The participants included 28 elementary ESL students in grades 2-5, 18 male, and 10 female. The native languages included Spanish (7), Chinese (5), and Russian, French, Korean, Arabic, Pohnpeian, Urdu, and Samoan. The study was conducted in March-May 2003.
After a one-week training period on laptops accessing an online discussion board supplied with spell-check functions. Specific instructional activities based on ESL Standards included creating a club (each small group created a club), recommending a menu for a holiday meal based on their native culture, and planning a party. Student messages were captured and analyzed qualitatively and additional quantitative analysis assessed student competence in ESL in this mixed methods study.
The data was analyzed using NVivo 2.0, and the students’ messages (N=956) were independently coded for ESL competence by three researchers. Additional quantitative analysis measured changes in the students’ competence across the study period using paired sample t-tests for significance testing. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS software.
Collaborative tasks (creating a club, planning a party) showed significant increases in social interaction competence, while the noncollaborative task (meal planning) decreased social interaction competence. Competence in using English for expressions of enjoyment and personal feelings increased in all three tasks. No significant changes in competency on use of appropriate English were demonstrated in any of the three tasks. Because of the varying length of stay in the U.S., the data cannot support analysis for ethnic differences among participants.
The authors concluded that electronic discussion boards can be effectively used as part of ESL instruction. They also concluded that tasks that require collaboration among group members were more effective at improving participation and beneficial results. They also concluded that implementations used in the study can be adapted by teachers of ESL to assist in teaching details of English, including idioms, polite requests, gratitude, and similar social interactions.
Relationship among Analysis, Results & Conclusions. The data analysis establishes the facts on which the results of the research can be drawn. Those results in turn provide the basis for conclusions to be drawn about the overall impact of the research study and it’s implications for future practices and further research.