take home exam in research method in applied linguistics
Zhang, X., & Cui, G. (2010).Learning beliefs of distance foreign language learners in China: A survey study. System, 38, 30-40.
Please answer the following questions. Write a couple of sentences per question but no more than a paragraph. Each question is worth 1 point unless otherwise noted.
Submit a Word (preferred) or pdf document with your answers via the LMS.
1. In the Instrument section of their Method section (p.32), Zhang and Cui say: “Ongoing modification was made to the survey based on student’s feedback during
the process of collecting data.” Why is this highly problematic?
2. Also in the Instrument section of their Method section (p.32), Zhang and Cui say: “Survey questions were presented in English to avoid measurement error which
could be attributed to translation of the survey into Chinese.” Why is this highly problematic?
3. In Table 2 (p. 34), Zhang & Cui include several statements that address the same issue but have opposite polarity. Why is it a good idea to include similar
statements with opposite polarity in a questionnaire?
4. Also in Table 2, what is unusual in how Zhang and Cui use Likert scales?
5. Look at Table 5 on p. 36 (reproduced below).
a. Comparing the first and third question of the “What kind of learner are you?” section, what change in learners’ preferences is apparent from first to third
b. How can this difference be explained in terms of learner autonomy? (0.5 points)
c. What alternative explanation (that has nothing to do with autonomy) might there be? (0.5 points)
6. In their Discussion, Zhang & Cui state: “Most of the students showed similar beliefs and perceptions as learners in conventional classrooms”. Why is this
statement not supported by their study?
7. Look at their reference list on pp. 39-40. How many references are from peer-reviewed, first- or second-tier Applied Linguistics journals within five years of
Zhang and Cui’s article’s publication (2005-2010)? Check the Powerpoint from our first session for a list of such journals.
Learning beliefs of distance foreign language learners in
China: A survey study
Xiuyuan Zhang a,*, Gang Cui b
a Policy Research, Evaluation and Measurement, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, USA
b Department of Foreign Languages, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
Received 1 June 2009; received in revised form 4 September 2009; accepted 19 October 2009
This survey study investigated learning beliefs held by distance English language learners in China. Beliefs about the
nature of language learning, the role of the teacher, the role of feedback, language learning strategies, and self-efficacy were
examined through survey instruments. The main research focus was on the difficulties perceived by distance language
learners, their readiness for autonomous approaches to English learning, and the differences in beliefs between beginner
distance learners and those with more distance education experience. It was found that the majority of the participants
perceived insufficient communication with teachers and peer students as the dominant difficulty in distance learning,
and that distance language learning was more difficult than traditional classroom language learning. Results also revealed
that distance language learners with more distance learning experience believed more strongly in the benefits of an autonomous
approach to learning and had a lower degree of anxiety and frustration than those at beginner level.
2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Beliefs; Distance education; Foreign language learning; Distance learning; English; Autonomy
In the past decade, distance education has attracted considerable attention from educators, university
administrators, and individual learners in China. Compared to traditional classroom education, distance education
provides learners with more flexible access to learning resources in time and space. Those with jobs and/
or family commitments (Niu et al., 2005) consider distance learning as a convenient approach to higher education
and/or continuing education. Distance learning requires more responsibility from learners because of
its independent study mode (Hurd, 2000). Within the limits of instructional design, distance learners can make
their own decisions about when and how to study.
Distance learners are likely to experience more difficulties than learners of other subjects (Sussex, 1991). The
acquisition, practice, and assessment of foreign language speaking skills are problematic given the physical
0346-251X/$ – see front matter 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 540 922 2308.
E-mail addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org (X. Zhang), email@example.com (G. Cui).
Available online at www.sciencedirect.com
System 38 (2010) 30–40
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