Learning English and the Activity in the Class Relationship

Abstract

This paper explores the relationship between taking notes and interactive learning processes in the classroom. It will examine Fiore’s (1985) research about classroom activities. This paper will also draw inferences from eight other sources. These assumptions will be based on my thesis, which states that interactive learning is more effective than taking down notes in the classroom. this paper will draw some of its arguments from Cole McCarthy, Rogan & Schleicher’s (1998) research.s It will include the results of a survey I took concerning learning in a classroom situation. Lastly, this paper will present an overview of interactive learning in the classroom.

Background of the Problem

“Almost unthinkingly, qualitative research training validates the mechanistic model of writing, even though that model shuts down the creativity and sensibilities of the individual researcher” (Richardson, 1997) Many students do not respond well to some orthodox methods of teaching. As a result, most students do not know how to carry out effective research. I intend to prove that interactive teaching can lead to self-actualization. I will base my arguments on the teaching of the English language. Students who are encouraged to participate in classroom activities are likely to realize their potential. Some scholars have argued that more reading can lead to better performance in tests and exams. Giving students pieces of literature is, however, not completely effective. Some scholars have argued that withholding certain pieces of information gauges a student’s curiosity. Insufficient reading materials can create a research opportunity. Research enables students to expose themselves to the rest of the world.

Literature Review

Learning a foreign language can be greatly improved using computers. Computers provide students with a controlled system of learning. They also enable teachers to communicate more efficiently with their students. They are cost-effective. Computers can be tweaked to meet a user’s needs. They can be connected using a network of digital information. They also make the learning process interactive.

Different students respond differently to certain teaching techniques. It is therefore important to apply interactive approaches to teaching English. Teachers should ensure that all their students are on the same academic level. Teachers should ensure that all their students are computer literate before applying certain learning techniques. in a study involving students and computer-mediated communication, Cunningham (2000) reported the following:

Analysis of the data indicated that students, in general, found the word-processing class to be challenging and nonthreatening, and believed that word processing benefited their performance in writing. They also felt that using word processing helped concentrate their attention on certain aspects of their writing (e.g., grammar, word choice, and organization). The results of this study suggest that students do perceive the value of word processing (e.g., they felt they receive better grades on word-processed papers). They also felt that word processing helps them pay attention to the mechanics of their writing; they reported paying more attention to various aspects of the mechanics of their writing during word processing, but the aspects to which they attended were perhaps not those that might have been expected; they did not pay more attention to spelling and punctuation, but to grammar, vocabulary, and the organization of their papers. Although students indicated that they paid more attention to mechanics when word processing than when writing by other means, they still expressed a preference for computer-based writing (Cunningham, 2000).

Computer applications can be used to improve the reading skills of students. They enable students to carry out their research. Computers improve the standards of learning within an institution. They help students to attain a certain level of self-sufficiency. Research has proven that the writing quality of students can be improved using word processing. Teachers can optimize the effectiveness of reading with computers.

Computers can be used to enhance learning in the classroom. Computers provide students with more interactive ways of learning. Computers used in the classroom are often connected through a network of digital information. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are platforms through which many young people can communicate with each other. According to Fiore (1985), communication is more effective in a social setting.

The teacher should have the technical competence required to operate a computer. Students experience dissatisfaction if their instructors are not adept at working with computers.

Blogs are also effective means of carrying out research. They encourage students to interact with each other outside the classroom. They also encourage the exchange of opinions and ideas. Blogging is a process that involves communicating through a digital platform, which enables people to share ideas. Lecturers can use blogs to communicate with their students outside the classroom. Blogging is a liberal approach to learning. It gives students the freedom to discuss assignments without the fear of actual confrontation.

Students who are taught using these methods develop a more positive approach to writing (Cole McCarthy, Rogan & Schleicher, 1998). Blogs encourage people with common interests to share opinions. Interactive learning enables lecturers to change and create assignments to meet the specified criteria (Forsyth and McMillan, 1991).

Online education encourages learning among students. Computer networks promote interaction between scholars. Studies have shown that online courses can improve communication skills (Forsyth and McMillan, 1991). In a comprehensive survey carried out by several scholars, Cole McCarthy, Rogan & Schleicher (1998) argued that online students performed just as well or better than regular students. Research has proven that online students can be prompted to work harder than regular students (Cole McCarthy, Rogan & Schleicher, 1998) The grades of online students are generally higher than those of regular students. Lectures who took part in the survey claimed to know their online students better than their campus students did.

Abromitis (2010) argues that interactive learning can improve a student’s overall performance. Word processing enables students to focus on their areas of weakness. A student’s grammar can be improved if these weaknesses are highlighted. Students are likely to respond positively to such learning techniques. This encourages them to improve their writing skills.

Interactive classrooms enable students to read and write more efficiently. A participatory approach to learning prompts students to challenge their intellect. Students who take part in classroom activities are more likely to pass their exams than those who do not. Such tests enable students to improve their grammar.

Forsyth and McMillan (1991) argue that interactive learning is more meaningful in terms of a class dynamic and class innovation than writing a research paper. Interactive teaching processes give individual students a chance to work on their weaknesses. The English language can be taught through trial and error. Participatory approaches to teaching enable students to highlight their problems. They also encourage teachers to help their students. Forsyth et al (1991) assert that interactive learning elicits more attention from students than a research paper.

Statement of the Problem and Research Questions

Writing can be a long and frustrating process for most students. It is therefore important to give students a chance to work on their own. Teachers should create an environment where students are free to test their limits. Research can be a cumbersome task for some students. Teachers should therefore ensure that their students can use the resources at their disposal. Students should be skilled in the art of finding and organizing information. Interactive teaching encourages students to read extensively. To carry out my research, I asked the following questions:

  • What factors played a role in the students reading comprehension skills?
  • What seemed to be most difficult for the students?
  • How successful was the student(s) in the reading task?

Theoretical Framework

Forsyth and McMillan (1991) found that short essay quizzes could improve performance on a variety of exam formats. Some scholars have argued that periodic tests improve a student’s overall performance. Such classroom activities prove that writing alone is not sufficient in the learning process.

However, learning should not be completely interactive. The teacher must be free to guide the students based on the stipulated curriculum. Teachers should not throw caution to the wind. Students should be exposed to a set of rules that guides the learning process. Forsyth and McMillan (1991) assert that students should study as a group rather than as individuals. One student’s strengths can be used to compliment another student’s weaknesses.

Research writing requires intensive thinking. Encouraging students to work together can reduce the effort. Some students find it difficult to work with multiple-choice questions. Some students prefer to write essays. Cole McCarthy, Rogan & Schleicher (1998) argue that regular writing activities can be used to improve this situation. Cole, McCarthy, Rogan & Schleicher (1998) state that students’ writing skills can be improved with practice.

Periodic exams are an effective way of improving student performance. Cole, McCarthy, Rogan & Schleicher (1998) assert that students who practice writing daily perform better than those who do not write frequently. Such activities should nonetheless be guided by a proactive teacher. Teachers should also provide their students with ample reading materials. Essays and excerpts are interesting sources of information. They provide a student with both practice and entertainment.

Interactive learning employs the use of modified teaching styles. These styles can be adjusted to meet the needs of the students. Interactive learning encourages students to share what others may not already know. Students can learn more from one another than they can from instructors. Group assignments encourage students to work together. Putting students in groups promotes teamwork. It also creates a healthy competitive spirit among the students. Group work encourages students to build long-lasting relationships with each other. It encourages students to apply their cognitive skills to their schoolwork. The internet can also be used as an interactive tool in the field of education. PowerPoint presentations are better than chalkboard notes. They provide the students with clear and well-defined information. Abromitis (2010) states the following:

When learning a new language, it is important to use the conceptual knowledge in the first language as a foundation for the second. K-8 teachers who provide concrete experiences for children, and then develop an understanding of the related vocabulary to use when listening or reading (receptive) and speaking or writing (expressive) help ESL learners make connections between the words they know in their primary language and their new English counterparts.

Make sure vocabulary lists are posted or content area vocabulary words are added to word walls. Provide plenty of opportunities for students to listen, speak, read and write every day on current topics of study. Focus on meaning and relating life experiences to new words and encourage all children, but particularly the ESL learners, to share their knowledge with others.

Interaction with other students regularly is necessary for increased use of oral language, and cooperative learning activities can also provide modeling for written language and improved usage of content area vocabulary. Keep groups for ESL learners small, with two or three students, and make sure they are interdependent – that is, each student must participate for the group to be successful.

Putting desks into groups and having the same kids work together for weeks before switching is a good way to make sure that ESL learners are comfortable and achieve success before being put with new partners. Making sure that classroom assignments have an interactive component whenever possible also encourages continued language practice, which helps ESL students become more proficient.

ESL learners have the dual task of mastering content knowledge and skills while at the same time learning English in an academic setting. Teachers who understand the needs of ESL learners will focus on language development as an integral part of all classroom practices and will make interactive learning a key part of their instructional repertoires (Abromitis, 2010).

Writing essays limits a student to only what he knows. Research enables a student to experience the unknown. Research exposes students to a wide variety of opinions and ideas. It produces better writing performance than simply writing an essay.

Site of the Research

I attended an ELS class to carry out my research. The sites of the research consisted of two classrooms; a simple classroom and a computer lab. The simple classroom housed the master class. Beginners used the computer lab. The master class had empty walls. There was no visual stimulus for the students. I chose this room because of its sense of dullness. Pictures on the wall can influence students’ learning abilities. Some students respond well to visual stimuli.

There were 13 students in the master class. The beginner’s class only had 5 students. I chose this contrast to see whether large classrooms perform better than small ones.

The master class students sat around their instructor while the beginner class sat in rows. I observed this to determine whether sitting positions affect the learning process.

The beginner’s class was set in a computer lab. Computers provide students with an active interface. I wanted to find out whether or not interactive communication enhances the learning process.

Sample and Sample Selection

To support my hypothesis, I carried out a survey involving students from a beginner’s class and students from a master’s class. My goal was to observe the students’ performance in their learning environment. I based my arguments on the students’ opinions concerning their instructors’ performance. I rated the instructors’ performance on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being ‘poor’ and 5 representing excellent performance). The master class was taught in a classroom with no pictures. There were 13 students in the class. They sat around the instructor to encourage interactive learning. The beginner’s class was taught in a computer lab. There were only five students. The students sat in rows.

Risks and Benefits

There are several risks and benefits of using research. Changing educational tradition is a risk that an instructor must take to create an active learning environment. There is also a risk in the way faculty members perceive themselves-interactive teaching presents a change of roles. Interactive teaching can harm students. The lines between teacher and student can become blurred. The student is the one who does what is required of the teacher. Anxiety and discomfort can keep the faculty from getting students to do research.

The faculty may lack the incentive to adopt interactive methods of teaching. An active instructor gives his students high expectations. Students believe that the instructor has access to all the knowledge they may need to study a particular course. Some students may not participate. Furthermore, some students may not take the course seriously. Lecturers who use unorthodox teaching methods are often criticized by their colleagues. Plagiarism is also a major concern. Research is a delicate process that should always meet certain academic standards. Students who are not familiar with various research techniques run the risk of committing plagiarism.

Interactive learning can also be beneficial to all the parties involved. Interactive learning allows students to be self-sufficient. Students are encouraged to identify what they want to get out of the learning process. Interactive learning makes the student a part of the process because it allows them to formulate their own opinions. Technology has made interactive learning more effective than lecturing. Students can communicate with each other through the internet. Students have access to an archive of limitless information.

Research enables students to know more about the world around them. Interactive learning creates a conducive and friendly environment for various scholars. The students feel needed and appreciated. Interactive learning looks at learners as problem solvers who can come up with great ideas. These ideas can solve problems that exist in our community. Research exposes students to the outside world. They learn about other people’s way of life and learn to accept them.

Interactive learning motivates the students by involving them. It also increases the students’ retentive memory since they are not being forced to learn (Duchovic, 1998).

Interactive learning enables students to communicate with professionals as they gather information. Conducting interviews to collect data exposes students to alternative forms of research. Research makes learning more interesting because the students are encouraged to be proactive. It contributes to what the students have learned in class. Interactive learning ensures that students pay attention during lectures. It gives students a sense of responsibility. The student is expected to come up with relevant information regarding the topic of study. This enables the student to exhibit a sense of responsibility.

Methods of Data Collection

My major method of data collection was observation. I was a participant-observer in an ELS class. I attended most of the classes and recorded what I saw. I also interviewed fellow students. I used the sampling technique of data collection. It is safe to say that the students themselves were my samples. I also used questionnaires. The questionnaires enabled me to collect many opinions in a short period.

Implementation

I based my implementation on learning objectives, materials used, and class climate. About learning objectives, the master class instructor scored an average of 3 points. This represents a ‘good performance. On the other hand, the beginner’s class instructor scored an average of 4 points. This represents an ‘outstanding performance.

About materials used in the classroom, the master class instructor scored 1 point. The beginner’s class instructor scored an average of 3 points. The climate in the master class received an average of 4 points. The climate in the beginner’s class scored an average of 5 points. The beginner’s class proved to be more interactive. The teacher took time to learn the names of the students. The beginner’s class instructor also made more eye contact with the students than the master’s class instructor. My observations confirmed that the beginner’s class instructor was more forthcoming with students than the master’s class instructor was.

There were two groups of students. The first group was the master class. The second group was the beginner’s class. I asked students to evaluate their instructors’ performance on a scale of 1 to 5 with an additional option of not applicable (N/A). 5 was for excellent, 4 was for outstanding, 3 was for good, 2 was for fair and 1 was for poor.

The beginners were informed of the lesson’s objective before the class began.

However, in the Masters’s class, the objectives were not discussed. The beginner’s class was well planned and organized. The Master’s class was not well organized. This led to a rating of 5 and 2 respectively.

The beginner’s class used audiovisual data on more occasions than the master’s class. The students rated the use of audiovisual data with a score of 5 and 1 respectively. The Beginner’s class listened to tapes. The instructors in both classes used students’ names. There was a slightly more appropriate use of humor in the beginner’s class than in the Masters’s class with ratings of 5 and 4 respectively. Both classes had a participative environment. The Master’s class instructor had less eye contact with the students, resulting in a score of 3 points, with the Beginner’s class scoring 5 points. There was a big difference in the movement of students in the classroom. The beginner class had more movement than the master’s class. There was less movement in the Masters’s class. The jokes told in the Beginner class were easily understood. In terms of interaction between instructors and their students, both classes scored 4 points.

Consultation

I based my arguments on the opinions of my peers. I used the opinions of students to draw my conclusions. I worked within the context of a research group. I consulted with members of both the master class and the beginner’s class. I used a questionnaire to draw general opinions about the topic of study.

Ethical and Political Consideration

Ethical considerations are very critical. Both the learners and the faculty did not know that I was conducting research. This was because if they knew they would perhaps have behaved in a manner that would have given me different results. There was no harm whatsoever to any of the participants in the study. I ensured that I was not going to use the information gathered to criticize or victimize the participants.

Studies have shown that students are motivated to write if the topic of study directly affects them (Abromitis, 2010). It is important to note that students enjoy social communication. Online discussions and blogs are two of the platforms that students use to communicate. Interactive learning creates a platform where students are free to express their views and opinions. These views, however, should not deviate from the stipulated curriculum. Students should not be allowed to act recklessly and haphazardly. Their learning environment should be controlled.

Representation

I chose this particular format because it is easy to interpret. My arguments are based on the results from the survey. I used questionnaires because they are easy to interpret. A large number of respondents can be reached in a short period. The entire academic community represents my audience. Both teachers and students can benefit from this research paper. The arguments represented in this article can be used to improve the relationship between lecturers and their students. Interactive learning gives the students a sense of independence. They have to be willing to participate in classroom activities. It also motivates students to carry out their research.

Teachers should help their students to obtain a general understanding of the topic (Cole, McCarthy, Rogan & Schleicher, 1998). Interactive research is only possible if the students understand what the lecturer is teaching. Buehl (2001) suggests using a framework based on the topic of study. This framework of ideas can be used to categorize topics about the students’ level of study. Teachers are advised to select interesting topics for class discussions. People tend to pay close attention to controversial topics. Lecturers should therefore emphasize interesting topics. English literature contains a wide variety of interesting articles. Students who are encouraged to look for these articles can greatly improve their research skills.

Some students are not computer literate. It is therefore important to ensure that all English students are up to speed with current technological trends. Nowadays, most research is carried out online. Students who do not know how to use computers are at a disadvantage. Lecturers should ensure that all their students are well-informed about online research. Lecturers should also ensure that all their students have unlimited internet access.

Conclusion

Teachers should assess their students’ research skills. They should encourage their students to participate in classroom activities. They should also ensure that valid research materials are available. Teachers should academically challenge their students periodically. They should give tests and monitor the performance of each student. Questionnaires are effective ways of addressing learning difficulties that may arise in the classroom. They can be used to give the instructor a broader perspective of the challenges that his students may be facing. It is also important for the instructor to give his students feedback concerning their progress.

Interactive teaching encourages lecturers to challenge traditional methods of communication. Rossi (1997) argues that limited timeframes inhibit active learning. Lecturers are at liberty to use online resources to reach their students. The internet is a cost-effective resource that teachers can employ to reach their students.

Forsyth and McMillan (1991) assert that strategies should be employed to encourage interactive learning. Lecturers should therefore create an environment where their students are intellectually stimulated. Fiore (1985) argues that the academic fraternity can encourage active learning by highlighting its benefits. More research is needed to perfect the process. Scholars have agreed that adequate resources should be distributed among the students (Rossi, 1997).

Instructors should give all their students equal opportunities to participate in classroom activities. Buehl (2001) asserts that students should find personal meaning and value in the reading material. Instructors should therefore choose topics that personally relate to their students. Most learners respond well to topics of personal interest. Lecturers should therefore base their curriculum on current events that may affect their students. This gives the students a feeling of self-worth.

References

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