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  • Practices of hope: beginning never ends

    Van Lawick, Marie Justine (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2024-02-13)
    Researching practices of hope is a practice of hope. I conceptualise hope as a central life force, uncertain as life itself because the outcome is always unknown. I argue that Hope needs to be intertwined with action to become a practice of doable hope. Doable hope is crucial in resisting hopelessness and false hope. Hopelessness and false hope lead to passivity and depression. Practices and hope are interconnected in a circular process, hope generates action and hopeful action increases hope, which in turn drives more action. Practices of hope are affirmative actions and can deal with the eco-social-economic-cultural-health and political crises that mark our nowadays life all over the world. Hope is always relational because it is directed to some future in the world. I argue that the multiple crises we are in are related to breaking the connections and interdependency in our world through capitalism, colonialism, individualism, sexism and anthropocentrism. We have to search for ways to bring back together what has been broken and to stop creating categories and hierarchies. Indigenous knowledge can help us here. In indigenous knowledge the starting point is the interdependency of living and non-living material and that we are part of this whole and have to care for this in order to live and survive. In COVID times I wondered what helps people not to lose hope. I started to have very short conversations with many people in different situations and from different backgrounds. The big collections of responses made me critically think of our profession, systemic therapy, and the dominant role of language, narratives, dialogues and words. When asked what helps people in difficult days people often speak of actions, things they do, movements, walking in nature, being involved in projects, making music and listening to music. Shift your senses and not being there so much seems to be helpful. Of course language, and ‘inner- action’, play a role but not as much as psychology and our profession suggests. I call the method I used, wandering and wondering around and having these short conversations, my nomadic inquiry. Searching for a form for practices of hope, a structure, I got interested in Manifestos. Manifestos are plans of action that resist unjust situations, they have a dream for a better future and a plan of action towards that preferred future. Manifestos are hope in practice. I call manifestos that work for a more just life for living and non-living creatures ‘eco-manifestos’. I developed a five-point eco- manifesto as a research instrument and as an intervention. I worked with teams and individuals and co-created their own eco-manifesto and reflected together with the involved colleagues on the outcomes. The effect cannot be predicted and not be controlled. I give examples of co-created eco- manifestos and the accompanying co-reflections. My preliminary conclusions are that we need to expand our systemic practices with much more action-oriented material and interventions. We can only do so if we expand ourselves, filling our rooms with material, music instruments and digital music services, play, theatrical and dance props, art. And we can experiment with going outside the room, walking in the city or nature, going to and with people, doing something. As professionals that are aware of the influence of context, we need to find ways to involve the environment in our practices. We need a relational theory of body-mind-environment.
  • The notion of nation in the centralised media systems and the challenges of new media: Oman’s media system as a case study

    Almuqeemi, Khamis Mohammed Sultan (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2024-04-12)
    To understand the challenges facing the centralised media systems in the current era, this thesis has been conducted to explore the challenges posed by new media on the mainstream media in Oman, which contend with developing solid national identities and minimising the potential risks that new media might cause. The study investigates the notion that in Oman, a strong sense of nationhood is maintained by controlling the mainstream media at the expense of creating greater openness in formulating national identity. This study develops an analytical framework based on theory and research analysing how the mainstream media constructs national identity. The study interviewed 11 media experts who hold different positions in the Omani media field, such as owners of media outlets, publishing houses and press institutions, editors-in-chief of newspapers and magazines, directors of radio channels, journalists in the traditional electronic press, TV directors and famous actors and international news agencies’ representatives in the Sultanate. In addition to these interviews, an online survey has been conducted on 517 randomly selected participants from all over Oman. The survey includes 37 questions to measure the impression of ordinary Omani citizens about the efforts made by the official media system about the concept of the Omani nation. The study explores the importance of mainstream media sources in Oman and their effectiveness in the development of national identity and societal development. Additionally, the extent to which controlling freedom of speech in this type of media system can significantly impact the development of the nationalism notion. The study also focuses on how digital media reproduces the nation’s sense of belonging to the global world. The study concludes by exploring possible avenues for future research in these areas.
  • Use of keystroke logging to collect cognitive validity evidence for integrated writing tests

    Chan, Sathena Hiu Chong; University of Bedfordshire (Cambridge University Press, 2024-08-01)
    Integrated writing tasks are commonly used for teaching, learning and assessment purposes in most higher education contexts. These tasks are cognitively demanding as they require students to transform knowledge by engaging in processes of discourse synthesis, i.e. selecting, organising, and connecting information from multiple source texts into a new or synthesis text. The purpose of the present exploratory study was to investigate L2 writers’ discourse synthesis processes underlying the performance of an integrated reading-writing task. The participants were three university students who completed an integrated reading-writing task as part of a postadmission academic literacy test at a British university. Data were collected using a variety of qualitative research techniques: analysis of keystroke logs, retrospective interviews, and text quality analysis. Data analysis revealed distinct engagement in discourse synthesis processes among L2 writers. The study proposes a qualitative approach to analysing keystroke logging data to collect cognitive validity evidence (i.e. test takers’ engagement in discourse synthesis) underlying integrated writing test performance. The other major implications of the findings are the need for explicit teaching and assessment of these discourse synthesis processes, i.e. selecting, connecting and organising relevant ideas from multiple reading stimuli to produce a text, and the need to construct specific rating descriptors which reflect skills of discourse synthesis for integrated writing tasks.
  • Differences between L2 listening and reading

    Chan, Sathena Hiu Chong (Routledge, 2024-07-31)
    With technology being an increasingly important presence in modern life, children, adolescents and L2 learners are exposed to more and more digital materials, such as audio books, interactive posters with sound files and videos, and TED talks, in classrooms and daily life. These digital audio-visual materials are increasingly becoming a major source of information and learning (Khabbazbashi, Chan, & Clark, 2022). Herring (2019) argues that education is now operating within a communication paradigm that is “fundamentally multimodal”. The affordances of new digital platforms (e.g., Google classroom, Zoom, Microsoft Teams) mean that L2 learners can now more easily collaborate with their peers to complete group work at home. Such a shift means that L2 listening comprehension is playing a more prominent role in social and educational contexts. Nevertheless, it has not received as much attention as reading comprehension has in second language acquisition, assessment, and pedagogical research, especially in relation to the processes involved in L2 listening (Field, 2008, 2013). Furthermore, listening comprehension is often conflated with reading comprehension and operationalized in a similar way in pedagogical and assessment practice (van Zeeland & Schmitt, 2013). To contribute to the discussion of how the processes of L2 reading and listening comprehension differ, this chapter provides an overview of cognitive models of L2 reading and listening, and discusses how input modality may affect the process of comprehension, followed by a discussion of the differences between L2 reading and listening. Based on the account of the nature of L2 reading and listening, the chapter will discuss the implications for task design by contrasting some key characteristics in reading and listening texts and their impact on comprehension.
  • Investigating the spoken production of young learners aged 13-15

    Hardcastle, Gwendydd (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2024-05-01)
    More children are learning English as a foreign language whether at school or in extracurricular lessons. This has increased the demand for tests aimed at younger learners to assess their English language ability (Lee & Winke, 2018). Some of these tests (e.g., TOEFL Junior (ETS) and the ‘for Schools’ variants of the Cambridge Main Suite of tests) have made changes to the context of test tasks to make them suitable for the age group. However, there is a gap in understanding whether these changes are sufficient, given that little is known about the features of young learner spoken performance on such tasks. This mixed-methods study aims to bridge that gap by investigating the features of spoken production of teenagers (13-15) in comparison to adults (25+) on two B2 level test tasks, one aimed at adults (Task 4) and the other at teens (Task 5). Analytic and overall scores were assigned by raters to 460 candidate performances across the four groups. Multiple regression analysis revealed differences between groups on features which contributed most to the overall score. Notably pronunciation, cohesion, and task fulfilment (T5 only) for teens and grammar and lexis for adults. Complexity, accuracy, and fluency (CAF) measures were examined on all performances. Differences were confirmed using Two-Way Mixed ANOVA and post-hoc multiple comparisons. This showed that means for most measures increased in T5 for both groups. Idea Units analysis revealed an over-reliance on the content provided in T5 by teens. Whilst all groups elaborated on the points, teens were less sophisticated and integrated these points less frequently. This is a difference which should be taken into account when considering the amount of input for such tasks for this age group. Finally, stimulated recall interviews confirmed some of the trends noticed around teen performances, such as repetition and lack of elaboration. It also highlighted some differences in application of the scales by the raters with regards to task fulfilment and lexis. The research findings offer suggestions of the characteristics of teen spoken production in comparison to adults and how those differences may be considered when designing test tasks and rating scales for this age group. This study also makes practical suggestions for further refinement of the task for teenagers and incorporation of the findings into rater training and future scale revisions.

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