This article reports on the findings of a study that investigated the impact of manipulating task performance conditions on listening task performance by learners of English as a foreign language (EFL). The study was designed to explore the effects of changing complexity dimensions on listening task performance and to achieve two aims: to see how listening comprehension task performance was affected and to investigate possible overlaps between EFL learners’ perceptions of task difficulty and hypothesized task complexity. A purposive sample of 54 first-year EFL learners randomly assigned to two parallel conversation classes in an English department of a major public university participated in the study and performed listening tasks in a language lab. The instruments used for data collection were seven tasks taken from a TOEFL Test Preparation Kit, each followed by listening comprehension questions and an item on the participants’ personal perception of the difficulty of the task. During counter-balanced administrations, the tasks were manipulated for one of the four dimensions of task difficulty (adequacy, immediacy, perspective, and prior knowledge). The resulting data included the participants’ perception of difficulty as well as their performance scores under less complex and more complex conditions. One-sample T-test and correlation analyses of the data revealed that for all of the four complexity dimensions, the hypothesized less complex task condition led to better learner performance. The correlation between learner-assigned difficulty score for the task at hand and theoretical task complexity level was significant only for the immediacy dimension (r=-0.67, p<.05). The results offer support for task complexity frameworks, raise doubts about learners’ perceptions of tasks, and imply possibilities for task manipulation in language learning contexts.
The Relationship between Internal Forms of Engagement (Cognitive-Affective) and Academic Success across Years of Study
Literature has already confirmed that student engagement as an external or multidimensional construct may contribute to the academic success of college students. However, very few studies have tried to examine the contributions the more ""internal forms of engagement"" (cognitive and affective) might make in this regard, and how the engagement patterns may change over the academic years. To fill the gap, this study was carried out to answer two research questions: (1) what is the relationship between the internal forms of engagement (cognitive-affective) and students’ academic success (represented by Grade Point Average--GPA)? ; (2) How does the pattern of the relationship change across years of study? To do so, a 40-item Cognitive-Affective Engagement Questionnaire (CAEQ) was developed, validated (α=.91), and administered to a sample of 312 undergraduate English major students (222 females and 90 males). The results indicated while cognitive engagement and academic success are positively correlated throughout years of study, the relationship reaches its peak for the affective engagement in the second year and then gradually diminishes. The findings have implications for curriculum and materials developers, as well as the English language teachers who seek programs which can consistently challenge and satisfy students throughout their studies.
The Relationship between High School Students’ Beliefs about Language Learning and Their Use of Language Learning Strategies
Gaining insights into the learners’ individual characteristics such as beliefs about language learning and their relationship with learning strategies is essential for planning effective language instruction. Thus, the present study investigated the relationship between beliefs about language learning and learning strategy use in Iranian high school students. This study also compared the correlation of the two variables between males and females and monolingual and bilingual students. The strategy inventory for language learning (SILL) and the beliefs about language learning inventory (BALLI) were used to collect data from four hundred and sixty-two high school students from different cities of the country. Descriptive analyses, Pearson r correlation, and the Fisher z-transformation test, were used to analyze the data. The results revealed that the students used metacognitive strategies most and compensation and affective strategies least. Also, they held strong motivational beliefs about English language learning. Significant positive correlations were found between beliefs and strategy categories. The strongest correlation was found between the students’ metacognitive strategies and their motivation and expectations. The findings revealed no significant difference between the correlation coefficients of monolinguals and bilinguals, and males and females in terms of their language learning beliefs and strategies. Regarding the pedagogical implications of the results, it is discussed that knowledge of students’ language learning beliefs and their preferred strategies can lead teachers and educational authorities toward more informed instructional choices.
L2 Learners’ Strategy Preference in Metaphorical Test Performance: Effects of Working Memory and Cognitive Style
Although investigating the factors that influence test scores is important, a majority of stakeholders show a paucity of attention towards individual learner differences due to having large classes of L2 learners. This study sought to explore the possible effect of working memory and cognitive style on L2 learners’ metaphorical test performance. The study was conducted in 2 phases. The first phase was quantitative, and the second consisted of a series of case studies using “think-aloud protocol” and “retrospection.” In the statistical phase, aimed at shedding light on the effect of the cognitive style of field (in)dependence (FI/FD) on metaphorical test performance, 80 senior undergraduates majoring in English Translation were selected through a truncated test of TOEFL adopted from Barron (2004). Metaphorical test performance was analyzed through recognition, text-based true-false, and scripturally implicit questions, refined by conducting factor analysis. Moreover, the participants’ cognitive style of FI/FD was identified via GEFT. In the qualitative part, after analyzing the verbal reports of 8 informants, the participants’ strategy preferences were examined. Results revealed the impact of the cognitive style of FI/FD and working memory on the participants’ strategy preferences. Due to the advent of learner-centered approaches, this study has some implications for L2 pedagogy discussed in the paper.
EFL Learners’ Preferences for Error Correction and Its Relationship with Demotivation and Language Proficiency in the Iranian Context
The present study is an attempt to explore any significant relationships between learners’ preferences for error correction, demotivation, and language proficiency (LP). One hundred Iranian EFL students, including both males and females, studying at the departments of foreign languages of Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman and Tehran University took part in this study. In order to obtain the required data, two questionnaires and a proficiency test were utilized: the learners’ preferences for error correction questionnaire (Fukuda, 2004) to measure learners’ preferences for error correction, the demotivation questionnaire (Sakai & Kikuchi, 2009) to measure demotivation, and Michigan Test (1997) to measure the learners’ language proficiency level. The findings of this study revealed that first, there was a significant negative relationship between the learners’ preferences for error correction and demotivation (- 0.79): the more satisfied learners are with the error corrections they receive, the less demotivated they will be; second, there was a significant positive relationship between learners’ preferences for error correction and LP (0.69): the higher the learners’ satisfaction with error corrections they receive, the higher their level of LP; third, there was a significant negative relationship between demotivation and LP (- 0.59): the more demotivated learners are, the less their scores of LP will be.
Though privileges ascribed to various facets of language learning strategy training have long been espoused with regard to varied language skills and components, the role some individual variables such as emotional intelligence might play in this respect seems to have received very scant attention. The researchers in the current study embarked on a probe into the impact of metacognitive strategy training on Iranian EFL learners' argumentative writing performance, in the light of individuals' emotional intelligence and gender differences. To this end, a total of 69 advanced EFL institute learners were selected as the participants of the research. The experimental group members were, then, treated through the application of O'Malley and Chamot's (1990) CALLA (Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach) for metacognitive writing strategy training. Moreover, Bar-On's (1997a, 1997b) Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i) was administered to learners to gain insight into their emotional intelligence status. The final analysis of data via running t-test and three-way ANOVA revealed significant differences between the performance of control and experimental groups. Additionally, while gender differences were found to produce significant writing performance differences, disparities in learners' emotional intelligence level didn't significantly affect the degree of gains resulting from metacognitive strategy training.
The Comparative Effect of Practicing Cooperative Learning and Critical Thinking on EFL Learners’ Writing
During the last decades various researchers noticed that the traditional approaches to teaching had failed to teach learners to their utmost actual ability, therefore they put great efforts into developing post-modernist approaches and techniques such as critical thinking (CT) and cooperative learning (CL) for improving learning.The present study was an attempt to investigate the comparative effect of practicing CL and CT skills on EFL learners’ writing in a process-based approach to writing on EFL learners’ writing. Sixty Iranian female EFL learners at the intermediate level of English proficiency at Kish Language School were selected among a total number of 90 based on their performance on the Preliminary English Test (PET) and randomly assigned into two groups of CL and CT. Then the researchers administered an argumentative paragraph writing test to ensure the homogeneity of the two groups regarding argumentative writing before the treatment. Both groups were taught the same content through process-based approach throughout the 20-session treatment. Finally, the participants took a paragraph writing posttest including three writing prompts in argumentative genre. The mean scores of the two groups on the posttest were compared through an independent samples t-test. The results led to the rejection of the null hypothesis with the conclusion that CT instruction was significantly more effective than CL in improving EFL learners’ argumentative paragraph writing.