Теория и методика обучения и воспитания (по областям и уровням образования) | Мир педагогики и психологии №04 (93) Апрель 2024

УДК 372.881.111.1

Дата публикации 12.04.2024

Практика применения модели 4C/ID в преподавании и обучении генеративному синтаксису на курсе Практическая грамматика английского языка

Комарова Мария Викторовна
ассистент кафедры иностранных языков и коммуникативных технологий, Национальный Исследовательский Технологический Университет МИСИС, РФ, г. Москва, marialinta0@gmail.com

Аннотация: Статья посвящена опыту применения модели педагогического дизайна 4C/ID для обучения и изучения модуля Генеративного синтаксиса в рамках курса английской грамматики для специалистов в области речи и языка. Для устранения повторяющихся проблем на курсе, о которых сообщили обучающиеся и преподаватели, было высказано предположение, что модель четырехкомпонентного педагогического дизайна внесет соответствующие коррективы и привнесет улучшения в процесс обучения и структуру курса. Автор описывает модель 4C/ID, сравнивает ее с традиционным подходом и приводит пример применения модели при разработке одного из модулей курса. Модель и сопутствующие ей десять шагов оказались эффективным инструментом для уменьшения фрагментации и обособлению (компартментализации) знаний, поскольку она предлагает структурированный путь к развитию практических навыков. Мы анализируем результаты этого применения и намечаем пути для будущих разработок.
Ключевые слова: педагогический дизайн, когнитивная нагрузка, комплексное обучение, генеративный синтаксис

Practices of Applying the 4C/ID Model to teaching and learning Generative Syntax within Practical English Grammar Course

Komarova Maria Victorovna
assistant of Foreign Languages and Communicative Technologies Department, National University of Science and Technology MISIS, Russia, Moscow

Abstract: The article is dedicated to the experience of applying the instructional model 4C/ID for teaching and learning the Generative Syntax module within the course of English grammar for speech and language professionals. In order to alleviate recurring issues in a continuing education course reported by learners and teaching staff it was assumed that the Four-Component Instructional Design model would make appropriate adjustments and enhancements to the learning process and the structures of the course. The author describes the 4C/ID model, compares it to a traditional content-based approach and provides an example of its application in designing one of the course modules. The model and its accompanying ten steps proved to be an effective tool for reducing fragmentation and compartmentalization of knowledge as it offers a highly scaffolded pathway towards hard skills development. We analyze the results of this application and identify clues to future developments.
Keywords: instructional design, cognitive load, complex learning, generative syntax

Правильная ссылка на статью
Комарова М.В. Practices of Applying the 4C/ID Model to teaching and learning Generative Syntax within Practical English Grammar Course // Мир педагогики и психологии: международный научно-практический журнал. 2024. № 04 (93). Режим доступа: https://scipress.ru/pedagogy/articles/praktika-primeneniya-modeli-4c/id-v-prepodavanii-i-obuchenii-generativnomu-sintaksisu-na-kurse-prakticheskaya-grammatika-anglijskogo-yazyka.html (Дата обращения: 12.04.2024)


Education is liable to undergoing significant changes provided there is the ongoing development and widespread use of blended and online learning. According to researches [3], education's shift towards hard skills was long foreseen and now is observed. In response to new demands on the job market and the existing requirements of the Federal State Educational Standard (FSES) of Higher Education, higher education institutions have begun to embed a competency-based approach to courses, which provides an immersive experience of applying theoretical knowledge in professional settings. This approach is compiled with the existing requirements and, as a result, represents the methodological foundation of blended learning [5, p. 45]. It should be noted that the idea of competency-based approach has been discussed in Russian pedagogical literature since the second half of the 1950s. In the 1960s and 1970s, Makhmutov [1, p. 63] proposed a comprehensive system of problem-based learning, developed its methodological basis and structure for providing an opportunity for the formation of students' logical, rational, critical, creative and cognitive autonomies [3]. Nowadays blended learning is considered to be the driver of innovative development of education. Conversely, the majority of graduates demonstrate a low level of hard skills development despite the requirements of FSES of Higher Education. Graduates tend to have strong theoretical foundation, but may experience difficulties in applying their knowledge and skills in real-life situations.

The Practical English Grammar course based on the blended learning approach is one of the fundamental disciplines in Bachelor's programs in Linguistics. The course involves manipulating and mediating meaning of various grammar patterns which are crucial for future professional activity. Even though the learning environment of this course has been based on a conventional content-based model that proved to be efficient by scholars, both students and teaching staff reported the following issues during the course:

  • the student cohort comes from diverse backgrounds, and thus, has different levels of English proficiency; it leads to particular challenges of meeting prerequisite knowledge of other disciplines;
  • learners seem to be overwhelmed with cognitive course overload;
  • in some cases, the principal concepts required to complete assessments and to meet learning outcomes are not fully understood;
  • learners experience difficulties understanding course instructions;
  • learners fail to integrate acquired knowledge and skills in the real-life contexts.

To address these issues, it was decided to research the impact of the task-based approach on one of the modules within the course. Before appropriate adjustments and enhancements were made to the learning sequence of the module Generative Syntax, we did an extensive review of three design technologies: active learning, project-based learning, and problem-based learning in order to identify a suitable approach. While most of traditional linear and hierarchical models lead to compartmentalization of learning and fragmentation of skills instead of an integration of knowledge, skills and attitudes and coordination of the learning process into a coherent whole [4, p. 513], the Four-Component Instructional Design (4C/ID) model developed by Jeroen Van Merriënboer in the late 1990s, which has proved to be effective for complex learning, [8, p. 6]  appeared to be potentially suitable for showcasing any course based on blended learning environment and focused on practical skills.


The differences between 4C/ID model and conventional models

Given that 4C/ID, a task-based approach, has a number of differences from traditional approaches, it should be compared to a traditional content-based one and further explained in detail. Considering the initial stages of any course design, both 4C/ID model and a traditional one start with ADDIE instructional design model (analyse, design, develop, implement, evaluate) [2, p. 14]. In practice, these activities are carried our sequentially or they often overlap or run in parallel to each other.

Provided that we consider the first activity, analyse, it is obviously conducted in both models in order to understand the importance and necessity of a course being created (needs analysis), to understand the characteristics and motivation of learners (target group analysis), to understand what resources and infrastructure are available, how many teachers may be involved and other constituents (organizational analysis). Although it is worth noting that the first minor difference occurs in requirements for teaching staff and infrastructure.

Up to the present moment, it can be observed that both approaches are quite similar. The fourth type of analysis happens to be the first major difference: in a traditional design model, a content analysis is conducted, while in 4C/ID, a cognitive task analysis is performed. In any traditional design model, interviews with expert teachers are conducted to determine the course content. It is necessary to identify the knowledge that needs to be acquired and skills that need to be developed. The 4C/ID model is influenced by several cognitive theories. The cognitive theory of multimedia learning developed by Richard Mayer, which posits that people learn better from words and images than just words [6, p. 36]. Another theory about the cognitive load proposed by Sweller [9, p. 113] posits a set of principles that should guide the development of educational multimedia messages. Like Mayer's cognitive theory, Sweller's one shares the same assumptions about cognitive human functioning such as double channels (processing of visual and verbal information) and limited capacity of the working memory. Compared to other conventional model, little or no attention paid to the cognitive overload of learners, which makes the 4C/ID model even more favorable for digital learning environment.

Subsequently, using Bloom's Taxonomy, course developers identify learning outcomes. For the cognitive domain, Bloom's Taxonomy makes a distinction between remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating. After the content analysis has been done, a course designer proceeds with the design phase. In contrast, in the 4C/ID model, professional tasks will serve as the starting point. Course developers perform cognitive task analysis that allows them not only to observe experts in the workplace but also understand how they make decisions and solve professional tasks. Kirschner and van Merrienboer [8, p. 268] focused on breaking up a complex skill into a list of intended learning outcomes. They found that learners who carried out the learning tasks in the four phases were more successful during practice as measured by the coherence and content of their learning outcomes.  As a result, it becomes clear what constituent skills form complex skill and how skills exit behavior can be classified (non-recurrent, recurrent, or to-be-automated recurrent) [4, p. 542]. A skill hierarchy allows developers to do several things: 1) design whole learning tasks that require the coordination of constituent skills just like real-life tasks; 2) describe the desired level of exit behavior or performance objectives for each constituent skill and decide which skills are labeled as non-recurrent, recurrent, or to-be-automated recurrent; 3) develop assessment instruments to measure whether performance objectives have been reached for each constituent skill; 4) ensure all aspects of the complex skill are covered in the course. [8, p. 387] Ultimately, a traditional model gives us an understanding of a list of intended learning outcomes classified using Bloom's Taxonomy, when the 4C/ID provides developers with a list of professional tasks, a skills hierarchy and performance objectives.

Overall, the ADDIE model follows a linear process of analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation, while the 4C/ID model focuses on breaking down complex tasks into smaller learning tasks and providing learners with necessary support and information to complete those tasks effectively.

It is relevant to clarify that complex tasks or learning should not be defined as complicated, since it is the integration and coordination of knowledge, skills and attitudes and other constituents. The abovementioned principles are the backbone of the 4C/ID model, which is made up of four components: learning tasks or case studies based on authentic professional tasks, supportive information describing how to approach the tasks, procedural information describing step-by-step procedures to perform tasks, and part-task practice for repetition.

Picture 1. The Components of the 4C/ID model


Therefore, based on the comparison of the 4C/ID model to a traditional linear model and a detailed model description, it is expected that whole-task training would be more effective for fostering transfer of learning to new situations. The study also predicts that the experimental application of complex learning to Generative Syntax module would effectively address the gaps between actual and desired course outcomes by tackling such major problems as cognitive course overload and inability to integrate acquired knowledge and skills in the real-life contexts.



The application of general scientific methods such as comparative analysis of two instructional design models and synthesis of the information allowed the author to choose a model for planning an educational course. Moreover, the experimental method allowed to measure the effectiveness of 4C/ID in language learning context. The study of the efficiency of the learning environment design according to 4C/ID model was based on the ability of one experimental group of speech and language professionals (n = 15) to reproduce the acquired knowledge while performing learning tasks and the ability to transfer this knowledge to whole-tasks. The contents were taught solely based on digital learning environment in which learners performed learning and whole-tasks under the supervision of one teacher. After the participants of the experiment completed the assigned tasks, they were asked to use a single self-rating scale developed by Paas and van Merriënboer [7, p. 63] and to identify the cognitive load that they invested to perform the learning and part-task practice.


The empirical study

In this section, the structure of the learning environment used in the context of teaching Generative Syntax, which is one of the modules in the Practical English Grammar course, to speech and language professional will be described. This learning system was implemented in three lessons of 90 minutes using LMS Moodle.

The application is divided into three blocks, each consisting of a set of learning tasks:  1) learning class 1 is focused on the concepts of Generative Syntax. Before learners start solving learning tasks, they should read an article or observe a video (supportive information) with an explanation of the concepts of Generative Syntax, its analysis and visualization. After students must follow a set of three sequenced learning tasks (T1, T2, T3) corresponding to a solved example (A1), a partially solved assignment (A2) and a whole task to solve without help (A3); 2) learning class 2 is centered in the ability to build and visualize tree diagrams with syntactic category information (syntax trees). In this learning class the supportive information focuses on labelling. Then the students have to perform a sequence of six learning tasks (T1 ... T6) in which they must label constituents. The first tree tasks correspond to solved and partially solved examples and assignments; the last three tasks must be solved without help; 3) learning class 3 is related to the concepts of modelling syntax trees. In this learning class the supportive information focuses on description and comparison of the main models. Learning tasks are organized in in worked examples (T1 ... T3), partially solved (T4 ... T6) and practical exercises (T7 ... T10).

Learning tasks and part-task practice were performed on LMS Moodle. There were developed series of completion, drag and match and multiple-choice quizzes for each block. For each task there is automated feedback (corrective or cognitive) requiring students to read justifications for all options. The structure of the learning environment is presented in the Pic. 2.


Picture 2. The structure of the learning environment of the Generative Syntax module


The task-oriented approach has proved to be effective in reducing fragmentation and compartmentalization of learning and skills. By emphasizing authentic professional tasks compartmentalization was partially avoided, which occurred when learners worked on knowledge and skills separately. Whole-tasks practices also helped to avoid disconnected training of constituent skills (fragmentation), such as recognizing constituents, labelling them and identifying a suitable syntactic model for visualizing a sentence, when students were involved in part-task training. Students were expected to work on a sequence of authentic learning tasks that vary according to the context or situation. A learning task needs to be simple in the beginning, and thus these should be sequenced with an increasing level of difficulty. In each class the learning process started with a solved task (darker circles), followed by some partially solved (less darker circles) and finally the case was represented as a whole-task (unfilled circles). As learners started working on new learning tasks, the support given to them would decrease, and the students must perform the last task autonomously without support.


Results and Discussion

The study aimed to explore the effectiveness of a 4C/ID model with ICT in terms of eradicating reported issues that occurred during the course. The results of the experiment support the hypothesis that a 4C/ID model learning environment contributed more positively to learning of concepts related to Generative Syntax compared to a learning environment based on a conventional model. According to the feedback gained from the experimental group of learners by means of the rating-scale, their understanding of the instructions was much higher and they felt more confident at transferring their skills they acquired to a new situation. This result may be due to essential ingredients in the 4C/ID model that were absent in the conventional model. Much emphasis was put on promoting learners' ability to label and model sentences for non-recurrent aspects of complex skills that are performed differently from one problematic case to another. As a result, the 4C/ID model allowed to achieve a variety of contexts in which different tasks had to be performed. In Generative Syntax model it appears to be one of the critical aspects for enhancing transfer of knowledge.

It should be noted that the 4C/ID model is not a recent novelty, although no research has been conducted in employing 4C/ID instructional approach in language learning courses. The present study proves that the model facilitates knowledge and skills acquisition and transfer. However, much more research is necessary in order to determine whether it can be functional and efficient for other modules of English grammar and suitable for learners' cognitive abilities



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