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Enriching Academic Vocabulary of the Undergraduates in Technological Study Stream in Sri Lanka: A Comparative Exploration of the Effectiveness of Virtual Blended and Face-To-Face Modes

Authors:

R. P. Dharmawardene ,

University of Colombo, LK
About R. P.
Faculty of Graduate Studies
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T. A. Weerasinghe,

University of Colombo, LK
About T. A.
UCSC
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M. G. L. Ananda

University of Sri Jayewardenepura, LK
About M. G. L.
Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities
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Abstract

This mixed method case study explored and compared the effectiveness of the Virtual Blended Mode (VBM) and the fully F2F mode in improving academic vocabulary of the undergraduates learning English as a Second Language (ESL) in the F2F mode at the Faculty of Technology in the University of Colombo (UOC). The theoretical alignment was Vygotsky’s (1978) Sociocultural Theory and Anderson’s (1977) Schema Theory. The qualitative part of the study included questionnaire responses from 21 visiting lecturers of English, of the Department of English Language Teaching, UOC, on the most commonly used vocabulary strategy to enhance receptive and productive vocabulary of the undergraduates. The quantitative part of the study included a receptive vocabulary test and a productive vocabulary test with 36 test items. Semantic Mapping strategy (Graves, 2008) was used for vocabulary development activities. Two samples consisted of 96 participants with limited prior knowledge and 78 with higher level of prior knowledge in ESL purposefully were selected based on the grades obtained at their G.C.E. A/L Examination in 2016/2017. Both samples were further grouped as VBM and F2F randomly assigning participants. Two experimental (VBM) groups underwent the intervention with 120 academic vocabulary activities using the Learning Management System (LMS) created for this study while the two control groups practiced the same activities in their F2F classes. All participants used the semantic mapping strategy. The LMS was facilitated with the newest feature of the Web 2.0 technology, the BigBlueButton feature enabling the participants to work collaboratively in small groups online. Receptive and productive vocabulary tests were administered to all participants. Rubric was used to assign scores for answers of the tests. Data analysis focused on the receptive and productive levels of improvement in academic vocabulary. The results showed a significant improvement in the receptive vocabulary development of the participants in the VBM groups in both samples who had the opportunity to practice in a better collaborative environment interacting with their peers 10 percent of the time in F2F mode and 90 percent of the time online compared to their counterparts who practiced 100 percent of the time in the F2F mode proving Vygotsky’s (1978) Sociocultural Theory. However, the participants with limited prior knowledge in ESL performed less in productive test compared to their receptive test showing difficulty in using new words in new contexts proving the Schema Theory (Anderson, 1977) while the participants with higher knowledge performed well in the productive tests disregarding the mode of delivery being utilized. Thus, the study highlights the pedagogical implications for teaching academic English in the context of teaching ESL in Universities in Sri Lanka.
How to Cite: Dharmawardene, R. P., Weerasinghe, T. A., & Ananda, M. G. L. (2020). Enriching Academic Vocabulary of the Undergraduates in Technological Study Stream in Sri Lanka: A Comparative Exploration of the Effectiveness of Virtual Blended and Face-To-Face Modes. Colombo Journal of Multi-disciplinary Research, 5(1-2), 67–96. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/cjmr.v5i1-2.55
Published on 28 Dec 2020.
Peer Reviewed

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