16 SES 02 B, Digital Literacy and Learning Styles
This paper presents a case study on reading comprehension in English as a Foreign Language using the virtual learning environment DidaktosOnLine (Moreira e Pedro, 2006). DidaktosOnLine is a hypermedia system that implements the principles of Cognitive Flexibility Theory (Spiro et al, 1987). It allows the organization of a digital content database, which can be accessed in a traditional, linear structure of content presentation, that is, reading the cases and mini-cases as if they were presented in a book. The content database can also be accessed in a non-linear way, implementing thematic crisscrossing, which means reading several mini-cases of different cases to which one theme or combination of themes apply. The documents studied integrated a project on Britain and the British. The study of this topic aims to develop the intercultural dimension of the communicative competence, in an attempt to fight stereotyped views of other people and cultures. This also follows the general aim of learning languages nowadays which is to develop a plurilingual and pluricultural communicative competence (Byram, 2009; Zarate, Lévy & Kramsch, 2008). Two groups of students of the Media Studies degree of the School of Education and Communication of the University of Algarve participated in the study that took place on two subsequent academic years. The participants were characterized according to several criteria, among which the focus on learning styles took special relevance. The learning styles instrument used in the study was the Ehrman & Leaver Learning Styles questionnaire (Ehrman & Leaver, 2002, Ehrman & Leaver, 2003, Ehrman, Leaver & Oxford 2003). Students are classified according to ten sub-scales which provide a detailed profile of each of them. The focus on learning styles aims at understanding whether the potential benefits for comprehending texts presented as projects in DidaktosOnLine vary or are enhanced according to the styles of the students.
Byram, M. (2009) Intercultural Competence in Foreign Languages. In Deardorff, D. K. (ed.) The SAGE Handbook of Intercultural Competence. London, SAGE. 321-332. E. & L. Learning Style Questionnaire v. 2.0 copyright 2002, Ehrman and Leaver. Available at www.cambridge.org/us/download_file/192218/ Ehrman, M. and Leaver, B. L.(2003) Cognitive Styles in the Service of Language Learning. System, 31, 393-415. Ehrman, M. and Leaver, B. and Oxford, R. (2003) A Brief Overview of Individual Differences in Second Language Learning. System, 31. 313-330. Moreira, A. e Pedro, L. (2006) DidaktosOnLine: Teoria da Flexibilidade Cognitiva e Ensino Baseado em Casos. Aveiro, Universidade de Aveiro. Zarate, G., Lévy, D. & Kramsch, C. (2008) (eds.) Précis du plurilinguisme et du pluriculturalisme. Paris, Éditions des archives contemporaines.
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