This paper describes the development of an action research project. After presenting an overview in Section 1, I report an action research study that I conducted with a co-researcher in Section 2. One of the major challenges in the field of teaching English as a foreign language at high schools in Japan is that English classrooms tend to lack learning activities to develop higher order thinking due to the test-oriented practices. The purpose of this action research is to explore an extracurricular blended learning program that was created as an intervention to develop the higher order thinking of English learners at a public high school in Japan, drawing on the construct of mediation from sociocultural theory (SCT). In this program, the participants engaged in online synchronous and asynchronous activities with English as a medium of instruction and communication while being supported by face-to-face sessions conducted in Japanese. The focus of this study is on the asynchronous forums. Data are collected through three methods: asynchronous forums to obtain written texts from participants, pre- and post-surveys, and the researchers’ observations. The results show that participants found collaborative constructivist learning meaningful and exhibited higher order thinking development to varying degrees. However, there are some implications that learner-learner interaction was not so activated. In Section 3, I will introduce my doctoral project, which I am designing based on the findings of the previous study. In Section 4, I will discuss why this action research project can be applied research. In the last section, I will discuss the projected benefits to students, instructors, course designers, and policy makers in Japan as a conclusion.
Keywords: asynchronous forums, blended learning, English as a foreign language (EFL), content analysis, dynamic assessment, higher order thinking, sociocultural theory