Student-only synchronous oral practice sessions in an online course: Implementation and examination of their efficacy
Due to a devastating effect of the COVID-19 global pandemic in 2020, a great number of educational institutions including higher education were forced to stop in-person instruction and shift to remote instruction. In response to this global situation, investigation and development of effective online language learning have accelerated across the world.
At Purdue University, Japanese online courses have been offered for four different levels since they were developed in 2014. The previous curriculum contained weekly real-time sessions (RTSs) with two students under the supervision of an instructor. This 30-minute RTS was designed to facilitate interactions among students. Students could practice speaking with an instructor and a partner, but interaction among students were limited because the sessions were always led by the instructor. In addition, because the instructor needed to supervise all RTSs, the number of students in an online course was capped at 12.
In this study, the researcher revised the previous curriculum in order to expand spontaneous interactions among students during RTS. Specifically, this study designed and added instructor-less RTSs in addition to the instructor-led RTSs and examined the efficacy of the new curriculum. The statistical results showed that the new curriculum which contained the instructor-less RTSs was as effective as the previous curriculum. A post-experimental survey was also conducted to investigate students’ perceptions of the instructor-less RTSs. This study found that the instructor-less RTSs encouraged them to become independent learners. Additionally, students could feel a sense of community while working on tasks with a partner during the instructor-less RTSs. Moreover, an analysis of recorded videos found students spoke Japanese more in the instructor-less RTSs than the instructor-led RTSs.