Need a research question in English Pedagogy or Applied Linguistics?

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The Virtual Writing Tutor is a free English Second Language grammar checker. Research into the pedagogy of online grammar checkers is still new. Not a lot is known about how they are used by teachers, by learners, what their effect is on writing apprehension and accuracy. If you need a topic for your master’s thesis and would like a few suggestions, try one or more of these research questions. For articles on the Virtual Writing Tutor, see here.


Grammar Checker Research Questions

  1. What are English Foreign Language learners’ impressions of automated feedback from a free online grammar checker? Do they find them easy to use? Do they believe that a grammar checker significantly improves their writing?
  2. How do EFL learners use the VWT when planning, writing and reviewing a writing assignment at college?
  3. How much time do users spend reviewing feedback from the VWT versus feedback they receive from a human teacher?
  4. Do learners translate the feedback from the VWT into their own language using the VWT’s feedback translation tool?
  5. The VWT has essay outliners, paraphrase checkers, vocabulary checkers, a dictionary, and a grammar and spelling checker. What use do learners make of these features? What are their impressions of the usefulness and suitability of each of these features?
  6. Do professors need to train learners to use these free online tools or will learners use them without training? Should learning how to use grammar checkers be part of the writing curriculum or will learners figure it out on their own?
  7. What features are missing? What additional automated help would learners make use of if it were available?
  8. How do users make use of the VirtualWritingTutor? What do they do first, second, third, fourth?
  9. What training and support would help learners make better use of the free online writing tools on the VWT? Videos? A chat help hotline? A blog post with written instructions? Student testimonials or student created video tutorials? A Q&A user forum?
  10. What effect do student testimonials and video tutorials have on learners’ impressions of online grammar checkers?
  11. Would students value automated feedback generated by the VWT sent to them in PDF form with spoken comments from their teacher or would they interpret their teacher’s use of Artificial Intelligence to generate corrective feedback as a dereliction of duty?
  12. Do learners use and value the text-to-speech (and MP3 download) feature of the VWT while preparing for oral assignments?
  13. Do free online grammar checkers have an effect on writing apprehension?

Writing Apprehension and Attitudes Questionnaires and Research

  1. Writing Apprehension Test [PDF]
  2. Writing Study Questionnaires [PDF]
  3. Do online grammar checkers affect writing apprehension and language learning anxiety?
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