Evaluating multimedia courseware based on reusable learning objects

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The main focus of this study is to design, develop and evaluate a multimedia courseware based on reusable learning objects (RLOs). It also aimed to investigate the effect of the redundancy principle on the learning for non-native students who encounter difficulties in learning English as a foreign language (EFL). This chapter presents the background of the problem, which subsequently leads to specify the problem statement. It is then, presents the purpose of the study, research objectives, research questions, hypotheses, and significance of the study. It also presents the theoretical underpinning that guided the courseware design followed by the research framework which describes the evaluation part of this study. Finally, the chapter ends with operational definitions that were used throughout the study.

Background to the Problem Statement

In the current era of globalization and the rush into the information age as well as rapid technology changes, computer technology has become an indispensable tool in all aspects of our life. The current developments in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have extremely support the use of computer as a promising tool in the process of teaching and learning. It has become very widely prevalent among a lot of students and the medium of choice in many higher institutional (Bauer, 2002; Al-Khawalade, 2003). Internationally, there have been increasing interests in the role of computer technology to make learning more efficient and effective (Kozma, 2003).

However, despite evidence of increasingly widespread use of computer in education, there has been a great focus on how to present the information in such a way that makes learning enjoyable and memorable. Recent advancement in computer technology has introduced multimedia as a significant medium of instruction. Multimedia instruction has emerged as a powerful means to present the information in multiple modes of learning such as words and pictures. According to Clark and Mayer (2008) people learn better from words and pictures than from words alone. This is based on the assumption that "when words and pictures are both presented, people have an opportunity to construct verbal and visual mental models and build connections between them" (Clark & Mayer, 2008; Mayer, 2009).

In the field of language learning, multimedia has been reported as a beneficial learning tool in L2 learning (Chun & Plass, 1996; Kramsch & Andersen, 1999; Tsou et al., 2002; Hamzah, 2004; Almekhlafi, 2006). According to Yeh and Wang (2003) the potential effect of multimedia on language learning is due to its capability to present the information in dual presentation mode. In multimedia learning, the instructional materials can be coded dually in two modes (for example, words and pictures). In such presentation, a direct connection can be established in students' memory between two types of retrieval cues. This enables the students to learn better than a single coded of instructional materials such as words alone (Plass, Chun, Mayer, & Leutner, 1998).

Due to the fact that multimedia can be used effectively in language learning, literature shows very few studies that have been conducted to explore this possibility among Yemeni students (Al-Nashimi, 2006; Mohsen, 2006). However, is there a real need for Yemeni people to learn English? Why Yemeni students face difficulties in learning English? How is English taught in Yemen? These are the most popular questions outlined by many Yemenis' researchers and educationists. As for some historical and geographical background of Yemen, please see Appendix M.

The most important foreign language in Yemen and in almost all the Arabic countries is English. Internationally, the number of people who learn EFL has rapidly increased (Warschauer, 2004). This, in part, reflects the importance of English as the most dominant language of commutation worldwide. Today, many books and resources for the fields of science, technology, politics, education, commerce, and industry are written in English. It is also the language of medicine (Mendiluce-Cabrera & Bermudez-Bausela, 2006).

In addition, English is the medium of over 84% of the information stored in the Internet (Graddol, 2000). This spread of English is probably the key factor in the adoption of the language as a "lingua franca" (Block & Cameron, 2002). Therefore, English has become an essential tool for non-native speakers to ensure full competence in this rapidly changes of the information age (Graddol, 2000; Murray, 2005; Jung, 2006).

However, many of Yemeni students are still having poor ability of using this language. This is partly because English in Yemen has no official status. Learning English is confined only in the classroom. That is, English is merely one of the subjects taught in school rather than a medium of instruction to be used in daily conversation. Students start learning this subject only at Grade seven. In addition, the common learning environment in Yemen is based on the objectivist approach. Teachers are the sole provider of knowledge, they transmit their knowledge directly to the students who are mere passive knowledge recipients. This practice emphasizes a great deal on rote learning with words and sounds that has little relevance to the students.

The above scenario gives rise to a situation whereby English is not a popular foreign language in Yemen. Indeed, Yemeni students, like most other Arabic students are reported to have low proficiency level of English language (Abbad, 1988; Badaroos, 1988; Omari & Zughoul, 1988). More recently, this depressing condition is also highlighted by many other researchers such as Al-Fadly, 2004; AL-Haddad, 2005; Al-Tamimi, 2005; Rababah, 2005; Atef, 2006; Nasser, 2006; Al-Tamimi & Munir Shuib, 2009.

This situation is also emphasized by Al-Quyadi (2000) who states that Most of Yemeni students are graduated from their school with very low level of English proficiency. The majority of them cannot even express or articulate clearly in the English language. This view is in line with Al-Haddad (2005) who asserts that students of all level are very weak in English language proficiency. This poor proficiency in English includes even the undergraduate students majoring in English (Ibid). Nasser (2006) also documented that the low standard of Yemeni students in English at both secondary and tertiary levels is still persists as a problem.

As mentioned earlier, computer as the technology in the multimedia stream represents one potentially powerful method to facilitate language learning. However, very few schools in Yemen have been started utilising multimedia as an instructional medium. This is partly due to the higher development cost of courseware. Boot and Barnard (2000) pointed out that one of the main problems associated with using the courseware is the high cost of its development. According to them, this cost has resulted from the long development time and the specific expertise that the courseware required.

Thus, is there any way to reduce the development cost of multimedia courseware? Is there any solution to cut down the development time of a courseware which regarded as main problem faced many teachers who have not adequate skills in programming? This study, in part, is intended to provide answers of those questions with the aim to explore the educational effectiveness of the possible alternative solution.

Statement of the Problem

Rapid advancement in technologies has brought the English as an essential literacy skill for non-native speakers to achieve their competitiveness in the global market, and make their voices heard internationally (Graddol, 2000; Crystal, 2003). However, it is disheartening to note that many Yemeni students are still lacking basic competency in this language. As a result, when students enter the universities, they might not have adequate vocabularies in developing basic language skills. Students encountered tremendous difficulties in coping with the university's syllabus particularly with those that are taught in English.

The root cause of this problem is best understood if it is approached from the standpoint of the context in which it takes place. First, it should be clear that the English in Yemen is foreign language which means that it is a subject to study rather than as a living language to be used in daily situation. This increases the challenge of mastering English because students use their prime language outside the classroom and at their home, which then affects their proficiency and results to weaken their English language competency.

Secondly, the correlation between the students' first language and English is also another issue influence directly to acquire the language. The level of difficulty for learning a foreign language is based on its association with the mother tongue of the learners. In this regard, Zurawsky (2006) states that those whose mother-tongues are closely resemble the English language, (e.g., Dutch, French, and Spanish) will spend less time to achieve mastery of English. Conversely, those whose mother-tongues are very different from English (e.g., Arabic, Chinese, Japanese), will need to spend more time to master that language. Figure 1.1 depicts languages by degree of difficulty towards English acquisition.

Figure 1.1: Languages, by degree of difficulty

Source: (Zurawsky, 2006)

In addition, it is also necessary to look into the current issues that are related to the teaching-learning process of English language in Yemen. Most of the Yemeni colleges and universities, if not all, are still very much teacher-centered and taught using the tabula-rasa model, where students are regarded as "empty vessels" to receive "knowledge" passively from the gurus. This archaic and boring traditional teaching method has caused the English language to be difficult, irrelevant and boring to the Yemeni students. This view is succinctly articulated by Rababah (2005) who states that,

"Arab learners find it difficult to communicate freely in the target language. This may be due to the methods of language teaching. It can be also due to the learning environment which some judge to be unsuitable for learning a foreign language" (Rababah, 2005).

What then is the solution? The learning of the English language can be made easier when students are immersed in an interactive and authentic learning environment (Thanajaro, 2000; Wang, 2005). In an authentic learning environment, students are stimulated to develop relevant competencies by dealing with materials and learning activities that are designed around 'real life' contexts (Honebein, Duffy, & Fishman, 1993; Herrington, Oliver, & Reeves, 2003; Gulikers, Bastiaens, & Martens, 2005; Murphy, 2009).

Constructivist approach provides a rich potential to foster foreign language learning (Harrison, 2003; Simina & Hamel, 2005; Wang, 2005). In constructivism environment, students are actively engaged in meaningful learning whereby they are engaged in authentic-problem solving activities (Jonassen, Peck & Wilson, 1999; Jonassen, 2003). Multimedia and computer technologies in general are believed to support constructivist approach (Jonassen, 2003; Spodark, 2005; Wang, 2005; Judson, 2006; Prapinwong, 2009).

The use of constructivist approach in association with multimedia technology provides the possibility to expand the range of authentic learning environment (Jonassen, 2003; Wang, 2005). This view was supported by Mayer (2009) who posits that the rich attributes afforded by multimedia such as interactivity, sound, animation and immediate feedback; provide an environment that is lively and engaging.

However, multimedia technology by itself does not provide an environment for authentic learning. It has to be used with proper instructional design strategies. One of these strategies is based on the Mayer's Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (Mayer, 2001). There are six important principles resulting from this theory. One important principle is the modality principle which states that learning is better with graphics and narration rather than with graphics and on-screen text. This principle can be effectively applied in the teaching of EFL. Clark and Mayer (2008) argued that when graphics and words are presented together in visual manner (i.e., as graphics and text), the pictorial channel of the student becomes overloaded and the verbal channel of the student is not used at all.

What will happen if graphics and narration are presented together with a redundant on-screen text? This is the core of the redundancy principle. According to Clark and Mayer (2008) students can learn better from graphics and narration than from graphics, narration, and on-screen text. This is based on the assumption that when graphics and words are both presented together in visual manner (i.e., as graphics and text), the pictorial channel become overloaded. However, is that principle true for EFL learning? Is there any caveat to this principle? Are there any situations in which e-learning courses would be improved by adding redundant on-screen text? This study seeks to provide answers to these questions.

Clark and Mayer (2008) suggest three special situations in which they will not overload the student's visual information processing system. These situations are as follows:

(a) Kinds of Learner: the students must exert much greater cognitive effort to comprehend spoken text than printed text (for example, for learners who are not native speakers or who have specific learning disabilities, or when the verbal material is long and complex or contains unfamiliar key words). This caveat has a great relevance to the present study where the subjects consist of non-native speakers of English.

(b) Kinds of Material: there is no pictorial presentation (for example, when the screen contains no animation, video, photos, graphics, illustrations, and so on).

(c) Kinds of Method: there is ample opportunity to process the pictorial presentation (for example, when the on-screen text and corresponding graphics are presented sequentially or when the pace of presentation is sufficiently slow).

Having argued the conditions in which multimedia learning is effective for EFL learning, there is another consideration that needs to be looked into. Studies have shown that to design an effective one hour multimedia courseware from scratch takes over 500 man-hours (Renshaw et al., 2000). This is a tremendous use of manpower and resources which developing countries like Yemen could not afford. Is there an alternative solution to this need? Can digital resources, such as videos, pictures, and text which are relevant and suitable, be reused?

Internationally, many higher institutions have been contributing a great effort to integrate reusable learning objects (RLOs) into their educational systems (Lau & Woods, 2009). RLOs are widely believed to provide a promising instructional value to the learning content. That value is recognised through savings in time and money, and benefits to the educational process (Olgren & Ploetz, 2007). According to Oliver (2007) the main assumptions and benefits of using RLOs is that "they will be reused by many others and thereby reduce replication effort and cost".

RLOs can be defined as "any digital resources that can be reused to support learning" (Wiley, 2002). It is small instructional component that can be integrated into large components to form longer educational interactions or reused in different learning contexts. The idea behind RLOs is that an instructional designer can create independent and self-contained chunks of educational content which can be stand-alone and dynamically assembled to provide "just enough" or "just-in-time" learning (Toh, 2004). However, how the characteristics of RLOs are able to support EFL learning in a way that the conventional educational methods are unable to provide?

RLOs are able to be reused in different circumstances and under different contexts. These characteristics of RLOs can be applied effectively to enhance the students' vocabularies in English language. With RLOs, students can be able to deal with various small instructional components (such as words and their pronunciations) that are stored in relevant repositories.

Those instructional components provide the students with opportunity to improve their phonological system within the limited time in the classroom. For example, students can see a number of ten English words and listen to their pronunciation. Students can also see and listen to the pronunciation of new ten English words within the same learning activity. They can repeat this learning activity more than once within limited time available in the classroom. In this way, students will be able to compensate their limitation of using English. Thus, it is expected that RLOs can play critical function for Yemeni students to have adequate vocabularies which lead them to develop basic language skills.

The benefits of utilising RLOs for effective and efficient instruction have gained recognition from many educators and instructional designers (Jacobson, 2002; Downes, 2001; Weller, 2004; Harvey, 2005; Cramer, 2007; Northrup, 2007; Sicilia, 2007; Kay & Knaack, 2008; Gonzalez-Videgaray et al., 2009; Lau & Woods, 2009). However, there are some relevant issues remains largely under-utilized.

Wiley (2002) states that to harness the power of RLOs, they have to be implemented with sound instructional design theories. Instructional designers have to integrate RLOs with proper instructional design strategies to produce a meaningful learning (Hannafin et. al. 2000; Orrill, 2000; Bannan-Ritland et. al., 2000; Katz et.al., 2004; Harvey, 2005; Laverde, Cifuentes, & Rodriguez, 2007). This is in line with Reigeluth and Frick (1999), who states that "more instructional design theories are sorely needed to provide guidance for… the use of new information technology tools". However, such theoretical foundation in designing guidelines for constructing RLOs does not exist (Balatsoukas, Morris, & O'Brien, 2008).

Another important issue related to integrate RLOs with instructional design theories is that of granularity which is the most difficult problem facing the instructional designers (Wiley, 2002). Granularity refers to the size of RLO, How big should a RLO be? The more granularity of RLO is the more flexibility to be reused in another learning context. Conversely, RLO with smaller granularity is more difficult of being reused (South & Monson, 2000). This problem should be also considered in an instructionally principled manner (Wiley, 2002). It is important to recognise that the big size of RLO has more educational value but becomes more difficult of being reused.

Those issues imply that much exciting research remain to be done in order to gain a significant place of RLOs in learning process. Such research can be conducted to investigate: how to design RLOs in such a way that enables its effective utilisation to support the desired learning outcomes? What are the appropriate theories and/or models to guide its design and development? This study is intended to investigate some aspects of the just-mentioned issues.

There are also another consideration needs to be looked into. It is the individual differences in term of learning preferences style. The assumption that students with different abilities learn in different ways has been discussed broadly by many researchers. Jonassen and Grabowski (1993) state that individuals are able to perceive and process the information in very different ways. These differences impact the learning process for each student by either enhancing or inhibiting their intentional cognition and active engagement (Soo, 1999).

Understanding individual differences represents one powerful tool to support the individual's preferences, which subsequently enhance learning (Alfonseca et al., 2006). In the field of multimedia learning, the visual-verbal preferences in processing visual versus verbal information have increasingly gained more importance. (Leunter & Plass, 1998). In this regard, Plass, Chun, Mayer, and Leutner (1998) state that this growing interest is partly due to rapid advances in multimedia technology which allows to adapt appropriate techniques that support learning preferences for each student.

The assumption that some individuals learn better with visual representation, whereas others learn better with verbal representation has been widely known in multimedia education as Aptitude by treatment interaction (Massa & Mayer, 2006). Aptitude by treatment interaction, also called ATI study, is a study designed to determine whether the effects of different instructional methods are influenced by the individuals' differences in terms of aptitudes and traits (Cronbach & Snow, 1977).

In fact, this assumption is derived from the Paivio's dual coding theory (1986) which states that people process the incoming information into two independent channels, which are the visual channel and verbal channel. Visual channel processes the pictorial information whereas verbal channel processes the linguistic information. Thus, there is a need to conduct an ATI study in order to discover the interaction effect between two multimedia modes (elaborated later in this chapter) and students' individual differences, focusing specifically, on learning preferences style (visual or verbal).

Purpose of the Study

The main aim of this study is to design, develop and evaluate of a multimedia courseware based on reusable learning objects (RLOs). It starts by identifying the appropriate theories and/or models to guide its design and development. Those theories and models lead to suggest an instructional design theoretical framework which is RLO-based. This framework provides pragmatic and feasible guidelines for multimedia instruction developers to harness the power of RLOs. The developed courseware is then tested to determine its effectiveness on the learning for Yemeni students who have difficulties in learning English as a foreign language. To this end, two learning modes based on RLOs are developed, namely, redundancy mode and modality mode. In the redundancy mode, static pictures and audio narration are presented concurrently with redundant on-screen text. In the modality mode, static pictures and audio narration are presented without the redundant of textual information. Finally, an evaluation that employs a quasi-experimental design is employed to investigate the effect of the two learning modes on the gain score and on perceived motivation towards the modes of instruction. As such the study focuses in the following specific objectives and questions.

Research Objectives

To construct a plausible instructional design and development theoretical framework vis-à-vis the use of reusable learning objects (RLOs).

To design and develop a multimedia courseware based on RLOs.

To investigate the effectiveness of using the multimedia courseware designed based on RLOs to minimise the difficulties encountered by Yemeni students in learning EFL.

To investigate the effects of the two learning modes: the redundancy mode and the modality mode on the gain scores

To investigate the effects of the two learning modes: the redundancy mode and the modality mode on the perceived motivation towards the modes of instruction

To conduct an aptitude treatment interaction (ATI) study to investigate the possible interaction effect between students' aptitude (learning preferences style (visual and verbal), and the two learning modes (redundancy mode and modality mode).

1.5.1 Research Questions

This study was designed to answer the following research questions:

Research questions related to the design and development part of the study

What are the instructional components of the theoretical framework that guide the design of a multimedia courseware based on RLOs?

What are the instructional components of the development framework that guide the process of designing, developing and evaluating a multimedia courseware based on RLOs?

Research questions related to the evaluation part of the study

Is there any significant difference in gain scores for the RLO-based test (as measured by the post-test scores minus pre-test scores) among the students of both learning modes (redundancy mode and modality mode)?

Is there any significant difference in perceived motivation for IMMS (as measured by Instructional Materials Motivation Survey (Keller, 1993)) among the students of both learning modes (redundancy mode and modality mode)?

(a) Is there any significant difference in gain scores for the RLO-based test (as measured by the post-test scores minus pre-test scores) among the visual students of learning preferences style for both learning modes (redundancy mode and modality mode)?

(b) Is there any significant difference in gain scores for the RLO-based test (as measured by the post-test scores minus pre-test scores) among the verbal students of learning preferences style for both learning modes (redundancy mode and modality mode)?

(c) Is there any significant difference in gain score for the RLO-based test among the visual students of the redundancy mode and the verbal students of the same mode?

(a) Is there any significant difference in perceived motivation for IMMS (as measured by Keller Instructional Materials Motivation Survey) among the visual students of learning preferences style for both learning modes (redundancy mode and modality mode)?

(b) Is there any significant difference in perceived motivation for IMMS (as measured by Keller Instructional Materials Motivation Survey) among the verbal students of learning preferences style for both learning modes (redundancy mode and modality mode)?

(c) Is there any significant difference in perceived motivation for IMMS (as measured by Keller Instructional Materials Motivation Survey) among the visual students of the redundancy mode and the verbal students of the same mode?

(a) What are the interaction effects among the students' learning preferences style (visual and verbal) and the learning modes (redundancy mode and modality mode) related to gain scores of RLO-based test?

(b) What are the interaction effects among the students' learning preferences style (visual and verbal) and the learning modes (redundancy mode and modality mode) related to perceived motivation of IMMS?

Hypotheses

The goal of this experiment is to investigate whether using the redundancy mode really facilitates the learning of English as a foreign language compared to the modality mode. Hence the following null hypotheses were formulated from the research question 3 to 7 and computed at the 0.05 level of significance.

H01: There is no significant difference in gain scores for the RLO-based test among the students of both learning modes (redundancy mode and modality mode).

H02: There is no significant difference in perceived motivation for IMMS among the students of both learning modes (redundancy mode and modality mode).

H03.a: There is no significant difference in gain scores for the RLO-based test among the visual students of learning preferences style for both learning modes (redundancy mode and modality mode).

H03.b: There is no significant difference in gain scores for the RLO-based test among the verbal students of learning preferences style for both learning modes (redundancy mode and modality mode).

H03.c: In the redundancy mode, there is no significant difference in gain score for the RLO-based test among the visual students and the verbal students.

H04.a: There is no significant difference in perceived motivation for IMMS among the visual students of learning preferences style for both learning modes (redundancy mode and modality mode).

H04.b: There is no significant difference in perceived motivation for IMMS among the verbal students of learning preferences style for both learning modes (redundancy mode and modality mode).

H04c: In the redundancy mode, there is no significant differences in IMMS score for the IMMS questionnaire among the visual students and the verbal students.

H05.a: There is no interaction effect between the students' learning preferences style (visual and verbal) and the learning modes (redundancy mode and modality mode) related to gain scores of RLO-based test.

H05.b: There is no interaction effect between the students' learning preferences style (visual and verbal) and the learning modes (redundancy mode and modality mode) related to perceived motivation of IMMS.

Significance of the Study

Many relevant studies have been conducted worldwide to examine the effect of the multimedia instruction on the learning and teaching of English as a foreign language (EFL). However, a literature review showed that very few studies were conducted with regard to determine the multimedia effect on learning English among Yemeni students. In addition, there has been no specific study conducted in Yemen vis-à-vis the use of RLOs to determine its effects on EFL learning. This study is, therefore, an initiative effort to provide invaluable insights to the multimedia instruction based on RLOs in facilitating EFL learning among Yemeni students.

The instructional design theoretical framework that was designed in this study could also provide useful insights on knowledge needed by the designers of multimedia instruction pertaining to the appropriate theories and models for the judicious use of multimedia courseware based on RLOs in learning EFL.

One of major problems for the Yemeni students in learning English is the lack of using it in their daily life. The usage of English is limited to the classroom which negatively affects the students' proficiency. In this regard, the developed multimedia courseware could provide Yemeni students with a new environment content that might help them to compensate the limitation of their English practice. In this particular environment, students can select various objects (text, sound, pictures, and so on) from relevant repositories which subsequently provide them with the opportunity to get more practice to use English within classroom boundaries.

This study has come out with a useful rapid-prototyping engine that helps the teachers and the instructional designers who do not have programming knowledge, to use them easily and efficiently. This study, as a matter of fact, has contributed to cut down the development time in designing a courseware and freed the teachers from the tedious process of courseware design. It then, enables the teachers to focus on their core business of teaching.

One of the main objectives of this study was to examine the effectiveness of the two learning modes (redundancy mode and modality mode) on the students' achievement and on their perceived motivation towards the modes of instruction. The findings of this evaluation part show the effectiveness of the learning environment in the students' learning outcome. In addition, this study also suggests the important caveats that were necessary for the positive effects of adding redundant on-screen text for students where the textual information was foreign to them.

Finally, ATI study was also conducted in this experiment study. It was carried out to find the result in determining the interaction effects between the learning modes and the learning preferences style (visual and verbal) related to the students' gain scores and IMMS scores. In other words, this study intended to identify the best instructional method that could accommodate the individual preferences to facilitate the learning process.

Theoretical Framework

The theoretical foundation of this study is based on two learning theories that provide a deeper understanding of how students acquire a second/foreign language. These theories are Krashen's Input hypothesis theory (1981) and Long's Interaction hypothesis theory (1983). Additionally, the theoretical framework of this study is also derived from three relevant instructional design theories that provide clear guidelines for designing a proposed learning environment. These theories are Mayer's Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (2001), Sweller's Cognitive Load Theory (1988; 1994), and Paivio's Dual Coding Theory (1986; 1991). In addition, this study also used two design models. These models are Jonassens's Model of Constructivist Learning Environment (1999) and Kellers's ARCS model of motivation (1987).

According to Reigeluth (1999) the instructional design theories are very different from the learning theories. Learning theories are "prescriptive" oriented, they attempt to provide a deeper understanding of effects that result from phenomena, whereas instructional design theories are "design" oriented, they attempt to provide a direct guidance about the methods and the appropriate situation in which those methods should be used to achieve a particular goal (Reigeluth, 1999). Brief mentions of these theories are described within that context here and will be further elaborated in Chapter two.

The Learning Theories of the Theoretical Framework

The theoretical foundation that provide a deeper understanding on how students acquire a second/foreign language are originated from Krashen's Input hypothesis theory (1981) and Long's Interaction hypothesis theory (1983).

Krashen's Input hypothesis theory

Input hypothesis theory is one of the most important theories in the second language acquisition proposed by Krashen (1981; 1982). This theory provides a description of how people acquire a second/foreign language. It argues that people can acquire a language in only one way by understanding a comprehensive input "i+1" where "i" represents the current competence and "1" represents the new incoming information. Krashen defines "i+1" as comprehensive input which means that students should be able to understand what is being presented to them. In other words, the language input must contain "i+1" not "i+2" or "i+0" which means students can only be able to acquire language when the incoming information is" little beyond" their current level of knowledge.

Long's Interaction hypothesis theory

Interaction hypothesis theory is another theory in the second language acquisition theories. This theory proposed by Long (1983) and states that the students should be active when receiving the language input. Long asserts that negotiation of meaning is essential for second language acquisition, because it helps students to make input more comprehensible by modified interactions in order to understand language input. According to Long (1983) negotiation of meaning provides more opportunities for students to receive various language modifications which lead to facilitate their language learning than the simplified input.

1.8.2 The Instructional Design Theories of the Theoretical Framework

The theoretical foundations that provide clear guidelines to design and develop a proposed learning environment are originated from Mayer's Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (Mayer, 2001; Clark & Mayer, 2003; 2008), Sweller's Cognitive Load Theory (Sweller, 1988, 1994, 1999), and Paivio's Dual Coding Theory (Paivio, 1986). In addition, this study also used two instructional design models. These models are Jonassens's Model of Constructivist Learning Environment (Jonassen, 1999), and Keller's ARCS Model of Motivation (Keller, 1987). A summary of these theories and models are mentioned here and will be further discussed in Chapter two.

Mayer's Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning

The cognitive theory of multimedia learning provides a description of how people learn from pictures and words. The theory draws on three theoretical assumptions: dual channel assumption; limited capacity assumption; and active processing. The dual channel assumption is aligned with Paivio's dual coding theory (Paivio, 1986). The limited capacity assumption is in concert with cognitive load theory (Sweller, 1988, 1994, 1999). The active processing assumption is the Mayer's philosophy for meaningful learning. According to him the meaningful learning occurs when student engages in three cognitive processing. First, selecting relevant words and images as registered in the sensory memory. Second, organizing these relevant words and images into coherent verbal and visual models of the short-term memory. Third, integrating the corresponding representations of the verbal and visual models with each other and with relevant prior-knowledge retrieved from the long-term memory.

Dual Coding Theory

The dual coding theory was proposed by Paivio (1971, 1986). This theory postulates that human cognition consists of two distinct subsystems, namely; verbal and nonverbal. The two systems have different functions. The verbal subsystem processes and stores linguistic information whereas the non-verbal subsystem processes and stores images and pictorial information. This theory claimed that learning happens best when the two subsystems can work or connect together.

Cognitive Load Theory

Cognitive load theory claims that learning occurs better under conditions that are aligned with human cognitive architecture. Human cognitive architecture consists of a sensory memory, a working memory (short-term memory) and a long-term memory. Sensory memory is a bridge between out-word and brain. It sends the information to the working memory. Working memory then processes the information that is received either from the sensory memory or from the long-term memory. Long-term memory is used to store unlimited amount of information that can be retrieved anytime by the working memory. However, working memory is limited in duration and capacity. It can only process a small amount of information when the materials have high interactivity element. Cognitive load theory concerns with the limitation of the working memory. It provides direct guidance to the instructional designers about what methods should be used to minimise the unnecessary cognitive effort that does not contribute to the learning.

Constructivist Learning Environment Model

Jonassen (1999) developed a model for designing constructivist learning environments (CLEs). This model is intended to provide guidelines for designing learning environment based on constructivist approach. In CLEs, the students' goal is to interpret and solve a problem or complete a project. It conceives of a problem, question, or project as the focus of the environment, embraced by various interpretative and intellectual support systems. The model provides five major guidelines to build constructivist learning environment namely, related cases, information resources, cognitive tools, conversation/collaboration tools, and social/contextual support tools.

Keller's ARCS Model of Motivation

Keller (1987) developed ARCS model of motivation that provides a systematic approach for designing motivational learning environment. The acronym 'ARCS ' refers to the four crucial strategies that should be embedded in designing process for motivating instruction: A- Attention, R- Relevance, C- Confidence and S- Satisfaction. This model is drawn from a comprehensive review of the literature conducted by Keller in social learning theory, motivation theory and cognitive psychology.

1.8.3 The Connection between the Learning Theories and the Instructional Design Theories of the Theoretical Framework

There are two possible clear connections between the learning theories and the instructional design theories that were selected for the theoretical framework of the present study.

First, Krashen argues that the "comprehensible input" is the only way to acquire a second/foreign language. By comprehensible input, he means that students should be able to understand what is being presented to them. This theory is related to the Mayer's cognitive theory of multimedia learning. Mayer states that "meaningful inputs" for selection, organization and integration of knowledge have to occur for meaningful learning. This input can be in the form of pictures (static pictures or animation) as well as text (either narrative text or on-screen text). Mayer's theory can help to provide a direct guidance to design and produce a meaningful input that is slightly beyond the current level of the students.

Second, Long's interaction theory posits the importance of negotiation meaning on the language input between the students and native speakers. Long states that students can make the language input more comprehensible through modified interactions which leads to enhance their learning process. This theory can be connected with the Jonassen's model of constructivist learning environment. Jonassen states that knowledge is individually constructed and socially co-constructed by students. Therefore, it is necessary to provide an environment where the students are posed with a problem or question to focus on, and the learning environment provides various tools for interpretative and intellectual support to address the problem or question faced by students.

Research Framework

The research design of this study is depicted in Figure 1.2. A quasi- experimental design that employed a 2 x 2 factorial design was conducted in this study to investigate the effects of two learning modes namely, redundancy mode (MR2LO) and modality mode (M2RLO) on students' gain score and on their perceived motivation towards the modes of instructions. The independent variables are the two learning modes. Moderator variable is the learning preferences style (visual or verbal). The dependent variables are the students' gain scores and students' perceived motivation that will be measured by the RLO-based test and IMMS questionnaires respectively.

Moderator variable

Learning Preferences Style (LPS)

MR2LO

M2RLO

Independent variables

Dependent variable

Gain score (post-test score minus pre-test score) for RLO-based test

Dependent variable

IMMS score for IMMS questionnaires

MR2LO

- Redundancy mode

M2RLO

- Modality Mode

LPS

- Visual preferences-Verbal preferences

Figure 1.2: The Research design of the study

Operational Definitions

For the purpose of clarification, the following terms used in this study were either adopted from other studies or were operationally defined as follows:

Multimedia Modality Reusable Learning Objects (M2RLO)

Modality mode (M2RLO) is computer-based instruction employing reusable learning objects and modality principle as proposed by Clark and Mayer (2008) through the courseware in an environment of multimedia learning.

Multimedia Redundancy Reusable Learning Objects (MR2LO)

Redundancy mode (MR2LO) is computer-based instruction employing reusable learning objects and redundancy principle as proposed by Clark and Mayer (2008) through the courseware in an environment of multimedia learning.

Reusable Learning objects

RLO is any digital resource that can be reused to support learning (Wiley, 2002).

Multimedia Learning

Multimedia learning is learning from words and pictures. The words can be printed text or spoken text. The pictures can be in static form, such as illustrations, photos, diagrams, charts, or maps, or in dynamic form, such as animation or video (Mayer, 2008).

E-learning

Training delivered on a computer (including CD-ROM, Internet, or Intranet) that is designed to support individual learning or organizational performance goals (Clark & Mayer, 2008).

EFL

English as a foreign language, English for non-native English-speakers who do not live in English speaking societies.

g) L2

It is second language. In this study it is also used to denote "foreign language".

h) L1

It is first language or mother tongue. In this study, it refers to the first language (L1) of the Yemeni students (i.e. Arabic).

Learning preferences style

Individual differences among students in the way they acquire and process visual and verbal information (Plass, Chun, Mayer, & Leutner, 1998).

Visual students

A visual student is any student who prefers to access and process information in non-verbal mode, such as pictures and diagram.

Verbal students

A verbal student is any student who participates prefers to access and process information in verbal mode, such as written text.

Perceived Motivation

Motivation is a student's desire to learn the course content and her\his interest in instructional materials, which will measure by the Instructional Materials Motivation Survey (Keller, 1993).

High Motivation

Students who obtain average scores on perceived motivation measured by Keller's Instructional Materials Motivation Scale (IMMS) are above the median.

Low Motivation

Students who obtain average scores on perceived motivation measured by Keller's Instructional Materials Motivation Scale (IMMS) are below the median.

Gain Score

Gain score is obtained from the difference between the pre-test scores and post-test scores.

The IMMS Score

The IMMS score is obtained from the implementation of the Instructional Materials Motivational Scale after the treatment.

Checklist Gain Score

Checklist gain score is obtained from the difference between the pre-checklist score and post-checklist score.

1.11 Layout of Thesis

The body of this thesis consists of six chapters. The organization of the chapters is as follows:

Chapter One

This chapter describes the background of the problem statement, presents the problem statement, and specifies the purpose, the objectives and the hypotheses of the study. The significance of the study is also provided. It then, describes the theoretical framework followed by the research framework. The chapter ends with operation definitions that will be used throughout the study.

Chapter Two

This chapter presents the literature review of this study. The chapter starts by discussing the related theories of learning English as a foreign language. It is then, followed by a description of the related theories and models that form the instructional design theoretical framework which is RLO-based. Redundancy principle and modality principle that were employed in the learning modes are deeply discussed. The chapter also reviews contemporary literatures pertaining to the reusable learning objects: RLOs definition, RLOs revolution, need for RLOs, characteristics of RLOs, RLOs hierarchy, granularity, taxonomy, metadata, and RLOs repositories. Lastly, the chapter ends with discussion on the aptitude-by-treatment interactions with respect to students' learning preferences style.

Chapter Three

This chapter describes the research methodology, design, samples, research instruments and procedures, experiment protocols that were given to the teacher assistants on how to conduct the pilot study and the treatment study. Along with these, procedures and methods for the data analysis of the study were also described.

Chapter Four

This chapter describes in details the design and development of the Multimedia courseware based on RLOs.

Chapter Five

This chapter presents the results in response to the research hypotheses. The chapter deals with data analyses and findings.

Chapter Six

The final chapter of this thesis presents the discussion on study's outcomes. It presents the interpretation of the results that were obtained from the evaluation part of the present study. Lastly, the chapter ends with implications, conclusion and a list of recommendations.

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