A THREE MONTH LONGITUDINAL COMPARISON OF SYNCHRONOUS COMPUTER MEDIATED COMMUNICATION (SCMC) IN FIRST AND SECOND SEMESTER COLLEGE SPANISH COURSES
The Pennsylvania State University (UNITED STATES)
This study uses A New Global Environment for Learning (ANGEL), the official Course Management system for The Penn State University since it has a feature for online chatting which permits synchronous communication between all students signed up on ANGEL in a specific course. All chat communications are viewed by all communicators including the instructor. By selecting a tracking option, all messages are saved and the instructor can view them at a later date. Although the relevance of quantity and quality in Synchronous Computer Mediated Communication (SCMC) in language college courses has been reported in studies by Kelm (1992), Chun (1994), Kern (1995), Warschauer (1996, 1997), Beauvois (1998), and González-Lloret (2011) among others, there are few longitudinal studies comparing the quantity and quality of communication between first and second semester college Spanish courses.
This study compares SCMC where students had to discuss similar and different topics in a first and second semester Spanish course during a three month period. Some of the results show a 188% increase in word production within two months of instruction in a first semester course, with the production of subordination by the end of the third month. Results also show similar quantity in chatting when the same topic was addressed by students enrolled in both first and second semester college Spanish courses. Focus on the form was an important variable in production of discourse because when second semester students were asked to produce the Present Perfect instead of simple past tenses, discourse quantity decreased by 36.5%. Although some second semester students produced subordinated clauses, the level of complexity as measured by the Coordination Index (CI) only increased 4.5% during the semester. Finally, both first and second semester students seemed to average 12 – 13 messages per hour compared to 10 messages per 75 min produced by students in a third semester course taking German as reported by Beauvois (1998).