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Title: The effect of collaborative output activities on the learning of English relative clauses : an empirical study of mechanical and meaningful output
Author: Abadikhah, Shirin
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2008
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The main assumption was that the facilitative effect of output for learning relies significantly on the context of production and that a meaningful context would engage learners in psycholinguistic processing of the conceptualising, grammatical encoding and monitoring which are believed to be required for natural production of output. It has been claimed that these processing stages are not completely present in the mechanical context of production. In order to test this assumption, a study was designed involving two groups of learners in (more) mechanical and (more) meaningful tasks. The participants were 36 Farsi learners of English (9 pairs in each group), who completed three tasks in three fortnightly sessions. Data sources consisted of the transcripts of pair-talk, completed worksheets from each pair session, pre-test and posttest results and observation notes. Transcripts were analysed for instances of language-related episodes (LREs), their type, nature, and value. LREs were further coded in terms of their principal focus on grammar, meaning, orthographic, identification and discourse features. Results showed that a) although both groups made significant progress from pre-test to posttest, they did not differ significantly in their gains on the target linguistic feature; b) there was a significant relationship between task type and number of LREs: the meaningful output tasks (picture-description, ‘let’s complain’ and dictogloss) elicited significantly more language- related episodes (776 out of 1348) than did the mechanical activities (substitution, transformation and text-development); c) while approximately half of the LREs in the meaningful group focused on lexis and meaning-based features of the target language (46%), the majority of LREs in the mechanical group were directed towards grammatical forms of the language (77%) and a small portion was focused on meaning (14%). Results indicate that the collaborative output tasks were effective in ‘pushing’ the learners to verbalise their internal linguistic processing, focusing their attention on linguistic features and learning the relative clause structure.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available