Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Gian Pagnucci

Second Advisor

Mary Stewart

Third Advisor

Matthew Vetter

Abstract

This qualitative case study examined the perceptions of seven undergraduate male Saudi English language learners (ELL) as students using Learning Management System (LMS) discussion boards in a US college classroom to promote active learning and writing development. Because students in Saudi Arabia are typically taught using teacher-centered pedagogies, this study explored how these Saudi learners would respond to the use of student-centered pedagogies. Specifically, the study looked at how Saudi students respond to using LMS discussion boards as part of their college classes. This study sought to gather information about how the use of LMS discussion boards impacted these ELL students’ development of writing skills and the extent to which posting on discussion boards enhanced theses students’ learning skills. The data collected in this study consisted of individual interviews. The individual interviews occurred during the beginning, middle, and end of a spring semester. The findings indicated that LMS discussion boards actively engaged students in discussion by allowing them time to reflect and construct meaning while interacting with native and nonnative speakers. These interactions helped the students gain awareness of their language use and development. This increased language awareness caused the participants to employ similar writing process in order to post responses while utilizing online language tools to fill gaps in their language knowledge.

Bases on analysis of interviews, Saudi participants reported an overall positive experience using LMS discussion boards in a student-centered classroom. The Saudi students reported that they believe the student-centered pedagogy enhanced their writing development. In addition, participants talked about how they were positively impacted as learners in the student-centered LMS discussion responses indicated students were actively engaged in the learning process. The results of this study can be used to provide suggestions for best practices in teaching in the light of a student-centered approach. The study’s findings can also help English language educators to better understand how LMS discussion boards can be integrated into classrooms to not only promote student-centered pedagogy, but to also teach L2 students English language skills in college class.

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