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Critical design for Indigenous language learning: A critical qualitative study of CALL design in an Australian Aboriginal language

Westwood, Virginia (2017) Critical design for Indigenous language learning: A critical qualitative study of CALL design in an Australian Aboriginal language. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Over 30 years of Indigenous language continuation efforts around the globe have not halted or reversed the escalating decline in usage of Indigenous languages. Despite the success of computer-assisted language learning (CALL) in commonly spoken languages, there have been few implementations in Indigenous language contexts. The research aimed to gain an understanding of this situation by problematising CALL and CALL design.

The investigation was carried out in north-west Western Australia, with Nyikina co-researchers, through a collegiate participatory design – development process. The study employed design-based research (DBR) as critical qualitative inquiry, resulting in both theoretical and practical outcomes. Grounded theory as a guide to data collection and analysis led to the exposure of linguistic colonisation of Indigenous languages and language learning design. This explanatory theory underpinned the research problem. It also shaped the DBR outcomes of a practical artefact (Nyikina nganka Yimardoowarra), participant benefits, formulation of a critical contextual design model (CCDM) for language learning design and consequent design guidelines for CALL in an Indigenous language. The study confirmed the use of critical qualitative DBR as a powerful and effective research methodology for investigating design and development of educational materials.

The CCDM is a broad concept for design, consisting of five levels. Language learning design starts with the language community and origins, and form and usage of the language. These foundations inform language learning theory and thence pedagogy. Finally, development of the product is a situated activity and CALL is only one mode of delivery. The research identifies an urgent need for international collaborative research with Indigenous communities using the CCDM to develop appropriate learning theory, pedagogy and delivery for oral Indigenous languages.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
United Nations SDGs: Goal 4: Quality Education
Supervisor(s): Herrington, Jan
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