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The Impact of Clickers on Students Foreign Language Learning

Cora Roush
Liyan Song
Scot McNary
Towson University
Abstract: Thepurposeofthispaperistoreportonthefindingsofastudyexaminingtheimpactofusing
Clickersinclassroomsonhighstudentsintegrativemotivationandselfefficacytolearnandacquire
Spanish.ThestudyinvolvedsixSpanishclassesatamediumsized,MidAtlantichighschool.Acrossover
designandtwosurveyswereusedtocollectdata.Alinearmixedmodelwithrepeatedmeasuresformonth
andarandomintercepteffectforparticipantswasusedtoanalyzethedata.Dataanalysesindicatedthat
studentsSEslightlyincreasedwhileusingclickers,buttherewasnoconsistenteffectofclickersonstudents
integrativemotivation.ThisimpliesthatotherfactorsbesidesaparticulartechnologyuseaffectSEand
integrativemotivationand,inordertochangethem,amuchbroaderkindofinterventionisnecessary.

Introduction
Theadvantagesoflearningaforeignlanguage(L2)areobvious,andknowledgeofmorethanone
language,regardlessofwhatthelanguageis,leadstoacademic,cognitive,andculturalbenefits(Awad,
2014).Forexample,L2learninghasapositiveeffectonintellectualgrowth,enrichesandenhancesa
childsmentaldevelopment,andleavesstudentswithmoreflexibilityinthinking,greatersensitivityto
language,andabetterearforlistening(CenterforAppliedLinguistics,2013).Mentalflexibility,orthe
abilitytoshiftbetweensymbolsystemssuchasmathematicsandliteracy,isincreasedinstudentswhohave
experiencewithtwolanguages,whichimprovestheproblemsolvingskillsessentialforacademic
achievement(Met,2004).MarthaAbbott,DirectorofEducationforAmericanCouncilontheTeachingof
ForeignLanguages(ACTFL),said,Thebrainislikeamuscle.Whenyoulearnaforeignlanguageyou
beginworkingpartsofthebrainyoudonotnormallyuse.Itincreasesintelligence,communicationskills,
higherlevelthinkingskills,andcriticalanalysis(ACTFL,2013,n.p.).ArneDuncan(2010),theUnited
StatesSecretaryofEducation,stated,ThePresidentandIwanteverychildtohaveaworldclass
educationandtoday,morethanever,aworldclasseducationrequiresstudentstobeabletospeakand
readlanguagesinadditiontoEnglish(n.p.).
DespitethebenefitsoflearninganL2andtherequirementofaworldclasseducation,studentsin
theUnitedStates,whencomparedtotheircounterpartsinotherindustrializednationsandasignificant
numberofdevelopingones,lagfarbehindintheirL2capabilitiesandknowledgeofothercultures(Awad,
2014;Duncan,2010;Met,2004).ThereisaneedtostrengthentheL2skillsofthestudentsintheUnited
StatessothattheycanachievethelevelofL2proficiencythatstudentsinothercountrieshaveobtained,
competewiththeminourglobalsociety,andobtaintheacademic,cognitive,andculturalbenefits
associatedwiththeknowledgeofanL2.
StudentsintheU.S.havebeenfoundtohavelowintegrativemotivationandselfefficacy(SE):
twoofthemostinfluencingfactorsinL2learning.Theintegrationoftechnology,specificallyclickers,has
thepotentialtobooststudentsintegrativemotivationandSE.However,thereisaneedfordataonvarious
L2teachingmethodologiesandaneedtoinvestigate,research,anddeterminehoweffectivelytechnologies
arebeingusedintheL2classrooms(Pufahl&Rhodes,2011).Eventhoughclickershavebeenusedin
lecturehallssincethe1960sandthemanybenefitsoftheirusehavebeenrepeatedlydiscoveredwith
numerousstudiesinotherdisciplines,clickershaveattractedverylittleattentionbyL2researchers
(Cardoso,2011),andtheiruseisstillininfancyinthisfield(Garatti,2013,p.75).Furthermore,because

clickersareanexcellenttoolfortakingattendanceinlarge,lecturehallclasses,themajorityoftheresearch
studieshavetakenplaceatthecollegeanduniversitylevels,andtherehavebeenveryfewstudies
completedattheK12levels(Graham,2013).Finally,becausethemajorityofthepublishedpaperson
clickersinvestigatehowstudentsfeelaboutclickersortheirperceptionsregardingtheuseofthem,thereis
insufficientresearchregardingtheeffectsofclickersorthepotentialbenefitsthattheycouldbringto
learningoutcomes(Bojinova&Oigara,2011;Cardoso,2011),includingaffectingL2studentsintegrative
motivationandSE.Thereisaneedtofillthesegapsintheliteratureanddeterminetheeffectsofclickers
onhighschoolstudentsintegrativemotivationandSEtolearnandacquireanL2.

Thestudy
ThepurposeoftheresearchwastodetermineiftheSEandintegrativemotivationofL2students
atamediumsized,midAtlanticpublichighschoolcouldbeaffectedbyparticipatinginL2instruction
withtheuseofclickers.ThisstudycomparedstudentsSEandintegrativemotivationafterparticipatingin
traditionallearningandlearningwithclickers.InordertodeterminechangesinSEandintegrative
motivationwhenusingthedifferentlearningstrategies,thisresearchwasguidedbythefollowing
questions:
1. Isthereastatisticallysignificantdifferenceinstudentselfefficacytolearnandacquirea
secondlanguageafterparticipatinginsecondlanguagelearningexerciseswithclickersas
comparedtotraditionalsecondlanguagelearningexercises?
2. Isthereastatisticallysignificantdifferenceinstudentintegrativemotivationtolearnand
acquireasecondlanguageafterparticipatinginsecondlanguagelearningexerciseswith
clickersascomparedtotraditionalsecondlanguagelearningexercises?
DatawerecollectedfromparticipantswhowereenrolledinsixhighschoolSpanishclassesthat
wereusedasboththetreatmentandcontrolgroupsusingawithinsubjectscrossoverdesign.Threeclasses,
theClickers1stgroup,wereselectedtoparticipateinlearningwithclickerswhiletheotherthreeclasses,
theClickers2ndgroup,participatedintraditionallearningforonemarkingperiod.Thegroupsthen
crossedoverfromthetreatmentgrouptothecontrolgroupandfromthecontrolgrouptothetreatment
groupforanothermarkingperiod.Twoinstrumentswereutilizedtocollectdata:theAttitude/Motivation
TestBattery(AMTB)wasusedtomeasureintegrativeandinstrumentalmotivation,andtheMorganJinks
StudentEfficacyScale(MJSES)wasusedtogaininformationaboutstudentsSEbeliefs.Bothinstruments
wereadministeredinapreandposttestfashion,priortoandsubsequenttoparticipationinbothtypesof
learningactivitiesatthebeginningofthefirstmarkingperiodinOctober,attheendofthefirstmarking
periodpriortothecrossoverinJanuary,andattheendofthesecondmarkingperiodafterthecrossoverin
March.

AnalysisandFindings
Dataanalysesconsistedofalinearmixedmodelwithrepeatedmeasuresformonthandrandom
interceptforparticipants.Followingaprocedurebywhichsignificantgroupbymonthinteractionterms
wereassessedforsignificanttimeeffectswithineachclickergroup,withingroupmeandifferenceswere
testedforsignificance,andeffectsizesforthedifferenceswerecomputed.
Findings for research question 1: Isthereastatisticallysignificantdifferenceinstudentself
efficacytolearnandacquireasecondlanguageafterparticipatinginsecondlanguagelearningexercises
withclickersascomparedtotraditionalsecondlanguagelearningexercises?
Data used to answer this question were obtained from the Morgan-Jinks Student Efficacy Scale
(MJSES). The first step of data analysis was to test the clicker group by month interaction because such an
interaction effect would provide evidence that clickers may have had an effect on students SE. The group

by month interaction was statistically significant for Talent Items, F(2, 110.01) = 19.19; p < 0.001, Context
Items, F(2, 103.84) = 6.64; p < 0.002, and Effort Items F(2, 110.29) = 6.88; p < 0.002, suggesting that the
time effect was different for the two clicker groups in all three subscales of the MJSES. To provide further
evidence on the Clickers impact, tests of mean differences between October and January and January and
March were conducted within each clicker group in order to probe these interactions separately by clickers
group and determine if clickers actually did affect the students SE. In all three subscales, the OctoberJanuary mean difference was positive and statistically significant for the Clickers 1st group indicating that
the students SE significantly improved while using clickers. Overall, these findings indicate that students
SE slightly increased while using clickers. It is important to point out that these outcomes were found at
two different time periods amongst two different groups, and this replication promotes confidence in the
findings.
Findings for research question 2:Isthereastatisticallysignificantdifferenceinstudentintegrative
motivationtolearnandacquireasecondlanguageafterparticipatinginsecondlanguagelearningexercises
withclickersascomparedtotraditionalsecondlanguagelearningexercises?
Data used to answer this question were obtained from the Attitude/Motivation Test Battery
(AMTB). As done in the MJSES analyses, a linear mixed model with repeated measures for month and a
random intercept effect for participants was used to detect and explain effects of the use of clickers on
students integrative motivation. Group by month interactions were determined, and, if interactions were
detected, it was determined in which group the time effect was observed by testing October-January and
January-March within group mean differences. There was one significant change in the Integrativeness
Index in which both the Clickers 1st and Clickers 2nd groups increased from October to January in Attitudes
toward Spanish-speaking Individuals but, because this change occurred in both groups during the same
time period, it was concluded that this was not an effect of clickers. In the Motivation Index, there was one
significant change in which the Clickers 1st group decreased in Motivational Intensity from January to
March but, because this change occurred in the absence of clickers and no changes occurred in the presence
of clickers, it was determined that clickers did not have an effect on this outcome. In the Attitudes toward
the Learning Situation Index, one significant change occurred in which the Clickers 1st group increased
from October to January in Spanish Course Evaluation. Because this change occurred in just one group and
during just one time period, it can be concluded that clickers did not have an effect on this outcome. In the
Attitude/Motivation Index, three significant changes took place. Both groups decreased in Spanish
Classroom Anxiety from October to January but, because this change occurred in both groups at the same
time, it was determined that this change was not due to clickers. The Clickers 2nd group decreased in
Instrumental Orientation from October to January, and the Clickers 1st group decreased in this subscale
from January to March. Because these changes occurred in the absence of clickers and no changes occurred
in the presence of clickers, it was determined that clickers did not have an effect on these outcomes.
Overall, there was no consistent effect of clickers on students integrative motivation to learn and acquire
an L2 found. As a result, one cannot be confident in the potential of clickers to improve this important
factor of L2 learning.

Conclusions
Thefindingsofthisstudyrevealedthat,afterparticipationinalearningexperiencewithclickers
andatraditionallearningexperience,studentsSEtolearnandacquireanL2slightlyimproved,whereas
theirintegrativemotivationtodosowasnotaffected.Resultssuggestedthatotherfactorsbesidesa
particulartechnologyuseaffectSEandintegrativemotivationand,inordertochangethem,amuch
broaderkindofinterventionisnecessary.DuetotheimportanceofSEandintegrativemotivationinthe
successoflearningandacquiringanL2,furtherresearchshouldyieldinformationonotherwaysclickers
couldbeusedtoenhancethem.Forexample,couldtheuseofclickersbecombinedwithother
interventionstofurtherimproveSEandtoimproveintegrativemotivation?Theeffectsofclickerson
studentsselfassessmentandattributionsofsuccessorfailure,twokeyfactorsthataffectSE,couldalsobe
investigated.

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