Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Ideas on methods or instruments for CLIL and MOOC learning?

Help and thoughts welcomed. While planning a small research which combines Content and Language Integrated Learning or CLIL, MOOC and lifelong learning options, I am calling out for any help that you might be able to offer in terms of suggesting methods, pointing towards useful research instruments (either as they stand or to build on) or simply helping with the project (either this one, or setting up parallel project and that we share experiences).

An abstract and overview of the theoretical ideas behind this project can be read here:

This call for help comes after some work has been done, so feel free to read up where I and my colleagues from the secondary school GUSCO school in Kortrijk, Belgium are at.

Challenge and brainstorm to plan research and build research instrument(s) to be used by 15 – 16 year old secondary students to measure whether or not their language and online learning skills (in terms of self-esteem and motivation) have increased by using a teacher/classroom supported step-by-step approach where the teachers gradually step back to increase the students autonomous learning skills and competencies.

This is a small, exploratory study and as such I expect to have between 10 - 15 students volunteering (with informed consent of all parties: school, parents, students) for this research.

Potential central research question:
How does the CLIL MOOC project influence the learning readiness of secondary students voluntarily engaged in online learning courses which are delivered in a non-native language.
Or in  more hypothesis kind of formulation:
The participation of students in a CLIL MOOC project increases their language and online learning skills.

The CLIL MOOC project has three potential learning pillars:
1.       Language skills: learning or enhancing communication skills in a foreign language
2.       Increasing digital literacy: critical thinking, conscious use of educational technology and increased interaction in a foreign language (good paper on multiple literacies https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Maria_Pinto12/publication/249750716_Thirty_years_of_information_literacy_%281977--2007%29_A_terminological_conceptual_and_statistical_analysis/links/0f31753a074649c07e000000.pdf and a critical note on literacies http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/fss/organisations/netlc/past/nlc2012/abstracts/pdf/gourlay.pdf )
3.       Lifelong learning skills: learning to learn more autonomously in view of personal learning interests

There are several challenges:
  • Whether or not these three pillars can be measured amidst other learning advances (to keep out indirect influences, e.g. learning skills coming from other courses)
  • The meta-cognitive level of the students: whether any instrument can be made that uses the right language for the processes the students can identify (any instrument used must be transparent in terms of concepts and vocabulary used)
  • Keeping the surveys limited while having all these areas to monitor
  • 10 – 15 students hardly make up a representative quantitative target population, it can be enough for a study with a main focus on qualitative methods (this means combining quantitative with qualitative, where the qualitative elements clarify the potential indicators provided by the quantitative results)
  • Building on previous learn-to-learn instruments that focus on self-regulated or/and self-directed learning (this is a new combination of factors, but still any research instrument used might be linked to previous research projects)

 Existing instruments related to self-directed/regulated learning. Four options:
  1. Use the self-directed readiness test pre- and post-course to see whether this has changed over the academic year (key researcher Guglielmino, see background here http://www.lpasdlrs.com/ and nursing training example implementation here https://www.researchgate.net/publication/11788963_Development_of_self-directed_learning_readiness_scale_for_nursing_education )
  2. Use the self-regulated learning opportunities questionnaire: to see whether the students can identify learning, and how it fits their own self-esteem and motivation. The Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (key researcher Pintrich, see here for overview and manual http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED338122.pdf )
  3. Use a mix of the self-directed readiness test and the self-regulated learning opportunities questionnaire (with focus of the latter on self-esteem and motivation, as these are key lifelong learning skills), add language-related indicators - at the moment this is my favorite
  4. Build a new instrument from scratch, combining both language and MOOC skills, as well as learning to learn options.

It might of course also be a mix of self-regulated and self-directed instruments, provided to the students on different moments during the academic year. The SDL test pre and post, the SRL on 3 occasions, after each term but without meddling with the exam periods.

Question: which methodology would be best?
Attention for: limited class time, not to be too intrusive.
In view of the size of the target population, and the fact that this is a new combination of fields, I am thinking of using a mixed methodology, where attention is paid to choosing methods that are not too intrusive (as this might be difficult to combine with teachers as well as students).
Option in consideration:
Action research: The basic action research procedural routine involves four stages: (1) identifying the research question(s), (2) gathering the information to answer the question(s), (3) analyzing and interpreting the information, and (4) sharing the results with the participants. Action research follows a kind of spiralling progression, rather than the more traditional linear one (see p. 180 https://mthoyibi.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/qualitative-research-methods-for-the-social-sciences__bruce-l-berg-2001.pdf )

So any ideas are welcomed, you can either mail me or tweet (@ignatia) or connect through comments... 
We will go live with this project on the 1 September, so a nice solid deadline for the actual project and I hope by then I will have my instruments and documents ready (I will).