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Title: A study of the use of discussion boards in L2 writing instruction at the University of Bahrain
Author: Al Jahromi, Diana
ISNI:       0000 0004 2738 7719
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2012
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The aim of this study is to develop an understanding of the effectiveness of using academic discussion boards in Bahraini L2 settings, where L2 instruction has many limitations. There were two main research objectives: a) to investigate the pedagogical effectiveness of using discussion boards in regards to students' writing development, and b) to analyse the discoursal features of students' contributions to the discussion board. A variety of data collection and analysis methods were used to fulfil these aims. First, a quasi-experiment was carried out to investigate the impact of discussion boards on students' L2 writing. 41 L2 university students were divided into a control group and an experimental group, the latter exploiting discussion boards for 10 weeks. Pre- and post- study writing tests, questionnaires and interviews were also used to assess students' perceptions regarding the use of discussion boards. In addition, 30 university teachers completed a questionnaire and some were interviewed to investigate their perceptions of using discussion boards. A content analysis of the students' online contributions was also undertaken to evaluate their participation and involvement. Finally, a corpus was built to examine the second main research question regarding the linguistic features of the discussion board discourse. With respect to the quasi-experiment, while there were no significant differences in students' written fluency, significant differences between the experimental and control groups regarding accuracy and grammatical and lexical complexity were found. Secondly, students were also observed to participate actively in the discussions although some negative behaviour was observed. Thirdly, most university teachers and students had positive perceptions of discussion boards although a number of disadvantages were also reported. With regard to the second main research question on the linguistic features of discussion board discourse, findings suggested that the discourse was a register with writing-like and speech-like features but varied according to individuals' linguistic, social and academic needs and to the types of contribution. These results contribute further to the existing research on the use of instructional technologies in L2 classrooms and extend our understanding of the pedagogical and linguistic nature of this use. This study also suggests that discussion boards can be an effective addition to L2 instruction through helping teachers to overcome some of the limitations of conventional classroom instruction and provide students with opportunities to engage in interactive discussions in a written medium.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available