The introduction provided a strong underlying principle of why the experiment was initiated by the proponent of the study. It was lamented that Chinese classrooms could not create an interactive learning environment. They clarified this even further when it was reported that the lack of interactivity was a “long-standing feature of Chinese classrooms, whether in online classes or on-campus classrooms” (Wang, Shen, Novak, & Pan, 2008, p.675). The proponents of this study wanted to find out if the creation of a mobile learning system can address this problem.
The research question was clearly defined. According to the proponents of the study, the main goal was to “evaluate the feasibility of promoting language acquisition through mobile learning by eliciting learner responses in a blended English classroom” (Wang, Shen, Novak, & Pan, 2008, p.682). However, the hypothesis was not clearly articulated but it was implied in the description of the overall design of the study. Thus, it can be inferred that the hypothesis was as follows: language acquisition can be promoted through mobile learning.
The methodology was clearly defined. Thus, a replication of the said study is possible. The main feature of the study can be described as a combination of descriptive and survey types of study. The combined features were enhanced with the use of qualitative content analysis and face-to-face interviews with the course instructor.
The subject recruitment and selection process was carefully described. The participants were randomly selected. The sample was a group of Chinese students and that 99% of the sample were all professionals. There were no probable biases in the sampling because all of the 1000 students were included. The characteristics of the sample were described adequately because the researchers provided background information about the university and the students that enrolled in a blended class.
There was no indication that informed consent was made. There seems to be an assumption that since all of the participants were adults and professionals, therefore, there was no need for informed consent for an experiment that merely requires a simple model of interaction from the participants. The size of the sample was large enough for the effect that was sought by the researchers. However, there were only 178 who actively participated in a sample size of 1000 students.
There was no control group. The researchers may have thought that a control group was not appropriate. But a control group could help verify the results of the experiment or at least improve the quality of data that they were able to collate. For example, the blended classroom that they selected was comprised of working professionals. There could be a different outcome if the students were not employees and their focus was simply on their academic work.
The validity of the study was questionable because they chose only one classroom. They may have thought that the 1000 students in that particular classroom can provide them with the correct sample size to validate their claims. The only problem was that there were only 178 students who participated. Of that number, only 140 participants were active in the use of the them-learning system that was made available to the students.
At the beginning of the study, the proponents articulated that the purpose of the study was to find out if mobile learning can be used as a tool for the acquisition of language. But a closer look at the study and the results that they discussed did not provide evidence that language acquisition was made. The impression that a reader gets from the study was that the results merely confirmed the fact that participants were proficient in the use of a mobile phone to interact with the instructor. But interaction with the instruction was supposed to be a minor outcome of the said study.
Bias and Artifacts
The administration and scoring of the measures were done blindly. There was no indication that there was bias in the recording and interpretation of the data taken from the study. The procedure was constant because there was only one group of participants. The procedure was applied to one blended English class.
The independent variable was not clearly defined. Based on the information given the independent variable was supposed to be the availability of a mobile learning platform. It should have been manipulated by the non-access of the said mobile learning platform and compare the results in terms of language acquisition as stated in the main objective of the study. But there was no evidence to show the existence of an independent variable.
The results were not in conformity with the assumptions and requirements of the study. It has to be reiterated that the purpose of the study was to determine how a mobile learning platform enhanced the performance of the students, particularly when it comes to language acquisition. The theoretical framework that was utilized was clear to the reader but not when it comes to the actual study. In other words, the proponents of the study were unable to prove that they were able to acquire the necessary data to show evidence of language acquisition.
The most glaring problem was the fact that the sample size was 1000 students. This assertion was based on the fact that they provided all the students with pre-survey questionnaires. The respondents even indicated that 585 students replied to the pre-survey forms. Thus, at the very least the sample size was 585 and yet the number of those who participated was only 178.
The proponents of this study made an erroneous claim that they wanted to determine how a mobile learning platform can be used to enhance language learning acquisition. The reader was given the impression that this pertains to the student’s skill in the use of the English language. But the results of the experiment dwelt heavily upon the responses of the students through the use of the mobile phone. It gave the impression that the researchers were satisfied with the fact that the students were interacting with the instructors. If this was their main objective, then, they should revise the research design and focus on the interactive component of the study and lessen the importance of language acquisition even if the class was about learning the English language.
Wang, M., Shen, R., Novak, D., & Pan, X. (2008). The impact of mobile learning On students’ learning behaviours and performance: report from a large blended classroom. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(4), 673-695.