Exploring engagement in foreign language instructional design and practice
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This dissertation includes two studies to explore the application of task engagement principles in foreign language instructional design and practice. The first study explores how task engagement principles can be integrated into online foreign language instructional design. It employs a design-based research (DBR) approach to combining research and design in the development of Chinese as a foreign language (CFL) online learning tasks for American teacher education students. With the intent of solving practical problems in a real teaching context, five designers worked as a design team in this study to refine an online learning module. Through the design process, the team explored how task engagement principles could be integrated into an online learning module and how collaboration and interaction among researchers and designers could support the implementation of the design. Finally, five engagement principles were identified as essential elements in designing engaging tasks and an onsite learning segment was suggested by students to offer more opportunities for instant feedback and practice. The second study is designed as a follow-up study to examine whether the refined Chinese learning module is effective in engaging students in practice. This study employs the five engagement principles identified by the first study as the theoretical framework to explore whether and why students perceive engagement in a flipped CFL learning environment in which they learned language content online and practiced onsite. In this flipped learning environment, the online learning segment consisted of the refined learning tasks reported in the first study, and the onsite segment was created according to students' suggestions and feedback. Participants were 50 American undergraduate pre-service teachers who were enrolled in a flipped Chinese for Teachers module in Fall 2013. Surveys, follow-up interviews, focus groups and student documents explored how students perceive their engagement in the Chinese learning tasks and the reasons for their perceptions. Participants' perceptions of five engagement principles are presented and the reasons for their perceptions are discussed under each engagement element. Finally, implications are generated for future instructional design and practice.