The research undertaken with the support of this Pilot Innovation Fund (PIF) grant was part of a larger, two-phase project. Phase I, supported by a Curriculum Innovation Fund (CIF) grant in the Winter Term of 2006, consisted of a literature review and the creation of alternative grammar instructional materials. Phase II of the project consisted of implementing and testing the alternative materials in a pilot-control study conducted during the 2006 fall term.
Traditional types of grammar study materials were used for the control group. These control materials consisted, as grammar study materials typically do, of standard sentences and passages on various everyday topics. The experimental grammar materials, created under the CIF grant, were intended to be humourous and entertaining for students to read and work with, but otherwise needed to correspond with control materials in terms of the content tested and level of difficulty. The study was conducted using students enrolled in three sections of a first-year Business Communications course, COMM 1023, each section having about 45 students.
The study specifically focused on the lab portion of the course, which is delivered through FanshaweOnline (FOL). Implementation included a number of steps:
- Reviewing the alternative teaching materials to ensure they adhered to the necessary criteria, i.e. that readers considered them to be more interesting or entertaining to read than traditional grammar materials.
- Making the alternative materials available in an e-learning context (FOL Lab Quizzes)
- Surveying students to gather information about attitudes in the control and experimental groups toward studying English, communications and grammar (surveys were conducted at the beginning and end of the course in the sections taking part in the study).
- Tracking and comparing behavior and performance in the control and experimental groups.
Marshall, Corinne, "Innovation in English Grammar Instruction – Phase II" (2008). Faculty and Staff Publications - CRI. 11.