A linguistic analysis of the communication demands in typical technology-mediated learning environments

This project is funded by the 2018 TOEFL Committee of Examiners Research Grant. I am co-PI with Kris Kyle and Nicole Ziegler.

An important aspect of a validity argument for a language assessment tool is a demonstrated alignment between the linguistic demands of the target language use domain and the assessment tasks (Chapelle, Enright, & Jamieson, 2011). Corpus linguistic analyses are well suited to generate such evidence (Biber et al., 2004), provided appropriate corpora exist. A number of corpora exist that represent various types of language that university students encounter and/or produce in traditional academic settings (e.g., Alsop & Nesi, 2009; Biber et al., 2004; Römer & O’Donnell, 2011). Increasingly, however, a typical university experience may be supplemented with technology mediated learning environments (TMLEs) (Jacoby, 2014; Means, Toyama, Murphy, & Baki, 2013), which are not represented in extant academic corpora. The proposed project seeks to address this gap in three stages. First, a survey will be conducted to determine the types of texts that are typically encountered and produced in TMLE. Second, a corpus of the typical texts that are encountered and produced in TMLEs will be collected. Finally, linguistic analyses will be conducted to explore the linguistic features of TMLE, both across registers within the corpus and in relation to extant academic corpora comprised of more traditional registers. The main outcomes of the project include the addition of a large, balanced corpus of TMLE texts to existing resources and an in-depth report of the linguistic demands of typical TMLEs, including how these demands compare with more traditional university learning environments.