Understanding Tensions: Activity Systems Analysis of Cross-Continental Collaboration

Authors

  • LanHui Zhang Ryder Northern Illinois University
  • Lisa Yamagata-Lynch University of Tennessee

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.11139/cj.31.2.201-220

Keywords:

Transpacific collaboration, Telecollaboration, Tensions, Activity Systems Analysis, Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC)

Abstract

Using the lens of Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, activity theory, and Engeström’s activity systems analysis, this qualitative study explores students’ experiences in the context of a sixteen-week transpacific collaboration between seven students at Northern Illinois University (NIU) and seven students from Shandong Normal University (SDNU), China. Methods of inquiry for this qualitative study include discourse analysis of interviews, journals, and audio-visual material. In addition to the qualitative analysis, we engaged in supplementary activity systems analysis that resulted in three activity systems that we will present to demonstrate how they each contributed to participants’ experiences. Using activity systems analysis to compare low functionality student pairs with high functionality student pairs, the study demonstrates how activity systems analysis can be used to identify and explain tensions that arose in the students’ intercultural learning exchanges. And finally, we offer pedagogical implications for future implementations.

Author Biographies

LanHui Zhang Ryder, Northern Illinois University

Department of Foreign Languages & LiteratureInstructor

Lisa Yamagata-Lynch, University of Tennessee

Educational Psychology and CounselingAssociate Professor

References

Asia Society. (2005). Expanding Chinese language capacity in the United States: What would it take to have 5 percent of high school students learning Chinese by 2015? New York, NY: Asia Society education division. Retrieved from http://www.internationaled.org/expandingchinese.htm

Basharina, O. K. (2007). An activity theory perspective on student-reported contradictions in international telecollaboration. Language Learning & Technology, 11(2), 82-103. Retrieved March 3, 2009, from http://llt.msu.edu/vol1num2/basharina

Belz, J. A. (2001). Institutional and individual dimensions of transatlantic group work in networkbased language teaching. ReCALL, 13(2), 213-231.

Belz, J. A. (2002). Social dimensions of telecollaborative foreign language study. Language Learning & Technology, 6(1), 60-81. Retrieved from http://llt.msu.edu/vol6num1/belz

Belz, J. A. (2003). Linguistic perspectives on the development of intercultural competence in telecollaboration. Language Learning & Technology, 7(2), 68-117.

Belz, J. A., & Muller-Hartmann, A. (2003). Teachers negotiating German-American telecollaboration: Between a rock and an institutional hard place. Modern Language Journal, 87(1), 71-89. doi: 10.1111/1540-4781.00179

Brammerts, H. (1996). Tandem language learning via the Internet and the international e-mail tandem network. In D. Little & H. Brammerts (Eds.), A guide to language learning in tandem via the Internet (pp. 9-22). Dublin: Centre for Language and Communication Studies.

Byram, M. (1997). Teaching and assessing intercultural communicative competence. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Cole, M. (1996). Cultural psychology: A once and future discipline. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Engeström, Y. (1987). Learning by understanding: An activity-theoretical approach to developmental research. Helsinki: Orienta-Konsultit.

Engeström, Y. (1999). Expansive visualization of work: An activity-theoretical perspective. Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 8(1-2), 63-93.

Furstenberg, G., Levet, S., English, K., & Maillet, K. (2001). Giving a virtual voice to the silent language of culture: The cultura project. Language Learning & Technology, 5(1), 55-102. Retrieved from http://llt.msu.edu/vol5num1/furstenberg

Jacoby, S., & Ochs. E. (1995). Co-construction: An introduction. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 28(3), 171-183. doi: 10.1207/s15327973rlsi2803_1

Kuutti, K. (1996). Activity theory as a potential framework for human-computer interaction research. In B. A. Nardi (Ed.), Context and consciousness: Activity theory and human-computer interaction. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Lantolf, J. P. (1994). Sociocultural theory and second language learning: Introduction to the special issue. Modern Language Journal, 78, 418-420. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4781.1994.tb02058.x

Li, Q. (2006). Theories of teaching Chinese as a foreign language [??????????]. Beijing, China: Shangwu Library Press.

Muller-Hartmann, A. (2000). The role of tasks in promoting intercultural learning in electronic learning networks. Language Learning & Technology, 4(2), 129-147. Retrieved from http://llt.msu.edu/ vol4num2/muller

O’Dowd, R. (2003). Understanding the “other side”: Intercultural learning in a Spanish-English e-mail exchange. Language Learning & Technology, 7(2), 118-144. Retrieved from http://llt.msu. edu/vol7num2/odowd

O’Dowd, R. (2005). Negotiating sociocultural and institutional contexts: The case of Spanish-American telecollaboration. Language and Intercultural Communication, 5(1), 40-56. doi: 10.1080/14708470508668882

O’Dowd, R., & Ritter, M. (2006). Understanding and working with “failed communication” in telecollaboration exchanges. CALICO, 23(3), 623-642.

O’Dowd, R., & Eberbach, K. (2004). Guides on the side: Tasks and challenges for teachers in telecollaborative projects. ReCALL, 16(1), 5-19.

Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Warschauer, M. (2000). Online learning in second language classrooms: An ethnographic study. In M. Warschauer & R. Kern (Eds.), Network-based language teaching: Concept and practice (pp. 41-58). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Warschauer, M., & Kern, R. (2000) (Eds.). Network-based language teaching: Concept and practice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9781139524735

Ware, P. (2005). Missed communication in online communication: Tensions in a German-American telecollaboration. Language Learning & Technology, 9(2), 64-89. Retrieved from http://llt. msu.edu/vol9num2/ware

Yamagata-Lynch, L. C. (2007). Confronting analytical dilemmas for understanding complex human interactions in design-based research from a Cultural–Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) framework. The Journal of Learning Sciences, 16(4), 451-484. doi: 10.1080/ 10508400701524777

Yamagata-Lynch, L. C. (2010). Activity systems analysis methods: Understanding complex learning environments. New York, NY: Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. doi: 10.1007/978-14419-6321-5

Downloads

Published

2014-05-29

How to Cite

Ryder, L. Z., & Yamagata-Lynch, L. (2014). Understanding Tensions: Activity Systems Analysis of Cross-Continental Collaboration. CALICO Journal, 31(2), 201–220. https://doi.org/10.11139/cj.31.2.201-220

Issue

Section

Articles