The researchers encourage teachers to make the move to video and to find out more about students' preferences for feedback. (Photo: Cowomen/Pexels)
A study involving UOC researchers confirms that the video format enhances relationships between teachers and students
People studying a foreign language often suffer from anxiety, which affects their performance and can lead to them giving up their studies
According to the latest EF Education First report, the level of English proficiency in Spain has been stagnant for eight years, and the country is among the lowest in its European rankings for knowledge of this language
People in Spain continue to show few signs of improvement in terms of their English language proficiency. That is the conclusion reached by EF Education First in its report entitled EF EPI 2021, which says that the level of English language proficiency in Spain has been stagnant for eight years, and places the country among the lowest in its European rankings. One of the main barriers when learning a language is the anxiety that some students experience. This can affect their learning performance, result in them giving up their studies, and can even lead to issues of low self-esteem. There is also a risk of anxiety in online courses, because there is less human contact.
In order to help overcome this situation, a faculty member and a doctoral student from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and a lecturer from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) have analysed the role of video feedback used with students studying a language online. "We wanted to scientifically confirm that feedback in video format reduces anxiety and helps students with their learning," said Sidney Martin, a doctoral student on the Education and ICT programme (E-learning) programme at the UOC, a member of the Feed2Learn research group of the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, and the lead author of the study. The results of the research have been published in open access in the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education.
"Video feedback provides much more information than when it is only given in writing, and adopts a more human tone, as well as fostering a closer relationship between the teacher and student, which is appreciated in a context where the learning is online and mainly asynchronous," explained Martin. The expert added that "feedback is crucial in language learning in order to give students information about their progress".
Martin encourages teachers to make the transition to the audiovisual format and to explore students' preferences for feedback. This latter issue is consistent with research on the personalization of learning. "In the world of education, some teachers are already giving feedback in video format. Based on the results of our study, we encourage everyone who hasn't tried it yet to do so. They should at least try it on a small scale. They will notice a qualitative improvement in their feedback, and it will have a positive effect on their students."
In order to produce the report, the three researchers interviewed 27 students on an online intermediate level B2 English course run by the Catalan Ministry of Education's Institut Obert de Catalunya. Martin said that they are currently considering "expanding the study to other feedback formats and increasing the number of participants, which will provide much more robust results."
Anxiety – the enemy to overcome
The anxiety that most foreign language students suffer is one of the most widely studied emotions in the field of psycholinguistics. "It is basically due to the fact that when we speak a language that is not our own we are forced to leave our comfort zone, which is a situation that is a source of insecurity for many people," said Martin. "Many people feel embarrassed and suffer from a mental block when they make mistakes while speaking. In short, they don't talk. If they don't talk, it's more difficult to learn from their mistakes," added the doctoral student.
The author of the study made a final point: "Speech is closely related to our emotional side, and our identity, which means that any correction of a mistake may be misinterpreted by the student. This anxiety is not generally an issue in other studies, as this link between speech and identity is not a problem."
This research by the UOC promotes sustainable development goal (SDG) 4, Quality Education.
MARTIN, Sidney; ALVAREZ, Ibis M; ESPASA, Anna. Video feedback and Foreign Language Anxiety in online pronunciation tasks. In: International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education [online]. 2022. 19, 19. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1186/s41239-022-00324-y
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Education and ICT (E-learning) PhD student in the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences' Feed2Learn group