A conceptual framework for situated task analysis within the context of Computer-Assisted Language Learning system design
AffiliationDepartment of Computer Science and Software Engineering
MetadataShow full item record
Document TypePhD thesis
CitationFarmer, R. (2007). A conceptual framework for situated task analysis within the context of Computer-Assisted Language Learning system design. PhD thesis, Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, The University of Melbourne.
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© 2007 Dr. Rod Farmer
This thesis examines the role of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) task analysis within the context of Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) system design. It recognises and critically examines several carrefours that differentiate cognitive from sociocultural task analysis theories in Second Language Acquisition and Human-Computer Interaction. A study into the role of multimodal interaction and second language (L2) vocabulary acquisition revealed the need for an integrative approach to examining learner-computer interaction. In response, a conceptual, situated task analysis framework was developed that promotes (1) a common unit of analysis for principled theoretical investigation and methodological selection; and (2) a formative task analysis framework which considers both software engineering and human-computer interaction practices within CALL system design. Understanding the extant relationships between learner, theory and practice has become increasingly important in light of recent criticisms of CALL software quality, and its influence on learning outcomes. To further develop our understanding of the role of HCI and Software Engineering in CALL, an empirical exploratory study was undertaken. The design of the study was influenced by research concerning (1) cognitive complexity and language learning; (2) social perspectives on learner-computer interaction; and (3) the intersection between system design, quality, and learner-computer interaction. Computer-mediated activity in language learning environments can be categorised as a highly social process through its dependency upon a number of sociocultural and environmental contraints. As such, learner-computer interaction is likely to be highly fluid and dynamic. The distinction between static and dynamic environments is a critical determinant when selecting a particular HCI task analysis strategy. To evaluate competing task analysis approaches, a small qualitative study was established that considered the role of multimodal interaction in L2 vocabulary acquisition. Emerging trends from this study served to elucidate the appropriateness of existing HCI theories and their units of analysis within the context of CALL system design. Participants for this study were selected from an undergraduate Computer Science degree at a major Australian university. Participants had little to no prior knowledge of the L2 used in the study. Participants conducted three sessions with a multimodal speech-enabled language learning tool. After each session, participants completed an immediate recall test and responded to a series of semi-structured interview questions. After an eight week period, participants were asked to take part in a delayed recall and recognition test. Findings from this study showed two distinct trends: (1) a relationship between the degree of multimodal interaction strategy and delayed L2 vocabulary recall and recognition; and (2) the limitations of existing HCI task analysis approaches with respect to analysing learner-computer interaction within the context of CALL system design. As such, this study provided key insights into the role of HCI in CALL, proposing several implications for further research. Instructed by these findings, research was undertaken to develop an holistic, situated task analysis framework: C.A.S.E (Cognition, Activity, Social Organisation, Environment). Ontological, epistemological and methodological components of the framework are discussed in detail. C.A.S.E provides a conceptual framework for integrating cognitive and social theories on learning, interaction and system design. Consequently, C.A.S.E provides both theoretical and methodological support for bridging the divide between CALL, HCI and Software Engineering. Several applications of the framework relevant to CALL practitioners are described in this thesis. The outcomes of this investigation establish an agenda for further research. The thesis concludes with a discussion related to CALL system design, specifically the role of Software Engineering in end-user developer CALL activities. To assist readers, additional discussions on Philosophy of Science and Software Engineering have been provided as appendix chapters.
KeywordsHuman-Computer Interaction; situated task analysis; Computer-Assisted Language Learning; critical realism; transdisciplinarity
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