Convocation 2020: Reaching for New Heights

Posted on Friday, June 12, 2020

An interview with Michelle Chin, Honours BA in Second-Language Teaching with a Minor in Psychology.

Michelle Chang

Michelle Chin doesn’t flinch when it comes to facing new challenges! A native English speaker, she learned French as a second language at school in her hometown, Toronto. Looking to discover a new part of the country and perfect her French, Michelle enrolled at the University of Ottawa to become a second language teacher and convey her love of bilingualism to young learners. While studying in the DLS program, she developed a particular interest in computer-assisted learning and had the honour of being chosen to present her research project as part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), which encourages third- and fourth-year students to undertake graduate studies and pursue a career in research. 

While COVID-19 may have gotten the better of UROP in 2020, this in no way dissuaded Michelle of her passion. Her UROP experience made her realize that numerous other possibilities for advancement were open to her, particularly in education. 

Learn how her uOttawa journey inspired her to take on new, major challenges. 

Can you tell us in few words what your research is about? 
My research project mainly investigates written corrective feedback (WCF) practices of second-language teachers and the place of digital tools in these practices. To do this, we conducted a questionnaire-based survey of second-language (L2) teachers, examining current WCF practices. The majority of them wish to optimize their WCF practices digitally. We will offer some avenues for reflection to pursue to innovate with digital tools, to optimize WCF practices. 

How did your DLS studies prepare you for this project?
My DLS studies taught me the value of learning and of continuing professional development as a future L2 teacher. With recent trends towards increasing class sizes, making use of technology-based teaching is even more important. Last year, I took a course with my supervisor, Dr. Marie-Josée Hamel, dealing with the integration of educational technology in L2 teaching and learning. After learning about the benefits associated with computer-assisted language learning (CALL) and having someone who shares my passion, I decided to pursue my interest in research. This experience showed me that digital tools play an important role not only in teaching but in many areas of study. 

What impact will this opportunity to develop and present a research project have on your future direction? 
While the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program symposium was postponed, I would like to thank Dr. Hamel and David Huynh for their valuable advice and their help in carrying out this project. This research project gave me an opportunity to develop research abilities in preparation for graduate studies as well as useful digital technology skills as a future L2 teacher. Identifying current practices of second language teachers will help us better respond to their needs, so that digital technologies lead to innovation in their WCF practices. Finally, UROP opened many possibilities for me in terms of career and personal development. In May 2021, I will take part in an international symposium on second-language teaching (SLPC9) with Dr. Hamel, and we will present the results of this research there. 

Michelle Chang Graduate

What are your hopes for the future? 
Currently, I’m continuing to help Dr. Hamel as a research assistant with her work on designing a digital WCF tool for L2 teachers. In September, I will begin graduate studies in teacher education so that I can qualify as a French immersion teacher for the primary-junior division. 

Any words of advice you would like to share with new students?
My advice for new students is to explore your personal academic interests while also completing your degree. If you have room for electives, try branching out from your faculty and take some other classes that may interest you. It was through my electives that I realized I was fascinated by human behavior and decided to pursue a minor in Psychology!

How will you celebrate convocation on June 18?
I will be celebrating my virtual convocation at home surrounded by my loving family! I will proudly walk across my living room as an official Gee-Gee alumni! 

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