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Affordances of digital technologies for autonomous language learning: a Q-methodological research

Karaoz, I. (2020) Affordances of digital technologies for autonomous language learning: a Q-methodological research. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00108502


Autonomous language learning, which can be defined as learners’ taking control of their language learning, has recently seen a growing interest both from researchers and practitioners. It has been suggested that autonomous language learning is more effective than learning non-autonomously. Therefore, there have been educational interventions with several technologies with the aim of promoting autonomous language learning, and it has been observed that technology can support autonomous language learning in many ways. However, most existing studies have generally focused on the effect of one specific technology and without a clear theory to explain the relationship between autonomous language learning and technology. The present research argued that preventing learners from choosing technologies freely is incongruent with one of the most important elements of autonomous language learning, which is the freedom to make choices. Therefore, in order to shed fresh light on the relationship between technology and autonomous language learning, the present study aimed to explore the affordances of digital technologies for autonomous language learning by adopting the tenets of the theory of affordances. In contrast to previous studies, this study conceptualized technology as a digital environment rather than as a device or tools system and explored this relationship through the lens of technologies which the students had already been using, thereby without limiting them into one single technology. It used Q methodology pursuant to the aim of providing a systematic analysis of the affordances of digital technologies for autonomous language learning. Within its bespoke data collection structure, twenty participants from an upper-secondary school in Norway were first interviewed with semi-structured interviews. In the second tier of data collection, data were collected from a different group of twenty-four participants with nominal group technique. After the analysis of data from first two tiers, a set of forty-five single statements were generated to be used in the third and last tier of the data collection. By online means, forty-two students were asked to sort and rank these statements (Q-sort) concerning the aim of research (i.e., the affordances of digital technologies for autonomous language learning). Findings suggest that digital technologies afford learners to find their own English learning resources; learn English in more natural ways; and learn English in a more systematic and organised way. In light of results, it can be argued that educational interventions with one specific technology restrict how autonomous language learning can manifest itself. It could also be suggested that learners need to be allowed more freedom to choose technologies if the hidden affordances in digital environments are to be realized and attended to for autonomous language learning.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Taggart, G. and Wong, B.
Thesis/Report Department:Institute of Education
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education
ID Code:108502

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