ESL Distance Learners’ Participation in an Online Forum: The Interplay of Contextual Factors

Sadhna Nair-Prakash, Siti Hamin Stapa

Abstract


This paper highlights the findings of a study examining the contextual factors that mediated distance learners’ participation in an online forum (OLF). Contextual factors are elements that emerge as a result of distance learners’ interaction with their social environment. The study drew on a sociocultural perspective that encompassed the concepts of communities of practice, mediation and dialogic interaction. These concepts advocate that both learning for knowledge and language learning are processes of social interaction. The participants of the study were adult ESL learners enrolled in a distance learning institution that employs a blended learning pedagogy. Multiple sources of information comprising semi-structured interview, text-based interview and informal chats were used for data collection purposes. Data was analysed using the constant comparative method. Through this approach, contextual factors mediating distance learners’ participation in the OLF were uncovered. 


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Advances in Language and Literary Studies

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