Date of Conferral

1-1-2011

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

James Keen

Abstract

Learning English as a foreign language (EFL), a highly valued skill in the Chilean marketplace, is an arduous and complex personal endeavor requiring high student motivation. Reflecting this challenge is the heightened anxiety among EFL students, whose work has been associated with historically meager results. Blended learning, the fusion of face-to-face and online content delivery and assessment, offers a promising solution to EFL learner reticence. Evidence suggests that an active online teacher presence in a blended EFL course can enhance student engagement. The purpose of this study was to discover the perceptions of EFL instructional specialists concerning (a) student involvement and engagement in online portions of blended courses, (b) marginal teacher presence in the online portions of blended courses, and (c) ways to improve student involvement in the online portions of the blended courses. Results of a systematic qualitative analysis, employing constant comparative data analysis of individual interviews with a sample of 10 voluntary EFL instructional specialists, indicated teachers need to take part in design of blended EFL courses to address these issues. The findings, coupled with theoretical frameworks of social-constructivism, transactional distance, diffusion of innovation, and universal design for instruction, served as the background for a proposed teacher training project resulting from this study. The study can contribute to positive social change by inviting EFL teachers to become more involved in blended course design, increasing their sense of ownership, sharing best practices for blended EFL teaching and learning, and creating conditions for more successful upward social mobility opportunities for Chilean university students who have acquired certifiable English language skills.