Section Three: Assignments, dissertations and research
Guest Editors: Ifigenia Kofou, Kosmas Vlachos, and Athanasios Karasimos
Acknowledging the significance of research as part of assignments and dissertations in Distance Education, this section provides space for researchers, practitioners and students of the post-graduate programme ‘The Teaching of English as a Foreign/International Language’ of the Hellenic Open University to share their experience while doing research for their assignments and dissertations as well as to discuss challenges in Research Methods. The authors maintain that Research Methodology and Statistical Analysis are integral parts of any type of research and they should be taught in post-graduate programmes as a compulsory module. They also acknowledge the determinant and guiding role of the supervisor, especially in Distance Education programmes.
In the paper entitled ‘A case study to compare the effects of two different practices applied when assessing language learners’, Maria Gorgogeta and Kosmas Vlachos, taking into account the innumerous benefits technology has in instruction, explore its effectiveness in the field of assessment. By carrying out a descriptive case study and by using two methods of evaluation in parallel, the traditional paper-and-pencil and the web-based assessment, the research yields conclusions on the learners’ need for more meaningful, motivating assessment processes, such as online testing.
In the paper ‘Analyzing the efficacy of Moodle towards in-service EFL teachers’ development: the case of the HOU’, Evaggelia Theohari conducts a small-scale, mixed methods study in order to offer insights into the contribution of the current use of Moodle at the Hellenic Open University to EFL teacher development. The findings point to the conclusion that Moodle does not foster the philosophies on which it is based since collaborative and constructional learning are not greatly promoted. It is also evident that the use of Moodle has done little to enhance EFL teacher development and meet the new needs and challenges of higher education in the 21st century, as it is mainly used as a tool set for information distribution and administrative effectiveness. Only by applying more constructivist and learner-centred practices can Moodle lead to significant learning outcomes for EFL teachers.
Marina Kollatou, in the paper entitled ‘Conducting action research for written assignments in the M.Ed. in TESOL of the H.O.U: a case study’, seeks answers to questions such as: What are the difficulties that a student needs to cope with in order to effectively complete action research and what are the benefits he or she enjoys in the end? What impact does this practice have on the learners? By assuming two roles, that of the English language teaching practitioner and that of the researcher, the author employs the portfolio, recommended by many researchers for the assessment of language skills, to provide answers to the above questions through a small scale action research conducted in the Greek Senior High School ELT context and in the framework of the module of Testing and Assessment of the M.Ed in TESOL.
Dimitra Hasogia, in the paper entitled ‘Exploring the implementation of CLIL-based Science lessons in the Greek School EFL context’, scrutinizes the ways learners could improve their competences and skills during the process of creating a Web Quest project on the basis of adequately applying CLIL-based Science lessons with the aid of ICT and examine their effectiveness in the Greek Primary School educational arena. The method of project-based learning integrated with technology and experiential learning gives students the opportunity to develop intellectual and social skills, activate those learning strategies which enable them to carry out tasks successfully and become autonomous learners, and enjoy the benefits of a differentiated curriculum.
In the paper entitled ‘Greek EFL teachers’ views and practices regarding teaching: a dissertation survey’, Maria Gidarakou describes a dissertation research among Greek EFL teachers, by giving emphasis on the research tools used, i.e. a web questionnaire and an one-to-one interview, for collecting data as well as their characteristics, advantages and limitations. The results show that web questionnaires save time and the data are analysed more easily, while the interview helps provide extra information and comments, and a deeper understanding of the respondents’ views.
Valentina Peroukidou, in the paper entitled ‘Conducting academic research for a dissertation: the perspective of a graduate on available tools and difficulties encountered’, supports that academic research is an integral part of acquiring a university degree, and reviewing literature sets the basis for enabling students to develop a critical stance towards the course content as well as completing written assignments and dissertations successfully. From the perspective of a graduate, in an effort to assist other researchers, she provides a description of the process of doing research in the context of the post-graduate programme ‘The Teaching of English as a Foreign/International Language’ offered by the Hellenic Open University, and focuses on the relation of academic research to technology, the role of the tutors and the difficulties encountered.
Finally, Ifigenia Kofou, in the paper ‘A small-scale study on research issues by interviewing TESOL post-graduate students at the Hellenic Open University’, acknowledging the difficulties that distance learning students face in organizing their research and using research tools, conducts a small-scale research by using a semi-structured interview as the most convenient tool to collect quantitative and qualitative data and examine the views and experiences of TESOL students attending the post-graduate program ‘The Teaching of English as a Foreign/International Language’ at HOU as regards the research done and the methods used for their assignments and dissertations. The results reveal the great contribution of the dissertation booklet to students’ organizing their research, the significant role of the supervisor in helping students select the tools and methods and organize their research, and the contribution of dissertations and relevant research to the acquisition of knowledge, students’ professional development, self-regulated learning and autonomy.
Ifigenia Kofou, Kosmas Vlachos, and Athanasios Karasimos