Research of On-Line Help as Learner Strategies for Multimedia ...

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Research of On-Line Help as Learner Strategies for Multimedia ...

Hsien-Chin Liou

Research of On-Line Help as Learner

Strategies for Multimedia

CALL Evaluation

ABSTRACT

Hsien-Chin Liou

National Tsing Hua University

Recently, language learning researchers have seemed to focus more on

process than product because process data are claimed to provide better

information for understanding language acquisition. Since research on

learners’ use of strategies is believed to shed light on learning processes, it

is attracting more and more researchers’ attention. On the other hand,

computer assisted language learning (CALL) researchers and courseware

developers have been much concerned with evaluation partly because of

the high cost of CALL, especially multimedia CALL, development. Empirical

data of learner strategies in CALL contexts are needed to disclose

what learners actually do when they use courseware and, perhaps more

important, what kind of learning actually occurs in CALL mediated contexts.

This paper first provides a short survey of learner strategy research,

strategy instruction, and the use of on-line help in multimedia materials. 1

Then, a study which was conducted as part of a formative evaluation study

on an interactive videodisc (IVD) program is discussed. The study investigated

(a) learners’ use of resource facilities (e.g., their use of scripts,

glossaries, and background information) in the IVD program and (b) their

reactions to the use of the resource facilities.

KEYWORDS

Learning strategies, multimedia, think aloud protocols, strategy instruction,

on-line help, computer log data

INTRODUCTION

Recently, those who study language learning seem to focus more on

language process than language product because process data are claimed

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Research of On-Line Help

to be able to provide better information for understanding language learning

than product data. Research on learners and their use of strategies are

attracting more and more researchers’ attention because the strategy perspective

is believed to be able to shed light on learning process (see, for

example, O’Malley and Chamot 1990 and Oxford 1990). On the other

hand, CALL researchers and courseware developers have been very much

concerned with the evaluation of CALL materials. In most cases, the cost

of CALL is substantially greater than that of human teachers, especially

for multimedia CALL which has become very popular nowadays. Although

several empirical studies have addressed the issues of learning strategies

in CALL contexts, data are still sorely needed to disclose how learners

actually use courseware. Perhaps more important, such data are very much

needed to uncover what kind of learning occurs in CALL mediated contexts.

For example, do learners actually do what programs ask them to

do? Do learners know how to use appropriate strategies in multimedia

CALL environments?

On-line help has long been a central feature in instructional media, especially

in multimedia programs because it provides immediate assistance

to learners during program use. On-line help can also provide evidence of

learners’ use of resourcing strategies, that is, the ways in which learners

use the on-line resources available to them during program use. How do

different learners use, and perceive the design of, various kinds of on-line

help facilities so typical in multimedia materials?

All the questions above can be approached by investigating learners’

use of strategies. In this paper, a short survey of learning strategies and

strategy training research in CALL contexts is presented. Then there follows

a discussion of a study which was conducted as part of the formative

evaluation of an IVD program to show how strategy research can help in

multimedia CALL evaluation.

CALL STRATEGY RESEARCH

Early research on learning strategies was focused on the documentation

of learners’ use of strategies and the identification of the strategies used at

different proficiency levels. Those who use effective strategies to cope

with language learning problems are called “good” or “effective” learners;

those who use ineffective strategies are called “poor” or “ineffective” learners.

Based on the findings of strategy research, good learners are believed

to be able to (a) ask questions, (b) make inferences, (c) use deduction, (d)

seek clarification, verification, and negotiation of meaning, (e) see the

target language as a system amenable to understanding through analysis

and reasoning, (f) use memory efficiently, (g) practice and self-evaluate in

order to achieve accuracy and fluency, (h) organize their learning efforts

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around preferred learning techniques, (i) choose, prioritize, and plan their

learning, (j) have a tolerant affective and empathic attitude toward native

speakers, (k) be active participants in the learning process (see O’Malley

and Chamot 1990; Oxford 1990; and Rees-Miller 1993).

Strategy research has had an impact on CALL as well. Several scholars

have examined what learners do when they use courseware and how they

interact with learning material in computer courseware (see Jamieson and

Chapelle 1987; Chapelle and Mizuno; Hsu, Chapelle and Thompson 1993;

Liou 1994a; Park 1994; Mikulecky, Clark and Adams 1989; and Chou

1992). To document the learner strategies used in a CALL context, Jamieson

and Chapelle (1987) investigated English as a Second Language (ESL)

learner behavior in using spelling and dictation material in PLATO IV by

operationalizing on-line behavior to reveal strategies of monitor input,

advance preparation, and monitor output. For example, advance preparation

strategies were inferred from the amount of time that elapsed between

the end of input and the time that students pressed the first key to

begin answering a given question. Jamieson and Chapelle found that all

strategies were used more often in more complex dictation tasks than in

simpler spelling tasks. They also collected data on two cognitive learning

styles, reflection/impulsivity and field independence/dependence. The field

independent subjects were found to use more advance preparation and

output monitoring strategies. Advance preparation was also related to

impulsivity/reflection. The researchers further incorporated cognitive learning

styles into strategy research which disclosed an important individual

differences.

In another study, Chapelle and Mizuno (1989) investigated ESL students’

use of strategies in learner-controlled grammar courseware. They

investigated two cognitive strategies (resourcing and practice) and three

metacognitive strategies (self-monitoring, self-management, and self-evaluation).

Strategy use was operationalized in a manner similar to that of

Jamieson and Chapelle. Results indicated that some students did in fact

use various on-line strategies but not always the optimal strategies. No

significant differences were found between groups of learners at different

proficiency levels. Chapelle and Mizuno suggested that the type of data

collected in the study was essential for understanding second language

acquisition and for developing intelligent courseware sensitive to students’

needs. Using the same grammar material, Hsu, Chapelle, and Thompson

(1993) analyzed learner’s use of exploring, experimenting, and hypothesis-testing

strategies. Their results indicated that learners explored CALL

environments in routine ways but failed to explore the morphosyntactic

possibilities included in the grammar courseware. As for learner group

differences, routine exploration was positively correlated with attitudes of

intermediate learners but negatively correlated with those of advanced

learners. In these studies, both of which covered traditional grammar

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courseware, optimal strategies clearly converged, and learners’ attitudes

were incorporated into the researchers’ agendas.

Using a hypertext reading program, Liou (1994a) investigated reading

strategies (including dictionary use strategies) employed by three groups

of EFL learners at different proficiency levels. The subjects were asked to

read a hypertext article glossed by the Longman bilingual English-Chinese

dictionary. A re-reading local text strategy was found to differentiate the

three groups of learners, but pre-reading, globally re-reading, and reading

aloud strategies did not. Interestingly, two ineffective word consultation

strategies were documented: disregarding key words in text and choosing

incorrect word senses among the multiple dictionary entries. Good learners

were found to skip over some key words and not to look them up in

the dictionary. In an ongoing study using ELLIS, Park (1994) has inquired

into which metacognitive strategies learners use and to what extent they

use them to acquire in-depth and independent learning practices in interactive

multimedia environments.

CALL STRATEGIES INSTRUCTION RESEARCH

As more and more research findings uncover the ways in which different

language learners use strategies, some scholars assert that general learning

gains may be achieved by transferring effective learner strategies (those

used by good learners) to weak learners. This notion has also been applied

in CALL contexts. In a study on learning strategies used by college students

in their native language, Mikulecky, Clark, and Adams (1989) found

that the reading strategy training designed into their computer program

was effective and that these strategies were transferable to new material.

In an EFL context, Chou (1992) investigated the effects of four kinds of

on-line help in a hypertext reading program: text only (no help), text with

on-line vocabulary help, text with on-line sentence structural analysis, and

text with strategy help (skimming, organizing, following guidelines to paragraphs,

and using supplementary information). He then randomly divided

39 high school students into four groups, each of which used one of the

four versions of the reading program. Chou found that the different types

of help did not make a difference in reading comprehension scores among

the groups of subjects, but his questionnaire data showed that subjects

used the vocabulary help the most frequently and thought that it was the

most useful.

Meskill (1991) implemented strategy training in a multimedia CALL

conversation lesson. Thirty-four ESL college students were asked to use

an interactive videodisc lesson with six types of messages advising strategy

use: rehearse, monitor, repeat, plan, associate, and use resources. A

second version of the same lesson did not include any strategy advice.

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Subjects were randomly assigned to groups and used one of the versions

of the lesson. On-line collection devices and off-line interview methods

were used to collect process data. Results showed that most of the subjects

read the advice messages and followed them. However, no significant

differences were found between the advice and the non-advice groups

for learning gains, time on task, or the amount of material accessed. This

study again confirms that learners vary in the appropriate use of individual

strategies: good learners (with higher language proficiency) know

what to do, but weak learners need direct guidance.

From the literature review above, we can see that the use of strategies

by good and poor learners were a research focus because effective strategies

are believed to be transferable to weak learners. Second, resourcing

strategies in CALL contexts proved to be important because on-line help

offers an inherent advantage in CALL programs. In addition, strategy training

in IVD material seems feasible, as Meskill (1991) has demonstrated.

Multimedia language materials have become very popular, but research is

sorely needed to show their effectiveness. Specifically, the effect of on-line

help on learners, such as that revealed by research in traditional CALL

courseware, requires further research.

RESEARCH ON USE OF ON-LINE HELP IN CALL MATERIALS

On-line help plays a role of fundamental importance in the design of

electronic instructional media because it provides immediate assistance to

learners during the learning process. It can also provide evidence of learners’

use of resourcing strategies. According to Chapelle and Mizuno (1989,

28-29), resourcing strategies are “Students’ requests for help are evidence

of their use of resourcing, use of target language reference materials.”

Oxford (1990, 81) defined resourcing strategies as “[u]sing resources for

receiving and sending messages. This strategy involves using resources to

find out the meaning of what is heard or read in the new language, or to

produce messages in the new language.” Although several studies have

presented some initial data (see the review of Chou [1992] above, the

meager empirical evidence currently available means that the questions of

whether on-line help is useful, how often learners tend to use it, and what

kind of help is crucial for particular types of tasks still remain unclear.

On a French writing task, Bland et al. (1990) analyzed subjects’ requests

for on-line glossary help and documented the types of help received

by the subjects as evidence of learners’ language development. They identified

three types of help requests: (a) token matching for complex morphological,

phrase, and grammatical queries, (b) type matching for base

form and grammatical relationship searches, and (c) relexicalization [using

first language or the second language paths) for syntactic or semantic

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circumlocution. Gildea, Miller, and Wurtenberg (1990) launched a series

of experiments to investigate how contextual enrichment in IVD material

helped native language vocabulary learning in preschool children. Their

findings indicated that (a) children knew when to initiate look-up but not

what information to ask for, (b) the kinds of helpful contexts for learning

were not additive, (c) children who sought help in the form of illustrative

sentences outperformed all others on multiple-choice tests, (d) definitions

added very little and actually detracted from performance over time, and

(e) pictures significantly improved sentence production for many words.

Liou (1994a) showed that learners used glossary help to assist reading

comprehension but did not seem to use optimal look-up strategies.

The dual mode of presenting video and audio delivery in IVD programs

creates an authentic context for target language input. Further, Secules et

al (1992) suggested that teacher-mediated instruction with video can promote

better listening comprehension than traditional classroom exercises

and drills. Among interactive video materials, the most frequently available

kind of help is text (or closed captions) which accompanies the video.

The following two studies address the role played by subtitles in non-

CALL video presentation. Danan (1992) found that textual reinforcement

has its place in video instruction; reverse subtitling (L1 subtitles with L2

audio) was the most helpful for recall of vocabulary, and bimodal input

(L2 subtitles and L2 audio) also proved to be beneficial. Vanderplank

(1988) analyzed students’ reactions to standard subtitles and found that

they reduced anxiety in class and released otherwise occupied cognitive

capacity for language processing. Comparing the effect of subtitles on learners

of different proficiency levels, Vanderplank also found that subtitles

were less useful for low-level learners than for intermediate learners. Hsu

(1994) showed that text reinforcement type modifications in the ELLIS

CD-ROM English listening material were most effective for learner improvement

in comprehension, oral repetition help being the second most

effective. Dictionary help was found to be ineffective because the subjects

were at a very beginning level and could not make good use of this kind of

complex on-line help. Li (1994) investigated whether active or passive

on-line help was beneficial and found that learners of French needed active

guidance in using CALL material.

Although these studies provide initial understanding of how learners

use CALL materials, more data are required to determine how students

use new generation multimedia courseware and what kinds of courseware

features are conducive to language learning. Towards this end, capturing

what learners do with help features by means of computer logs is a very

useful way to collect learner data, data which can also yield valuable evidence

for multimedia evaluation.

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THE STUDY

Hsien-Chin Liou

The following study examines learners’ use of strategies in IVD material

designed to strengthen listening comprehension skills. The IVD courseware

was developed and evaluated in a research project undertaken by the author

(see Liou 1994b). The study represents one of a series of empirical

studies with an emphasis on learners’ use of on-line help. The data that

show what learners actually did with on-line resources will be compared

to how useful they perceived the courseware to be.

Twenty EFL college students at the National Tsing Hua University in

Taiwan, ROC, participated in the project. Before the students were admitted

to the university, they had completed six years of required English

language instruction in high school. The primary criterion for subject recruitment

in the project was students’ listening proficiency, which was

based on scores of the listening section of a version of the TOEFL, direct

observation of the students’ abilities, and records from instructors of various

courses. Ten first-year “ineffective” learners and ten second-year “effective”

learners were selected for the project.

The material used in the project was a self-paced interactive video unit.

Two functions to control the videodisc player (pause and rewind) and

eight types of on-line help (a Chinese script, an English script, gist, background

information, idiom search, word search, repetition of the current

sentence, and repetition of the previous sentence) had been designed into

the program. The gist help screen provided a summary of the video content,

the background information help screen provided information necessary

to understand the video, and the idiom and word search functions

provided automatic look-up facilities for unknown words or expressions.

Of the eight types of help, the first six were textual, and the last two were

audio. The design of the courseware reflected the negotiated interaction

model proposed by Long (1980 and 1985) and Doughty (1991). This

model postulates that language acquisition can occur through comprehensible

input which is facilitated by negotiated interaction between interlocutors.

As a delivery system, IVD programs can create an environment

in which negotiated interaction can be achieved by means of communication

between the computer and the learner.

To assess listening comprehension and to elicit introspective self-report

data while learners used the program, 54 comprehension questions were

displayed at appropriate points during the playing of the video. Subjects

were asked to think aloud in Chinese and answer questions such as “What

are you thinking?” “What don’t you understand?” “How did you know the

answer?” (see Cohen and Hosenfeld 1981). The think aloud protocols

were recorded and then transcribed.

The program’s tracker records students’ names and ID numbers, their

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start time, and their use of the program such as frequency of access to

specific on-line help devices. The tracker also records the starting frame

number and ending number of videodisc segments, which permits the identification

of the portion of the video viewed by students when they seek

textual help. These data can be used to infer strategies of request for clarification

or confirmation as described in the negotiated interaction model.

After the students finished the program, they were asked to complete a

questionnaire to elicit their attitudes towards the material.

The research questions addressed in this study include

1. Do subjects use the video controller functions and on-line help? If

so, what kinds of functions and help do they use?

2. How frequently do subjects use particular functions or help?

3. How much time do subjects spend in completing tasks (e.g., understanding

the video, thinking aloud, and answering comprehension

questions)?

4. How do subjects at different proficiency levels vary in their use of

specific help devices, their frequency of use, and time on task?

5. How do subjects at different proficiency levels use strategies to cope

with video comprehension tasks?

6. What are the subjects’ attitudes towards the design of the courseware?

The data used to investigate these questions were computer files logged

by the program, recorded think aloud protocols, and written questionnaire

data. The standard record in the computer file contains 13 fields for

each subject (see fig. 1).

==================================================

ID NUMBER = 821201

NAME = Sherry

DATE = Thu Dec 02 1993

END_FRAME = 21688

PAUSE = 6789 12099

BACKWARD = (6824-6700)(11866-11798)(19339-18876)

CHINESE = (7890--ON)(12980--OFF)

ENGLISH = (5498--ON)(6588--OFF)(12390--ON)

GIST = 19058 19558

BACK_INFO = 19058

REPEAT = 19058 19058 19588 19588

P_SENT = 19058 19588

WORDS = (19058--ectoplasmic)

==================================================

Fig. 1. Standard Record in the Computer file

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Hsien-Chin Liou

The video frame numbers were later recoded as logical units corresponding

to the comprehension questions, that is, a total of 54 logical units.

Since the subject described in fig. 1 finished at frame number 21,688, we

could check the recoded data and determine that the student quit after

she finished question number 28. In addition, the student paused twice

(at frame numbers 6,789 and 12,099), rewound the video three times

(from frame number 6,824 to 6,700; from 11,866 to 11,799; and from

19,339 to 18,876). At frame number 7,890, she asked for the Chinese

script help and then turned this help device off at frame 12,980. She also

asked for English help at different points and left that help device on from

frame number 12,390 to the end of the video segment. She requested gist

help twice (at 19,058 and 19,588). She was apparently stuck by the word

“ectoplasmic” as indicated by the checked word, two repetitions of the

sentence, and a single repetition of the previous utterance. Finally, she

used the two kinds of repetition help, Repeat and P_sent, at frame number

19,588. Word and Idiom searches were saved in the WORDS field.

Descriptive statistical methods were used to analyze the amount of time

that subjects spent on task, the kinds of help they requested, and their

listening comprehension scores. Independent T-test and correlation procedures

were used to compare frequency of strategy use between the two

groups of subjects. For unknown reasons, the records of one of the effective

learners’ on-line records of performance were incomplete, and some

data for this student were not included in the analysis. The members of

the “effective” group completed a total of 397 comprehension questions,

whereas the members of the “ineffective” group completed a total of 294

questions. The types and frequency of help requested by the students are

summarized in table 1.

Table 1. Sums and Means Help Frequency (percentage) and Types of Help

(Raw Numbers)

Help type Effective Group Ineffective Group

Pause 2 2

Replay 51 103

Chinese script 41 40

English script 54 96

Gist 10 7

Background knowledge 5 3

Repetition 8 13

repetition/p-sent 9 12

word search 8 10

Sum 188 286

Mean .47 .98

Notes: sum = total frequency of help requested by that group; mean =

total frequency of help (sum divided by number of questions answered

within that group

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Research of On-Line Help

As it turns out, subjects searched for meanings of unknown words only

after they requested the English script help. This strategy makes sense

because if students did not know the meaning of an acoustic form, they

could rarely spell the word out. Overall, the “effective” learners requested

less than half the help that the “ineffective” learners requested (.47 versus

.98). The analysis also indicates that the members of the ineffective group

used one type of on-line help almost exclusively for each comprehension

question. Not surprisingly, the members of the effective group, being more

proficient learners, needed less help and requested much less on-line help.

The video controller rewind function, the English script help, and the

Chinese script help were used the most frequently. The standardized frequency

mean (the number of requests for help divided by total numbers

of questions answered by each subject) between the two groups were compared

using an independent T-test. The results of this analysis are shown

in table 2.

Table 2. Comparison of Types of Help Requests (N = 20)

Help type Mean help S.D. Degrees of t-value

requests per freedom

question

Reverse Function

ineffective group 0.36 0.23 18 2.21*

effective group 0.15 0.21

Chinese script

ineffective group 0.14 0.23 18 0.16**

effective group 0.12 0.24

English script

ineffective group 0.34 0.38 18 1.54**

effective group 0.13 0.22

*p ≤ .05

**not significant

Only the difference in the means of the use of the rewind function between

the two subject groups was significant. This result suggests that use

of the strategy for requesting for video clarification and verification, but

not the strategy for requesting textual reinforcement, was significantly

different between the types of learners. These results corroborate Hsu’s

1994 study in which he examined beginning ESL adult learners’ use of a

CD-ROM program and found that replaying English speech was used the

most often, with textual reinforcement being the second most frequently

used help.

In Chapelle and Mizuno’s study, the data reported on time spent on task

and the number of sentences completed were considered formal practice

by learners in the grammar CALL lesson. However, since our IVD lesson

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Hsien-Chin Liou

was not intended to strengthen formal skills, students’ use of the lesson’s

features may well be considered functional practice strategy, that is, finding

opportunities to use the language in communicative situations (see

Bialystok 1981).

A successful CALL lesson should engage students in a sufficient number

of transactions. The data in table 3 show the time subjects spent on

task and their listening comprehension scores. The comprehension scores

represent the percentage of correctly answered questions during the think

aloud protocols.

Table 3. Means of Time on Task and Listening Comprehension Scores

Group Comprehension score Time on Task

(percentage) (minutes)

ineffective group (N = 10)

Mean 67.43 61.10

S.D. 13.82 11.14

effective group (N = 9)

Mean 74.03 52.10

S.D. 12.39 7.34

Both groups took about one hour to finish the assigned tasks. T-test procedures

showed no significant differences between the groups’ time on

task or comprehension scores.

To examine the extent to which frequency of use of the help devices

correlated with comprehension scores, correlation analyses were conducted.

The correlation analysis did not show significant differences in either group

(-.566 for the ineffective group and 0.137 for the effective group), which

means that the frequency of students’ use of the help devices did not have

an impact on their understanding of the video.

We also computed the average frequency for all on-line help (mean of

0.24, S.D. of 0.12). We then defined maximal strategy users as those whose

frequency of help use was at least one standard deviation above the mean,

and minimal strategy users as those whose frequency of help was at least

one standard deviation below the mean. To see how the maximal strategy

users performed differently from the minimal strategy users, an independent

t-test was conducted between the two groups. The results of this

analysis are shown in table 4.

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Table 4. Comparison of Comprehension Scores between Minimal and

Maximal Strategy Users

Group Mean comprehension S.D. t-value

scores

Minimal strategy users 72.22 12.38 1.02*

(N = 6)

Maximal strategy users 61.35 21.68

(N = 4)

*not significant

No significant difference was found between the maximal strategy users

and the minimal strategy users. It should be noted that the number of

subjects was too small to show significance in the statistical analysis. It is

also likely that the quantity of use of resourcing strategies did not account

for performance differences.

Qualitative analyses of the think aloud transcripts were helpful in identifying

and classifying strategies more clearly. The results of the comparison

between effective and ineffective learners are summarized in fig 2.

Effective learners

I. during the meaning getting process

1. attend to and understand larger linguistic units and understand

the meaning of utterances more correctly;

2. attend to more audio and visual clues at the same time;

3. use various strategies more flexibly (different kinds of strategies

simultaneously;

4. use both personal experience and linguistic context to determine

the meaning of utterances;

5. understand the framework of the story;

II. during the meaning elaborating process

1. use organizational devices to synthesize new and old information;

2. think aloud systematically;

III. other strategies

1. use replay of video less frequently;

2. be more confident about the task.

Fig. 2. Summary of Effective Listening Strategies

These findings are similar to those reported by Bacon’s 1992 study on

American learners of Spanish as a foreign language. It is possible that

both Chinese and American foreign language learners at this level use

similar strategies to cope with listening problems, but more evidence is

required to support firm conclusions.

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Results of the questionnaire data are shown in table 5.

Hsien-Chin Liou

Table 5. Summary of Questionnaire Data

Students’ Attitudes towards the Design of the Program

Question item Positive Neutral Negative

1 65% 34% 1%

2 70% 30% 0%

3 30% 55% 15%

4 25% 75% 0%

5 80% 20% 0%

6 70% 30% 0%

7 64% 32% 4%

Of the seven question items, the ones which did not receive positive responses

were numbers 3 and 4. Number 3 refers to the wording used in

gist and background information help screens, and number 4 refers to the

design of the feedback message. Students seemed to find the wording in

gist and background information difficult and therefore not especially useful.

Based on students’ responses to the questionnaire item, we plan to

revise these sections later. The only feedback message included in the lesson

was a response generated when the dictionary did not list a word

students needed. For the other items, most of the subjects replied quite

positively. Students’ responses to items 5 and 6 show that they felt the

courseware was effective and interesting. We used a correlation analysis

to compare students’ use of on-line help and their attitudes towards the

design of the program. The variables in this analysis were the responses to

the relevant questionnaire items (numbers 1, 2, and 5) and the mean frequency

of on-line help requests per question (the number of requests divided

by the number of comprehension questions answered by each subject).

No significant correlations were found; .012 for the ineffective group,

.098 for the effective group, and. 078 for all students combined. For the

subjects in this study, the use of on-line help had no relationship with their

attitudes toward the program.

CONCLUSION

The results of this study suggest that effective and ineffective learners

use similar types of help and frequency of help but different amounts of

help. As for time on task and comprehension of the video, effective and

ineffective learners do not vary greatly from each other. Qualitative analyses

show that effective and ineffective learners do in fact use learning

strategies differently. Finally, based on students’ responses to the questionnaire

items, they generally felt positive about the design of the

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courseware.

Some implications can be drawn from this study. As an innovative instructional

delivery system, multimedia may be augmented with many features

from the courseware developer’s perspective, and we may speculate

as to what may be helpful. Yet, based on the findings in the study, some of

the help features are seldom used. We are curious whether learners really

use optimal learning strategies or whether CALL developers implement

more help than is needed. If the former is true, strategy instruction should

be implemented in the courseware; if the latter is true, developers may

wish to concentrate on other, more important design features.

Future research may refer to an intelligent help concept developed by

Sussex (1992), who suggested ways to develop students’ metacognitive

strategies. Liou (1995) examined this issue using another version of the

same multimedia-assisted language learning system but did not find a

measurable instructional effect. Clearly, more research is needed before

conclusive answers and optimal multimedia design features can be identified.

NOTE

1 Earlier versions of the paper were presented at the TESOL Summer Meeting,

13-17 July 1994, at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, and at Japanese

Association for Language Teachers Conference, 7-10 October 1994, at Matsuyama.

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AUTHOR’S BIODATA

Hsien-Chin Liou, Professor of Foreign Languages and Literature at National

Tsing Hua University, Taiwan, R.O.C., has conducted research and

courseware development in multimedia materials design, CALL and writing

instruction, and intelligent CALL. She has published in the CALICO

Journal, System, and the CÆLL Journal.

AUTHOR’S ADDRESS

Foreign Languages and Literature

National Tsing Hua University

101 Sec 2, Kuang Fu Road

Hsinchu, Taiwan 30043

Republic of China

Phone: 886-35-715131 ext. 4405

Fax: 886-35-718977

E-mail: HCLIU@FL.NTHU.EDU.TW

96 CALICO Journal

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