Trajectories of learning : the use of multimodal resources to enhance academic writing development in open and distance e-learning

Du Toit, Jacques Avril (2020-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Students’ transition from school to university is as much multifaceted as it is complex. Such complexity is particularly evident among first-year students entering Higher Education. One should be especially cognisant of such complexities when considering variables such as learner characteristics in relation to their approach to distance learning, as well as their writing skills and digital literacies development. Student support frameworks should be put in place to complement subject-related content. Currently, strategies to support students with their academic writing abilities are limited, and findings are often inconclusive. In 2015, a study was conducted at an Open Distance e-Learning (ODeL) Writing Centre to explore both theoretical and practical issues related to an Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)-driven writing intervention to first-year students studying through distance learning. A digital writing portal, through the curation of OERs, was designed and used to find ways to steer follow-up interventions. The study focused primarily on learner experiences, and the use of OERs to support practice-based activities within the skill-set of academic writing ability at university level. This qualitative study focused on learner experiences and the usability and pitfalls of Information and Communication Technologies in complementing writing intervention during practice-based activities within the skill-set of academic writing at university level. Mainly positive responses were received in instances where the theory of multimodality and Connectivism followed. Findings suggest that cognitive-linguistic activity is often not evident within the framework of both higher and distance education, especially where academic writing skills development is needed in context to scaffold actual content cognitively within the curricula itself. With a strong focus on Multimodality and Connectivism, this study showed that learners were able to work with reference points and to conceptualise images and texts related to the content which allowed them to practice writing conventions better. Finally, by applying theories of first-language transfer (Gass, 1988; Ellis, 2000), the students’ ability to digest newly introduced materials as well as their ability to understand and follow instructions were also key themes which emerged as workable opportunities to model their understanding of writing practices favourably.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die oorgang van skool na universiteit het vele fasette en is ook kompleks. Hierdie kompleksiteit is veral waarneembaar onder studente tydens hul eerste jaar van Hoër Onderwys. Daar moet ‘n bewustheid wees van hierdie kompleksiteite wanneer veranderlikes soos leerder eienskappe met betrekking tot hulle benadering tot afstandsonderrig, asook skryfvaardighede en digitale geletterdheid ontwikkeling in ag geneem word. Ondersteuningsraamwerke vir studente behoort in plek gestel te word om vakgeoriënteerde inhoud aan te vul. Tans is strategieë om studente se akademiese skryfvaardighede te ondersteun beperk en bevindinge lewer dikwels nie duidelike antwoorde nie. In 2015, is daar ‘n studie aan ‘n Afstandsonderrig Skryfsentrum (AS) gedoen om die teoretiese en praktiese kwessies rondom Informasie- en Kommunikasietegnologie (IKT) in intervensies in die skryfvaardighede van eerstejaarstudente te ondersoek. Ope-onderrig Hulpbronne (Open Education Resources) en ‘n digitale skryfportaal is ontwerp en gebruik om maniere te vind om opvolg-intervensies te bestuur. Hierdie studie het gefokus op die leerderervaring asook die gebruik van IKT om ondersteuning aan praktykgerigte aktiwiteite in akademiese skryfvaardigheid op universiteitsvlak te lewer. Hierdie kwalitatiewe studie het gefokus op die leerderervaring en die bruikbaarheid sowel as die probleme van IKT intervensie wanneer ondersteuning vir praktykgerigte aktiwiteite binne akademiese skryfvaardighede gelewer word. Waar die teorieë van multimodaliteit en konnektivisme toegepas was, was hoofsaaklik positiewe terugvoer gelewer. Bevindinge suggereer dat kognitief-linguistiese aktiwiteit dikwels nie duidelik binne die raamwerk van beide hoër- en afstandsonderrig geintegreer is nie. Dit is belangrik dat die ontwikkeling van akademiese skryfvaardighede binne konteks benodig word om ware inhoud, kognitief binne die kurrikula, stapsgewys (deur ‘n scaffolding metodologie) te ondersteun. Deur die toepassing van multimodaliteit en konnektivisme het hierdie studie bewys dat leerders in staat was om met verwysingspunte te werk en om beelde en tekste binne die inhoud te konseptualiseer, wat hulle in staat gestel het om akademiese skryfkonvensies meer suksesvol te herhaal. Finally, by applying theories of first-language transfer (Gass, 1988; Ellis, 2000), the students’ ability to digest newly introduced materials as well as their ability to understand and follow instructions were also key themes which emerged as workable opportunities to model their understanding of writing practices favourably. Ten laaste, deur die toepassing van teorieë wat verband hou met moedertaal-oordrag (Gass, 1988; Ellis, 2000) het belangrike temas vorendag gebring wat ‘n grondslag skep vir die gunstige modellering van leerderbegrip oor skryfvaardighede. Hierdie temas sluit in die student se vermoë om nuwe material te verwerk, sowel as hul vermoë om instruksies te verstaan en te volg.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/107747
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