EnglishCentral is constantly being evaluated by professionals in the field. One recent study is by Shane Dixon of Arizona State University titled:”Evaluating the Impact of an Online English Language Tool’s Ability to Improve Users’ Speaking Proficiency under Learner- and Shared-control Conditions”
Here is a brief summary of the research and findings.
The study looked at EnglishCentral as used by 83 advanced level students in ASU’s AECP (American English and Culture Program) listening and speaking course. All learners were given a pre and post test to measure their English language fluency using the Pearson Versant Test
There were 3 groups examined.
1. Learner control. EnglishCentral “free” study. Students chose the videos lessons or courses they would study on EnglishCentral
2. Shared control. EnglishCentral controlled study. Experienced teachers selected video lessons and assigned them as a custom course for student study. Additionally, students could also select their own video lessons.
3. No treatment. No EnglishCentral study but were given an equivalent amount of traditional homework as the 2 other control groups
1. In addition to the 168 hours of classroom instruction does the use of EnglishCentral (learner or shared) lead to gains in fluency vs the no treatment group?
The study found significant gains in fluency through the use of EnglishCentral as a study tool vs the no treatment group when in the shared control condition.
2. Is the shared-control or learner-control system in the EnglishCentral environment better at achieving learner gains in speaking proficiency?
Surprisingly, the shared-control group (which controlled for language level/appropriateness) had the more significant gains in speaking proficiency.
3. Is student attitude, operationalized as the combination of motivation, ease of use, and feelings about technology, affected by the learner control and shared control models? Do other variables such as age, gender, first language, and teacher effect learning outcomes?
Student attitude and motivation was a factor. Students with higher comfort using technology generally had higher achievement scores. Teacher attitude towards technology and EnglishCentral use in general was not a contributing factor towards student success (as measured by an additional survey).
The research raises many interesting questions which are described in the full paper.
Is EnglishCentral better used during class time (as opposed to homework done outside of class, in the study)?
Why is EnglishCentral not as effective when students are given full control of the learning environment?