Statement of Scholarship in CALL

Document revision 2017

CALICO Statement of Scholarship


Owing to rapidly developing digital technologies as well as the emergence of new theoretical, methodological, and learning paradigms, the field of Computer-assisted Language Learning, (CALL) exhibits a wide variability and growing complexity. Consequently, a special understanding and expertise are required to assess the quality and depth of the scholarly activities in this field. This document has been drafted for departments, institutions, professional associations, and other decision-making bodies in order to provide them with a clearer understanding of the range and variety of Computer-assisted Language Learning activities and with useful resources for evaluating professional research, development, and pedagogical innovation.

Most scholarly activities in CALL are rooted in and contribute to research discourses in Applied Linguistics. Research has thus not only appeared in CALL-specific publishing outlets but also in Applied Linguistics journals and books. The foremost international journals in the field are CALICO Journal (Equinox Publishing), Computer Assisted Language Learning (Routledge), the open-access journal Language Learning & Technology, ReCALL (CUP) and System (Elsevier). All of them conduct a double-blind peer review, and their impact analytics result in rankings among the top twenty journals internationally in Educational Technology.

Statement on Scholarly Activities

The evaluation of research in Computer-assisted Language Learning and Teaching should be based on objective assessments. Such assessments require an understanding of the particular challenges of this field. Effective evaluation criteria must draw on the current and demonstrable knowledge of national and international experts in the field. Research on how students learn with technology-mediated tools and materials can contribute to our knowledge of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) and Applied Linguistics in general and to the further development of learning theories to understand how the use of technology affects the processes of teaching and learning in a variety of instructional contexts.

Research in Computer-assisted Language Learning and Teaching

Research in this field relies on systematic inquiry published in books (mostly in the form of peer-reviewed edited volumes) and in national and international peer-reviewed journals. Research and development and often pedagogic innovation are intertwined and interdependent. Scholarly activities can include the design of learning environments, the development of innovation in teaching and learning methodologies, and the creation of digital tools for teaching and research, as well as research to confirm or lead to the revision of current Second Language Acquisition (SLA) theories and theories of intercultural and/or transcultural learning. It is important to note that some of this work is far more labor-intensive and collaborative than the creation of printed learning materials. High-quality development and pedagogic innovation are theory-driven, informed by research and evaluated through the use of empirical methods that are widely recognized in the field.

The field of CALL is inherently interdisciplinary. Scholars in this field conduct research alone and with colleagues (joint authorship is encouraged) in many other fields, such as applied linguistics, education, cognitive science, computer science, cultural studies, psychology, and sociology. Within the field, quality scholarly work is defined as strong research (quantitative and/or qualitative) situated within Applied Linguistics and Language Education and links to current research discourses in the other fields from which it borrows. Very often, a researcher in this field must be expert in several of the discourses, for example, those noted above.

CALL research may refer to quantitative studies such as the systematic investigation of the effect of psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic variables on learning with technology, the transferability of language learning strategies to new media, or the statistical analysis of the effectiveness of instructional strategies, environments, or tools and to qualitative studies which include observational research of learners engaging in a new online course environment, reactions to different modes of computer-mediated communication, mapping learners’ usage patterns, exploring their interactional patterns in the collaboration with other students online, etc. Often research in the field employs a mixed-methods approach combining both qualitative and quantitative approaches. In many instances, research focuses on pedagogical innovation, that is on adopting and adapting technologies to integrate them into the language learning curriculum or designing instructional materials to effectively engage students with technology with the ultimate goal of promoting language and intercultural and/or transcultural learning. Pedagogic innovation requires the researcher to be proficient not only in their primary pedagogic field but also in the application and/or development of current digital technologies.

Guidelines for Promotion and Tenure

Respected academic institutions adhere to their own assessment criteria when moving forward with cases for promotion or tenure. CALICO suggests the following guidelines to ensure a fair and judicious process for all parties involved.

Evaluative bodies are advised to keep in mind that the pace of technological change makes it impossible for any one set of guidelines to account completely for the work of scholars in this field. A general principle nonetheless holds: institutions must give full regard to a scholar’s body of work when evaluating them for reappointment, tenure, and promotion. In order to achieve this:

  1. Request letters of recommendation from qualified reviewers in CALL/applied linguistics within and outside the academic institution, including reviewers from multiple disciplines as appropriate. The president of CALICO will be available to suggest the names of respected colleagues for purposes of promotion and tenure reviews.
  2. Foreground medium specificity by reviewing faculty members’ work in the medium for which it was produced. For example, online learning environments, born-digital, and Web-based projects are often spatial, interactive, iterative, and networked. If possible, they should be viewed in electronic form, not in print or as snapshots of dynamic behavior.
  3. Obtain a list of quality peer-reviewed journals and publishers for this field.
  4. Take into account the length of time that technology-based projects require for development, implementation, data collection and analysis, as applicable.
  5. References to documents, organizations, and experts in the field can be obtained from leading organizations such as CALICO (the Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium), EUROCALL, and the International Association for Language Learning Technology (IALLT).
  6. A single-authored book is not an expected accomplishment for tenure for most faculty in this field. Edited volumes are considered the most common form of book publication in the field.
  7. A combination of approximately 7-8 articles and book chapters (for promotion to associate) in respected venues are an estimate of generally accepted standards of quantity for tenure and promotion. The exact number will vary but committees should consider more than the number of publications: the quality of the articles and their placement in top journals—including journals published in languages other than English- should carry more weight.
  8. All work should show evidence that the candidate is continuously and effectively engaged in creative activity of high quality and significance.
  9. Textbook authorship and joint authorship that demonstrate expertise in SLA, including e-textbooks, content-based textbooks, and language teaching textbooks, should also be considered.
  10. As in many portfolio reviews, work done at the department, college or university levels, including faculty and language coordination responsibilities, should be taken into account in evaluating performance.
  11. For promotion to Full Professor, continued production leading to an established national and international reputation through substantial contributions to the field is expected. This work may include single-authored books, invited and edited volumes as well as articles in the top journals in the field and book chapters in reputable publishing venues. This research should produce insights that will move the field forward.
  12. If teaching is considered of primary importance in the portfolio review, a candidate in this field should show evidence of innovative and effective use of technology.

Since many scholars in our field work in World Languages and Literature departments, when negotiating a new job we suggest they keep in mind the MLA guidelines developed for this purpose.

CALICO Statement Committee: Marta Gonzalez-LLoret, Bonnie Youngs and Mathias Schulze