Most studies examining Computer Mediated Communication to enhance EFL learning have been limited to evaluating test scores, questionnaires, and interviewing students. This study used a holistic assessment model with qualitative analysis of student reflective essays and descriptive analysis of pre- and post-test oral performance by students in a university English conversation course in Taiwan. The instructional design included Internet videoconferences with a native speaker in the United States and an emphasis on critical thinking about cultural differences and similarities. Although the class was too small for statistical analysis, the students' oral scores improved an average of 44.5% from the beginning to end of the semester. The analysis of the essays showed that students engaged in reflective thinking about 70% of the items they observed in their essays, which is evidence of critical thinking. Qualitative analysis revealed four major recurring themes in the students' essays, 1) this was a different kind of class from any they have taken before and the instructional design was helpful, 2) the importance of history and underlying meaning of iconic cultural elements, such as holidays and festivals, 3) their development of a growing multicultural worldview, and 4) their growing confidence as a result of the course. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
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