Friday, March 16, 2018

A Short Example of a HyperText Narrative

A Tiger versus a Shark.

A Tiger versus a Shark.

A hypertext narrative by

Nicholas Walker

Created with

The Virtual Writing Tutor Grammar Checker

Next

Word count: 225

Choice count: 6

Section count: 4

Image count: 4

Error count: 0

Field Related Analysis:

Environmental and Wildlife Management : 9 matches (tiger, shark, habitat, zoo, blood, eyes, claws, fur, leg)

Computer Science : 5 matches (choice, counter, floor, table, versus)

Nuclear Medicine : 4 matches (back, blood, leg, pain)

Target Structure:

Next

A Tiger versus a Shark.

My kitchen

Start here.

When I woke up, I was shocked to find a tiger on my counter and a shark in my sink. I knew immediately what I needed to do.

Choice 1 : Fight the tiger.

Choice 2 : Attack the shark.

Choice 3 : Take the tiger to the zoo.

Fight the tiger

Fight the tiger.

I decided to fight the tiger that had entered my habitat. I crouched low, and then I leaped onto the tiger's back, grabbing onto its fur. The tiger was too quick for me. He spun around and clawed my back. Its claws glistened with blood. The shark sensed the blood, and as its eyes rolled back in its head, it jumped from the sink onto the floor to chew on my right leg. The pain was terrible. I quickly slipped into unconsciousness and never woke up again.

Choice 1 : Start again from the beginning

Fight the shark

Attack the shark.

Using my best boxing moves, I pummeled the shark into submission and carried it to the table to feed the family.

Choice 1 : Start again from the beginning

Walking a tiger on a leash to the zoo

Take the tiger to the zoo.

After slipping a leash on the tiger, I took the tiger back to the zoo, where it will be well cared for and loved.

Choice 1 : Start again from the beginning

The End.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Hypertext iFrame

Friday, January 19, 2018

Hypertext Narrative with jQuery

Chemistry and Pharmacology

Chemistry and Pharmacology

A hypertext narrative by

Nicholas Walker

Created with

The Virtual Writing Tutor Grammar Checker

Next

Word count: 766

Choice count: 4

Section count: 20

Image count: 20

Error count: 0

Field Related Analysis:

Education : 16 matches (School, ability, campus, choice, college, degree, don, learn, major, project, reader, research, school, semester, test, university)

Nursing : 14 matches (cancer, test, effects, foot, fungus, mushroom, nervous, pharmacist, pharmacology, reaction, species, treatment, treat, chemistry)

Biology : 11 matches (cancer, drive, family, nervous system, pharmacology, reaction, shoot, species, spectroscopy, humans, laboratory)

Target Structure:

a foot in the door (1 match)

background check (1 match)

learn the ropes (1 match)

Next

Chemistry and Pharmacology

Montmorency College

Start at the beginning.

I'm studying Sciences at Montmorency College to become a pharmacist. It's my final year of college, and I'm perplexed. I'm not sure which university I want to go to.

Choice 1 : Go to the University of Montreal.

Choice 2 : Go to the University of Laval.

By Université_de_Montréal.JPG: Colocho derivative work: Chicoutimi [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Go to the University of Montreal.

I am happy that I have chosen to study at the University of Montreal. I love the professors here, and I'm happy that I am close to my family and friends. After two years of study, this is my last year at university. I wonder what I can do after finishing my studies.

Choice 1 : Work for the army as a chemist.

Choice 2 : Get a foot in the door as a research laboratory chemist.

By René Bélanger [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Go to the University of Laval.

I decided to move to Quebec and live on the campus of the University of Laval. I have been living here for 2 months, and it's almost the end of the semester. I'm tired of all these exams and I miss my family and friends. I seriously wonder if I want to continue my studies. What should I do?

Write a choice here.

Military chemists at work

Work for the army as a chemist.

I decided to join the army. After the mandatory background check, I receive a modest salary with benefits since I work for the Canadian Forces. The Sergeant Major has just told me that he is forming a group made up entirely of chemists to work on a top-secret project. He wants me to learn the ropes and then to synthesize a chemical that is easily diffused in the air and has the ability to attack a person's nervous system. The amount that we have been asked to synthesize is enough to kill millions of people! What have I gotten myself into?

Write a choice here.

By User:SPat (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Work in a research laboratory as a chemist.

I have been working for 5 years in this laboratory looking for a cure for cancer. The equipment I use allows me to produce the compounds I want, and infrared spectroscopy allows me to check the purity of these products. My data tells me that it is better to add spores of a new species of mushroom that grows in Brazil to treat cancer. I don't know if it's a good idea since I don't know the effects of this fungus on humans.

Write a choice here.

By Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library (Hungnam Chemical Fertilizer Company) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Start your own chemical company.

Write this part of the story here and present your reader with choices.

Write a choice here.

By Jakec (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Agree to join the top-secret group.

Write this part of the story here and present your reader with choices.

Write a choice here.

Write a choice here.

By Gorup de Besanez (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Refuse to join the top-secret group.

Write this part of the story here and present your reader with choices.

Write a choice here.

Bomb design

Fix the problem in the protocol.

Write this part of the story here and present your reader with choices.

Write a choice here.

By U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Aaron Peterson. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Say nothing and hope that the reaction doesn't work.

Write this part of the story here and present your reader with choices.

Write a choice here.

By Rev. Thomas Davidson 1856-1923 (ed.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Stay late and wait for the Sergeant Major.

Write this part of the story here and present your reader with choices.

Write a choice here.

By Bryan Ledgard (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ledgard/8151413400/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Add the mushroom spores to the treatment.

Write this part of the story here and present your reader with choices.

Write a choice here.

Test the remedy now.

Write this part of the story here and present your reader with choices.

Write a choice here.

Kill them both and destroy the treatment.

Write this part of the story here and present your reader with choices.

Write a choice here.

Try to scare them away with the gun.

Write this part of the story here and present your reader with choices.

Write a choice here.

Bang-bang, shoot them both.

Write this part of the story here and present your reader with choices.

Write a choice here.

Bang! Shoot myself.

Write this part of the story here and present your reader with choices.

Write a choice here.

I started to feel strange.

Write this part of the story here and present your reader with choices.

Write a choice here.

Quit school and drive a bus.

Write this part of the story here and present your reader with choices.

Write a choice here.

Continue studying at school and finish my degree.

Write this part of the story here and present your reader with choices.

Write a choice here.

The End.

Monday, July 13, 2015

What teachers are saying about Actively Engaged from Bokomaru Publications


Bokomaru Publications is an ESL publishing house for the college ESL market located in Montreal, Quebec. Instead of offering a skills book and companion grammar very loosely connected into a range of common themes as other publishers do, our course books are highly cohesive.

  • Each book explores a single theme: living together, office-life, digital literacy
  • Students learn a range of discourse models for everyday communication: narrative, description,  exposition, and argumentation.
  • The grammar and vocabulary are tightly integrated with the speaking and writing tasks.
  • Each lessons builds upon the lesson before.
  • All of the language learned throughout the semester is elicited by the final competency evaluations.
  • The competency evaluations are contextualized and goal-oriented.
  • PowerPoints keep learners focused and engaged during class time
In short, we strive to help teachers deliver cohesive and coherent courses to their college students. Do teachers like our products? Read on. We have collected testimonials from four teachers working at four CÉGEPS across Quebec. Here is what they say.


Actively Engaged on the Job for 604-100B

Actively Engaged on the Job does just what its name implies: it actively involves students in learning another language. Students love the variety of interesting classroom activities that promote specific language structures they subsequently consolidate with the companion website's online activities. My classroom is always very lively and the shyness that lower-level students traditionally demonstrate in speaking in front of their peers is gone. To top it all off, any technical difficulties or questions I have ever had were quickly resolved and/or answered by the website administrator. It is definitely worth a try.

--Jonathan Bishop, Cégep de Saint-Hyacinthe 



I have been using Actively Engaged now for three years. The grammar on the power points is presented clearly and in an engaging fashion. For the level, the recycling of language in the tests and written project really help the basic grammar to stick. Too often in a course book, chapter one treats one grammar topic, which is followed by a test. Chapter 2 treats another. However, there is no continuous revision, which is in Actively Engaged. I have found a marked written improvement for the final test. The book contains many games, which are a lot of fun, and I have had students comment that they have never enjoyed an English class as much as this one. Nick has been a great support, always there promptly to help and explain any computer issues.
--Dagmara Brunst, Cégep de l'Outaouais


Actively Engaged at College for 604-101-MQ
I am currently using Actively Engaged at College with my 101 this term.  At this stage, I can say that I first like the fact that Actively Engaged at College is hosted on Moodle. This makes it easy to use, adapt, and modify. 

As a college teacher, I like the fact that it follows the weekly organization of the session and allows you to open or close lessons and sections and easily make content available or hide it as and when needed.  It is also well-designed to match the planning of the session. It provides teachers and students with the content, activities and evaluations for twelve of the fifteen weeks in addition to a review unit, a thematic unit specifically devoted to writing wikis, a hyperlink to final evaluations, and a writing tool for self- and peer-editing: www.virtualwritingtutor.com.

I also find the Powerpoint slides very handy. They are well structured and ready to deliver. Moreover, in addition to being accessible at all times for all, they are especially useful  for those who are low-level and need more time, or those who are slow and  learn at their own pace, or simply those who  are disengaged and miss class. With at-risk students, the slides take a lot off my shoulders.

The grammar and vocabulary are introduced through fun and game-like in-class pair and group activities which students enjoy -although at times.  The wiki-project is a great idea to encourage collaborative writing, and this, Actively Engaged does very well on a weekly basis with clear instructions and a well-designed template. 
 --Ali Boumoussa, Collège Ahuntsic


Labo d'Anglais is a fully loaded Moodle learning platform
Actively Engaged provides a treasure of stimulating and often playful activities that make the language less intimidating and facilitate oral and written exchanges between students of heterogeneous levels.

Fully customizable by the teacher, the online component offers many attractive features: homework management; pertinent listening, reading, and vocabulary exercises; activities grouped by lesson; a comprehensive PowerPoint document for each lesson, covering grammar, method, and formative practice. It is a single interface that can conveniently serve to take tests, do exercises, distribute documents, collect assignments, and keep track of results. Made to minimize the teacher's workload, the online component can sometimes be uneasy to use for people with low or average computer skills, but extensive technical support remedies this difficulty.I particularly enjoyed the vocabulary and the speaking activities, which are very pertinent and extremely easy to adapt to all levels. The topic and format of the writing project are entertaining as well as relevant.

Virtual Writing Tutor ESL Grammar Checker
The VirtualWritingTutor is one of my favourite features that fosters student autonomy and motivation and enables significant progress. Free and user-friendly, the VirtualWritingTutor gives students editing method by forcing them to proofread their texts. It trains them to identify their errors and to always make more than one draft. It allows hard-workers to see how much they can improve their writing, thus validating and rewarding their effort.
--Alethea Paquiot, Collège Édouard-Montpetit





Order Actively Engaged for your students today!


Monday, June 22, 2015

Absenteeism and a Cooperative-Learning Attendance Policy for ESL

By Smash the Iron Cage (Own work)
[CC BY-SA 4.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons
There are plenty of good reasons to skip class: if you have a contagious disease or have a doctor’s appointment that you cannot reschedule, if car trouble or bad weather interferes with your commute, or if you are flat broke and need to work an extra shift to make rent and avoid eviction. Most people would understand if you had to miss a lesson under these circumstances.

Surprisingly, these are not the reasons most university students give for cutting class. Students at one university rated low-quality lectures as the most important reason, followed by deadlines for other academic work, the lecturer’s inability to entertain, a lack of sleep, and attendance being unnecessary due to the availability of lecture notes outside of class (Clay & Breslow, 2006). These are the reasons students will admit to. But what about hidden reasons?

If students skip their English as a Second Language (ESL) class frequently, it could be a sign of language anxiety. Other indications of anxiety related to learning a second language include coming to class late, arriving unprepared, avoiding speaking in English, not volunteering, and the apparent inability to answer even very simple questions (Oxford, 1999). Research has shown that speaking provokes more anxiety than any other form of communication (MacIntyre & Gardner, 1991; McCroskey & Richmond, 1982), with some speaking tasks provoking more anxiety than others. Koch and Terrell (1991) report that most students find oral presentations to be the most anxiety-inducing activities in an ESL course. With that in mind, teachers can reduce language anxiety by assigning fewer oral presentations, by employing ice-breakers, where students learn each other’s names on the first day, and by including lesson-warmers, such as a game to help students relax at the start of a lesson (Dornyei & Malderez, 1999). Students can reduce their own language anxiety just by coming to class. Greater frequency of language use is linked to lower levels of language anxiety (Baker & MacIntyre, 2000).

Reducing anxiety is only one good reason to attend your ESL course on a regular basis. There is another good reason: you might fail. Two studies (Colby, 2004; Newman‐Ford, Fitzgibbon, Lloyd, & Thomas, 2008) found that 80% attendance—attending only 12 classes in a 15 week semester—produced a 50% chance of failing lecture-based courses. A 70% attendance rate—attending 11 classes in 15 weeks—produced a 66% chance of failure. For interactive ESL courses, missing a single week made ESL students 3 times more likely to answer a content question incorrectly and caused a 7-8 times greater chance of getting the target structure wrong during a test (Fay, Aguirre, & Gash, 2013). These are compelling statistics for going to class, so why do rational-minded students miss class? The truth is that it is difficult to be rational when comparing the immediate benefit of getting more time away from class and the remote danger of one missed lesson (Romer, 1994 as cited by Koppenhaver, 2006).

A more immediate reason is that your classmates need you. They need you to come to class so that they can get to know you, and they need to get to know you before they can trust you. Only after they know you and trust you will you be able to work together efficiently and productively as a group. In other words, group productivity depends upon group cohesiveness (Evans & Dion, 1991), and the cohesiveness of the group depends upon the amount of time group members spend together (Dornyei & Malderez, 1999). Cutting class reduces the overall productivity of the team, reducing the ability of group members to learn from each other in collaborative learning environments.  Reseach shows that not only do absentee-prone students perform worse on their exams and homework assignments, their absence causes the other team members to score lower on their exams and homework as well (Koppenhaver, 2006).

The problem becomes more acute during interactive speaking exams, evaluations that require the active participation of one or more partners. English Second Language courses often employ collaborative speaking exams, where students are required to exchange information with each other using the target language. The interactivity makes for a more valid exam since competence in a second language is the ability to participate effectively in an exchange of meaningful and appropriate messages. However, since absentee-prone students come to the exam knowing less and producing more errors, their noticeably ill-prepared, ill-informed answers and incorrect grammar during the exam make them less effective conversational partners.

Research into implicit learning reveals another, less obvious way that absentee-prone students make exams more difficult for their partners. There is a tendency for people to reproduce a structure encountered in recent discourse, even if they do not notice that it was used (McDonough & Mackey, 2008). In other words, what you hear, whether you consciously notice it or not, activates the area of your brain where related sounds, concepts and structures are stored, creating the tendency for you to want to repeat what you heard. This phenomenon is called priming, and you can see it at work in this fun experiment  (as suggested by Dornyei, 2009). Ask your friend to say the word “silk” five times and then ask him immediately afterward, “What do cows drink?” Most likely, your friend will say “milk” because the sound of the word “silk” and the concepts “cow” and “drink” activate the concept “milk” in your friend's brain. A more logical answer to the question is “water” since that is what cows drink most, but that is not what people tend to say. Now imagine that the target is not the word "milk" but a sentence containing the Present Perfect Progressive such as, "I have been studying Diagnostic Imaging for two years." In the context of an exam, absentee-prone students are less likely to prime their partners to remember the complex grammar and specific vocabulary needed to pass the interactive exam.

Seeing how absenteeism negatively affects classmates' explicit and implicit learning opportunities and performance on interactive exams, what policies should teachers and colleges put in place? If you think about the effect of absenteeism on individual students only, it is tempting to emphasize students’ right to self-direction, trusting in their capacity to make wise choices. Students will learn through trial and error that their attendance affects their success. However, in light of research into cooperative learning environments where students learn from each other, we know that cutting class is a bad choice for both the individual and the group. It would be irresponsible for teachers to adopt such a laissez-faire attitude, knowing how absentee-prone students reduce group productivity and negatively affect their partners' performance on interactive exams. A collaborative-learning attendance policy would require the student who misses multiple cooperative learning activities in an English course to be ejected from the course permanently because of the negative effect their absence and subsequent return has on the group. Instead of saying, “You are an adult now. Do what you want,” ESL teachers should make it clear that cutting class is highly uncooperative behavior that harms the other students. To be consistent, if teachers are going to use collaborative-learning activities and evaluations in their classrooms, they should also set a collaborative-learning attendance policy. They should tell students on the first day of the semester, "If you intend to cut class, do us all a favor and don't come back."


References

Baker, S. C., & MacIntyre, P. D. (2000). The role of gender and immersion in communication and 
          second language orientations. Language Learning, (50), 311–341.
Clay, T., & Breslow, L. (2006). Why students don’t attend class. MIT Faculty Newsletter, 18(4). 
          Retrieved from http://web.mit.edu/fnl/volume/184/breslow.html
Colby, J. (2004). Attendance and attainment. Presented at the Fifth Annual Conference of the 
          Information and Computer Sciences—Learning and Teaching Support Network (ICN-LTSN), 
          University of Ulster. Retrieved from http://users.ecs.soton.ac.uk/sysapl/www.ics.ltsn.ac.uk/events/conf2004/programme.htm
Dornyei, Z. (2009). The psychology of second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University 
          Press.
Dornyei, Z., & Malderez, A. (1999). The role of group dynamics in foreign language learning and 
          teaching. In J. Arnold (Ed.), Affect in Language Learning (pp. 155–169). Cambridge: 
          Cambridge University Press.
Evans, C. R., & Dion, K. L. (1991). Group cohesion and performance: a meta-analysis. Small Group 
          Research, 2(2), 175–186. http://doi.org/10.1177/1046496491222002
Fay, R. E., Aguirre, R. V., & Gash, P. W. (2013). Absenteeism and language learning: does missing 
          class matter? Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 4(6), 1184–1190.
Koch, A., & Terrell, T. (1991). Affective reactions of foreign language students to Natural Approach 
          activities and teaching techniques. In E. K. Horowitz & D. J. Young (Eds.), Language Anxiety: 
          From Theory and Research to Classroom Implications. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Koppenhaver, G. D. (2006). Absent and accounted for: Absenteeism and cooperative learning. 
          Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 4(1), 29–49.
MacIntyre, P. D., & Gardner, R. C. (1991). Methods and results in the study of anxiety in language 
          learning: A review of the literature. Language Learning, (41), 85–117.
McCroskey, J. C., & Richmond, V. P. (1982). Communication apprehension and shyness: Conceptual 
          and operational distinctions. Central States Speech Journal, (33), 458–468.
McDonough, K., & Mackey, A. (2008). Syntactic priming and esl question development. Studies in 
          Second Language Acquisition, (30), 31–47. http://doi.org/10.10170S0272263108080029
Newman‐Ford, L., Fitzgibbon, K., Lloyd, S., & Thomas, S. (2008). A large‐scale investigation into 
          the relationship between attendance and attainment: a study using an innovative, electronic 
          attendance monitoring system. Studies in Higher Education, 33(6), 699–717.
Oxford, R. L. (1999). Anxiety and the language learner: new insights. In J. Arnold (Ed.) Affect in 
          Language Learning (pp. 58–67). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Healthcare Communication Problems with Linguistic Minorities

Healthcare Access for Linguistic Minorities

Effective communication between healthcare providers and their patients is an important factor in patient satisfaction. Global patient satisfaction with healthcare has been found to be lower among patients who have more provider-patient communication problems (Charles, Goldsmith, Chambers, Haynes, & Gauld, 1996). The most commonly reported problems involve failures on the part of providers to communicate when communication is expected, such as failing to explain what the provider is intending to do while examining a patient, keeping the patient in the dark about daily routines, and failing to communicate adequately during discharge planning.


Global dissatisfaction with healthcare becomes more acute, however, when the provider and patient cannot effectively communicate in each other’s language. In a study of 26 international medical graduates enrolled in an Internal Medicine residency program at Wayne State University, a significant correlation was found between language proficiency and patient satisfaction (Eggly, Musial, & Smulowitz, 1999). In another study, Spanish-speaking patients in San Francisco were also found to be less satisfied with the care they received from non-Spanish speaking physicians (Fernandez et al., 2004), and in the North-eastern United States, a variety of non-English speaking patients reported less satisfaction than their English-speaking counterparts with emergency room care, courtesy and respect, and with discharge instructions (Carrasquillo, Orav, Brennan, & Burstin, 1999). Comparisons made between members of the same linguistic minority group also showed a correlation between language proficiency and satisfaction levels. For example, low-English-proficiency Korean patients over the age of 60 in the U.S. were less likely to be satisfied with the healthcare service they received than Koreans with higher levels of proficiency (Jang, Kim, & Chiriboga, 2005).


Indeed, not speaking the language of the patient adds to a patient’s suffering. One emergency department study found that Spanish-speaking Hispanic patients were half as likely to receive analgesia in the treatment of their long bone fractures as their English-speaking counterparts (Todd, Samaroo, & Hoffman, 1993). Worse still, a failure to anticipate communication problems and accommodate low-language proficiency clientele can turn fatal, as was recently illustrated in a news story of an Albanian immigrant who killed himself, thinking his wife had been diagnosed with AIDS when hospital staff told him his wife's blood type was A-positive (The Canadian Press, 2007).


One obvious solution to increasing healthcare access to linguistic minorities is to use interpreters. Whereas the use of hospital-trained interpreters in pediatric emergency departments was found to increase parents’ satisfaction with their physicians and nurses (Garcia, Roy et al., 2006), in primary care medical interviews a reliance upon interpreters is somewhat more problematic. Aranguri, Davidson and Ramirez (2006) observed that during regular doctors’ appointments with Hispanic patients about half of the words exchanged between doctor and patient were missing from interpreters’ translations. All small talk, known to increase patients’ emotional engagement in their treatments and their doctors’ ability to get a comprehensive patient history, was eliminated. Patients’ questions, an important indication of patients’ engagement with their own care, were also significantly reduced when an interpreter was used.


To reduce the heavy reliance on interpreters in healthcare, Zambrana et al. (2004) recommend hiring more minority, linguistically competent, and culturally competent healthcare providers in managed care networks. They argue that having healthcare providers that speak the same language as their patients will lead to lowered costs, greater healthcare access, better health outcomes, patient satisfaction, and patient compliance. There is evidence to support this claim. One study investigating patient outcomes found that asthma patients cared for by doctors who spoke their language were more likely to take their medication and less likely to miss office appointments or make resource-intensive emergency room visits than patients with doctors who did not speak their language (Manson, 1988). Another study found that patients whose doctors spoke their language asked more questions and had a better recall of their doctor’s recommendations (Seijo, Girmez, & Freidenberg, 1991).

References


Aranguri, C., Davidson, B., & Ramirez, R. (2006). Patterns of Communication through Interpreters: 
          A Detailed Sociolinguistic Analysis. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 21(6), 623–629.

Carrasquillo, O., Orav, E. J., Brennan, T. A., & Burstin, H. R. (1999). Impact of language barriers on 
          patient satisfaction in an emergency department. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 14(2), 
          82–87.

Charles, C., Goldsmith, L. J., Chambers, L., Haynes, R. B., & Gauld, M. (1996). Provider--Patient 
          Communication Among Elderly and Nonelderly Patients in Canadian Hospitals: A National 
          Survey. Health Communication, 8(3), 281.

Eggly, S., Musial, J., & Smulowitz, J. (1999). Research and Discussion Note The Relationship 
          between English Language Proficiency and Success as a Medical Resident. English for Specific 
          Purposes, 18(2), 201–208.

Fernandez, A., Schillinger, D., Grumbach, K., Rosenthal, A., Stewart, A. L., Wang, F., & Perez-
          Stable, E. J. (2004). Physician language ability and cultural competence an exploratory study of 
          communication with Spanish-speaking patients. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 19(2), 167–174.

Jang, Y., Kim, G., & Chiriboga, D. A. (2005). Health, healthcare utilization, and satisfaction with 
          service: barriers and facilitators for older Korean Americans. J Am Geriatr Soc, 53(9), 1613–7.

Manson, A. (1988). Language Concordance as a Determinant of Patient Compliance and Emergency 
          Room Use in Patients with Asthma. Medical Care, 26(12), 1119–1128.

Seijo, R., Girmez, H., & Freidenberg, J. (1991). Language as a communication barrier in medical 
          care for Latino patients. Hisp J Behav Sci, 13(363).

The Canadian Press. (2007, December 11). Caregivers must be open to cultural differences, 
          commission told. Retrieved January 2, 2008, from 
          http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2007/12/11/qc-bouchardtaylor.html

Todd, K. H., Samaroo, N., & Hoffman, J. R. (1993). Ethnicity as a risk factor for inadequate 
          emergency department analgesia. JAMA, 269(12), 1537–1539.

Zambrana, R. E., Molnar, C., Munoz, H. B., & Lopez, D. S. (2004). Cultural competency as it 
          intersects with racial/ethnic, linguistic, and class disparities in managed healthcare 
          organizations. Am J Manag Care, 10 Spec No, SP37–44.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Four Reasons Teachers Need CorrectiveFeedback.com


Corrective Feedback--is this assignment correct?
Do I need to automate corrective feedback?

Introduction

Here is a 10-minute video about how automating aspects of corrective feedback using CorrectiveFeedback.com can help teachers correct more, better, and faster. I offer four reasons why automatic correction is, at minimum, worth considering. You can watch the 10 minute video or read the article below.



Modified Transcript

I teach ESL at Ahuntsic College in Montreal, but in my spare time I develop websites for ESL learners and teachers. CorrectiveFeedback.com, my latest web development project, is designed to help ESL teachers correct more, better, and faster than ever before. It can check for errors, check vocabulary, search for target structures, correct pronunciation errors, leave detailed written comments, send MP3 audio comments, and deploy rubrics—the list goes on and there are more features on the way. It is awesome, and I believe that CorrectiveFeedback.com is the ultimate power tool for teachers.


Skeptics will say that only an experienced teacher can give the kind of quality feedback that students need, and I agree that there are times when a teacher’s quick eye will catch something that a machine cannot, just as there are times when you want to pull your child’s t-shirt out of the laundry pile and rub some detergent directly onto the stain before putting it with the rest of the family’s laundry into the machine on the heavy-duty cycle to finish the job while you cook dinner. Teachers can resist the use of power tools, but like every other profession we will eventually integrate power tools into every aspect of our jobs.

So there are times when teachers definitely should use power tools. 
  1. If your 150 students have to wait two weeks for feedback on their errors because you refuse to use power tools on principle, that’s a problem. 
  2. If you are not checking your students’ use of the target structures taught in your course because it takes too long count the number and range of adverbs of frequency from week 3, irregular past tense verbs from week 5, synonyms of the word “said” in week 7, and the number of cohesion building transition phrases from week 8, and the use of field-related vocabulary they have been learning all semester because it takes too long, that’s a problem. 
  3. If after correcting half the pile of writing assignments, your comments are starting to sound like tersely worded voice-of-authority autopsy reports, that’s a problem. 
  4. If you just don’t have time to catch and correct pronunciation errors on speaking tasks because there just isn’t enough time in class, that’s a problem. 
CorrectiveFeedback.com provides a solution to all of these problems. If you are just checking a student’s text for surface errors, CorrectiveFeedback.com can process a text in seconds and return it to the student.

Save Time

After a little set up, you can correct 28 errors, provide links to 18 remedial practice activities, leave a 70 word comment and return your feedback to the student by email in less than a minute and a half. 90 seconds per student times 150 students is 3 hours and 45 minutes. Less than four hours of corrective feedback work on top of 15 hours of classroom teaching and 10 hours of preparation is doable, especially in light of the 150 personalized instant curricula the system generates.

Search for Target Structures

It is important that students integrate the grammar and vocabulary they study in class into their writing. You wouldn't expect them to integrate every structure and every vocabulary item in their texts, but it is reasonable to expect some of the language you present and they practice to appear in the texts they produce. If over the course of a semester you study 15 Adverbs of frequency, a list of 300 past tense verbs, a thesaurus entry with 257 alternatives to the word "said" and online exercises with 222 transition words. That’s already 779 items teachers would have to remember to search for while reading a student’s text. That’s if we were to use a positive corrective feedback method where we celebrate students’ successes instead of only noting their failures. Add to that number the tens of thousands of vocabulary items in 40 or more fields of study for students in a b-block CEGEP ESL class, the task is not just difficult—it is probably impossible. However,CorrectiveFeedback.com makes it not only possible but practical to notice and reward achievement.

Voice of the Reader Commenting

In the past, I have noticed that my comments in the margins of students’ writing assignments have been somewhat judgmental and unkind in their phrasing. I pride myself on being a compassionate person with a somewhat sunny disposition. I wish to firm but fair, and yet when I read over the tersely worded comments scrawled in the margins of my students’ papers I see things like, “awkward,” “unclear,” “rewrite,” and “needs development.” It sounds like I am describing my own commenting style.

The issue here is that no matter how good our intentions, we adopt the voice-of-authority that sounds like we are giving an autopsy on a student’s assignment. “Your writing died on the page and here’s why.” This sends the wrong message. We should instead be dramatizing the presence of the reader to the student, showing him or her what we experience when we read the text and signalling that—as imperfect as it may be—it is worthy of revision and taking into the next draft. To do that, we must maintain the voice-of-the-reader, showing students where we stumble, where we get lost, and how our experience of the text is not what was intended. To do that, we have to compose our comments when we are rested and happy. CorrectiveFeedback.com lets you do just that. By composing our comments when we are rested, storing them in graded categories, and selecting one during the feedback process, we can always say what we actually mean instead of being just being mean when we say what say.

Feedback on Pronunciation

Automating corrective feedback also offers the opportunity to score and correct pronunciation errors more effectively than we could otherwise. Native and non-native speakers alike might find it difficult to draw attention to pronunciation errors and provide standard models to imitate. CorrectiveFeedback.com makes it easy, as you can see and here with this example.

Imagine that you asked your students tell a story about a trip to Miami employing certain target verbs. Look how easy it is CorrectiveFeedback.com to identify correct and incorrect pronunciation and supply models even if you have a cold or if you have an accent yourself.

In conclusion, there are a number of advantages to using CorrectiveFeedback.com. Whether you use the system to save time while checking for common errors, to search for target structures in obligatory contexts, to dramatize the presence of the reader through voice-of-the-reader commenting, or to check, score and model pronunciation, CorrectiveFeedback.com offers a range of useful tools that ESL teachers should find quick, easy and pedagogically sound. Now that you have seen some of what the system can do, I have a question for you. What is the most attractive feature you have seen so far? Please leave a comment below.