______________ on earth can be grouped into 7 general categories. The rst group is
_______________. Some examples of metals are iron, _______________, and aluminum. The
second group of materials is ceramics. _______________ and _______________ are common
types of ceramics. The next group is semiconductors. _______________ is the most common
semiconductor and is used in all _______________ devices. The fourth group,
_______________, is the most _______________ material we see all around us. All types of
_______________ are made of polymers. Materials can be _______________ _______________
to make _______________. By mixing materials together, _______________ and
_______________ materials can be created. The sixth group of materials is called
_______________. All _______________ materials are in the biomaterials _______________.
Some common examples of biomaterials are _______________ and leather. The last group of
materials is called _______________ _______________. Scientists are now able to create new
materials which never existed _______________ using nanotechnology.

Appendix 2.

Second test during treatment sessions

Science English Unit 5 Test


Name: __________________________ Student Number:_____________________
Matching

Commands
Light
Lift

exible

disarm

attached

vacuum

climb

recognize
operate

hits
step over

clean
interact

decide
forward

move things
signals

1. The robot can move _______________ and backward.


2. The legs are made of aluminum so they are very _______________.
3. It has special _______________ feet so it can _______________ up walls.
4. The legs have many joints so they are _______________ and the robot can easily
_______________ objects.
5. You can also _______________ with this robot using spoken _______________.
6. It can _______________ over 100 voice commands.
7. There is a video camera _______________ to the robots head so that it can see which
direction to move.
8. The robot can also _______________ 100 kilograms.
9. If the robot is moving and _______________ something, it will stop automatically and then
_______________ the next direction to move.
10. The robot can be operated using wireless _______________.
11. The robot can also be used to help _______________ up radioactive waste in places that
are too dangerous for humans.
Listening
ROBUG is a _______________ robot that looks like a spider. It is 79 centimeters
_______________, 61 centimeters wide and 60 centimeters _______________. It has a
_______________ body and 1-meter long legs so it can _______________ _______________
large objects. It can also _______________ _______________ walls because it has vacuum feet.
It has eight _______________ and each leg has four _______________. The legs are

194 A. Oberg and P. Daniels


_______________ so it can walk on uneven _______________. It _______________ at a speed
of 6 meters _______________ minute. It is _______________ to an operator by a long
_______________. It can move _______________ that weigh _______________
_______________ 100 kilograms. Operators can _______________ video cameras that are
_______________ to ROBUG to work _______________ in dangerous places.
Writing

Downloaded by [Kyungpook National University] at 19:42 06 October 2014

Write a complete answer for each question using the information from the listening section.
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
(5)
(6)

What kind of robot is ROBUG?


How long are ROBUGs legs?
What can ROBUG do?
How big is ROBUG?
How fast is ROBUG?
How is ROBUG operated?

Appendix 3.

Third test during treatment sessions

Science English Unit 6 Test


Name: __________________________ Student Number:_____________________
HOW questions. Use all of the words below to make 4 questions about mobile phone
usage. You may use the same words more than once. You can also add new words.

Messages
Money
Times
Photos

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

How
How
How
How
How

do you

spend

each year

take
use
send

each day
each week
each month

often ___________________________________________________________?
many ___________________________________________________________?
much ___________________________________________________________?
many ___________________________________________________________?
many ___________________________________________________________?

Writing: Write answers to the questions. Write complete sentences.


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

How
How
How
How
How

often do you buy drinks from a vending machine?


much money do you spend for lunch each week?
many times do you use the bus or train each month?
many notebooks do you use each year?
much time do you spend studying each week?

Computer Assisted Language Learning 195

Downloaded by [Kyungpook National University] at 19:42 06 October 2014

Listening about Student Study Habits

Title A: Study Material

Title B: Study Time

Title C: Study Location

D. 12 hours a night
E. 34 hours a night
F. 56 hours a night

G. at home
H. at a coee shop
I. in the library

J. math
K. physics
L. languages

Appendix 4.

Experimental group survey

Survey items
1. Studying with an iPod Touch was an eective method to study
language
Strongly agree
Agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Disagree
Strongly disagree
2. Studying with an iPod Touch was more helpful than studying with only
the textbook
Strongly agree
Agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Disagree
Strongly disagree
3. I felt studying at my own pace was productive
Strongly agree
Agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Disagree
Strongly disagree

Responses (%)

26
57
9
5
3
37
41
17
3
2
41
44
12
2
2

4. Studying at my own pace is more eective than studying at a set pace


(continued)

196 A. Oberg and P. Daniels


Appendix 4.

(Continued).

Downloaded by [Kyungpook National University] at 19:42 06 October 2014

Survey items

Responses (%)

with my classmates and teacher


Strongly agree
Agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Disagree
Strongly disagree

32
32
31
4
2

5. I want to study English with an iPod Touch again


Strongly agree
Agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Disagree
Strongly disagree

33
50
10
3
3

6. I would like to do more self-paced study in the future


Strongly agree
Agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Disagree
Strongly disagree

30
48
18
2
3

7. I had some diculty navigating the applications when studying


Strongly agree
Agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Disagree
Strongly disagree

7
18
29
27
19

8. It was fairly easy to learn how to use the iPod Touch


Strongly agree
Agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Disagree
Strongly disagree

38
43
14
4
2

9. I have had experience using an iPhone or an iPod Touch before this


class
Strongly agree
Agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Disagree
Strongly disagree

16
11
5
16
52

10. Overall I felt that studying using the iPod Touch was a positive
experience
Strongly agree
Agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Disagree
Strongly disagree

50
35
12
2
2