MA Thesis Abstracts

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2012

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“A Case Study on Armenian EFL Learners’ Use of Mobile Phones for Listening Activities”

By Arevik Nersisyan

Thesis Committee: Irshat Madyarov, Ph.D, Liliana Edilyan, M.A.

 

 

 

Abstract

The purpose of this study is twofold. It sets out to examine ,firstly, the EFL  learners beliefs and perceptions toward the mobile phone assisted listening  activities, secondly, the  practices that EFL students engage in as they complete listening course assignments on their phones. The present study is  a case study research  which involves both

qualitative and quantitative  data: Questionnaire, Interview and Lesson Observations. Results of this study show that the majority of EFL learners, acknowledging the benefits of mobile phone assisted listening activities, think that mobile phones  can help them enhance their listening skills.

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“Developing Speaking Skills through Reading Graded Readers”

By Hermine Hovhannisyan

Thesis Committee: Catherine Buon, Ph.D., Liliana Edilyan, M.A.

Abstract

This study aimed at investigating the role of graded readers in developing students’ speaking skills as well as the possible activities meant to develop the students’ speaking skills through reading graded readers.  The primary purpose of the study was not only to report and inform about all these, but also to investigate and find beneficial outcomes of these practices and attitudes.

The research was carried out in the Experimental English Classes (EEC) in the Department of English Programs (DEP) at the American University of Armenia (AUA). Two groups participated in the experiment: the experimental, which received the treatment by reading the books of graded readers series in addition to the textbook and the control group which used only their textbooks.

The study comprises the quantitative data. The data were collected through a self assessment checklist and pre-and post interviews (Oral Proficiency Type Interview). The data collected from the pre- and post-tests were analyzed by implementing the Mann-Whitney and Wilcoxon tests, in order to compare the test results of both groups.

The findings of the study indicated that graded readers are valid tools for developing students’ speaking skills. Furthermore, the results of the analyses of the post interview and the self assessment checklist confirmed that learners had positive attitude towards the graded readers, as they provided the students with a lot of interactive activities which created an environment that was fun, enjoyable and effective for improving the students’ speaking skills.

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“The impact of Blogging on Idiom Production in an EFL Environment”

By: Armineh Ab

Thesis Committee: Irshat Madyarov, Ph.D., Liliana Edilyan, M.A.

Abstract

This study investigates the effect of blogging on idiom production in an academic EFL setting. Blog as a motivating and user-friendly writing tool, which provides various options such as uploading pictures and commenting, was considered as a suitable tool for writing assignments aimed at enhancing idiom production. Due to its interactive nature, blogging was assumed to be a proper means for this purpose.

Twenty one participants of the study were the newly enrolled students of the American University of Armenia with TOEFL iBT score mean of 74.5. These students were enrolled conditionally provided they take the EEP course and raise their language proficiency level during the course. Convenient sampling approach was used i.e. the participants were divided to two groups of morning and evening shifts due to their personal schedules and priorities. Quantitative data were obtained through pre and post tests. The data were analyzed through SPSS software package, via Mann-Whitney U Test and Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Tests. The qualitative data were obtained through a questionnaire and a semi-structured interview which were analyzed descriptively. Results obtained from the data analysis indicated that blogging had positive effect on the production of idioms.

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2011

“The Impact of Authentic Materials on Vocabulary Acquisition”

By: Hripsime Shabunts

Thesis Committee: Catherine Buon, Ph.D., Alexan Simonyan, Ph.D., and Rubina Gasparyan, MA

Abstract

The study investigated the effectiveness of authentic vs. instructional materials on vocabulary acquisition in EFL setting.This study is quasi-experimental and it involved one control group and one experimental group (17 students in experimental group and 16 students in control group). The classes were held twice a week and the study was conducted over a period of ten weeks (overall 20 hours per group). Data was collected with the help of a pre and a posttest, a questionnaire, and an interview.Both the pre and the post test were administered in the two groups.

The quantitative data analysis was conducted with the SPSS software, namely Wilcoxon and Mann-Whitney U tests.  These tests were applied for analyzing the data obtained from four sets of tests. As the interview data was qualitative, the interview was analyzed subjectively by the researcher, whereas, the questionnaire data was analyzed with the help of statistical software.

The results of the data analysis showed that there are statistically significant differences in the usefulness of authentic materials as compared to instructional materials in terms of vocabulary acquisition in favor of authentic materials. The interview and the questionnaire revealed that the participants showed great interest towards authentic materials. Authentic materials helped to increase students’ comfort level and self-confidence when dealing with the target language vocabulary. Generalizing the results upon EFL Armenian pre-intermediate level students, it should be noted that the effectiveness of authentic materials on vocabulary acquisition is highly dependent upon such factors as difficulty level of the materials, students’ background knowledge, topics of the classes, the accompanying activities, and many others.

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“An Analysis of Preschool English as a Foreign Language Instruction in Yerevan: A Survey and Classroom Observation Study”

By: Marina Avagyan

Thesis Committee: Thesis Committee: Irshat Madyarov, Ph.D., Alexan Simonyan, Ph.D., and Liliana Edilyan, M.A.

Abstract

As English language instruction at the elementary level in Armenia becomes more widespread and approaches official sanctioning from the Ministry of Education, it is important to know how parents view options for the foreign-language education of their children in kindergartens. The current study examines the results of the questionnaire administered to parents of local kindergartens in Yerevan and attempts to find out their expectation of proposed early English program in kindergarten settings and also aims at investigating the teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) to young learners. It examines teaching English in Armenian kindergartens, in particular the use of authentic materials and how English is taught at this age. The subjects of this investigation were English language teachers from kindergartens and parents. Thirty kindergartens were randomly selected for this purpose.  From the selected kindergartens 6 did not participate in the research of which 2 kindergartens were private and 4 were public. The participants of the survey were 520 parents in total. The data were collected using 5 point Likert-scale for questionnaires and 4 point Likert scale for class observations.

According to the results of the questionnaire there is mainly a significant difference   in favor of the private kindergartens from which it could be concluded that parents if private kindergartens give more importance to the fact of being informed about the current methods, approaches and the overall English program implemented in the particular kindergarten. The findings from the observations reveal that the English teachers of private kindergartens have an access to new methods and approaches as the lessons are implemented with various authentic materials which encompass teaching songs, poems, and tales. The material and books used by the teachers are mostly published by Oxford, Cambridge and Macmillan publication.

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“The Impact of  Casual Computer Games on Preschool Learners’ English Language Achievement”

By: Luiza Grigoryan

Thesis Committee: Irshat Madyarov, Ph.D., Alexan Simonyan, Ph.D., and Liliana Edilyan, M.A.

Abstract

This thesis aims at discovering the benefits of incorporating the educational casual computer games into the EFL settings. The purpose behind this is to explore a possibility of implementing this kind of innovation in language teaching approaches and curricula in an Armenian kindergarten.

The study was carried out in the Armenian public kindergarten in Yerevan .Two groups were selected for the study. The focus group received the treatment with the use of   casual computer games, whereas the comparison group practiced the language with the implementation of the traditional language games.

From the results revealed via the pre and post-tests it could be inferred that the both experimental and the focus groups performed similarly during the pre and post-tests. Therefore, the treatment with the implementation of educational casual computer games did not give significant improvement in learners’ English language achievement, as compared with the control groups’ results. However, both groups indicated a significant improvement in the language proficiency from the pretest to the posttest in favor of posttest.

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“The Effect of Project Work on Students’ Language Achievement”

By Anush Adamyan

Thesis Committee: Catherine Buon, Ph.D., Alexan Simonyan, Ph.D., and Melissa Brown, M.A.

Abstract

Project-based instruction has been heralded as a most promising activity that can engage students into academic language and literacy skills.  A growing body of evidence indicates that project learning supports the development of critical skills students must have to meet the demands of the 21st century. However, there is scanty research on project-based instruction in general and on its effect on language achievement in particular.

This study reports on the findings of research carried out in an English for General Purposes (EGP) class in American University of Armenia. The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of project work on students’ language achievement as well as to inquire into their attitudes towards project work. Based on the review of related literature a null hypothesis was proposed at the beginning of the study. The participants of the study were nineteen EGP students studying at American University of Armenia, ages ranging from 16 to 35. The study was designed within the traditions of both qualitative and quantitative research. Of five instruments used in this study a pre – test, three achievement tests and open-ended questionnaire helped to obtain quantitative data and teacher observations and semi-structured interview helped to obtain qualitative data.  Quantitative data was analyzed through the SPSS software package, via Mann-Whitney U Test, Friedman test and Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Tests, and qualitative data was first transcribed and then analyzed.

Through the analysis of the data obtained from the tests it was revealed that both groups, regardless of being assigned project work or not, performed equally during the achievement tests they were given during the ten week course, i.e. there was no significant difference in terms of language improvement between the experimental and control groups at the end of instruction.  However, in the analysis of the questionnaire administered in the experimental group at the end of the classes, as well as he analysis of their responses to the interview questions it was found out that the students of the experimental group highly appreciate their experience of doing project work and working collaboratively with their peers. They found it beneficial for their studies and felt that it contributed greatly to their language achievement.

 

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“The Influence of Blogging on EFL Learners’ Writing Fluency, Accuracy and Complexity”

By: Karine Vardazaryan

Thesis Committee: Irshat Madyarov, Ph.D., Alexan Simonyan, Ph.D., and Melissa Brown, M.A

Abstract

Nowadays, when we have “unlimited” chances via technology we can create different types of activities and projects which are motivating and authentic for the 21st century students. Blog use may offer a helpful tool for teaching foreign language writing. This research reports on a quasi-experimental study regarding the effects of blogging on students’ writing performance. It focuses on three aspects of writing, i.e. writing fluency, accuracy and complexity, and thus compares and contrasts results between and within groups. Twenty five pre – intermediate Armenian students participated in the study. The control group (n=13) did their writing assignments as homework and paper based ad the experimental group (n=12) accomplished the writing assignments by using blogging software.

Based on the analysis of students’ written work, the findings suggest that blog-integrated writing did not have significant difference as compared with the paper based writing in the comparison group. However, the study supports the previous research done in the field that blogging has the potential of becoming an effective tool for enhancing writing due to the data collected in this study through the questionnaire and interview.

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“The Effectiveness of Instructional vs. Authentic Video Materials for Developing Listening Comprehension Skills”

By: Gayane Shabunts

Thesis Committee: Irshat Madyarov, Ph.D., Alexan Simonyan, Ph.D., and Rubina Gasparyan, M.A

Abstract

Nowadays, technology has emerged into nearly all the spheres of our lives. Language teaching and learning is not an exception. For having new developments and for making changes to better, there is always a need to explore, investigate and to experiment some things. The technological tools used in language teaching are not few. One of those technological tools is video, the effective use of which is assured by many scholars.

The study tried to investigate to usefulness of the two types of video materials as compared to each other: instructional vs., authentic. As there was not much significance for the higher level of usefulness for any of these tools, it was decided to explore this issue and also to find out EFL learners’ attitude toward these two tools. The experiment was conducted within one group (10 participants). The students were exposed to both instructional and authentic videos. After each video activity they were given questionnaires, and after each two videos they were given a short test.  Thus, two types of data were obtained: quantitative and qualitative, thus making the research mixed-method.

The results of the data analysis showed that there is no significant difference in the usefulness of either type of the videos, whereas the interview revealed that the participants showed greater interest towards authentic video materials. The results may be helpful to identify the students’ attitude towards the video materials and also to identify the problematic parts of implementing authentic videos in EFL settings.

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“An Implementation of Storytelling and its Effect in  Students’ Oral Proficiency in an Armenian Setting”

By: Niery Nikoghosian

Thesis Committee: Irshat Madyarov, Ph.D., Alexan Simonyan, Ph.D., and Melissa Brown, M.A.

Abstract

This study investigated the effects of practice in retelling stories on the improvement of students’ oral proficiency. The subjects in this study were 30 students (9-15 age range) of English language courses of the Experimental English Classes in the American University of Armenia. Students were beginner language learners. At each of the 17 sessions, the subjects listened to the teacher telling a story and then they retold the story. At the beginning of the two- month semester, the students took an oral test which aimed to evaluate their oral proficiency before the treatment. Besides the pre-test there was a post- test  with the same procedures.

The results of this study did not support the hypothesis that by storytelling, students’ oral proficiency will be developed. The findings of this study show that the students of the experimental group did not demonstrate improvement.

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“The Impact of Wikis on Business English Vocabulary Learning”

By: Tatevik Mkhitaryan

Thesis Committee: Irshat Madyarov, Ph.D., Alexan Simonyan, Ph.D., and Melissa Brown, M.A.

Abstract

The aim of this study was to investigate whether wiki technology impacts students’ learning of business English vocabulary. The qualitative data for this study were collected by administering four questionnaires to 24 students to see their attitude towards/preferences for completing different types of tasks during the course; by interviewing the students from both groups to explore further their approaches to the types of tasks accomplished via a wiki in one group and on paper on the other group; by observing classes in both groups in order to get in-depth information about the classroom phenomena such as motivation of the students, activities used in the classroom, interactions, instructions, classroom behavior, etc. The quantitative data were collected through pre- and post-tests from the groups of business English courses at Eurasia International University (EIU).

The results of the quantitative analysis of between-group comparisons demonstrated no significant difference on average in performances of both groups during the pre- and post-tests, separately. The students’ achievement from test to test within the groups, in both experimental and comparison groups, revealed significant difference between pre- and post-tests results in favor of the post-test.

The results of the qualitative data showed that students were more motivated to learn business English vocabulary through the types of activities in the experimental group than the students in the comparison group.

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“The Impact of Digital Storytelling on EFL learners’ Speaking Skill”

By: Karine Baghdasaryan

Thesis Committee: Irshat Madyarov, Ph.D., Alexan Simonyan, Ph.D., and Rubina Gasparyan, M.A

Abstract

Situated in the field of technology and language teaching and learning, the current paper reports a mixed-method research study on the use of digital storytelling for developing EFL learners’ speaking skills. The purpose of this research study, therefore, was threefold: primarily, to investigate the impact of digital storytelling on EFL learners’ speaking skills, secondly, to reveal learners’ attitude towards implementing this program, and thirdly, to report the students’ learning behaviors when using the program.

Accordingly, this experimental study revealed the effect of a 7-week instructional treatment on speaking skill, in which speaking was addressed to be developed in terms of the integration of digital storytelling. The study employed quasi-experimental design since the participants were not chosen randomly. They were placed at the appropriate level according to the results of a proficiency test. 12 EEC learners, assigned to the experimental group and the same number to the control group participated in the study. The learners’ oral performance was elicited by means of interactional tasks based on the pre and post test.

The instrumentations used for data collection constituted pre and post tests, an attitudinal questionnaire, and a semi-structured interview. Respectively, the study made use of both qualitative and quantitative data. The results of statistical analysis displayed that there was a trend towards significant gains in the learners’ oral production after the treatment. It also documented the learners’ positive attitude towards the program and revealed the students’ learning strategies.

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“The Effect of Voki on EFL Learners’ Speaking Skill”

By: Tatevik Zargaryan

Thesis Committee: Irshat Madyarov, Ph.D., Alexan Simonyan, Ph.D., and Rubina Gasparyan, M.A

Abstract

Performing a quick search for the definition of e-learning, we will be provided by a great number of relevant responses. Perhaps, the most concise definition is that e-learning is an approach that enhances and facilitates learning through the use of computer-based tools. One of the newest members of e-learning tools is Voki which may have the potential to change the dynamics of the classroom making it more learner-centered.

Thus, the purpose of the current study was to find out beneficial ways of implementing e-learning tools, particularly, Voki in a classroom, and see whether it would have effect on the development of EFL learners’ speaking skills, as well as to find out the learners’ attitude towards the program. Moreover, an attempt was made to reveal the participants’ learning behaviors and strategies when using the program.

From two groups involved in the study, the experimental group received the treatment, whereas the control group received placebo. The effectiveness of the treatment was investigated through quasi-experimental research design. The study comprised both quantitative (pre and post tests, attitudinal questionnaire) and qualitative (semi-structured interview) data collection instruments.

The findings of the study indicated that the application of Voki might be an appropriate method for improving EFL learners’ speaking skills. Furthermore, the results of the analysis of the questionnaire and the interview confirmed that learners had positive attitude towards the program, as it provided a learning environment that was fun, enjoyable, stress free and effective for improving their speaking skills. Moreover, it was revealed that participants had a number of learning strategies that they used when creating their Vokis.

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“An Implementation of Role-Play and its Effect on EFL students’ Speaking Skill”

By: Gayane Gabrielyan

Thesis Committee: Irshat Madyarov, Ph.D., Alexan Simonyan, Ph.D., and Melissa Brown, M.A.

Abstract

The aim of the current study was to investigate what effect role play can have on the improvement of the EFL students’ speaking skills.  Besides, the current research was aiming to find out the students’ perceptions and attitude towards role play. The study was quasi experimental and was carried out in the Experimental English Classes (EEC) at the American University of Armenia (AUA). Two groups were involved in the study, the experimental and the comparison. In this study 22 EFL students were selected as a convenient sample. Their age ranged from 11 -15. They were all non-native speakers of English living in Armenia. Their English language proficiency level was pre- intermediate. The instruments used for collecting the data were a pre-test and a post-test, a Likert four-point Scale format questionnaire , semi-structured face to face interview and teacher’s field notes.

The results obtained from the pre-test and post -test revealed that there was a significant increase in both the experimental and the control groups. In addition to that, Wilcoxon Signed Rank test comparing the effect sizes revealed that both groups grow equally.  This means that role play helped students to improve their speaking. However, as the alternative types of speaking activities implemented in the control group also helped the students to improve their speaking it can be inferred that both methods used in this study were equally and largely effective. The results obtained through the questionnaire revealed that the students’ attitude towards role play was quite positive. The qualitative data gained from the interview also revealed positive effects of students’ attitude.  The other qualitative data in form of teacher’s field notes provided an insight about the treatment in the experimental group and the main procedure of the class.

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“The Impact of Games on the Acquisition of Grammatical Structures”

By: Anna Bayburdyan

Thesis Committee: Catherine Buon, Ph.D., Alexan Simonyan, Ph.D., and Rubina Gasparyan, M.A.

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to find out the beneficial effects of games on the correct use of grammar structures, as well as to see what attitude the students had towards the grammar practice used during the study. The study was carried out in the EEC (Experimental English Classes) at the AUA (American University of Armenia). Two groups were selected for the study. The focus group received the treatment with the use of games, whereas the comparison group practiced the grammar structures with the traditional exercises.

The experiment was conducted to investigate the effectiveness of the treatment, which was done through quasi-experimental research. The study comprises the quantitative data. The quantitative data was collected through pre- and post-tests and the questionnaire. The data collected from the pre- and post-tests were analyzed by implementing the Mann-Whitney and Wilcoxon tests, in order to compare the test results of both groups.

The results revealed that there was no difference between the performances of both the focus and the comparison group students. Thus, it can determine that both games and exercises help the students to improve the use of grammar structures similarly.

The analyses of the questionnaire showed that the majority of the focus group students believed that game-based learning was very enjoyable and they were highly motivated to have those kinds of activities. However, the comparison group students also had positive attitudes towards the grammar practice/ exercises used in their classes, and the percentage did not differ greatly compared with the focus group responses.

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“The Impact of Note-taking on Learners’ Listening Comprehension Skills”

By: Anna Movsesyan

Thesis Committee: Catherine Buon, Ph.D., Alexan Simonyan, Ph.D., and Liliana Ediliyan, M.A.

Abstract

Research on note-taking reveals that note-taking is widely used in daily activities to store information, as well as it is often applied in the academic context. It involves a set of cognitive processes and is a combination of various techniques and strategies. In the academic context notes are basically taken during academic lectures and readings. However, little research is done on note-taking during listening activities and its effect on learners’ listening comprehension skills.

This study presents an investigation into the effect of note-taking on EEC (Experimental English Classes) students’ listening comprehension skills and their attitudes towards taking notes during listening activities. The study initially assumed that note-taking during listening activities has no effect on EEC students’ listening comprehension skills. In order to obtain data on the research, five instruments were used: 1) a pre-test, 2) class observations, 3) a post-test, 4) a closed-ended questionnaire with a space for follow up comments, and 5) a semi-structured interview. This study used a quantitative design as the main research methodology, and also employed a supplementary follow-up qualitative interview.  Consequently, two types of data were obtained from these instruments: qualitative and quantitative. Quantitative data was analyzed through SPSS software package, and qualitative data was first transcribed and then analyzed.

Twenty five non-native English-speaking EEC students participated in the study. Participants were split into two groups: control and experimental. The sample consisted of both male and female participants their age ranging from 11-16.

Results obtained from the analysis of the research data indicated that note-taking during listening activities indeed had an effect on EEC learners’ listening comprehension skills. Moreover, as the analysis of the pre- and post-test results showed, this effect was positive as students benefited from taking notes during listening activities. In addition, analysis of the interviews and questionnaires revealed that the use of note-taking technique during listening activities helped to improve EEC students listening comprehension skills.

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“The Impact of Formative Assessment on EFL Learners’ Vocabulary Enhancement”

By: Syuzanna Torosyan

Thesis Committee: Catherine Buon, Ph.D., Dr. Alexan Simonyan, Ph.D., and Ms. Rubina Gasparyan, M.A.

Abstract

The purpose of the current paper is to investigate whether and to what extent formative assessment influenced the EFL learners’ vocabulary enhancement. It also aimed at determining the students’ attitudes towards using formative assessment in the vocabulary learning process. The study was carried out in the Experimental English Classes (EEC), Department of English Programs (DEP) at the American University of Armenia (AUA). Two groups were involved in the study, the experimental and the comparison. The experimental group practiced the vocabulary with the help of formative assessment, whereas for the comparison group traditional exercises and activities were implemented.

The research was quasi-experimental: both qualitative and quantitative data were employed. The instruments used were 1) pre- and post-tests, 2) an attitudinal questionnaire for students, 3) a semi-structured interview with students on formative assessment. The pre- and post-test results were analyzed quantitatively implementing the statistical package for social sciences (SPSS). For the pre- and post-tests’ analysis Mann-Whitney and Wilcoxon tests were implemented to compare the scores obtained from the performance of the experimental and comparison groups.

The analysis of the pre- and post-tests showed a significant difference between the experimental and comparison groups. The results of the attitudinal questionnaire were analyzed through frequency analyses. For the analysis of the qualitative data collected through the interview, a content analysis was applied that integrated identifying the key topics and categories in the data. The results of the questionnaire and the interview revealed that formative assessment had positive influence on the learners’ vocabulary enhancement. The students claimed that formative assessment techniques helped them to become actively involved in their learning process and motivated them to learn the English vocabulary.

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”Predictive Validity of TOEFL iBT and PBT and Test-takers’ Attitude”

By: Addeh Hovassapian

Thesis Committee: Catherine Buon, Ph.D., Alexan Simonyan, Ph.D., Rubina Gasparyan, M.A.

Abstract

The test of English as a Foreign Language for more than four decades has been used as a means of screening students for determining if they are linguistically ready to undertake education in an American university.  In the meantime, this test has evolved constantly in the course of time to boost its validity as well as to be a better representative of test-takers’ English language abilities.  Despite these, the predictive power of this test has always been questioned and the test-takers’ attitudes have rarely been investigated. Therefore, the present study was intended to investigate the predictive validity of TOEFL scores on American University of Armenia’s (AUA) students first and second quarters’ grade point average (GPA). It also aimed to ascertain their attitudes towards the two versions of TOEFL (iBT and PBT) as fair measures of their English language ability and gate-keeping tests.

Participants were 168 first-year graduate students from all the existing study programs at AUA, enrolled in 2010. The predictive variables in this study were PBT and iBT TOEFLs total scores as well as iBT sub-scores, while the criterion measures were students’ Fall and Winter GPAs. The participants were also given two separate questionnaires – one for iBT test-takers and one for PBT test-takers – to investigate their perceptions of the tests.

The data for predictive study was analyzed by correlation-regression model and the results were interpreted based on Cohen’s (1988) conventional definition of R2. The questionnaires data was analyzed by calculating the statistical measures and custom tables for each scale.

The main findings of the study indicated that: a) neither TOEFL tests (PBT and iBT) are efficient predictors of AUA students’ subsequent academic performance; b) iBT subtests similarly have a very small level of predictive validity for GPAs at AUA context; c) iBT test-takers overall had less positive attitudes towards iBT as a good language ability measure while the PBT takers were positive; d) iBT test-takers indicated more favorable attitudes towards the sub-modules than the PBT test-takers.

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“Construction and Validation of a Task – Based Test in the Armenian Context”

By: Lena Simonyan

Thesis committee: Hossein Farhady, Ph.D, Irshat Madyarov, Ph.D,Melissa Brown, M.A

Abstract

The primary aim of this thesis was to find out the effectiveness of task-based testing in the Armenian context. This study was an attempt to construct and validate a task-based achievement test against a traditional standardized test. Furthermore, this study aimed to make comparisons between traditional and task-based tests, by pointing a number of negative criticisms of standardized tests and exams. Afterwards, all the characteristics of the task-based testing are clearly mentioned and thoroughly described in this paper.

The participants for this study were 9th grade students from two secondary schools in Echmiadzin. The students’ level of English was intermediate. For obtaining valid scores from the test, the number of the participants was 120 of both male and female gender.

The instruments for this research were two tests (task-based and traditional) designed exclusively for this study in accordance with a content analysis of the 9th grade textbook , and based on the exit state exam of the same form.  The data for this study was collected through (1) the administration of the two tests (task-based and traditional) and (2) the scores of the MESA traditional test (Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia).

The data, gathered through the total scores of each test (task-based test, traditional test designed exclusively for this study and the traditional test designed by the Ministry of Education), were analyzed with the help of SPSS program. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyze the data.

The analyses of the results illustrate there was no difference between the scores obtained from traditional state test designed by the Ministry of Education and Science in Armenia (MESA) and a task-based test designed by the researcher. This implies that task-based test is equal with the test designed by the Ministry of Education and Science in Armenia. This implies that this task-based test can be preferably implemented in the Armenian context.

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“Syntactic Errors in Armenian Learners’ Spoken Production”

By: Armine Ghazaryan

Thesis Committee: Irshat Madyarov, Ph.D., Alexan Simonyan, Ph.D., Lilianna Edilian, M.A.

Abstract

This study aimed at investigating the syntactic errors in the spoken production of Armenian EFL learners. The syntactic errors were identified and classified in 11 relevant categories. The statistical analyses showed that the most frequent errors occur in the usage of articles and inversion in WH questions. The errors of those 2 categories were analyzed with the means of contrastive and error analyses and their possible sources were proposed. The contrastive and error analysis of the most frequent errors revealed that the sources of those errors may be the interlingual transfer, intralingual transfer and the communication and learning strategies employed by the learners. It was also observed that the same error may be caused by more than one factor; there were many cases of errors when the source might be both the interlingual and intralingual transfer.

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“The effect of the Oral Translation Activities on students’ speaking performance”

By: Armine Dilbandyan

Thesis Committee: Irshat Madyarov, Ph.D., Alexan Simonyan, Ph.D., and Rubina Gasparyan, M.A.

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to investigate what effect the oral translation activities would have on students’ oral performance, as well as to see what attitude the students had towards having oral translation activities. The study was carried out in the Experimental English Classes (hereinafter EEC) at the American University of Armenia (hereinafter AUA). Two groups were involved in the study. The focus group received treatment.

The instruments that were used for collecting data were: 1) pretest (picture storytelling task and answering questions 2) posttest (picture storytelling task and answering the questions task) and 3) a questionnaire. The data collected from the pre and post tests were analyzed using the Mann-Whitney and Wilcoxon tests, in order to see the rater consistency between the teacher and the co-rater. The data collected through the questionnaire was analyzed both quantitavily and qualitatively.

To see the consistency of the grades submitted by the teacher and the co-rater among the groups additional Cronbach’s Alpha Reliability scale was used. The results of the scale showed that the teacher and the co-rater had very high reliability in grading the groups (experimental, control).

The results revealed that that there was no significant difference between the performances of the two groups (focus and comparison). Thus, it was determined that the oral translation activities did not help the students to improve their oral proficiency level. Further the analysis showed that there was improvement in the language knowledge of the students of both focus group and comparison group in their oral production, there was improvement in students’ oral performance from pretest to posttest in favor of the posttest.

The analysis of the questionnaire showed that the majority of the students believed that the oral translation activities were useful and motivating for them, since it helped them to understand the texts and words in English better and then speak about them. They also found the tasks and activities done during class interesting and useful, and thought that translation helped them to feel more comfortable when expressing ideas and talking about something.

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“Implementation of formative assessment and its effect in an Armenian setting”

By: Angela Balasanyan

Thesis Committee: Irshat Madyarov, Ph.D., Alexan Simonyan, Ph.D., Rubina Gasparyan, M.A.

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to investigate what effect formative assessment can have on the achievement of the students learning English in an Armenian setting. The study was quasi experimental and was carried out in the Experimental English Classes (EEC) at the American University of Armenia (AUA). Two groups were involved in the study, the experimental and the comparison. The experimental group received treatment and the comparison group did not. Besides, the current research was aiming to find out the students’ perceptions and attitude towards formative assessment.

The instruments that were used for collecting data were a pretest and a posttest, a questionnaire and field notes. The data collected from the pre and post tests between the two groups were analyzed using the parametric Independent Samples T Test and the non parametric Mann-Whitney U Test, in order to see the difference of their performance during and after the treatment. For the within group comparison, the parametric paired sample and the non parametric Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Tests were implemented. The data collected through the questionnaire were analyzed qualitatively.

The results revealed that that there was a significant difference in both groups during the performance of pretest and the posttest. However, the major limitation of the study should be taken into account. Because of some incorrectness and circumstances, the students’ first exam of the course was taken as a pretest and during the test the experimental group performed better than the comparison group. In addition, during the post test the comparison group revealed better results. This can be proved through the results obtained by the Wilcoxon Signed Rank test comparing the effect sizes (r=0.81 (experimental) and r=1.61 (comparison)) of the two groups during the pretest and the posttest. So, it can be inferred that though both groups performed better results during the posttest, the null hypothesis that there is no relationship between the implementation of formative assessment and the students’ achievement is not rejected.

The qualitative data were in the form of questionnaires and field notes. The results obtained through the questionnaires revealed that the students’ attitude towards formative assessment was positive. The field notes served as perceptions of the classes on the part of the teacher about the treatment in the experimental group and the core procedure of the class.

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“The effect of instructor’s written corrective feedback on graduate students’ written performance”

By: Anna Ghazaryan

Thesis Committee: Catherine Buon, Ph.D, Melissa Brown, M.A.

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to investigate the relationship between instructors’ written corrective feedback and graduate students’ written performance, as well as to examine the students’ attitudes towards instructors’ written corrective feedback. The participants of the study were graduate students, studying at the American University of Armenia, at Department of English Programs. The data for the research was gathered from the students’ written assignments written throughout one term (fall, 2009).

The instruments that were used for collecting data were: four Mini Projects written during the course Advanced Methodology and a questionnaire. The data collected from the Mini Projects was analyzed using the Friedman and Wilcoxon tests, in order to see the difference between the percentages of errors among the four Mini Projects. The data collected through the questionnaire was analyzed qualitatively.

This study revealed that there was a significant difference among the four Mini Projects written throughout the term. Further the analysis showed that there was improvement in the language knowledge from the point of view of lexical errors, errors in cohesion, errors in mechanics, and run on sentences. The analysis of the questionnaire showed that the majority of the students believed that instructor’s written corrective feedback was useful for them, since it helped them to find and correct their errors as they would know where their mistakes were.

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2010

“The Effect of Teachers’ Roles on Students’ Motivation and Achievement in a Foreign Language Learning Context”

By: Diana Malkhasyan

Thesis Supervisor: Catherine Buon, Ph.D, Liliana Edilian, M.A.

Abstract

The aim of this study was to investigate whether teachers’ roles affect students’ motivation to learn in foreign language learning context. To shed some light on the issue the current research was designed to investigate the effect of the teacher’s role as a facilitator and controller on students’ achievement and their motivation to learn. The qualitative data for this project was collected by administering three questionnaires to 26 students to see their attitude towards the way they were taught throughout one term; by interviewing the teachers who were teaching the groups under the research to explore more about their approaches to teaching; by observing classes in both groups in order to get in-depth information about the events happening in the classroom such as motivation of the students, activities used in the classroom, interactions, instructions, classroom behaviour, etc. The quantitative data was collected through pre test, midterm test and final test from two EEC groups to explore the achievement of the students in both groups.

The findings indicated that students learn better and have some achievement in a teacher-centered classroom with a teacher controller. The results of the qualitative data show that students are more motivated but have lower achievement in a student-centered classroom with a teacher-facilitator.
The overall finding was that teachers’ roles affect students’ motivation to learn greatly. Students learn better and show higher achievement when they are under control.

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2009

“The Effect of the Explanation of Students’ Grammatical Errors on Their Written Performance”

By: Lilit Khachatryan

Thesis Committee: Catherine Buon, Ph.D., Lilianna Edilyan, M.A.

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to investigate what effect the explanation of learners’ grammatical errors would have on their written performance, as well as to see what attitude the students had towards having their errors treated. The study was carried out in the Experimental English Classes (hereinafter EEC) at the American University of Armenia (hereinafter AUA). Two groups were involved in the study. The focus group received treatment.
The instruments that were used for collecting data were: 1) two pretests (picture description task and composition writing task), 2) four writing assignments, 3) two posttests (picture description task and composition writing task) and 4) a questionnaire. The data collected from the pre and post tests and the writing assignments were analyzed using the Mann-Whitney and Wilcoxon tests, in order to see the difference between the percentages of errors made by the students of two groups, as well as the difference between the percentages of errors made in the pretests sand posttests. The data collected through the questionnaire was analyzed qualitatively.
The results revealed that that there was a significant difference between the percentages of errors from pretests to posttests of both groups (focus and comparison). Thus, it was determined that though there was no significant difference between the percentage of errors made in the posttest picture description and composition writing tasks of the focus and comparison groups, the students of the focus group made fewer errors than the students of the comparison group. Further the analysis showed that there was improvement in the language knowledge of the students of the focus group from the point of view of the grammatical categories that were treated, specifically articles, prepositions and verb tense. The analysis of the questionnaire showed that the majority of the students believed that the correction and the explanation of their grammatical errors was useful for them, since it helped them to correct their errors, and they learned a lot of new things from it. They also found the tasks and activities done during class interesting and useful.

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“The Effect of CALL Audio-Visual Activities on the Development of Listening and Speaking Skills of Armenian EFL Learners”

By: Hasmik Vrshikyan

Thesis committee: Irshat Madyarov, Ph.D, Rubina Gasparyan, M.A.

Abstract

The rapid development of modern technologies and multimedia tools, make the researchers, language teacher seek for newer ways of implementing them in the classroom setting, and creating a stress free environment for language learning.
Thus, the purpose of the present study was to find out the beneficial ways of implementing computer assisted language learning multimedia tools in the classroom and see whether they have any effect on the development of the listening and speaking skills of Armenian EFL learners as well as to find out the learners’ attitude towards computer assisted language learning. The effectiveness of the treatment was investigated through a quasi-experimental design. The study comprises of both quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative data was collected through pre and posttest, and the questionnaire. The qualitative data was collected through interview.

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An Examination of the Content Validity of the Unified School Leaving and University Entrance Examination in English of 2009

Thesis Supervisors: Catherine Buon, PhD, Hossein Farhady, PhD

Thesis Reader: Lilianna Edilian

By: Serine Poghosyan

The purpose of the present study was to investigate and determine whether and to what extent the content of the Unified School Leaving and University Entrance Examination in English (USL & UEEE) of 2009 was consistent with the curriculum (or teaching /learning objectives) of the English language program in secondary schools of Armenia. The instructional materials (the textbooks for Grades 5 to 10) approved of by the Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia and the High School teaching/learning objectives of the English Language set in the curriculum were analyzed to serve as a basis for the research.
Two tests (the USL & UEEE and a test designed exclusively for this study on the basis of the instructional materials) were administered to sixty-two school-leavers randomly selected from different secondary schools of Yerevan and the preparatory course of Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) University. The analyses of the results obtained (i.e. the total scores on each test) revealed a strong association between the two tests. However, the analysis of the relationship between the components of the two tests showed a weak or moderate degree of relationship in most cases, and most of the comparisons of the components between the tests displayed statistically significant differences. The analysis of the production section revealed a low correlation between the scores on compositions and those on the tests suggesting that the test scores were not representative of the writing ability.

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The Impact of Portfolio Assessment on Learners’ Achievement

Thesis Supervisor: Hossein Farhady, Ph.D

Thesis Reader: Rubina Gasparyan

By: Gayane Manukyan

The purpose of present study was to investigate the extent to which portfolio assessment influences learners’ achievement, their learning process, and their attitude towards assessment for learning English. From the two groups involved in the study, the focus group received the treatment whereas the comparison group received placebo. The instruments used were1) pre and post instruction tests, 2) pre and post attitudinal questionnaires for students, 3) self-assessment checklists, 4) questionnaire on portfolio assessment-and 5) semi-structured interview with students on portfolio assessment. The pre and post instruction test data was analyzed through non-parametric Kruskal-Wallis test, which showed a significant difference between the comparison and focus group. In order to see the relationship between self-assessment checklists scores and the progress tests scores, Spearman’s rank order correlation was used. Cross-case analysis of the content of the interview data was performed after dividing the questions into two categories of “attitude” and “learning”. Each category was analyzed separately in order to group the most common answers. The results of the questionnaires and interviews showed that portfolio assessment had positive effect on students’ achievement. The students reported that the process of portfolio assessment enabled them to become actively involved in the learning process.

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The Impact of Using L1 in EFL Instruction

Thesis Supervisor: Robert Agajeenian, Ph.D.

Thesis Reader: Liliana Edilian

By: Arevik Aboyan

The question whether or not the students’ mother tongue (L1) should be used in the EFL classroom has been an important issue for a long time. However, there seems to be no consensus on the issue as yet. Supporters of the Monolingual Approach claim that L2 can be learnt only through L2, where as the proponents of the Bilingual Approach believe that L1 has a facilitating role in many aspects of language instruction. To shed some light on the issue, this was designed to investigate the effect of using first language in the Armenian EFL class. The qualitative data for this project was collected by administering two questionnaires to 99 students and 12 teachers, intended to explore Armenian students’ and teachers’ attitudes towards the use of L1. The quantitative data was collected by conducting a pretest-posttest intact group design in two classes at AUA’s Experimental English classes. The findings surprisingly indicated that both teachers and students demonstrated negative attitudes towards L1 use in the EFL classroom. However, most of them believed that certain amount of the Armenian language (5-10%) is appropriate for teachers to convey meaning of difficult words, to check for comprehension, and to give instructions and explanations for grammatical rules. The overall impression was that the use of the students’ mother tongue is not an effective tool in learning a foreign language.

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Transitioning from Teacher-Centered to Learner-Centered Approach: Teacher Behavior

Thesis supervisor: Robert Agajeenian, Ph.D.

Thesis reader: Liliana Edilian

By:Lusine Nuryan

Teacher behavior is considered to be an important factor for teaching and learning process. Teacher behavior determines the type of the classroom whether it is teacher-centered or learner-centered. This study was designed to investigate if the students’ attitude towards teacher behavior affects their learning achievement in the Armenian EFL classrooms, in order to see if there was a need to shift from teacher-centered to learner-centered classrooms.
The data was collected through questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, which served as the basis of the study. The aim of the questionnaire was to reveal the relationship between students’ attitude towards teacher behavior and their achievement. The interview was conducted to find out if students’ needs are being met in Armenian EFL classrooms.
The findings of the research reveal that students’ achievement is positively related to their attitude towards the following types of teacher behavior: clarity of the explanation of concepts, enthusiasm, encouraging students’ participation in class, fostering understanding and interest and providing choice. Therefore, it can be suggested that there is a need to shift from teacher-centered to learner-centered classrooms in the Armenian EFL setting, particularly emphasizing the above mentioned types of teacher behavior.

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The Effectiveness of Corrective Feedback in Language Learning

Thesis Advisor: Robert Agajeenian, Ph.D.

Thesis Reader: Lilanna Edilyan

By: Narine Varosyan

One of the fundamental issues in EFL education concerns how a teacher can best respond to his/her students’ errors and the extent to which teacher’s feedback may promote students achievement. A significant issue in error correction addresses the types of corrective feedback that will help students to develop and improve language skills. Therefore this study was designed to investigate the effect of teacher’s corrective feedback on student’s achievement on speaking skills. The data was collected through pre and post tests and observations, which served as the basis of the study. The purpose of the pre and post tests and observations was to find out the type and frequency of corrective feedback that teachers use in their classroom.
The research was conducted in the Experimental English classes (EEC) in the Department of English Programs (DEP). The aim of experiment was to investigate the impact of the corrective feedback on students learning in Experimental English Classes. Two groups of students were given a pretest (oral proficiency test) to assure their proficiency level before the treatment. Then the group received its respective treatment. One group received immediate feedback and the other group delayed feedback. At the end of the experiment the participants were given a posttest in order to measure the effects of the feedback techniques.
The statistical data analysis suggests that there was same change in scores over time for the two different groups, and there was no significant difference between the effectiveness of immediate and delayed methods, though both of these methods (immediate and delayed) caused significant and positive change in speaking test scores across the two different time periods. The analysis of observation showed that recast was the most frequently used type of feedback in the Armenian EFL classroom.

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BEYOND PBT TOEFL: THE EFFECTIVENESS OF AN ACADEMIC SKILLS WRITING COURSE

Thesis Supervisor: Robert Agajeenian, Ph.D.

Thesis Reader: Lilianna Edilyan

By: Syuzanna Gasparyan

The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of a five-week academic writing skills course on students’ writing ability. Two hundred incoming students participated in a pre instruction and post instruction test design research framework. The findings of the study revealed several interesting outcomes: PBT TOEFL cannot serve as a valid indicator of the students’ academic writing skills. The analysis of the data revealed that although the AUA incoming students did not have adequate academic writing skills that could be transferred into English, they made a significant progress in the types of writing skills that were covered in the writing course and showed some improvement in the skills for which they did not receive instructions. However, there is more into academic skills writing that needs to be researched. It is hoped that the findings of this study will foster further comprehensive investigation.

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The contribution of Motivation and Attitude to EFL learner Achievement

Thesis Advisor: Dr. Robert Agajeenian

Thesis Reader: Melissa Brown

By:Jenny Grigoryan-Nikolai

The current study discusses the role of affective factors Armenian learners have towards learning EFL (English as a Foreign Language). The study focused on Attitude, Instrumental and Integrative orientations, and was designed as a case study, which aimed to report the relationship between Armenian EFL students’ motivation and attitude and impact of these affective factors on L2 achievement. In order to achieve the primary aim of the study, three different instruments were utilized to obtain data: a questionnaire, assessing students’ motivation and attitude, interviews, and achievement tests. In order to explore non-English major students’ motivational and attitudinal thinking of their English learning, as well as their motivational beliefs affecting their efforts learning English, 100 students from levels 2-6 attending the American University of Armenia Extension Program (AUA, EP) English Language courses, were given survey questionnaires adapted from Gardner’s Attitude/Motivation Test Battery (AMTB) and, including only 10 students attending the 7th level were interviewed. The findings demonstrated that in Armenian foreign language situations, affective variables (motivation and attitude) play an important role and affect L2 learning achievement. The findings also revealed that achievement of students with the different levels of motivational orientations and attitudes are not very different. The study concludes with a section on implications and limitations. Finally, recommendations regarding future research in this area in Armenia have been highlighted.

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The Effect of Test Anxiety on the Performance of Armenian University Students Majoring in English

Thesis Supervisor: Hossein Farhady, Ph.D.

Thesis Reader: Rubina Gasparyan

By: Mariam Karapetyan

Foreign language learners are believed to experience anxiety about taking tests. This study was designed to find the sources of test anxiety among Armenian university students majoring in English. It was also designed to investigate the relationship between test anxiety and students’ performance and to explore the effect of coping strategies on their performance. To achieve these goals, The Westside Anxiety Scale was piloted and administered to 155 English major students at Yerevan State University in Armenia. According to students’ scores on the questionnaire, they were divided into high-test anxious and low-test anxious groups. Moreover, the most test-anxious students (N=10) were selected to be interviewed in order to discover the possible sources of test anxiety and to construct the treatment according to those sources. Later, high-test anxious students were divided into experimental (N=30) and comparison (N=30) groups, with the experimental group receiving test anxiety reduction training. After the treatment, the participants took an achievement test and their scores on the test were used to measure the effect of the treatment.
The collected data were analyzed descriptively and statistically, and the results were as follows: such factors as bad past experience with tests, poor preparation, fear of a particular test format, fear of novelty and a highly evaluative situation, time insufficiency, and fear of instructor were revealed as test anxiety provoking factors. Second, findings showed that there was a clear negative relationship between foreign language test anxiety and students’ performance. Third, it was revealed that anxiety treatment resulted in better performance. Based on the findings of this study, it was recommended that foreign language teachers should be aware of test anxiety, its causes and consequences, which could lead to its reduction.

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Motivation among the Learners of English in the Secondary Schools in Armenian EFL setting

Thesis Supervisor: Robert Agajeenian, Ph.D.

Thesis Reader: Rubina Gasparyan

By:Nazeli Hakobjanyan
The main purpose of this study was to examine students’ integrative and instrumental motivation for learning English in the secondary schools in Armenian EFL setting. Further, the study aimed at recognizing factors affecting secondary school students’ motivation for learning English as a foreign language in Armenian EFL setting. As well as to find out whether there was relationship between types of motivation and students achievement. The participants of the study were 68 students of English from school # 51; the level of proficiency of English was intermediate. The participants of the study were tenth-grade students who participated in completing a questionnaire. In addition 20 students from the same school among those who have participated in completing a questionnaire were interviewed in order to give more insight to the investigation. The data revealed that the secondary school students have a higher degree of instrumental than integrative motivation. And also it showed the demotivating factors influencing secondary school students’ learning English. This study also revealed that there is relationship between integrative motivation and students’ achievement. It is hoped that the results of this study could be of much benefit for developing teaching and learning English in Armenian EFL setting.

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The Effect of Intercultural Activities as an EFL Teaching Technique

Thesis Supervisor: Robert Agajeenian, Ph. D.

Thesis Reader: Melissa Brown

By: Karine Karapetyan

The purpose of the present study was to investigate the relationship between intercultural activities and EFL students’ achievement. The participants of the study were 24 Armenian EFL students, ranging between 11 -14 years of age. The intercultural activities were performed through Power Point presentations and follow-up discussions. I claimed that intercultural activities were a good tool in the hands of an EFL teacher for fostering her/his students’ achievement in the English language. The data for the study was collected through pre and post-tests administered to experimental and control groups and through a semi-structured interview with the experimental group. The data was analyzed using the non-parametric techniques of the SPSS statistical package. The analysis of the qualitative data was based on subjective understanding and interpretation of the interviewees’ responses. The first set of data did not reveal a statistically significant difference between pre and post-tests of the experimental group. On the other hand, the second set of data revealed a highly positive attitude on the part of the students towards intercultural activities.

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The Impact of Online Activities on Armenian EFL Learners’ Achievement

Thesis supervisor: Hossein Farhady, Ph.D.

Thesis reader: Liliana Edilyan

By: Naira Stepanyan

Computers and the Internet are so widespread in education in general and in language teaching profession in particular, that one feels outdated and unimportant if not using them. They are considered to help teachers in making language learning faster, easier and more engaging, and help creating an optimal language-learning environment.
Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore whether the addition of computer assisted language learning (hereinafter: CALL) to traditional instruction would have a positive effect on Armenian EFL contexts. The effectiveness of this treatment was investigated through a pre-posttest quasi-experimental design. To enrich quantitative data, qualitative data was also collected. Although the treatment with CALL in this study did not produce statistically significant effects on increasing Armenian EFL learners’ overall level of language proficiency, students were more enthusiastic and autonomous in their learning towards the CALL than towards the ‘traditional’ one.

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Analysis of the Errors in Armenian Speakers’ English Writings: The Role of the Negative L1 Transfer

Thesis Advisor: Hossein Farhady, Ph. D.

Thesis Reader: Rubina Gasparyan

By: Rima Aleksanyan

The purpose of this study was to investigate the most common grammatical errors in the writing performance of Armenian learners of English. Errors were studied in order to investigate the impact of the Armenian language on the written production in English, particularly the use of Armenian grammatical rules. The analysis showed that the four most common errors were in article use, word order, subject-verb agreement, and purpose infinitive. The contrastive analysis between Armenian and English on these patterns revealed that about 30 % of the total number of errors (n=427) was caused by a direct transfer from the Armenian language. It was also observed that with increasing proficiency, the likelihood of L1 negative transfer decreases. Finally, the results indicated that transfer is a reality and an important determinant in the writing performance of Armenian learners of English. Learners need to understand the differences in the two languages and use appropriate linguistic features to produce good and acceptable sentences in English. It should be mentioned that not all the errors were caused due to the influence of Armenian. Some of the errors reflected the complexities of the English language and common learning strategies employed by the learners.

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2008

THE IMPORTANCE OF APPROPRIATE PEER REVIEW TECHNIQUES IN ARMENIAN EFL WRITING COURSES

By Anahit Atoyan

Robert Agajeenian: Supervisor

Sivakumar Sivasubramaniam: Reader

The study I have carried out is aimed at discovering whether peer feedback technique may have an effective impact on students’ English writing skills or not. My initial premise was that with skillfully and carefully conducted peer editing sessions, the technique may bring beneficial outcomes, in that it helps students to develop writing and editing skills and work out useful strategies for improving their writing.
To test out my premise I have conducted a qualitative research. The data needed for the study was collected via open-ended questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. The participants of my study were eight former students of the American University of Armenia as well as two teachers of the same university.
The findings of the study showed that most of the participants had overwhelmingly positive attitudes towards the peer editing technique and were optimistic about the possibility of conducting beneficial peer editing sessions in Armenian foreign language classrooms.

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AN INVESTIGATION OF THE INFLUENCE OF DIALOGUE JOURNAL IN AN ARMENIAN EFL SETTING

By Ani Arakelyan

Sivakumar Sivasubramaniam: Supervisor

Robert Agajeenian: Reader

This study sets out to investigate the influence of dialogue journal writing as a tool for alternative assessment in the Armenian EFL setting. The study aims to discover to what extent dialogue journals can influence students’ motivation, promote culture and help students show rhetorical maturity. In the Armenian EFL setting teaching of writing has for a long time been confined to the teaching of correct grammar. My investigation aimed to find out to what extent Armenian society is open to changes in foreign language teaching methodology by providing my subjects with the opportunity of experiencing dialogue journals. To this effect I carried out a research project at Gyumri State Pedagogical Institute in a period of eight weeks. The subjects were twenty students, drawn from their second, third and fourth year of study and were exposed to different non-traditional writing procedures as recommended by the literature on dialogue journal writing.
The findings of the study indicate that a change of attitude towards the writing process is observed on behalf of students. However, teachers appeared to maintain conservative viewpoints. It should also be noted that the implementation of innovations in writing procedures attracted the positive attention of both teachers and learners respectively. In spite of certain inconsistencies in the attitudes and beliefs of the subjects and teachers seen in the study, the learners demonstrated remarkable interest in the experience of dialogue journal writing.

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INVESTIGATING THE DYNAMICS AND OUTCOMES OF IMPLEMENTING DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION IN AN ARMENIAN EFL SETTING

By Anna Gevorgyan

Sivakumar Sivasubramaniam: Supervisor

Robert Agajeenian: Reader

The purpose of this study is to explore, reveal and identify as well as highlight the extent to which a differentiated instruction can boost students’ progress and meet their interests, language aptitude, learning styles, strengths and weaknesses in learning English. The present study aims at investigating the adult classroom setting in Armenia with respect to implementing differentiated instruction on a regular basis.
The data were collected by means of a classroom study as an experimental process where the teacher will be granted the opportunity of developing a curriculum with the insights into differentiated instruction alongside with conducting continuous assessment as a major part of it. Post- audit questionnaires will be used as secondary tools for obtaining information from students.

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USING LITERATURE TO PROMOTE LANGUAGE LEARNING IN ARMENIAN EFL SETTINGS: ISSUES AND INSIGHTS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

By Arpine Sargsyan

Sivakumar Sivasubramaniam: Supervisor

Robert Agajeenian: Reader

This study attempted to investigate the following questions: How can the use of literature in the Armenian EFL setting affect the teachers and the students? Can the use of literature promote reading and writing skills and learner – centered pedagogies?
The data for my research was collected in three different settings, at a school, a university, and at a literature club. During teaching, different types of literary texts and activities were used.
The participants of the study were schoolchildren of 9 th and 10 th forms (15-17 years), second-year university students (18-22 years), and teachers of English at school and university, as well as member teachers and students, and guest speakers at the literature club. The researcher taught 10 hours at school, 10 hours at the university and had 15 hours at the literature club. The data was collected through pre- and post-questionnaires for students and teachers at the school and at the university and through semi-structured interviews for member teachers, member students and guest speakers at the literature club. As an introspective tool, the researcher also used journal writing at the school and at the club.
The findings indicate that using literature as a resource for EFL teaching can offer numerous benefits to Armenian EFL teachers and learners. It is a very effective means of carrying out student-centered pedagogies and a reliable resource for language teaching promoting reading and writing skills in multiple ways. When used in classroom pedagogies and practices literature can make major contributions to the Armenian educational system and open new horizons for suggestive and open-ended practices in Armenian EFL teaching.

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AN INVESTIGATION OF EXTENSIVE READING IN ARMENIAN EFL SETTINGS: ATTITUDES, PRACTICES, AND PROCEDURES OF EVALUATION

By Hayarpi Papikyan

Sivakumar Sivasubramaniam: Supervisor

Robert Agajeenian: Reader

Reading in a foreign language is not an abstract and monolithic process of understanding the words and their connections in order to get the meaning of the text. Reading is a process of reassessing one’s own belief and value systems, and being apprenticed and enculturated into the practices, behaviors, thoughts, and values of different social groups. In L2/FL (second language/foreign language) instruction Extensive Reading is considered to be the approach which is the outgrowth of these particular views of L2/FL reading, and which purposes to educate well informed, culturally aware, independent and lifelong readers. The accomplishment of this is done through exposing learners to self-selected, variable, and authentic materials.
The present study reports on Extensive Reading practices and procedures that operate in Armenian EFL settings, the way they motivate the learners to read in English and enforce certain attitudes toward reading in English. The study was carried out in three primary higher educational institutions of Yerevan via observations of actual extensive reading lessons, completions of open-ended questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews with the learners.

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AN I NVESTIGATION OF THE AUA GRADUATE STUDENTS’ ATTITUDE TOWARDS READING : COMING TO TERMS WITH LITERACY, CULTURE AND EMPOWERMENT

By Lilit Petrosyan

Sivakumar Sivasubramaniam: Supervisor

Robert Agajeenian: Reader

The proposed investigation is a qualitative study of the attitudes to reading of graduate students studying at a Western university. The project aims to investigate the why and how of the students’ reading, how reading makes them literate at a level that lets one understand and communicate ideas in a literate society, so as to take part in their social endeavours, and how reading empowers them personally, so as to help them be better decision makers.
The prevalence of a reductionist view of language teaching and learning cannot aid the empowerment of our nation. It is well known that such a view can make it easy for “the powers that be” to control and manipulate uneducated people. However, it is difficult to control thinking people. Education is called to develop thinkers. I am interested in finding out the purpose of graduate students’ reading and how they think it can empower them and their country. It is known that reading affects us and develops critical thinking and such thinking can bring about constructive social changes.
I believe my findings will give me useful data about graduate students’ attitudes towards reading. This would help us understand what we can do as teachers and how we can promote better attitudes towards reading at graduate level.

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IMPLEMENTING INTERCULTURAL LEARNING IN THE EFL/ ESL LEARNING CONTEXT

By Susanna Sargsyan

Robert Agajeenian: Supervisor

Sivakumar Sivasubramaniam: Reader

This study is a qualitative investigation of the benefits of incorporating target foreign culture learning and intercultural learning into the EFL/ ESL learning context. The purpose behind this is to create a well-informed basis for this kind of innovation in language teaching approaches and curricula in the schools and universities operating in EFL/ ESL settings.
My own study was conducted in an English-specialized school in Armenia where students were desirous of becoming fluent users of English. During the course and based on their own experience, they also came to the realization that this goal is readily achievable if it is promoted in conjunction with the study of the culture of those who use the target language as their mother tongue.
The results obtained through my study show that the incorporation of intercultural learning into EFL/ ESL contexts can be very productive, and it can make the classroom develop a more meaningful, holistic, and fundamental language study atmosphere. The results also show that this incorporation will not only help the students develop their knowledge of the target language, but it will also promote appreciation of diversity and multiculturalism on the part of the students. In its turn, this will result in the education of new intercultural actors who will be willing to promote the idea of equality among all cultures in all contexts.

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2007

REFLECTIVE EFL TEACHER EDUCATION IN ARMENIA

By Veronika Moiseenko

The aim of this research is to explore how reflective practice is being integrated into various English language teacher development programs implemented in Armenia . The hypothesis to be tested in the research states that the EL teacher development model in Armenia allows for reflective practice. However, the degree of reflectivity varies from program to program and depends on such organizational factors as the length of the course, the frequency of the classes provided, the ratio between teacher learners and teacher educators and so on. The data were obtained via structured interviews with teacher educators and program managers, insider-view descriptions of two programs/courses in which I was involved and one group interview with teacher learners. The findings appear to support the research hypothesis. It was also revealed that the teacher learners` reflections are practice oriented. In other words, the teacher learners reflect on what they learn to ensure a more conscious and creative transfer of the course content to their own classrooms.

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THE INFLUENCE OF TEACHER-STUDENT CONFERENCING ON STUDENT MOTIVATION IN ARMENIAN EFL CLASSROOM

By Zhanet Tahmazyan

The study I have carried out is aimed at discovering whether conducting teacher-student conferences in the Armenian EFL classroom can have any effect on students’ motivation to learn English. My initial hypothesis was that the teacher’s individual or group conferences with the students can help them feel more responsible for their learning and initiate activities to improve their English; in other words increase the students’ motivation towards learning English. Due to the nature of my thesis topic, which refers to motivation, I have conducted a classroom study using a qualitative methodology. My research also includes some aspects of ethnographic investigation in that it focuses on the learners’ attitudes towards learning English and their motivation level, before and after the implementation of conferences in their real language-learning context. In addition, my study involved some elements of experimental research; in a way, it can be considered a pre-experimental study. I had three conferences during the four-week writing course that I conducted with my students, one of which I have tape-recorded. As the participants in my study were 12-13 year-old children of the fifth and sixth grades of school, I conducted the conferences in the Armenian language for the students to be able to express their feelings and ideas freely. During each conference, I had a discussion with the students related to their written work. Following each conference I conducted an interview with the learners, which aimed at finding information on the effects that the writing course, and the conferences as a part of it, might have both on the learners’ development in writing and on their motivation towards learning English. Besides this, I used two questionnaires, one in the beginning and one in the end of the course as another source of collecting information on the same phenomena. As another additional source of data, I have used the students’ reflections I had asked them to write on both the writing sessions and the conferences immediately after each session, which the majority of the students have done in Armenian. The results of the data interpretation showed that most of the students were highly motivated to learn English from the very beginning of the study and as most of them stated during the interviews and in their questionnaires, they became even more motivated in the end of the study. The study had some limitations such as the limited number of the participants and the short time allocated to it. However, the study revealed very useful information, which can serve as a basis for longitudinal studies on teacher-student conferencing, as a collaborative teaching methodology in Armenian EFL settings.

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MOTIVATION AS ONE OF THE CONTRIBUTING PERSONALITY FACTORS TO SUCCESS IN THE FL CLASSROOM

By Marine Arakelyan

Teachers are mostly interested in a particular kind of motivation – student motivation to learn. If any teacher is asked to identify the most powerful influence on learning, motivation would be the most widely-used term. Many of us believe that learning occurs when we want to learn. However, the concept of motivation has passed through a number of different interpretations and the term is used in different ways, by different people. The aim of my thesis is to investigate how teachers and students perceive the concept of “motivation” in Armenia as well as how to motivate and what motivates students to achieve success in foreign language learning. It also indicates that teacher and student motivation changes overtime and thereby necessitating a well-informed focus on what the dominant type of motivation that triggers students to learn English in the Armenian setting. The purpose of the present research was to attempt a well-informed understanding of motivation and achievement from the student’s perspective. Specifically, the research focused on the type of motivation used in the Armenian setting, its change overtime and learners’ achieved success in learning English. The proposed research was conducted using qualitative research methods. The needed data were collected through questionnaires, constructed for both teachers and students, and by means of semi-structured interviews with teachers and students that were meant to serve as my research instruments. I constructed two different questionnaires: one for teachers and the other for students. The level of difficulty of questions was different. Teacher and student questionnaires and interviews were piloted among friends and colleagues who are English teachers in different secondary schools. Students, engaged in the study, were not only students of 9 th and 10 th grades but also students of different grades, even undergraduate students. The selection of these various-age students (15-21 year-old students) was done with the aim of getting more in-depth descriptive data on FL learning motivation and achievement from these students’ perspective. Thus, it was necessary for me to target about thirty students and fifteen teachers for conducting in-depth semi-structured interviews using of survey questionnaires.

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THE EFFECT OF FIRST LANGUAGE TRANSFER AND AGE ON SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION

By Gohar Minasyan

“Individuals tend to transfer the forms and meanings, and the distribution of forms and meanings of their native language and culture to the foreign language and culture – both productively…and receptively” (Gass & Selinker, 1983, p.22). “We have room for but one language here and that is the English language, for we intended to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding house” (Theodore Roosevelt, Jan. 3, 1919, cited in Reich, 1986, p. 205).

This study investigates the effect of first language transfer on second language acquisition. Specifically, it examines the influence of Armenian (L1) on learners of English as a foreign language. Armenian learners from Yerevan and Gyumri, of different age groups and educational background took part in my research study. There were 22 learners/participants from the MA TEFL, CTEFL graduate programs and IAEP Program (Intensive English Program), from the American University of Armenia (AUA), Yerevan , as well as ten students from the English Department of the Pedagogical Institute of Gyumri, Armenia . The participants’ of this research study were both males and females and their ages ranged from 16 to 51. The instrument used for data collection was a questionnaire in the English language. The total number of analyzed questionnaires was 30; two of the questionnaires were not returned. The results of the study reflect how first language affects second language acquisition both negatively and positively, and how many other factors such as age, motivation, risk taking, negative attitude and learner strategies might also play an important role in this process.

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THE ROLES OF TEACHERS AND LEARNERS IN THE ENGLISH TEACHING CLASSROOMS OF ARMENIA

By Gohar Hovakimyan

This study sets out to investigate if the roles of teachers and learners in the English teaching classrooms of Armenia are affected by the tendency to shift from traditional teaching methods and teacher-centered classrooms to the communicative language teaching ( CLT ), to learner-centeredness and learner autonomy. The study aims to discover to what extent the Armenian society is open to the changes in a foreign language teaching methodology by observing a number of English teaching classrooms and interviewing teachers and learners in different schools not only in the capital of Armenia, but also in Gyumri. A research was carried out at one of the English classrooms in school “Armenian-Education” Educational Foundation in Yerevan within a three-month period, an academic semester. The subjects were seventeen second-year students who were exposed to the learning techniques as recommended by the literature on communicative language teaching. The findings of the study indicate that a change in language teaching methodology, and consequently in the roles of teachers and learners is not observable in the Armenian society. However, the implementation of innovations attracts the attention both of teachers and learners. In spite of certain inconsistencies in the attitudes and beliefs of the subjects to the learning processes, the learners demonstrated tremendous interest in the roles that they obtained as a result of the implementation of certain techniques characteristic of CLT .

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AN EVALUATION OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHER’S PROFESSIONAL PORTFOLIO IN ARMENIAN EFL SETTINGS

By Liana Grigoryan

The main purpose of this research is to evaluate the implementation of a language teacher’s professional portfolio in the curriculum of the Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (CTEFL) program at American University of Armenia (AUA) and to investigate its later contributive role in a student’s career as a teacher in Armenia . In light of this, the study aims to investigate the extent to which the process of implementing a teacher’s professional portfolio in the CTEFL program at AUA has affected the overall efficiency of the educational process. More specifically, this study tries to explore to what extent the CTEFL students’ awareness of the fact that their current academic works (e.g., lesson plans, projects, research papers, etc., marked by the faculty and fulfilled according to the requirements of different courses), which are later to be included into their Professional Portfolios, affect their motivation and perceptions of autonomy while following the prescribed program of studies at AUA. The study has been conducted at AUA and the data has been collected mainly by means of questionnaires distributed to the CTEFL graduate students of the two academic years: 2005-2006 and 2006-2007. The data for the study has also included the professional portfolios submitted by the students. The audio-taped interviews with the potential employers were aimed at revealing the potential employers’ attitudes towards recognizing teacher’s professional portfolios as an admission measure while hiring a teacher in Armenia . As the results of the study indicate, the accruing insights and information support the researcher’s belief in the efficacy of using professional portfolios in all the tertiary level institutions in Armenia , which are devoted to language teacher education. The recommendations and suggestions are also provided for the successful implementation of professional portfolios in Armenian EFL settings.

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A STUDY OF LANGUAGE, CULTURE AND INTERACTION IN AN EXTRA-CURRICULAR DEBATE CLUB

By Melissa Brown

This study of Armenian university students in an extracurricular debate club explores how opportunities are created for learners to engage in the target language and culture. It views language learning as contextualized and socially constituted, taking place through participation in communicative events, and adopts a context-based definition of the target culture, as understood and constructed by the participants themselves. Much of the research work on language, culture and identity has been conducted in ESL settings such as the USA , Canada , or the UK in which language learning is part of a process of immigration or acculturation or in post-colonial settings in which English has a particular set of social and political connotations. I am interested in exploring the issues of language, identity, and culture in Armenia , a former Soviet republic in its second decade of transition to democracy and a free-market economy, characterized by a significant Diaspora presence, as well as current processes of European and international integration. The project is a longitudinal case study, incorporating observations throughout the course of one ten -week term, a survey of the participants at one session, and small-group interviews conducted after the end of the term. The study finds learners developing their own understanding of the target culture, which promotes their investment in the activity through the opportunities they perceive it as providing. Learner engagement becomes possible through the dramatic characteristics of the activity and the collaborative environment that is co-constructed around it.

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TASK-BASED LEARNING AND STUDENTS’ MOTIVATION IN THE ARMENIAN CLASSROOM SETTING

By Marina Badalyan

This study was intended to explore and answer the following question: To what extent does task-based teaching/learning (TBT) motivate students and lead them to successful learning? It also intends to investigate whether the effectiveness of task completion, i.e. the outcome, depends on the fact that students carry out the tasks individually versus in groups or pairs. The data was collected through conducting various task types like information gap, reasoning gap, problem solving activities, as well as questionnaires, interviews with the students and teachers, and the field notes taken by the investigator. All these tasks were carried out in groups, pairs, individually or in whole class discussions. The experiment lasted for three weeks (seven classes). The participants of the study were students of two same level classes, and the teachers. The researcher divided students into pairs or groups and switched the turns every lesson. The students filled out the closed-ended task questionnaires at the end of each lesson in order to find out the relevance and appropriateness of the tasks. At the end of the study the students and the teachers were asked to fill out an open-ended questionnaire intended to measure the overall effectiveness of the task-based teaching approach and to examine which ways of class organization were more successful in promoting and developing students’ performance. The results of the analysis indicate that a task-based approach to EFL might offer numerous benefits to the Armenian EFL learners. The findings of the study might help Armenian teachers to provide the learners with a variety of learning tasks and instructions that would give an opportunity to involve learner in a communicative, creative and cognitive way of learning.

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DEVELOPING PRESENTATION SKILLS WITH SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN ARMENIA

By Anahit Melkonyan

Teaching how to develop oral presentation skills based on integrating other English language skills into communicative classes and interactions in the final grade of secondary school in Armenia is the main purpose of this study. The study concentrates on making students understand the importance of their learning presentation skills in today’s world and their learning some basic skills that are necessary to develop them into a presentation. It also investigates teachers’ and students’ attitude towards having these skills taught by including them in the school curriculum, and having special training for teachers to teach the course. The study also describes the benefits and limitations of teaching the course. The participants of the study were 10 English teachers from different schools, and 20 tenth-grade students from different classes at the same school. A teacher questionnaire and teacher and student interview questions served as instruments for the study, and they were analyzed using a descriptive method. While analyzing the questionnaire results, it was found that all ten teachers accepted the importance of having a course on oral presentation skills in high schools, and identified the course as intended for use in pre-academic classes designed to be covered in one term in the final grade at school. The results of the teacher and student interviews showed the positive attitude of teachers and students towards having teachers trained for teaching the course. It also revealed the benefits and limitations of the study.

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2006

To What Extent Group- Work Cooperative Learning Affects Learners’ Perception Of Autonomy

By Gayane Petrosyan

The purpose of this action research study was to investigate to what extent group-work cooperative learning affects learner perception of autonomy.

The action research study was carried out with a single group of students at an ordinary school which can be considered representative of an average English language class in an Armenian village.

In total, 32 students participated in the study. As data collection instruments, pre- and post- study questionnaires on learners’ perception of autonomy and a small question-based log were used. Both of the instruments were translated into Armenian.

Questionnaire data were analyzed by the McNemar chi-square test that is used primarily in before-after studies to test for an experimental effect. According to the results of this test, no significant difference was found after the treatment between the pre- and post- study questionnaire responses related to learner perception of autonomy. However, the qualitative outcomes showed that the participating students’ attitudes towards learner autonomy changed as a result of the teacher’s innovative methodology and style of teaching used in the action research study. In addition, data collected through students’ question-based logs revealed positive attitudes towards group-work cooperative learning on the part of the language learners.

Key words: Autonomy, English language teaching, group-work cooperative learning

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The Implementation of Negotiated Portfolio Assessment In the Armenian University Curriculum

By Varduhi Torosyan

Portfolio assessment appears to be a way in which students may participate in their own learning and assessment. Therefore, negotiated portfolio assessment may foster autonomy in the class as a result of which students can take responsibility for what and how they have to learn.

The study aims to investigate the influence of negotiated portfolio assessment on student motivation in the context of a local university in Armenia . Moreover, it explores the ways in which the students appeared to undergo motivation enhancement. The study also examines cases where the students experienced no motivation enhancement.

The research was carried out with two groups of students at Yerevan State Brusov Linguistic University . The students of one group compiled a portfolio, which they constructed after negotiating contents; the other group of students compiled a portfolio without negotiating its contents. The multiple instruments, a pre- and post-study questionnaire, researcher field notes, students’ analytical reflections and two focus group interviews, were used to collect data to investigate whether a negotiated portfolio can enhance student motivation towards language learning. Results show that the students who actively participated in the negotiation process were more motivated than the students who did not.

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The Impact of Ambiguity Tolerance on EFL Students’ Language Performance

By Angela Papikyan

This study is designed as a case study and it aims to report and to explain the relationship between Armenian EFL students’ personality features and their ambiguity tolerance in different learning situations. Different elicitation techniques were combined to obtain data: questionnaire, observation and the interview. First of all, in order to achieve the primary aim of this study, the students’ degree of tolerance/intolerance of ambiguity was measured by the SLTAS (Second Language Tolerance of Ambiguity Scale, Ely (1995) which conceptualizes the construct of ambiguity on a continuum from more to less tolerant qualities. According to the SLTAS, out of seventeen students, 4 were chosen as the participants of the study where 2 of them were found more tolerant of ambiguity ( MTA ) and another 2 were found less tolerant of ambiguity (LTA). Next, 5 communicative tasks were chosen and used as instructional tools for obtaining the four students’ behavioral observation data. Further, after the students completed the tasks, their positive and negative emotions and reactions to ambiguous learning situations were reflected in and confirmed by one-to-one, semi-structured interviews.

The findings of the study explain the relationship between the students’ personality features and their ambiguity tolerance. The qualitative analysis of the data revealed that the students’ emotions and their behavioral reactions to unstructured and challenging tasks are different depending on the degree of ambiguity tolerance and their individual personality factors.

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Using Language Learning Strategies to Enhance Vocabulary Learning in the Armenian EFL Environment

By Naira Teknejyan

This study sets out to investigate if learners are aware of using learning strategies to enhance vocabulary learning, and if strategy training is effective for improving vocabulary learning in the Armenian EFL environment. The study also aimed to discover what types of learning strategies learners use when learning new vocabulary. The research was carried out at the European Regional Academy of the Caucasus within a five-week period. The subjects were thirty-two second-year and third-year students. The language level of the subjects was upper-intermediate. Immediate post tests, a final test and a questionnaire were used for data collection. The first stage of the research was the development and operation of the strategy training courses in the classroom. Four strategies were introduced to the students: word parts: roots, prefixes and suffixes; guessing from context; word associations and semantic mapping; and story making.

Findings of this study indicate that strategy teaching had some impact on students, and strategies can be effective for individual learners. Results show that the strategy of analyzing word parts was quite effective for the Armenian learners. The questionnaire results show that to a strong degree the students are familiar with learning strategies. The students admit that using learning strategies helps them to improve their vocabulary. They also think that using word parts, semantic mapping and word associations, and guessing from the context are effective and most useful strategies.

Acknowledging the benefits of using language learning strategies, the majority of students wanted to continue using learning strategies to enhance their vocabulary learning.

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Use Of Hedging Devices In Good And Poor EFL Essays

By Lusine Boyajyan

This paper describes the analysis of 100 entrance and 56 exit essays (i.e.156 total essays) written by American University of Armenia students in terms of the amount of hedging structures used by different levels of writers. There were 50 essays with high scores and 50 essays with low scores from an entrance exam and 28 essays with high scores and 28 essays with low scores from an exit exam. Hedging is a linguistic device, which is used to lessen the writer’s responsibility for the true value of the claim and expresses uncertainty to display politeness (Hinkel, 1997). The research focuses on a comparison of the applicants who scored high (50 entrance and 28 exit essays) with those who scored low (50 entrance and 28 exit essays) and an analysis of their essays in terms of the amount and type of hedges used. The research hypothesizes that the students with the higher scores might use a greater number and variety of hedging devices than the students with lower scores. The results indicate that this is not the case. The students with lower essay scores tended to use more hedges on both the entrance and exit essays than those with higher essay scores.

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The Differences in Polite Responses of Native English Speakers and Native Armenian Speakers

By Dzovinar Bedrossian

This study investigates the difference in polite responses between Armenian and English and whether gender, age, or educational level plays a role in the respondents’ answers. Armenian from Yerevan and Dilijan, and Americans from Michigan , USA , took part in this study. The participants age ranged from 16 to 46 and up, of different educational background. Both male and female took part in the study. The instruments used for data collection were questionnaire in English and in Armenian, and interviews. The total number of analyzed questionnaires was 60: 30 Armenian questionnaires and 30 English questionnaires. The interviewees who participated in the interviews were 6: 3 native English speakers and 3 native Armenian speakers.

The results of the study reflected that there was no significant difference between the polite responses of native English speakers and native Armenian speakers. The chi square results showed as well that gender and educational level did not play a role on the polite responses of the respondents. The only significant difference was observed in the responses given by the respondents belonging to the age group 16 to 35, where the native English speakers’ responses were more polite than the native Armenian speakers.

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An Evaluation of the European Language Portfolio in the Armenian Learning/Teaching Context

By Irena Gyulazyan

The aim of this research project was to conduct a qualitative evaluation of the effectiveness of the European Language Portfolio (ELP) as a pedagogical and assessment tool with reference to a particular learning/teaching context (primary schools in Armenia in which the ELP is currently being piloted) and from the perspective of those directly engaged in working with the ELP. For this purpose, it was necessary to explore the implementation of the pedagogical functions of the ELP, to verify the usefulness of the ELP as perceived by teachers and learners and to find out about organizational constraints and issues related to the implementation of the ELP. To gather relevant information, a survey was conducted through a combination of teacher and learner questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with teachers, one of the school principals, the teacher trainer, and the ELP program coordinator. In addition, some of the ELPs developed by the pupils were examined.

As the results of the study indicate, the teachers and the learners in general had a positive attitude towards the ELP. The ELP appeared to function as an efficient instrument for assessing and documenting language proficiency and as a valuable tool for improving language learning and developing learner autonomy. The ELP was found to be fulfilling most of its basic pedagogical functions. The existing issues were found to be typical of other pilot projects carried out in a variety of teaching/learning contexts throughout Europe and were related mainly to the integration of the ELP into regular class work, the unclear status of the ELP and its perceived incompatibility with the official curriculum. These issues are discussed in detail and possible solutions are provided. It was also found that successful implementation of the ELP requires substantial teacher and learner training and continued commitment on the part of teachers and school principals.

English Language Instructors’ and Learners’ Attitudes Towards Learner Autonomy at Universities In Armenia

By Lilit Avetisyan

The radical change in the distribution of power and authority in the traditional language classroom is the result of the changes in the curriculum towards a more learner-centered kind of learning. In the new classroom, which is designed to promote learner autonomy, language teachers are able and willing to share instructional responsibilities with their learners, and learners are expected to assume greater responsibility for and take charge of their own learning.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the curricula for English language instruction at five universities in Armenia and find out whether and to what extent they focus on promoting learner autonomy, and what the curriculum features are that teachers support or resist. The study also aimed at investigating these university instructors` and students` attitudes towards learner autonomy and its prerequisites. The subjects of this triangulated investigation were 50 English language instructors (10 from each university) and twenty students (4 from each university) from five universities in Armenia . The data was collected through 5-point Likert-scale questionnaires, teacher semi-structured interviews, and student focus group interviews. The analysis of the quantitative data was done by means of SPSS. The qualitative data was analyzed through transcription and discussed according to certain themes.

The findings of the study revealed that participating instructors are neutral towards the promotion of learner autonomy in their curriculum. The outcomes also showed that the participating instructors’ attitudes towards learner autonomy change depending upon the types of facilities they are provided by their universities. Moreover, the findings highlighted that the universities need preparatory programs for learners to become motivated and in-service training for instructors to become up-to-date in teaching. The study also reports pedagogical implications of the study and suggestions for further studies in the field.

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Student Motivation in Individual and Pair Work

By Sona Iskandaryan

This study was designed to investigate whether learner motivation differs when EFL learners carry out a certain language learning task, i.e., text translation, in pairs or individually. The participants were two English language teachers and a total of 31 seventh grade students (with pre-intermediate level of English proficiency) at Quantum College , which is a private secondary school in Armenia . Eight texts of the same difficulty level were chosen for translation from English into Armenian.

The experiment lasted for four weeks (students met twice a week). The participants were divided into two groups and these groups, switching turns, completed eight tasks individually or in pairs. Three data collection instruments were used to collect data for the study. (1) The lessons were observed by the teacher-researcher and field notes were taken, (2) students filled out a motivation questionnaire after each task, and (3) a selected number of students were interviewed after each task completion and two English language teachers, each teaching one of the two groups of students participating in the study, were interviewed at the end of the study.

The data collected through the field notes and interviews were analyzed qualitatively, and the data collected through the questionnaires were analyzed quantitatively using t-test analysis. The analyses indicated that both individual and pair work contributed to student motivation in English language learning, and that the difference of student motivation for both modes of task completion was not significant.

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The Difficulties of Armenian Scholars Trying to Publish in International Journals

By Taguhi Sahakyan

This study investigates the problems that Armenian scholars and researchers face when they try to publish in international journals. The researchers of the three branches of the National Academy of Sciences participated in the study: the Branch of Natural Sciences, the Branch of Physical, Mathematical and Technical Sciences and the Branch of the Humanities. The participants of the study were researchers with a doctor of science degree or candidates for a doctoral degree. The participants’ ages range from 22 to 66 and above. Questionnaires and interviews were used as instruments for data collection. The number of analyzed questionnaires was 96. The number of interviewed participants was 6 (2 researchers from each department).

The results of the study show that the main difficulties facing Armenian scholars are language proficiency and lack of material resources (i.e., computers, access to the Internet, printers, photocopiers, etc.). In spite of the increasing number of publications in English, the majority of publications are still in Russian, which shows the on-going link between Russian and Armenian scientific communities. However, it is mainly the older generation of scholars who consider publishing in Russian important. No young scholar mentioned Russian as an important language to publish in. The results of the study also show that senior researchers in Armenia are not at an advantage in comparison with junior researchers when they attempt to publish in international journals.

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Errors and Corrective Feedback: What Do Students Think About Being Corrected?

By Anna Maloyan

The present paper describes and analyses the patterns of teacher feedback to students’ errors and learners’ attitude and preferences towards error correction and examines feedback techniques used by the teacher over a nine-week period in two adult intermediate level English classes of the American University of Armenia (AUA) Extension Program. The study also investigates students’ perception of corrective feedback and teacher response to students’ errors in an adult Armenian EFL classroom. The database consists of a questionnaire and of 6 hours of videotaped interaction between the teacher and 21 students. The classroom interaction was videotaped and transcribed according to Lyster and Ranta’s corrective discourse model (1997). While analyzing the questionnaire results, it was found that, overall, students liked to be corrected, and they were sure that the teacher’s corrective feedback helped them to improve their oral production. The videotaped data revealed that grammatical errors were the error types most frequently treated by the teacher in this study, and they were also the ones that the students felt needed the most correction. It was also found that recast was the most widely used feedback type in this study.

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Learning Style Preferences and Learning Strategy Use of Armenian University Learners

By Hranush Ginosyan and Shoghik Sargsyan

In Soviet times language teaching in Armenia was dominated by a teacher-centered, book-centered and grammar-translation method. There was a ‘one-size-fits-all’ type of syllabus tailored for all students, irrespective of their personal inclinations, and teacher instructions were presented mostly through lecturing; the learning material was presented explicitly and students were to memorize grammar rules and long lists of vocabulary. This is not to underestimate the professional qualities of the teachers working in the educational system, since most of them were really knowledgeable in their profession and cared about their students, but the application of innovative approaches was not rewarded at that time. Nevertheless, it should be admitted that there were a lot of positive aspects in the traditional educational system, and many of the approaches applied then are still applicable. However, today the educational system in Armenia is starting to change and more contemporary methods are starting to prevail in teaching. Such contemporary methods of language teaching aim at communication, and the learner is regarded as a “…“whole person” who uses intellectual, social, emotional, and physical resources and is therefore not merely a cognitive/metacognitive information-processing machine” (Oxford, 1992/1993). This means that the learners have unique individualities and their own preferences toward learning. And these factors may be crucial in ensuring success in language learning.

Learning styles and language learning strategies are key factors that influence the process of language learning. Learning styles make the language learners unique; whereas language learning strategies help learners to become aware of the way they use their language learning aptitude. A number of studies, for example Harshbarger et al. (1986, as cited in Oxford, 1996), Willing (1988, as cited in Oxford, 1996) and Reid (1995, as cited in Oxford, 1996) have convincingly demonstrated that there is a strong direct relationship between learning styles and learning strategies, and that the consideration of this relationship can lead to improvements in language learning.

This research is a statistical survey that aims to identify whether there is one learning style that is shared by most Armenian university students studying English. The paper also seeks to investigate the relationship between learning styles and learning strategies, i.e., whether the strategy choice of Armenian students is driven by their individual learning style preferences.

The students’ learning styles were investigated and identified by means of the SAS (1993), whereas the use of learning strategies was investigated by means of the SILL (1989) – both questionnaires designed by Rebecca Oxford. The research was conducted in five major educational institutions of Armenia so that the results could be generalized to the Armenian student population. Although, approximately 70 students participated in the study, only 60 were eventually considered in the data analysis. The rest were discarded for a number of reasons, later discussed in Chapter 4.

The results of the study revealed that three out of the eleven learning styles identified by Oxford, namely global, closure-oriented, and extroverted were shared by the majority of Armenian university learners. The study also showed that each learning style had a particular pattern of strategy use, in which one or two strategy groups were more actively used than the others by the representatives of that style. The study also demonstrated that overall learning strategy use of Armenian university learners is medium level, i.e. Armenian learners were not very active users of learning strategies. Nevertheless, no low strategy users were observed either. This means that although Armenian learners are aware of learning strategies, they use them moderately.

The validity of the identification of typical learning style was established by means of the Chi-square statistical test, since the variables were measured on a nominal scale. The validity of the relationship of the learning styles and strategies was established by means of a one-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) statistical test, as the variables were measured on both nominal and ordinal scales. The study demonstrated that there was a statistically significant and meaningful relationship between learning styles and strategies. This is to say, the learners’ strategy choice depends on their individual learning style preference. However, since this research is the first in its kind conducted in Armenia, it can serve only as a starting point for possible directions in future research. Consequently, further research is needed to make more conclusive claims.

This research paper is a joint thesis of two authors: Hranush Ginosyan and Shoghik Sargsyan.

Shoghik Sargsyan primarily dealt with the analysis of the SAS questionnaire, as well as the discussion of the identified learning styles typical of Armenian university learners (Part 1 of the research findings).

Hranush Ginosyan was primarily responsible for the analysis of the SILL questionnaire as well as for investigating the relationship between learning styles and language learning strategies (Part 2 of the research findings).

The responsibility for the review of the literature, formulation of the research questions and the hypotheses, the data collection, the discussion of the limitations of the study, potential threats to the internal and external validity of the study and the conclusion with suggestions for further research was shared equally by both of the authors.

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The Effect of Learners’ Retrospective Reflection on Direct Strategy Use in Developing Their Reading Proficiency

By Kristina Bayburtsyan

This thesis investigates the effect of learners’ retrospective reflection on strategy use (without explicit training in strategy use) in developing their reading comprehension. There is need for such research as there is little evidence in the area of the usefulness of promoting learners’ individual reflection on the reading process and use of strategies to cope with the reading material under conditions of receiving no explicit training in reading strategies.

The research is carried out with one group using a pre-post test experiment format. During the experiment, the eleven participants read five reading passages taken from TOEFL preparation course manuals and were required to reflect on the strategies they used to answer the questions on the reading passages in their learning logs. The participants were administered a pre-test before the experiment began and a post-test at the end of the treatment period. The mean scores for both tests are compared using a paired t-test. The results show that there is no statistically significant difference between the mean scores.

The researcher discovered that the participants made no significant progress in reading comprehension.

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Translation as a Language Learning Tool

By Tsoghik Grigoryan

The aim of the study is to find the place of translation in the Armenian EFL classroom and to determine whether translation can serve as a language learning tool in the Armenian foreign language classroom.

The paper presents an experimental research project conducted in two Armenian EFL classrooms. The experiment took place during the General English course at the European Regional Institute of Information and Communication Technologies in Armenia. The study was carried out with intermediate level students, where the experimental group received treatment using translation for grammar and vocabulary explanation and practice, whereas the control group did not get any treatment based on translation. The process of the lessons was recorded in the teacher’s journal.

All the lessons and test scores for both groups were qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed to find the method and the group which produced higher language learning achievement. The analyses showed progress in students’ language learning in both groups. Higher progress was recorded in the experimental group where translation was used as a means for grammar and vocabulary explanation and practice. According to the qualitative and quantitative analyses of the study, translation can serve as an effective language learning tool in the foreign language classroom in Armenia.

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2005

A Study of Attitudes towards Grammar Instruction in an Academic English Program

by Liliana Edilyan

The present thesis examines the reasons for the attitudes underlying the expressed need of the IEP students’ for more grammar. Questionnaires and interviews were used to collect data from the IEP faculty and students about their attitudes towards grammar instruction. Both quantitative and qualitative research methods were used to analyze and interpret the data.

The students’ attitudinal survey questionnaire revealed their previous learning experience, their reasons for wanting to study grammar, their perception about the role of grammar in language learning and their attitudes towards error correction and grammar instruction. The instructors’ attitudinal survey investigated how the instructors address the grammar issue and how they interpret the students’ need for grammar.

The results of this study showed the reasons for students’ anxiety over not getting enough grammar in the IEP and the mismatch in students’ and instructors’ attitudes to grammar instruction in the classroom. To address these concerns, some recommendations are provided. It is hoped that the results of this study may serve to improve the Intensive English Program at the American University of Armenia.

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Assessing Speaking in Armenian EFL Classrooms

by Nvard Grkikyan

The purpose of the following study was to develop a rating scale for assessing students’ oral performance in the fifth grade of Armenian secondary schools and test its usefulness and effectiveness in everyday classroom use. The research was carried out to investigate whether the assessment of speaking at secondary school level could be more effective and less subjective if guidelines and criteria were provided for teachers to assess their students. The data was collected through observations, along with recording of the lessons, which served as a basis for constructing the rating scale for assessing speaking. The next stage of the research was the development of the rating scale and its use in classrooms. The last stage of the study was the interview, which aimed at getting feedback from the two teachers who used the rating scale in their classrooms. The purpose of the observations and the recording of the lessons was to establish daily oral tasks and the aspects of language to be included in the rating scale. The effectiveness of the developed rating scale was tested by using it in classrooms for assessing students’ oral performance. The purpose of the interview was to get feedback from the two teachers who used the scale in their classrooms. The steps taken during the research helped ascertain that the use of a rating scale with guidelines and explanations for each score and category is effective and advantageous in several ways: it fosters learning, includes students in the assessment process, addresses different aspects of spoken language and minimizes subjectivity in assessing students. The students were not interviewed; however, the teachers reported that they liked both the assessment process and the fact that they knew the basis upon which they were assessed.

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Listening Comprehension testing Methods and Their Impact on Student Performance

By Liana Sukiasyan

This study is designed to investigate the effects of testing methods on testing L2 listening comprehension. The study sets out to investigate the impact of audio versus video testing methods on the performance of Armenian students. The investigation is conducted at the European University in Yerevan, Armenia.

The quantitative method of data analysis is used for analyzing the data gained from 30 Armenian students with an intermediate level of L2 proficiency aged between 16 to 17 years. The materials used in this investigation are a listening comprehension section from a TOEFL test (a Test of English as a Foreign Language) and attitude questionnaires. The data gained from the listening comprehension test are analyzed on the basis of both a paired t-test and an independent t-test. The data gained from the attitude questionnaires are analyzed through the calculation of the frequency of the students’ responses.

Findings of this study provide strong evidence that both the audio and the video testing methods have the same impact on the examinees’ performance. The results gained from the questionnaires reveal that the majority of the students consider video testing more motivating and interesting compared to that of audio testing. In this regard, the study supports the idea that visual stimuli may be helpful in interpreting the provided message through adding motivation and raising interest towards the provided oral input.

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Maximizing Learning Opportunities and Teaching Potential: A Case Study

By Varsenik Hovhannisyan

Maximizing learning opportunities that spontaneously arise in the process of classroom interaction is an important skill in second/foreign language teaching that requires ongoing reflection based on the literature and classroom-based research by practicing teachers. However, the concept of a learning opportunity and the circumstances of their utilization have undergone relatively little exploration. This study determines, through a review of the literature, the status of spontaneous learning opportunities in the complex teaching/learning process and the pedagogical benefits of utilizing such opportunities as they arise. The analysis of the data collected by the teacher-researcher during her classes and subsequent reflections on the issue reveal what situations are perceived by her as learning opportunities and what techniques she uses to maximize them. In addition, the paper reflects on how, for the purposes of ongoing research, she developed an economical procedure for data collection and discovered how the range of learning opportunities and types of on-the-spot instruction can be continuously widened, including the conversion of unfavorable classroom situations into learning opportunities.

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Speaking Task Types and Their Influence on Learner Motivation

By Irina Ghazazyan

This paper reports on research into the influence of learner-centred tasks such as individual presentations and group discussions on upper-intermediate students’ motivation. An exploratory case study was conducted in a naturalistic setting; the research used both quantitative and qualitative techniques for data collection/analysis and focused on the relationship and impact of such speaking tasks as individual presentations/group discussions on learner motivation. Acknowledging the approach suggested by van Lier (1996, p.102) that “actions are judged as motivated on the basis of a combination of factors…” the study set out to investigate the effect of various tasks and task characteristics on Armenian upper-intermediate learners’ motivation. The research involved video recording of the course lessons during which students made presentations or had group discussions, and each student was asked to complete a questionnaire after both tasks. The researcher was the English language instructor of the subjects involved in this study. The findings revealed that there is a strong relationship between the speaking tasks implemented in this study and learner motivation. The results obtained through qualitative/quantitative methods suggest that because of such factors as the task focus and the level of personal responsibility required for the completion of the tasks implemented in this study there is a difference in impact between such learner-centred activities as individual presentations and group discussions .

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Teachers’ and Students’ Perceptions of Language Assessment in Armenian Schools

By Naira Smbatyan

The aim of this thesis was to investigate language teachers’ and students’ perceptions of assessment procedures currently used in Armenian schools as well as to understand to what extent Armenian teachers and students comprehend the concept of assessment. The participants involved in this study were 20 English teachers and 60 English language students at the high school level from different schools throughout Armenia. Two questionnaires – a student questionnaire and a teacher questionnaire – served as instruments for the study, and they were analyzed using a descriptive method.

A major finding of this study is that though all teachers use assessment during their teaching process, many teachers are unaware of the concept of assessment. From the responses of the participants, it became clear that Armenian teachers and students are not aware of the different possible purposes of assessment. Each teacher and each student who provided an answer reported just one purpose of assessment: for some participants motivation is the only purpose of assessment while for other participants, diagnosis is the only purpose of assessment. From the responses of both teachers and students, it also became clear that some Armenian teachers use low grades and assessment procedures as a means for punishment.

From the teachers’ responses, it became clear that the majority of teachers have had no training in language assessment. Data analysis showed that the majority of teachers, who were not fully aware of the concept of assessment, had not been trained in assessment. Moreover, those teachers who had training in language assessment responded more fully and with greater understanding of assessment and assessment procedures.

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Teachers’ and Students’ Perceptions of Scoring Rubrics for Speaking Skills

By Narine Avtandilyan

In the recent shift in educational theory from transmission of knowledge towards transformation of knowledge, and to integration of knowledge with existing personal constructs and meanings, assessment has taken on new affective goals in which the personal growth of the learner is becoming increasingly important. In this context, the role of evaluation is to inform learners about their learning achievements, so that they can make informed plans for future study.

This paper investigates scoring rubrics for speaking skills and teachers’ and students’ perception of the rubrics. For this purpose, scoring rubrics for speaking skills and teachers’ and students’ perception of the rubrics are investigated by means of a student and a teacher questionnaire, as well as a teacher interview. The research was conducted in the Intensive English Program (IEP) of the Department of English Programs at the American University of Armenia. Forty-eight students and nine teachers participated in the study. Students were provided with a scoring rubric checklist and after doing an oral presentation for their class, they completed a survey on their use and perceptions of the rubrics. Students also used the rubrics to self-assess and peer evaluate their presentation. Nine teachers completed a questionnaire and four of them participated in the interviews.

The data analyses resulting from student and teacher questionnaires, and the teacher interviews, confirmed students’ and teachers’ positive attitudes towards the use of scoring rubrics.

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The Role of Different Types of Activities and Ways of Class Organization in Promoting Classroom Interaction through Negotiation of Meaning

By Ruzan Danielyan

The purpose of this research was to investigate the role of interaction through negotiation of meaning in an EFL classroom and to identify the most effective types of class organization as well as task types to promote effective communication. The study was also designed to reveal students’ perception of successful interaction, the most productive tasks and best types of class organization.

The research was conducted in a natural classroom setting. To find out which ways of class organization and which types of class activities created more opportunities for negotiation of meaning in the setting in which I teach, the number of interactional moves in students’ production was calculated. Nine close-ended questionnaires based upon issues identified in the students’ current textbook and one open-ended questionnaire aimed to elicit students’ perceptions and comments on effectiveness of interaction during the class were used. The percentage of students choosing each particular answer on a Likert scale was calculated to determine the students’ opinions about the productiveness of different ways of class organization as well as effectiveness of different tasks to promote interaction.

The study revealed that learners agreed on the advantages of being involved in information gap and imagination gap. Information gap, opinion gap, and imagination gap activities were best realized through group work and pair work, while reasoning gap was more productive in a discussion. Accepting the usefulness of pair work and discussions in the language classroom, the majority of learners agreed that pair work and discussion activities were appropriate for promoting communication in the classroom.

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The Role of Gender in Teacher-Learner Interaction through Dialogue Journal Writing

By Karine Harutyunyan

This study sets out to investigate if gender plays a role in teacher-learner interaction through dialogue journal writing (DJW) in the Armenian environment. The research was carried out at the European Regional Academy of the Caucasus within an eight-week period. The subjects were twenty-four first-year students (6 females and 18 males). The language level of the subjects was elementary. Students’ dialogue journal entries, teacher responses, the teacher’s observations and questionnaires were used to elicit language data. Term test results were also considered as additional information for the research. The samples were analyzed in a variety of ways to determine similarities and differences between the female and male interaction in the DJW. Results indicate that female and male students display characteristic features typical of their gender. However, results also show that DJWs had a positive effect on both the female and male students. All the subjects demonstrated a substantial increase in writing proficiency as well as improved speaking and thinking skills. The subjects also demonstrated improvements in their entries. The teacher’s observations showed that the learning environment became friendlier over time. The questionnaire results showed that both the female and male students were positive about journal writing and recognized the benefits of the activity.

Acknowledging the benefits of DJWs, the majority of both the female and male students wanted to continue writing the journals.

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2004

A Study of Learners’ Perceptions of the Learning Resource and its Role in the Promotion of Autonomous Learning

By Gayane Shiroyan

The research was conducted at the Intensive English Program (IEP) of the Department of English Programs (DEP) at the American University of Armenia (AUA). The DEP is the only English department in Armenia that operates an English language Learning Resource Center (LRC). For effective language learning and teaching, learner needs, preferences and perceptions should be given due attention. Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods, the current study attempts to investigate the IEP students’ perceptions of the usefulness of the LRC resources, which LRC resources they used, and the extent of peer or tutor influence on the selection of the LRC resources and activities. In addition, it investigates the students’ perceptions of autonomous learning, their learning preferences, the students’ need for an LRC instructor and their perceptions of the role of the LRC in the improvement of their language skills. Findings strongly indicate a highly positive attitude towards learning autonomously and that the use of the LRC helps the learners become more autonomous in foreign language learning. This research has revealed that many learners have been able to benefit from the LRC, and it is worthwhile to offer the LRC as one of the alternatives in many possible ways of learning a foreign language.

Based on the findings, recommendations for future research are offered.

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Students’ Perceptions of Small Group Program of the American University of Armenia

By Armine Khanzatyan

Small group instruction has been extensively implemented in the Intensive English Program of the American University of Armenia to prepare students for the university content courses where cooperative small group learning is widely used. This study investigated IEP students’ perceptions of this instructional format to determine how it affects students’ learning and what problems they see in regard to it in order for the faculty to respond to students’ concerns. The issues addressed were how students conceptualize the purpose of small group learning, their learning style preferences, the most successful small group tasks, and the usefulness of small group learning for the enhancement of students’ social skills, higher order thinking, psychological wellbeing and learning English.

The results of the study showed that the students valued small group learning as an instructional format and considered their group experience to be positive. Some difficulties were perceived with regard to the social aspect of small group learning, and a few minor problems were mentioned in relation to its effect on language learning. To address these concerns, some recommendations were provided, aimed at the enhancement of this instructional format.

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The Positive Impact of a Learner-Centered Approach on Learner Motivation in the EFL Classroom

By Magdalina Arzakanyan

National Reform in education in Armenia has targeted innovative teaching approaches and methodologies as an educational need that must be met to satisfy the new societal needs of the country. One of the requirements of the new national curriculum is a major shift in the classroom context with notable focus on the affective domain of the learner. Fully acknowledging the impact of affective factors on learning, the researcher attempts to show that motivation as an element of the affective domain has a strong positive influence on learning process and it may be enhanced in classroom contexts where learner-centered principles of teaching are practiced.

The study is designed as a case study. It is conducted in one of the classes at the Extension Program of the American University of Armenia (EP AUA), which offers students a one-year intensive English language program. Each proficiency level of the overall course, from the beginner to advanced, lasts nine weeks. The subjects of the study, all of whom are students at the AUA Extension Program, included 15 learners of English as a foreign language. They are students at the advanced proficiency level.

The data analyses resulting from class observations, student, the course instructor interviews, and questionnaires confirmed the benefits of learner-centered approach to TEFL, which creates a positive context for increasing and sustaining learner motivation.

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2003

Questions and Questioning Techniques in the EFL Classroom

By Armine Sukiasyan

Enhancing active learning is an important objective in contemporary education. One of the most powerful teaching/learning devices that can engage students actively in the learning process is questioning. Questioning helps to train students’ critical, analytical and creative thinking and it should be especially encouraged and promoted in transition classrooms where the focus changes from the teacher to the learner.

This paper presents an action research project conducted in an Armenian EFL classroom. The action research aimed to find whether student questioning would be positively impacted by several factors: modeling questions at different cognitive levels, making students aware of different types of questions, using effective questioning techniques, and tasks, such as oral presentations, case studies and role-plays.

The study was carried out with 37 intermediate/advanced students in a Business English class at the Agribusiness Teaching Center. The date analysis indicated improvements in student questioning: the number of student-student questions increased and changes were also observed in the types of questions posed by the students. The study showed that improvements in student questioning could be attributed to the above-mentioned factors.

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2001

A Study of the Current Status of the Teaching of Professional English at Universities in Armenia and Attitudes Towards it

By Ruzan Topchyan

The current study examines the English for Non-English Language Major (ENELM) courses in Armenia (which resembles both CBI and ESP in some aspects) to locate them in the scheme of ESP as it is taught around the world. It also surveys the existing attitudes towards this specialized English instruction among 80 students and 8 instructors in three American Universities: the Yerevan State Medical University, the Yerevan State Engineering University and the Yerevan State University. The questionnaire survey was designed to reveal attitudes towards the following: the importance of PE; the target needs of students in PE; the quality of PE course materials; students’ needs in each of the four language skills; students awareness of their PE course objectives; student participation in the discussing of the PE course objectives; and the influence of such participation on student learning. In addition instructor interviews were conducted. In order to get the necessary information to describe ENELM both in Soviet Armenia and in independent Armenia, as well as to explain the findings of the quantitative research.

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Student Self-Assessment and Strategy Use As a Means of Promoting Student’s Autonomous Learning

By Rubina Gasparian and Nellie Harutyunyan

This paper investigates the extent to which student self-assessment and learning strategy use may promote autonomous learning. For this purpose, the student self-assessment and language learning strategy use are investigated by means of a self-assessment questionnaire. The research was conducted in the Intensive English Program of the Department of English Programs at the American University of Armenia. Sixty-eight students participated in the study. The answers to the questions in the self-assessment questionnaire are compared with the answers to a guided letter writing task which was used to investigate the students’ readiness for autonomous learning. The validity of the student self-assessment is established through determining the relationships between the student self-assessments on the one hand and the exit TOEFL and the midterm test on the other hand.

The study shows that self-assessment and learning strategy use have an impact on the students’ understanding of the concept of autonomous learning. Further research may provide more conclusive evidence.

This thesis is the result of a collaborative effort by the two authors, Nellie Harutyunyan and Rubina Gasparyan. The definition of the research questions, the review of literature, the preparation of the questionnaire and the guided letter forms, the discussion of the limitations of the study and the conclusion with recommendations were shared equally by the authors.

Nellie Harutyunyan had primary responsibility for analyzing part one of the self-assessment questionnaire and the discussion of the relation of self-assessment to readiness for autonomous learning (Part one of the discussion).

Rubina Gasparyan had primary responsibility for analyzing part two of the self-assessment questionnaire and the discussion of the role of learning strategy use in readiness to undertake autonomous learning (Part two of the discussion).

The responsibility for analyzing part three of the self-assessment questionnaire and the guided letter writing was shared by both of the authors.

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The Effects of Dialog Journal Writing on Teacher-Student Interactions in an Armenian Content-Based Classroom

By Christina Sargsyan

With the start of the democratization process of Armenian society the educational goals of the country have also undergone some drastic changes. One of the priorities of Armenian educational curricula is the democratization of the classrooms, which is officially stated in the 7 educational standards provided by the Ministry of Education (Ministry of Education, 2000). This study will show how the adoption of an innovative, learner-centered approach to teaching may assist to this process, especially in ESP (English for Specific Purposes) and CB (Content-Based) classrooms, since authoritative methodologies are more rooted there.

The study has been conducted as an action research to find whether a certain activity, namely, Dialog Journal Writing (DJW) can affect teacher-student interactions in a specific CB classroom at one of the higher educational institutions in Armenia , the French University in Armenia (UFA). Given the nature of the activity, (a free-writing exercise guided by the teacher, but ensuring student-centeredness through engaging students in authentic and meaningful communication), it was hypothesized that the activity would allow a gradual transition from a teacher-centered classroom to a more learner-centered one by establishing more democratic interactions between the teacher and students.

The study carried out with 8 mid/high intermediate students at UFA showed that DJW did improve significantly the use of certain language functions, namely, expressing opinions, agreeing/disagreeing, and criticizing. Critical thinking was also enhanced, which first was demonstrated by the use of the above-mentioned functions, and secondly, by almost all students providing clarifications and elaboration on the topics.

Some of the limitations of the present study concern the limited number of the participants, student gender and teacher personality issues. However, since this is an action research, and the results are not meant for generalization, the question of the validity of the findings appears to be answered.

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1999

Relationships Between Reading in English and the L1 and L2 (Armenian and/or Russian) Language Proficiencies

By Karine Badal Muradyan

This study investigated the potential of the relationship between the English reading proficiency of the Intensive English Program (IEP) students at the American University of Armenia (AUA) as measured by their reading comprehension scores in their Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) results and their L1 and/or L2 (Armenian and/or Russian) overall proficiency as measured by their final marks in Armenian and Russian at the secondary school. Participants were 88 students of the IEP at AUA, Yerevan, Armenia. This study was an ex post facto design. To get the statistical description of the variables in terms of their mean, mode, median, standard deviation, and range, the University Procedure was employed. To investigate the existence of any statically significant relationship between the variables, that is, to be able to answer the research question, General Linear Models Procedure, the multivariate or multifactor analysis, with an alpha level of .05 was used. The two analyses conducted with the purpose of answering the research question yielded the following results. In the first analysis when the participants of the study were grouped with 0.5 difference in the knowledge of Armenian and Russian, there appeared to be no relationship between the two variables. Given the sample size, this seems to suggest that the 0.5 increase in Armenian and Russian (L1 and/or L2) proficiency might be insufficient to reveal the increase in L2 (English) reading ability. The results of the second analysis, when proficient or competent in L1 and L2 participants were compared to the weak in their L1 and L2 students, namely, when only “5”s in both Armenian and Russian languages and Literatures were contrasted with “4”s and “3”, showed that there is statistically significant relationship between the knowledge of the participants in Armenian and Russian as measured by their school marks and their TOEFL reading scores.

Thus, while the results of the first analysis failed to show any statistically significant difference between the mentioned variables, the results of the second analysis which is less problematic showed a significant pattern of dependence: the level of the L1 and/or L2 proficiency did have effect on the TOEFL reading score, F=3.37, p>0.0399. As no conclusive statement can be made regarding the issue, a follow-up study seems a must.

Project-based instruction has been heralded as a most promising activity that can engage students into academic language and literacy skills. A growing body of evidence indicates that project learning supports the development of critical skills students must have to meet the demands of the 21st century. However, there is scanty research on project-based instruction in general and on its effect on language achievement in particular.

This study reports on the findings of research carried out in an English for General Purposes (EGP) class in American University of Armenia. The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of project work on students’ language achievement as well as to inquire into their attitudes towards project work. Based on the review of related literature a null hypothesis was proposed at the beginning of the study. The participants of the study were nineteen EGP students studying at American University of Armenia, ages ranging from 16 to 35. The study was designed within the traditions of both qualitative and quantitative research. Of five instruments used in this study a pre – test, three achievement tests and open-ended questionnaire helped to obtain quantitative data and teacher observations and semi-structured interview helped to obtain qualitative data. Quantitative data was analyzed through the SPSS software package, via Mann-Whitney U Test, Friedman test and Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Tests, and qualitative data was first transcribed and then analyzed.

Through the analysis of the data obtained from the tests it was revealed that both groups, regardless of being assigned project work or not, performed equally during the achievement tests they were given during the ten week course, i.e. there was no significant difference in terms of language improvement between the experimental and control groups at the end of instruction. However, in the analysis of the questionnaire administered in the experimental group at the end of the classes, as well as he analysis of their responses to the interview questions it was found out that the students of the experimental group highly appreciate their experience of doing project work and working collaboratively with their peers. They found it beneficial for their studies and felt that it contributed greatly to their language achievement.

6 Responses to MA Thesis Abstracts

  • Nalini says:

    Hai
    Am Nalini from India
    This site seems to be a very useful one n i gained a lot of knowledge as a beginner of research.
    A very great help pls.
    Can u provide me more detailed study for the following study
    ‘Assessing Speaking in Armenian EFL Classrooms”
    You can mail me.

    Thanks and kind regard

  • Emuka says:

    Many thanks for keeping such valuable materials at your web. I am an Ethiopian young man and my wife is doing her MA in TEFL. She is highly looking for proposals for researches in TEFL. Can you please post some sample proposals or email me few?

    Respectfully,

    Emuka

  • Seyed Hassan Sadat says:

    Hi . I studied all your titles and abstracts. They are very scientific, detailed and interesting . Any new study , please inform me. Thank you .

  • anaam says:

    I need full text

  • Yasmin says:

    Very interesting topics and themes. I’d like to get more information about them. Could you tell me how I can read more about these theses?
    I look forward to your answer.

  • Diana Blandond says:

    How can I get one of those document I am looking information about students motivation in learning English…. please help me