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Using Wikis: Motivation and Anxiety Issues met by Third-Level Students. Presented by Florence Le Baron-Earle University of Limerick. Antwerp CALL 18-20 August 2010. My PhD research. “Introducing Blended Learning to Enhance Cultural Competence”. Overview. Theoretical Frameworks

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using wikis motivation and anxiety issues met by third level students

Using Wikis: Motivation and Anxiety Issues met by Third-Level Students

Presented by

Florence Le Baron-Earle

University of Limerick

Antwerp CALL 18-20 August 2010

my phd research
My PhD research

“Introducing Blended Learning

to Enhance Cultural Competence”

  • Theoretical Frameworks
  • Study: Context, Objectives, and Assessment
  • Methodology
  • Results
  • Conclusions
theoretical framework language and culture
Theoretical Framework –Language and Culture
  • Strong link between language and culture (Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, 1920s-1930s and Pinker, 1995)
  • “Teaching language is teaching culture and learning language is learning culture" (Byram, 1992)
  • Acquire intercultural competence is crucial (Bennett, 1993; Byram, 1992, 1997; Council of Europe, 2007; Zarate, 1986)
theoretical framework language and culture1
Theoretical Framework –Language and Culture
  • Reflexion is essential in acquiring cultural competence (Levy, 2007).
  • Individual differences
  • “What one learner will come to understand or learn when observing or engaging in a cultural exchange, another may not” (Levy, 2007)
  • Varied experiences of the target culture - need for discussion and reflexion both inside and outside the classroom
theoretical framework wikis 1 2
Theoretical Framework – Wikis 1/2
  • Easy to use (WYSIWYG)
  • Asynchronous tool
    • critical thinking
    • time to reflect on writing

(Garrison et al, 2004;

Sloffer et al, 99)

  • Collaborative work

“The wisdom of the masses”

(Richardson, 2005;

Wheeler et al: 2008)

theoretical framework wikis 2 2
Theoretical Framework – Wikis 2/2

Motivation (Heafner and Friedman: 2008)

+ Acquire knowledge

+ Share personal knowledge (power)

- Challenges

- Reluctant to contribute their own knowledge: fear of embarrassing themselves (mistakes, losing power)

theoretical framework motivation
Theoretical framework - Motivation
  • Motivation is defined as the learner's orientation with regard to the goal of learning a second language (Crookes and Schmidt: 1991)

Gardner and Lambert (1972) divide motivation into 2 categories:

  • Integrative / “ideal L2 self” (Dörnyei: 2001)

characterised by the learner's positive attitudes towards the target language group and the desire to integrate into the target language community.

  • Instrumental

characterised by the desire to obtain something practical or concrete from the study of a second language (Hudson: 2000)

the study
The Study


  • 57 first-year students of French divided in 4 classes
  • 2 groups per class = competition
  • Weekly discussion on cultural and societal aspects of France throughout the semester
  • Wiki for the last 4 weeks
  • 1 training session + follow-up


- Define (French) culture in 400 words – draw on class discussions carried out during the semester and personal knowledge.


The students’ roles

- Class


Enter information



- Personal


- Personal






the teacher s roles
The teacher’s roles


Give tasks





Informal talk

  • Individual work
  • Group work
  • Percentage (5%)
  • Peer review
  • Action research, empirical study
  • Questionnaires
  • Wiki reports
  • Semi-directed interviews
  • Teacher observation

My observations

  • 84% (48/57) of students participated in the Wiki.

As a comparison: 59.5% of students in class every week.

  • Average word count: 1,051 words
  • Very rich definitions :
  • Culture iscomplex - Ref. to class discussions
  • Language is part of culture - Interculturality
  • Interaction between students who added information and shared different experiences.
  • Students corrected each other.
motivation what students said
Motivation - What students said

Easy to use

“Easy to access and adding information was effortless”

New and fun

“The Wiki was a very enjoyable experience”

“It’s different from other types of examinations, its [sic] refreshing”

“Interesting and kind of fun to use”

Interactive and exciting

“We were as in a “competition” with the other group made this exercise even more interesting and challenging”

“Interactive and interesting way to learn about French culture”

“It was an opportunity to work together as a team”


“Allowed for accessible learning”

“Students can update and use the Wiki in their own time, outside of class”

motivation what students said1
Motivation - What students said

What motivated you the most?

#1 The amount of marks appointed

#2 Practice French

#3 Feedback from tutor

#4 Easiness of use

#5 The originality / novelty

motivation further observations
Motivation – Further observations
  • Exchange of ideas while in computer class

= discussion / collaboration;

  • Shy students very active;
  • Students did work outside the classroom.
anxiety what students said
Anxiety – What students said

Not so easy to use

“quite difficult to use at the beginning because […] I am not so good at using computer programmes”

“hard to understand how the system worked […] very frustrating”

Adding material

“adding pictures was difficult”

Quality of content & data loss

“Did not like the idea of correcting or changing other people’s work”

“Having the possibility to edit other people’s work could have a negative effect in that some things might have been changed for the worse, not the better”

“someone can delete your work”

Unequal participation

“It was possible for some people to put on more effort than others”

anxiety further observations
Anxiety – Further observations
  • Technophobia

“One must bear in mind, that even though new students are a computer-literate generation, they are not more prepared to make the most of ICT for language learning” (Donaldson and Haggstrom, 2006, p.viii)

  • Challenges for teachers also:
  • - Marking scheme
  • -Time consuming
  • - Wiki is only a technology.
  • Positive results in general:
  • Cultural awareness
  • Motivation,
  • Group work,
  • Independence.
  • But challenges remain:

- Not all digital natives

- Will the novelty effect wear off?

references 1 3
References 1/3
  • Bennett, M. J. (1993) 'Towards ethnorelativism: a developmental model of intercultural sensitivity' in Paige, M. R., ed. Education for the intercultural experience,Yarmouth: Intercultural press, 21-71.
  • Byram, M. (1997) Teaching and assessing intercultural communicative competence, Clevedon:Multilingual Matters.
  • Byram, M. (1992) Culture et éducation en langue étrangère, Paris:Les Éditions Didier.
  • Cohen, L., Manion, L. and Morrison, K. (2000) Research methods in education, London:Routledge.Cole: 2009
  • Council of Europe (2007) ‘From linguistic diversity to plurilingual education: guide for the development of language education policies in Europe – executive version’, available: [accessed 9 Feb 2010].
references 2 3
References 2/3
  • Cress, U. and Kimmerle, J. (2008) 'A systemic and cognitive view on collaborative knowledge building with wikis', Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 3, 105-122.
  • Crookes, G., & Schmidt R.W. (1991). Motivation : Reopening the research agenda. Language Learning, 41(4), 469-512.
  • Entwistle, N. (2001) 'Styles of learning and approaches to studying in higher education', Kybernetes, 30(5/6), 593-602.Garrison et al, 2004
  • Donaldson, R. P. and Haggstrom, M. A. (2006) Changing language education through CALL, New York:Routledge.
  • Dörnyei, Z. (2001) Teaching and Researching Motivation, Harlow:Longman.
  • Gardner, R.C., & Lambert, W.E. (1972). Attitudes and motivation : Second language learning. Newbury House.
references 3 3
References 3/3
  • Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T. and Archer, W. (2000) 'Critical Inquiry in a text-based environment: computer conferencing in higher education', The internet and higher education, 2(2-3), 87-105.
  • Heafner, T. L. and Friedman, A. M. (2008) 'Wikis and constructivism in secondary social studies: fostering a deeper understanding', Computers in the schools, 25(3-4), 288-302.
  • Hudson, G. (2000). Essential introductory linguistics. Blackwell Publishers.
  • Kramsch, C. (1998) Language and culture, Oxford:Oxford university press.
  • Levy, M. (2007) 'Culture, culture learning and new technologies: towards a pedagogical framework', Language Learning & Technology, 11(2) [online] Available from
  • Richardson, W. (2005) 'What's a wiki?', Multimedia and Internet at schools, 12(6), 17-20.
  • Schloffer, S. J., Dueber, B. and Duffy, T. M. (1999) 'Using Asynchronous Conferencing to Promote Critical Thinking: Two Implementations in Higher Education', Proceedings of the 32nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.
  • Wheeler, S., Yeomans, P. and Wheeler, D. (2008) 'The good, the bad and the wiki: evaluating student-generated content for collaborative learning', British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(6), 987-995.
  • Zarate, G. (1986) Enseigner une culture étrangère, Paris:Hachette.
Presentation and references available on request

Florence Le Baron-Earle

Centre for Applied Languages Studies

School of Languages, Literature, Culture and Communication

University of Limerick

Limerick, Ireland

I wish to acknowledge the support of the Irish Social Sciences Platform (ISSP) funded by the Higher Education Authority under the Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions, Cycle 4 which is providing a doctoral scholarship for my research.