Bridging technology and educational psychology: an exploration of individual differences in technology-assisted language learning within an Algerian EFL setting


The implementation of technology in language learning and teaching has a great influence onthe teaching and learning process as a whole and its impact on the learners’ psychological state seems of paramount significance, since it could be either an aid or a barrier to students’ academic performance. This thesis therefore explores individual learner differences in technology-assisted language learning (TALL) and when using educational technologies in higher education within an Algerian English as a Foreign Language (EFL) setting. Although I initially intended to investigate the relationship between TALL and certain affective variables mainly motivation, anxiety, self-confidence, and learning styles inside the classroom, the collection and analysis of data shifted my focus to a holistic view of individual learner differences in TALL environments and when using educational technologies within and beyond the classroom. In an attempt to bridge technology and educational psychology, this ethnographic case study considers the nature of the impact of technology integration in language teaching and learning on the psychology of individual language learners inside and outside the classroom. The study considers the reality constructed by participants and reveals multiple and distinctive views about the relationship between the use of educational technologies in higher education and individual learner differences. It took place in a university in the north-west of Algeria and involved 27 main and secondary student and teacher participants. It consisted of focus-group discussions, follow-up discussions, teachers’ interviews, learners’ diaries, observation, and field notes. It was initially conducted within the classroom but gradually expanded to other settings outside the classroom depending on the availability of participants, their actions, and activities. The study indicates that the impact of technology integration in EFL learning on individual learner differences is both complex and dynamic. It is complex in the sense that it is shown in multiple aspects and reflected on the students and their differences. In addition to various positive and different negative influences of different technology uses and the different psychological reactions among students to the same technology scenario, the study reveals the unrecognised different manifestations of similar psychological traits in the same ELT technology scenario. It is also dynamic since it is characterised by constant change according to contextual approaches to and practical realities of technology integration in language teaching and learning in the setting, including discrepancies between students’ attitudes and teacher’ actions, mismatches between technological experiences inside and outside the classroom, local concerns and generalised beliefs about TALL in the context, and the rapid and unplanned shift to online educational delivery during the Covid-19 pandemic situation. The study may therefore be of interest, not only to Algerian teachers and students, but also to academics and institutions in other contexts through considering the complex and dynamic impact of TALL and technology integration at higher education on individual differences, and to academics in similar low-resource contexts by undertaking a context approach to technology integration

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