Perceived Difficulties in e-Learning During the First Term at University

Galina Kavaliauskienė, Lilija Anusienė, Živilė Puodžiukaitienė

Abstract


Purpose—the focus of this article is to explore difficulties that are encountered by students during the first term at university. It is well known that students can have various problems in learning English and make mistakes in grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. The native language of a learner affects learning and using English. Speaking and e-listening are the skills that are more common on an everyday basis than reading and writing. Moreover, these skills are more difficult to master. English vocabulary presents another problem for language learners. Albeit, at the university level students study English for Specific Purposes (ESP), in other words, the foreign language for their future profession, and they might face particular difficulties in their studies of ESP.
Design/methodology/approach—the research paper adopts the qualitative research approach. The questionnaire on learner perceptions of difficulties in e-learning was administered to students of three different specializations. Students’ self-assessments of achievements or failures were analysed.
Findings. The results indicated that perceptions of difficulties to adapting to university studies depended on their chosen specialization. The findings show that undergraduates of all three investigated specializations encounter the same difficulties, but to a different degree. In other words, there are no significantly specific difficulties due to the complexity of the professional vocabulary that students must learn. The ratings of Psychology, Social Work and Public Policy and Management students reveal higher mean values and wider range of Standard Deviations than reported by other researchers (Berman, Cheng, 2001). The results obtained imply that Lithuanian learners are more positive than their foreign counterparts. Computations of Pearson’s correlations coefficients demonstrate that there are some good correlational relationships within each specialization.
Research limitations. A limited number of respondents might raise a question of the reliability of the findings and require a further study into the issue. The respondents in this research were students of three different specializations, namely, Psychology (68), Social Work (26) and Public Policy and Management (52), who study ESP at the Faculty of Social Policy at Mykolas Romeris University in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Practical implications. The respondents were asked to indicate the degree of difficulty they had with the ESP language skills on the Likert’s scale ranging from “very difficult” (1) to “very easy” (5). The analysis of the responses by a means of the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software suggests that despite the limited number of the respondents, the results may be extended beyond the studied samples.
Originality/Value. The value of this study encompasses the statistical processing of the responses, which should prove whether the findings are reliable or not.
Research type: research paper.

Keywords


English for Specific Purposes; productive and receptive language skills; difficulties in learning; different specializations; e-listening; e-learning

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13165/ST-13-3-1-02

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"Social Technologies" ISSN online 2029-7564