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The present quantitative study examined the role of a set of socially-mediated personal attributes that might intervene in the speaking performance of Iranian EFL learners. The possible relationship between three factors (namely, Willingness to communicate (WTC) in L2, L2 communication confidence, and Beliefs about L2 group work in L2 speaking), which are hypothesized to influence learners’ oral performance, was investigated. In fact, a model reflecting the hypothesis that these three variables would influence the learners’ speaking performance was constructed and tested by collecting data from a convenient sample of 100 B.A. university students in Iran. In order to collect the required data on the above-mentioned variables, a comprehensive questionnaire developed by Fushino (2010) and IELTS speaking test module 1 were utilized. The structural equation modeling confirmed that these three variables were very good predictors of performance of Iranian EFL learners on speaking skill. In other words, the measurement model of this study was approved and the conceptual model of research had an acceptable level of fit index. In addition, the result of multiple regressions indicated that L2 communicative confidence made a higher level of contribution in explaining the L2 speaking performance of the learners, which corroborates the association of these two constructs. The findings of present study also implied that increasing EFL learners’ WTC, communication confidence and beliefs about L2 group work is likely to help to improve their speaking ability and learners who have higher levels of L2 WTC and confidence are likely to achieve higher scores on their speaking performance.
The Role of Working Memory (WM) in Fluency, Accuracy and Complexity of Argumentative Texts Produced by Iranian EFL Learners
نویسنده: امید ملاحی
The present study intended to examine the relationship between working memory (WM) and writing performance of a group of Iranian EFL learners and to explore whether learners with different working memory levels perform differently on the fluency, accuracy and complexity of texts produced or not. The necessary data were collected through the argumentative essay writing prompt and a computerized Persian version of reading span test as a measure of learners’ WM capacity. The correlation analysis revealed that there was a significant positive relationship between these two constructs. The results of Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) indicated that there were significant differences between High, Mid and Low WM groups in terms of fluency and accuracy of texts produced, but not their complexity. The findings confirmed the importance of WM while working on cognitively challenging tasks such as writing which requires automation and effective management of cognitive resources while writing. On the whole, the present study confirmed the idea that learners with different learning characteristics orchestrate their mental resources in different ways to perform in different phases of writing and part of their difficulties or even capabilities in writing can be attributed to the efficiency with which they apply these resources while dealing with different writing systems (formulation, execution, or monitoring) or engaging in different writing processes (translating, planning, programming, reading, or editing).
An Empirical Examination of the Association between Individual Differences Variables and Writing Performance of Iranian EFL Learners
The present study was designed to initially test a model of the role of a set of cognitive (namely, aptitude and working memory) and motivational (namely, language learning goals, self-efficacy beliefs and self-regulation strategy use) individual differences variables in writing performance of a group of Iranian undergraduate EFL learners and, subsequently, to identify the possible differences in the writing quality and composing behavior of learners with different individual characteristics. A convenient sample of 125 BA level students of English Language Teaching and Literature from three state universities in Iran took part in the study. As for the data collection procedure, these participants, in various time intervals, wrote an argumentative essay, responded to the composing process scale, completed the aptitude and working memory measures and filled in the questionnaires exploring their motivational propensities, self-efficacy beliefs and self-regulatory strategy use in writing. The collected data were analyzed by using Path Analysis and Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA). Due to some problems like small sample size and idiosyncratic nature of the data, the model did not give satisfactory fit indexes. However, it was found that cognitive variables were more strongly correlated with the writing competence of the learners than the motivational ones. More specifically, the construct of foreign language aptitude had the highest potential to account for the writing competence of the learners and the learners having different levels of this construct were different from each other in terms of writing quality and composing processes employed while writing.
An Investigation into the Individual Differences Correlates of Iranian Undergraduate EFL Learners’ Writing Competence: A Mixed Methods Approach
The present study adopted a mixed-methods research design and explored the role of a set of cognitive (i.e., aptitude and working memory) and motivational (i.e., self-regulatory capacity and self-efficacy beliefs) individual difference variables in the writing quality and composing behavior of 78 Iranian undergraduate EFL learners. The necessary data were collected through a series of instruments and both quantitative (e.g., multiple regression and t-tests) and qualitative (e.g., narrative construction and qualitative comparative analysis) techniques were used to analyze the data. The results of these analyses indicated that the construct of foreign language aptitude had the highest level of correlation and contributory potential to account for the writing competence of the learners. The composing process of learners with different individual characteristics was also compared and it was found that learners with high self-regulation capacity orchestrated and managed their composing behavior in more effective ways compared to their less self-regulated counterparts. Moreover, the narratives and qualitative comparative analysis provided some insights about how various individual characteristics might affect the composing behavior of the individual learners. Finally, it was suggested that consideration of individual differences in writing can reveal more subtle information about the causes of strengths and weaknesses of different learners and may enable the teachers to design and implement more effective instructions targeting their learners’ individual needs
An Investigation into the Socio-Cultural Strategy Use and the Writing Competence of Iranian EFL Learners
The sociocultural approach to writing strategy use emphasizes the importance of context and the mediating resources that learners can use to enhance the quality of their performance in writing (Lei, 2008). Accordingly, the present study explored the sociocultural strategy use of a convenient sample of 105 BA level students of English Language and Literature who had passed essay-writing courses in a state university in Iran by analyzing their responses to the items of a newly-developed sociocultural strategy use questionnaire consisting of different sub-scales, namely, artifact-mediated, rule-mediated, community-mediated and role-mediated strategies. The results of the descriptive statistics revealed that the tool-mediated strategies, which are the subcategory of artifact-mediated strategies, had the highest frequency of use which is rather justified in the context of Iran. In addition, the students’ overall strategy use and their writing ability were correlated and a statistically significant relationship was found between these two variables. However, the results of the multiple regression analysis indicated that none of the sub-scales had a unique predicting power in accounting for the learners’ writing ability. The researchers also compared the sociocultural strategy use of more- and less-skilled student writers and found a significant difference in the strategy use of different individuals.