Effects of Technology-Enhanced Language Learning on Second Language Composition of University-Level Intermediate Spanish Students Page: 45
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being more autonomous and learning by doing, and thus the query-driven design of the writing
assistant software program fits well within the constructivist model. Thus, constructivism can be
construed as a vital component to the successful infusion of technology in teaching and learning.
The work of Lev Vygotsky has implications for language learning, writing and
technology integration. Vygotsky formulated a multifaceted theory of cognitive and human
development based upon the belief that human interaction is not a direct response to the
environment; it is mediated, or guided, by culturally meaningful tools and signs. His greatest
contribution lies in his "explanation of the dynamic interdependence of social and individual
processes" (John-Steiner & Mahn, 1992) applicable to language and cognition and that cultural
interactions are critical to forming meaning for individuals.
At the heart of Vygotsky's theory are the ideas that teachers, other adults or peers can
scaffold learners by serving as more knowledgeable partners or assistants in the learning
environment. These individuals provide structure or scaffolding to facilitate learning within the
zone of proximal development (ZPD). The ZPD is defined most simply as "the gap between the
child's current or actual level of development determined by independent problem solving and
the child's emerging or potential level of development determined by problem solving supported
by an adult or through collaboration with more capable peers" (Dixon-Krauss, 1996, p. 196).
Vygotsky's theories fit well within writing theory and pedagogy. In fact, Grabe and
Kaplan (1997) confirm that Vygotskean approaches to writing development may have an
emerging role in second language acquisition research. Writing in a second language is itself a
form of problem-solving in which the learner must determine the correct grammar, word order,
and vocabulary to express their thoughts. Vygotsky (1987) detailed steps in the development of
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Oxford, Raquel Malia Nitta. Effects of Technology-Enhanced Language Learning on Second Language Composition of University-Level Intermediate Spanish Students, dissertation, December 2004; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc4688/m1/54/?rotate=90: accessed February 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .