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Measuring short and long-term effects of isolated and combined structured input and structured output on the acquisiton of the English causative form at sentence and discourse level

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

The present study was carried out to investigate the relative effects of structured input and structured output in isolation and in combination on the acquisition of the English causative forms. The effects of these pedagogical interventions were investigated on a processing strategy used by L2 learners when processing syntactic structures. The so-called First Noun Principle. Additionally, there are a number of issues addressed by this study such as measuring discourse-level and long-term effects. To provide answers to the questions formulated in the present study, two classroom studies were carried out: in the first study two parallel classroom experiments were conducted; in the second study one classroom experiment was carried out with a focus on measuring specifically discourse and long-term effects for instruction.

The first study consisted of two parallel classroom experiments. In experiment one, the participants were fifty-four Chinese university students. They were randomly assigned to four groups: Structured input group (n=13); Structured Output group (n=15); Structured input and Structured Output group (n=16); Control group (n=10). In experiment two, the participants were thirty young Greek learners (aged 10-12). They were randomly assigned to three groups: Structured input group (n=10); Structured Output group (n=10); Structured input and Structured Output group (n=10).

The second study focused on discourse and long-term effects. The participants were sixty-eight young Greek learners (aged 10-12). They randomly assigned to three groups: structured input only group (n=22); structured output only group (n=22); combined structured input and structured output group (n=24).

In both classroom studies, only subjects who participated in all phases of all experiments and scored lower than 60% in the pretests were included in the final data collection. Instruction lasted for three hours. The control group (study one) received no instruction on the causative form. One interpretation and one production task were used in a pretest and posttest design. The design included a delayed posttest battery (three weeks after instruction, twenty-four weeks after instruction -study two only). In study one - experiment one, the assessment tasks included an interpretation and production task at sentence-level, and an interpretation task at discourse-level. In the other two experiments, only discourse-level tasks were used (one interpretation and one production). The results indicated that learners who received structured input both in isolation and in combination benefitted more than learners receiving structured output only. These two groups retained the instructional gains in all assessment measures.

These specific findings from the present study indicated the following:

(a) Structured input practice plays a key role. Structured input alone and/or in combination is an effective pedagogical tool that helps learners of different age (adults and school-age learners) and first language (Greek and Chinese) to interpret and produce English causative forms accurately and appropriately;

(b) The effects of structured input practice are measurable in both sentence and discourse-level interpretation and production tasks;

(c) The effects structured input practice are retained by learners after three weeks and six months.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Alessandro Benati (Supervisor)
Award dateDec 2017

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