Malaysian ESL Students’ Perceptions on the Usability of a Mobile Application for Grammar Test: A Case Study of ESL Undergraduates in Universiti Sains Malaysia

Malini Ganapathy, Munir Shuib, Siti Norbaya Azizan


With the proliferation of mobile technologies nowadays, English language educators and instructors globally are increasingly looking into the potential of mobile learning as pedagogical practice to teach the language, including as a tool to test students’ grammatical ability. However, users’ perception on the usability of such advanced approach in education is critical to a successful mobile learning implementation. While there is a considerable enthusiasm for incorporating mobile technologies in English language education, there is a paucity of research evidence about whether mobile-based test is perceived as usable by English language students in Malaysia. The purpose of this paper is to examine Malaysian English as a Second Language (ESL) students’ perception on the usability of a mobile application for grammar test; namely MyGrammarTest (MyGraTe) App. The App was developed by a mobile learning research team from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) who studied the development of an intelligent mobile learning tool that can map grammar learning content to their learning style preferences. Upon successful development, the MyGraTe App prototype was piloted on a group of undergraduate students who undertook ESL courses in USM. Then, a questionnaire consisting of items adapted from the System Usability Scale (SUS) by Brooke (1986) was distributed to respondents to gain input on the perceived usability of the App. Findings from this study provide several important insights on the usability of mobile applications as learning support tools for English language learning, specifically in testing students’ grammatical ability.


Keywords:  mobile learning; mobile application; MyGraTe; English grammar test; System Usability Scale


Full Text:



Al-Khalifa, H.S (2010). A First Step in Evaluating the Usability of JUSUR Learning Management System. Paper presented at the 3rd Annual Forum on e-Learning Excellence in the Middle East 2010: Bringing Global Quality to a Local Context. Dubai, U.A.E.

Albert, W. & Tullis, T. (2013). Measuring the User Experience: Collecting, Analyzing, and Presenting Usability Metrics. Newnes: Morgan Kaufmann.

Abdalha Ali, Musaad Alrasheedi, Abdelkader Ouda & Luiz Fernando

Capretz. (2014). A study of the interface usability issues of mobile learning applications for smartphones from the user’s perspective. International Journal on Integrating Technology in Education (IJITE), Vol. 3 (4), 15-25.

Asabere, N. Y. (2013). Benefits and challenges of mobile learning implementation: Story of developing nations. International Journal of Computer Applications. Vol. 73(1), 67-79.

Bangor, A., Kortum, P. & Miller, J. (2009). Determining what individual SUS scores mean: Adding an adjective rating scale. Journal of usability studies. Vol. 4(3), 114-123.

Brooke, J. (1996). SUS-A quick and dirty usability scale. Usability Evaluation in Industry. Vol. 189(194), 4-7.

Burston, J. (2011). Exploiting the pedagogical potential of MALL. In Proceedings of Mobile Learning as the future of education. San Sebastián, Spain. Retrieved July 19, 2015 from

Chen, C-M. & Li, Y-L. (2010). Personalised context-aware ubiquitous learning system for supporting effective English vocabulary learning. Interactive Learning Environments. Vol. 18(4), 341–364.

Chen, B. & Denoyelles, A. (2013). Exploring students' mobile learning practices in higher education. Educause Review. Retrieved June 18 from http://www.educause. edu/ero/article/exploring-students-mobile-learning-practices-higher-education.

Collins, A., Brown, J. S. & Newman, S. E. (1989). Cognitive apprenticeship: Teaching the crafts of reading, writing, and mathematics. In Resnick, I. B. (Ed.), Knowing, learning, and instruction (pp. 453–494). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Dahlstrom, E., Walker, J. D. & Dziuban, C. (2013) with a foreword by Glenda Morgan, ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology. (Research Report) (Lou-isville, Colo.: EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research, Sept. 2013). Retrieved April 16 from

Nestel, D., Gray, K., Ng, A., McGrail, M., Kotsanas, G. & Villanueva, E. (2014). Mobile learning in a rural medical school: Feasibility and educational benefits in campus and clinical settings. Journal of Biomedical Education. Vol. 1(6), 1-8.

Fadhl Hujainah, Halina Dahlan & Basheer Al-haimi (2013). Usability guidelines of mobile learning application. Journal of Information Systems Research and Innovation. Vol. 5 (2), 70-77.

Ganapathy, M. (2015). The effect of incorporating multiliteracies pedagogy in ESL writing. International Journal of Arts & Sciences, 8(6), pp. 253–268.

Ganapathy, M. Vighnarah & Kaur, S. (2015). Using Beetham and Sharpe’s (2015) Model in analysing the digital literacy practices of ESL students in an institution of higher learning. Malaysian Journal of Languages and Linguistics, 4(1), pp. 1-12.

Isman Aytekin & Isbulan, Onur Isman. (2010). Usability level of distance education website (Sakarya University sample). Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology. Vol. 9(1), 243-258.

Kiernan, P. & Aizawa, K. (2004). Cell phones in task based learning. Are cell phones useful language learning tools? ReCALL. Vol. 16 (1), 71-84. Cambridge University Press.

Kim, H. & Kwon, Y. (2012). Exploring smartphone applications for effective mobile-assisted language learning. Multimedia-Assisted Language Learning. Vol. 15(1), 31-57.

Kinshuk (2003). Adaptive mobile learning technologies. Department of Information Systems: Massey University, New Zealand. Retrieved April 16 from

Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2007). Mobile usability in educational contexts: What have we learnt?. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning. Vol. 8(2), 1-16.

Li, Z. & Hegelheimer, V. (2013). Mobile-assisted grammar exercises: Effects on self-editing in L2 writing. Language Learning and Technology. Vol. 7(3), 135-156.

Lin, H. C. K., Hsieh, M. C., Wang, C. H., Sie, Z. Y. & Chang, S. H. (2011). Establishment and usability evaluation of an interactive AR learning system on conservation of fish. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology. Vol. 10(4), 181-187.

Massomeh Kord & Faranak Omidan. (2014). A feasibility study of mobile learning implementation in Iranian universities. Glokalde. Vol. 1(7), 1-14.

Matrix, S. (2013). An app to teach with: a case of mobile learning non-adoption in higher ed. Issues and Trends in Educational Technology. Vol. 1(2), 124-136.

Ministry of Education. (2015). Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025. Putrajaya: Ministry of Education Malaysia.

Mostakhdemin-Hosseini, A. (2009). Usability considerations of mobile learning applications. International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies. Vol. 3, 29-31.

Ng, A. W., Lo, H. W. & Chan, A. H. (2011). Measuring the Usability of Safety Signs: A use of system usability scale (SUS). In Proceedings of the International MultiConference of Engineers and Computer Scientists (Vol. 2). Hong Kong.

Nieminen, M. P., Runonen, M. & Tyllinen, M. (2014). Collaboration space for creative knowledge work – Analysis of industrial pilots. In A. Marcus (Ed.), Design, user experience, and usability: Theories, methods, and tools for designing user experience (pp. 653-662). New York, NY: Springer.

Orfanou, K., Tselios, N. & Katsanos, C. (2015). Perceived usability evaluation of learning management systems: Empirical evaluation of the system usability scale. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning. Vol. 16(2), 57-65.

Rastad, T. (2011). A usability evaluation of a personal video recorder: Navigation and channel list management from a user perspective. Bachelor thesis of Cognitive Science. Linköping University, Sweden.

Sauro, J. (2011a). Measuring usability with the System Usability Scale (SUS). Measuring U. . Retrieved July 22, 2015 from

Sauro, J. (2011b). A Practical Guide to the System Usability Scale (SUS): Background, benchmarks & best practices. Denver, CO: Measuring Usability LLC.

Shuib, M., Abdullah, A., Azizan, S.N. & Gunasegaran, T. (2015). Designing an intelligent mobile learning tool for grammar learning (i-MoL). International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies, Vol. 9 (1), 41-46.

Suominen, M. (2013). Evaluating usability in video conferencing service in Metso (unpublished master’s thesis). JAMK University of Applied Science, Jyväskylä, Finland.

Thoronton, P. & Houser, C. (2005). Using mobile phones in English education in Japan. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. Vol. 21(3), 217-228.

Thuseethan, S. & Kuhanesan, S. (2014). Usability Evaluation of Learning Management Systems in Sri Lankan Universities. arXiv preprint arXiv:1412.0197.

Viberg, O. & Gronlund, A. (2013). Systematising the field of mobile assisted language learning. International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning. Vol. 5(4), 72-90.

Wang, S. & Smith, S. (2013). Reading and grammar learning through mobile phones. Language Learning & Technology. Vol. 17(3), 117-134

Warshauer, M. (1997). Computer-mediated collaborative learning: Theory and practice. Modern Language Journal. Vol. 81(4), 470–481.


  • There are currently no refbacks.




eISSN : 2550-2247

ISSN : 0128-5157