In the Spotlight: Adam Pfau and Research on Data-Driven Learning Modules

Adam Pfau is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Second Language Studies (SLS) program at MSU. Before this, he received his MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at MSU, and a BA in Secondary Education (English and History) also at MSU. Additionally, while finishing his Ph.D. coursework, he received a Graduate Certificate in Educational Technology. His research interests include computer-assisted language learning (CALL), educational technology tools for language learning, data-driven learning, and learners’ user experiences while engaging with online learning tools.

Adam Pfau

Adam is currently working on his dissertation, titled Construction and Evaluation of Data-Driven Learning Modules for EFL Writers’ Hedging in Academic English. His dissertation examines how and to what extent direct (i.e., hands-on corpus use) or indirect (i.e., hands-off corpus materials) online data-driven learning modules can result in more appropriate hedging by Chinese English as a foreign language (EFL) writers in the context of academic English. This work involved developing and implementing two online courses. A central focus of the study is on assessing the learners’ user experiences concerning any difficulties, challenges, or benefits they saw in engaging with the online course modules or the online language corpora.

In addition to his current dissertation work, Adam co-authored a paper concerning the use of ChatGPT to assess accuracy in second language writing research (Pfau et al., 2023). He has presented research at several conferences, including TESOL and, more recently, the Technology for Second Language Learning Conference (TSLL). He has given invited talks, such as workshops given to the University of Letters and Humanities of Bamako that have focused on developing and designing academic posters, as well as on digital teaching issues and accessibility. He taught several MSU courses, such as IAH 206: Self, Society, and Technology, as well as LLT 346: Pedagogical Grammar. During his Ph.D. studies, he worked at the MSU Writing Center as a graduate consultant, assisted with MSU’s Corpus Lab, and has taken part in multiple fellowships, such as the Graduate School Leadership Fellowship and the Colleges’ Online Learning Academy (COLA) program.

Adam plans to defend his dissertation in the Spring 2024 semester and hopes to work in a position related to instructional design, in which he can assist with developing, implementing, and evaluating instructional content while assessing learning outcomes.