On the Spot: Using Mobile Devices for Listening and Speaking Practice

Introduction

The proponents of the study were able to provide the rationale for the experiment. They wanted to find out the experience of the students when it comes to the use of mobile devices in the context of listening and speaking the French language. They also wanted to find out if there was a difference between the way students use audio players. By doing so they hoped to determine how to incorporate the use of mobile technology in a new language course. However, the hypothesis of the study was not clearly articulated. One possible explanation was that this study was not experimental and it simply tried to investigate the use of mobile technology in the study of the French language.

Method

The methodology was clearly described. Therefore, replication of the experiment is possible. The recruitment and selection of the participants were clearly described. The participants were randomly selected; these were all students from a university. The sample was appropriate in terms of the population to which the researcher wished to generalize because all the participants were enrolled in a French class. There was no evidence to show that informed consent was secured before the study was initiated.

Design

A control group was not used. A control group was not used because the researchers did not pinpoint the phenomenon or process that was supposed to be controlled in the course of a typical experiment. It was apparent that the research team was not interested to prove a point but to investigate the use of mobile devices. The research team went on to say that they hope to learn something about the use of mobile devices in the context of the study of the French language.

Measures

The researchers clarified that they wanted to find out how students use their mobile devices in the learning process. But aside from that, they were unable to articulate what they wanted to find out about the use of mobile devices. It was more of an investigative process as compared to an experimental one. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that there was a low response rate. A significant number of students did not respond to the research team. Thus, there was not enough information to prove a point. Since the research team was unable to clarify the hypothesis then it did not really matter what was the outcome of their data-gathering exercise.

Bias and Artifacts

There was no evidence to show that the researchers showed bias. However, there was the tendency to make a generalization based on limited data. There were a significant number of students who did not push through with their participation in this particular study. There were so many problems encountered by the research team. They were unable to anticipate the following issues: 1) the students were so busy; 2) the use of the mobile phone was more difficult as compared to the use of the DVD; 3) the students did not want to pay the call charges required for them to use their mobile phones; 4) the process was complicated; and 5) technical difficulties (Demouy & Kukulska-Hulme, 2010, p.277)

Independent Variables

The independent variable was not articulated. It was supposed to be a comparison between the two types of mobile devices. But the low response rate prompted the research team to simply use a few statements of the students and used it to develop their opinion regarding the use of mobile devices in learning a particular language. Thus, what started as a study became a mere commentary on the use of mobile technology.

Results

In Group 1 there were only five participants who were able to use their mobile devices to listen to audio clips. The research team should have declared that there was not enough data collected to prove a point. But instead, they went on to accept the comments made by the students that they will carry on using their mobile devices. But the data collected already contradicted this claim. The participants wanted to show the benefits of the use of the mobile device but they were unable to prove that claim. The response of the students in verbalizing their intention to use their mobile devices cannot be supported by data collected. Thus, it is a problem if the research team continues to make the assertion that mobile devices can greatly increase the learning capability of the students.

It must be pointed out, however, that there are a few students who were satisfied with their mobile devices and exclaimed that their mobile phones and other gadgets greatly enhance the learning experience. Their comments must be treated as mere opinions and must not be used by the research team to generalize. The results of the said study provided data that the research team can use to make recommendations. However, the statements they made later cannot be supported by the information that they were able to gather at the end of the study.

Discussion

There may have been no bias when it comes to the recording of data. However, there was a bias when it comes to the assertion that mobile technology can enhance the learning experience. It seems that the research team already made up their minds with regards to the importance of the use of mobile technology. They based their generalizations, not on the presence of scientific evidence. The expected outcome of the study was for the research team to show a pattern, and from there make the inference with regards to a particular phenomenon.

In this particular study, the use of mobile devices was supposed to significantly affect the behavior of the students. But the data collected was not enough to develop a statement regarding the use of mobile technology. Nevertheless, the opinion of a few students was used as a cornerstone in the argument on the benefits of using mobile devices. If the research team insists on the use of their opinion then the exercise ceases to be a scientific approach to uncover something. In the end, it has become a commentary on the use of mobile devices in the learning process. It must not be allowed. The research team must modify the research design.

Reference

Demouy, V., & Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2010). On the spot: using mobile devices for Listening and speaking practice on a French language program. Open Learnin, 25(3), 217-232.