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Scaffolding Collaborative Exchanges Between Expert and Novice Language Teachers in Threaded Discussions

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Abstract: This article presents a two-semester study that examines the effectiveness of threaded discussions for foreign language teaching methods courses. In particular, this study focuses on how students view the role of asynchronous computer-mediated communication in the development of language pedagogy through an exchange with expert teachers from secondary schools. The author gathered data from 32 students who participated in weekly discussion boards, wrote monthly reflective logs, filled out surveys, and joined group interviews. The findings demonstrated that online discussions promoted scaffolding by which expert teachers assisted students in creating reflective messages. In addition, threaded discussions fostered learners' autonomy and accountability while supporting collaborative learning through social interaction. The study suggests three essential ingredients to maximize the potential benefits of discussion board for language teacher training: (1) use of carefully designed tasks that engage critical thinking, (2) scaffolding strategies for monitoring group discussions, and (3) inclusion of online etiquette to avoid confusion and reduce personal conflicts.

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