Enhancing the development of the reading and speaking skills of university students online in an l2 academic context: a socio-cultural theory (sct) approach

Celia Antoniou

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Within the socio-cultural school of thought, Gal’perin, was influenced by Vygotsky’s theory of mind. Following Vygotsky’s argument about the leading role of instruction within the zone of proximal development (ZPD), Gal’perin developed an instructional approach, known as Systemic Theoretical Instruction (STI), which encourages the active construction of materialized concepts and their monitored transformation into mental processes in order to foster development. This study adopted a mixed methods exploratory sequential approach and collected various types of data to support the cognitive development of 13 UK based L2 learners who were pursuing postgraduate studies. Importantly, while existing STI investigations have employed mainly qualitative data, the analysis conducted for this study included both quantitative and qualitative data such as introspection techniques, recorded interviews, pre-post interview tasks, concept-mapping, online Moodle tasks and questionnaires, screen-captures and audio recordings of the online activities.

The findings from the comparison of the pre and post concept maps have revealed that the Moodle unit was successful in fostering the students’ conceptual development and that specific scaffolding features and types of tasks have contributed towards this direction. Furthermore, this study contributes to the growing body of research into the potential role of scaffolding to enhance ZPDs in online environments in order to facilitate the L2 learners’ EAP training. It also sheds light into the affordances of STI and online environments to develop the students’ academic speaking and reading skills and lead to overall conceptual development. Finally, it highlights the potential role of verbalisation (introspection tasks, concept maps and oral presentations) as a means of assessing conceptual development within the specific L2 online context.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCALL in CONTEXT Proceedings
Subtitle of host publicationBerkeley, University of California, 7 - 9 July 2017
EditorsJozef Colpaert, Ann Aerts, Rick Kern, Mark Kaiser
Place of PublicationAntwerp
PublisherUniversiteit Antwerpen
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9789057285509
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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