Professional development and technology in second language learning : do best practices work?

Stanley, Iain Anthony (2012) Professional development and technology in second language learning : do best practices work? Professional Doctorate thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This study was undertaken to examine the influence that a set of Professional Development (PD) initiatives had on faculty use of Moodle, a well known Course Management System. The context of the study was a private language university just outside Tokyo, Japan. Specifically, it aimed to identify the way in which the PD initiatives adhered to professional development best practice criteria; how faculty members perceived the PD initiatives; what impact the PD initiatives had on faculty use of Moodle; and other variables that may have influenced faculty in their use of Moodle.

The study utilised a mixed methods approach. Participants in the study were 42 teachers who worked at the university in the academic year 2008/9. The online survey consisted of 115 items, factored into 10 constructs. Data was collected through an online survey, semi-structured face-to-face interviews, post-workshop surveys, and a collection of textual artefacts. The quantitative data were analysed in SPSS, using descriptive statistics, Spearman's Rank Order correlation tests and a Kruskal-Wallis means test. The qualitative data was used to develop and expand findings and ideas.

The results indicated that the PD initiatives adhered closely to criteria posited in technology-related professional development best practice criteria. Further, results from the online survey, post workshop surveys, and follow up face-to-face interviews indicated that while the PD initiatives that were implemented were positively perceived by faculty, they did not have the anticipated impact on Moodle use among faculty. Further results indicated that other variables, such as perceptions of Moodle, and institutional issues, had a considerable influence on Moodle use.

The findings of the study further strengthened the idea that the five variables Everett Rogers lists in his Diffusion of Innovations model, including perceived attributes of an innovation; type of innovation decision; communication channels; nature of the social system; extent of change agents' promotion efforts, most influence the adoption of an innovation. However, the results also indicated that some of the variables in Rogers' DOI seem to have more of an influence than others, particularly the perceived attributes of an innovation variable. In addition, the findings of the study could serve to inform universities that have Course Management Systems (CMS), such as Moodle, about how to utilise them most efficiently and effectively. The findings could also help to inform universities about how to help faculty members acquire the skills necessary to incorporate CMSs into curricula and teaching practice.

A limitation of this study was the use of a non-randomised sample, which could appear to have limited the generalisations of the findings to this particular Japanese context.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 63477
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Supervisor: Woodman, Karen & Neilsen, Roderick
Keywords: computer assisted language learning, course management system, diffusion of innovations, Everett Rogers, english language teaching, moodle, professional development, teacher education, teaching english to students of other languages (TESOL), technology
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 17 Oct 2013 06:20
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2015 04:11

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