Technology-enhanced language learning with null and negative results since 2000 : A systematic review based on the activity theory

Ruofei ZHANG, Di ZOU*, Gary CHENG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Research on technology-enhanced language learning (TELL) has been rapidly growing since 2000, of which the attention is mostly on the statistically significant positive results. However, learning from TELL with null and negative results (NNR), especially its features and reasons, can develop knowledge and awareness of the nature and limitations of TELL and guide its future implementation and investigation. Hence, this study aims to explore TELL with NNR from the perspectives of features and reasons for NNR by systematically reviewing relevant studies. Forty-nine Web of Science and Scopus-indexed articles were screened based on predefined criteria and analysed step-by-step following the PRISMA framework. The findings revealed features of TELL studies with NNR concerning the seven factors of the activity theory: Outcomes, Targets, Learners, Technologies, Teacher and student engagement, Conditions, and Learning theories/Pedagogical models. We also identified reasons for NNR associated with the seven factors. Based on bottom-up analyses of the results, we constructed a 17-item checklist for analysing TELL studies with NNR from the perspectives of Conceptual framework, Artefacts, Design, Participants, Procedures and Evaluation. An example of analysing TELL studies with NNR was provided to illustrate the use of the proposed checklist. Future directions concern technology-enhanced grammar learning, technology with inclusive results, and the influence of sample sizes on TELL study results.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEducation and Information Technologies
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Activity theory
  • Language education
  • Systematic review
  • Technology-enhanced language learning


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