Dissertation Defense Announcement

The College of Education announces the final dissertation defense of

Claire Louisa Knowles

for the degree of Doctor of Education

April, 1st at 1:00 pm in 320 Ball Hall


Major Advisor: Deborah Lowther, PhD

Investigating Instructor Perceptions of Online Machine Translation and Second Language Acquisition within Most Commonly Taught Language Courses

As the cost of mobile devices and computers has decreased and access to the Internet has increased, so too has student access to online machine translators, such as Google Translate. Many institutions of higher education have reacted to the increasing prevalence of this tool by creating prohibitive policies that ban student use of online machine translation (OMT) tools. Consequently, many second language (L2) instructors are uncertain about how to treat student use of OMT. The current literature regarding OMT use in the L2 classroom is limited to the examination of instructor and student perceptions and attitudes, the comparison of L2 writing with and without the aid of OMT, and instruction for detecting and preventing student use of OMT.

The purpose of the research was to investigate whether attending a lecture intervention changed participants' perceptions, attitudes, confidence, and inclination to integrate OMT. An instructional intervention was developed as part of an instructional design project to teach instructors about Google Translate and to offer resources to effectively integrate this tool. This mixed-methods study examined quantitative data collected through pre- and post-survey instruments and qualitative data through a semi-structured interview protocol. Significance was observed around the following research questions: perceptions and understanding regarding how OMT works, confidence explaining and integrating OMT, and inclination to integrate and assess student use of OMT. Interviews with participants revealed divergent perceptions of the limitations and benefits of OMT, as well as differing opinions on how to treat and integrate this tool. The findings of this study support literature on the need for language programs to rethink students' use of OMT and to provide language instructors access to OMT training. The implications of this research are important to L2 department deans, supervisors, instructors, and students.