Photo of Dr. Dongping Zheng

I locate my research in the trans-disciplinary sciences of applied linguistics, learning sciences, learning technologies, philosophy, and cognitive sciences. As a researcher, I am primarily interested in how technology can be a catalyst to broaden the notion of second language acquisition and learning at theoretical, methodological and practical levels. My research focuses on learners’ distributed, embodied, embedded, dynamic, and situated practices in advanced computer mediated learning environments, such as virtual worlds, in forms of multi-user virtual environments (MUVE) and massively online role-playing games. I have focused on investigation of these practices in both school-based and informal settings, primarily in local Hawaiian and international contexts (e.g., China), using these massive learning environments to bridge interaction and communication between these contexts. The trans-disciplinary and intercultural focus of my research aims to contribute to new trends of conducting research in the 21st century, trends that recognize the depth of a discipline, yet transcend the boundary of the discipline with the goals of shaping language research rooted in brain, body, and community distribution and language learning and teaching, in the ecology of DEEDS practices.

Two lines of research have emerged in my research: language development in game-based virtual environments and rethinking second language learning and teaching from ecological, dialogical and distributed perspectives.

Language is ecological (Hodges 2007a&b; 2009; Gibson, 1979; Reed, 1996), dialogical (Bakhtin, 1991; Linell, 2009), and distributed (Cowley, 2007, 2009; Hutchins, 1995; Kravchenko, 2007, 2009; Love, 2004), EDD (Zheng and Newgarden, forthcoming). Language is ecological, because language is not only a perceptual system, but also an action system. Language helps us coordinate actions. A perception and action system does not assume a transmission model through input-processing-mental representation and output. Rather, language is a means of regulating activities and awareness of groups of individuals. It is in this distributed agency of regulating behaviors on the dynamic flux of individual and collective, that we realize values. Language is dialogical because persons are not automatic agents, but living bodies who manage dynamic flow of languaging, written text, sociocultural objects and artifacts with “the other”. Only when we are with the other or the silent other, do we language. Language is distributed, because when we language, we coordinate between our brain and body, our feelings and other’s feelings, our being and becoming with the environment. We are a distributed system who orients to the orientation of the other to achieve co-action. My areas of research constitute but are not limited to the following:

  • Language as coordination with space/time, self/other and ebbs/flows of movements with the environment
  • Second language acquisition as skilled linguistic action
  • Learning as a non-linear dynamic flow experience
  • Second language learning as values-realizing in languaging co-actions
  • Identity as distributed co-agency and becoming in one’s roles and relations

These theoretical stance can be translated into the following areas of cross-disciplinary research:

  • Relationship between place/project/task-based learning and place-taking events
  • Relationship between classroom and outside of classroom places for positioning pedagogy
  • Relationship between Eastern and Western philosophies for modeling educational practices in the globalized world
  • Relationship between education and aesthetics and health for valuing diversity
  • Relationship between self and community through embodying   (体)and  functioning (用)

Dp_ChDongping Zheng, Ph. D.
Associate Professor
Department of Second Language Studies
University of Hawaii, Manoa
1890 East-West Road, Honolulu, HI 96822 USA
Tel: 808.956.9537 FAX: 808.956.2802


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