Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Educational Psychology, Educational Technology, Situated Learning, Ecological Psychology, Foreign Language Education, Chinese Language Education, Online Language Exchange Communities

Major Advisor

Michael F. Young

Associate Advisor

Elizabeth Howard

Associate Advisor

Scott W. Brown

Field of Study

Educational Technology


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


Study 1 of the dissertation investigated U.S. college students’ communicative actions in text-based chats and the Educational Affordances offered in their online interactions with native Chinese speakers using transcripts of 38 chat contributed by a total of 19 Chinese-as-a foreign-language students. The coding schemes were built on the bases of 1) the New London Group’s (1996) pedagogical thoughts of the Educational Affordances and 2) Foster and Ohta’s (2005) concept of “negotiation for meaning”. Study 2 used open-coding to analyze interviews with six independent active learners in the online exchange communities.

Study 1 showed that Interpersonal Cues and Continuers were more often present than Communication Checks. When Interpersonal Cues and Continuers occurred, personal bonds with the native speakers often developed to allow the students to use the Chinese language for the purpose of achieving shared-goals that emerged in the course of the dialogue and afforded Transformed Practice. Overt Instructions were occasionally seen but were limited to corrections of student’s errors; Critical Framing was rarely observed. Study 2 suggested that 1) interacting with native speakers online is usually only supplemental to language learning. 2) Language exchange communities could foster multiple engagements of the members but were weak in fostering other factors necessary for community development such as joint enterprise and shared repertories.

The theoretical frameworks of ecological psychology and situated learning were used to explain the findings and to propose considerations for incorporating the resources of an online exchange environment into teaching while creating a community of learners in the classroom.