Scholarly article on topic 'Involvement Load Hypothesis: Recalling Unfamiliar Words Meaning by Adults across Genders'

Involvement Load Hypothesis: Recalling Unfamiliar Words Meaning by Adults across Genders Academic research paper on "Psychology"

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Abstract of research paper on Psychology, author of scientific article — Mouhammad- Reza Sarbazi

Abstract The Involvement Load Hypothesis of Hulstijn and Laufer (2001) claims that retention of unfamiliar words is contingent upon the involvement load of a task i.e. the amount of need, search, and evaluation it imposes. The purpose of the study was to put the hypothesis on empirical test by following research questions: 1) Do reading tasks with higher involvement load index lead to better retention of unfamiliar English vocabulary items? 2) Is the effect of task-induced involvement the same or different in retention of unfamiliar word meaning in reading tasks across gender? To address these questions the researcher, using three reading tasks with different involvement loads in six groups, put the involvement load hypothesis to test. Thirty high proficiency students determined by PET (male: 15, female: 15) took part in this study. Every third of each gender group completed one of the three tasks with differing involvement load constructed of the same passage. Task A was a reading comprehension followed by 7 true-false questions which participants could answer correctly without knowing the meanings of the glossed words preceding the reading. Task B was a reading comprehension task with 7 true-false questions which participants could correctly answer, only if they knew the meanings of the glossed words. Finally, task C comprised task B plus composition writing with glossed words. On administration day, after participants attempted the tasks, immediately and unexpectedly, a sheet of paper on which all glossed words (target words) had been listed was distributed among them and they were encouraged to write either English equivalent or Persian meaning of them. In scoring, the researcher assigned one point for each correct answer. Incorrect answers received no points but if the participants answer was inexact but relevant half a point was assigned. Finally, through the use of Tow-way ANOVA the main effects of two variables namely involvement load index and gender of participants as well as their interaction effects in unfamiliar word recall were analysed. The result suggested that tasks with higher involvement loads were associated with greater word retention. However, no interaction effect between involvement load of tasks and gender was found.

Academic research paper on topic "Involvement Load Hypothesis: Recalling Unfamiliar Words Meaning by Adults across Genders"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 98 (2014) 1686 - 1692

International Conference on Current Trends in ELT

Involvement Load Hypothesis: Recalling Unfamiliar Words Meaning by Adults across Genders

Mouhammad- Reza Sarbazi*

Shahid Behishti Universiity

Abstract

The Involvement Load Hypothesis of Hulstijn and Laufer (2001) claims that retention of unfamiliar words is contingent upon the involvement load of a task i.e. the amount of need, search, and evaluation it imposes. The purpose of the study was to put the hypothesis on empirical test by following research questions: 1) Do reading tasks with higher involvement load index lead to better retention of unfamiliar English vocabulary items? 2) Is the effect of task-induced involvement the same or different in retention of unfamiliar word meaning in reading tasks across gender? To address these questions the researcher, using three reading tasks with different involvement loads in six groups, put the involvement load hypothesis to test. Thirty high proficiency students determined by PET (male: 15, female: 15) took part in this study. Every third of each gender group completed one of the three tasks with differing involvement load constructed of the same passage. Task A was a reading comprehension followed by 7 true-false questions which participants could answer correctly without knowing the meanings of the glossed words preceding the reading. Task B was a reading comprehension task with 7 true-false questions which participants could correctly answer, only if they knew the meanings of the glossed words. Finally, task C comprised task B plus composition writing with glossed words. On administration day, after participants attempted the tasks, immediately and unexpectedly, a sheet of paper on which all glossed words (target words) had been listed was distributed among them and they were encouraged to write either English equivalent or Persian meaning of them. In scoring, the researcher assigned one point for each correct answer. Incorrect answers received no points but if the participants answer was inexact but relevant half a point was assigned. Finally, through the use of Tow-way ANOVA the main effects of two variables namely involvement load index and gender of participants as well as their interaction effects in unfamiliar word recall were analysed. The result suggested that tasks with higher involvement loads were associated with greater word retention. However, no interaction effect between involvement load of tasks and gender was found.

© 2014 TheAuthors.Publishedby Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license

(http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Urmia University, Iran.

Keywords: Involvement Load hypothesis; learning; Proficiency; Gender

* Corresponding author. Tel.+9809149098210; fax: +9804113365375 E-mail address: s.sarbazi@yahoo.com

1877-0428 © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license

(http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Urmia University, Iran.

doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.03.594

1. Introduction

It is a common sense notion that the more learners engage with a new word, the more likely they are to learn it. There have been a number of attempts to define this notion more precisely. For example, Craik and Lockhart's (1972) Depth/Levels of Processing Hypothesis laid the basic groundwork by stating that the more attention given to an item, and the more manipulation involved with the item, the greater the chances it will be remembered. However the involvement load hypothesis proposed by Hulstijn and Laufer (2001) contends that the more the three components of hypothesis i.e. need, search, and evaluation, are involved in a given task, the better it will result in word retention. Need, as one of the components, is defined as the requirement for a linguistic feature in order to achieve some desired task, such as needing to know a particular word to understand a passage. Search is the attempt to find the required information, for example, looking up the meaning of that word in a dictionary. Evaluation refers to the comparison of the word, or information about a word, with the context of use to determine if it fits or is the best choice. They also reviewed a number of studies and noticed that the tasks with relatively more need, search, and evaluation elements were more effective. However, there is a range of other factors such as increased frequency, attention, exposure, noticing, intention, interaction spent on the lexical items that recur throughout the literature as facilitating vocabulary learning. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of task-induced involvement in retention of unfamiliar words across genders in high proficiency ELT learners.

2. Review of literature

Researchers at home and abroad have done numerous relative researches concerning incidental vocabulary learning. Experts like (Krashen (1989; Ellis (1995) have explored the relationship between vocabulary acquisition and input effect. Some others have argued for the relationship between context and vocabulary retention effect (Nagy, Herman, & Anderson, 1985; Nagy, Anderson, & Herman, 1987; Swanborn & Glopper, 2002). Some scholars have investigated the relationship between effects of different tasks on vocabulary learning (Hulstijn, Hollander, & Greidanus, 1996; Laufer & Hulstijn, 2001; Folse, 2006; Keating, 2008; Kim, 2008; Allemzade,2010), etc. However, Laufer and Hulstijn (2001) points out that a great deal of support for Involvement Load Hypothesis predates its formulation by studies not conducted to test this hypothesis. It stands to reason to say that due to having different purposes, certain question, research design and many other factors, research findings that have not been carried out to test the hypothesis cannot be cited for or against the hypothesis. However, research studies closely related to the hypothesis are few and far between due to its recent formulation. For example, Huljistin and Laufer (2001) conducted two parallel experiments in which their advanced Dutch- and Hebrew participants (adult English learners) were formed into six intact groups. Retention of ten unfamiliar words in incidental learning setting was investigated across three tasks types (Task 1 included reading comprehension with marginal glosses, Task 2 comprehension plus filling in target words, and Task 3 composition writing with target words). The tasks had different involvement loads, i.e. various combinations of need, search and evaluation. The result indicated that Task 3 was the most involving and led to better retention than Task 1 and Task 2, thus providing strong support for Involvement Load Hypothesis (ILH). In another study using eight nonsense words, Keating (2008) used three tasks (Task 1 consisted of a reading passage with marginal glosses; Task 2 reading comprehension plus fill-in; Task 3 writing original sentences using target words) with different involvement loads to assess the predictive nature of the ILH, i.e., whether the hypothesis can be extended to low-proficiency learners. In Task 1 the low-proficiency participants had to read a passage with five true/false comprehension questions. To correctly answer the questions participants had to attend to the words which were highlighted in bold print and glossed in their L1. The involvement load index was 1. Participants in group 2 had the same text but the words were deleted from it, each appearing with brief definition, an example sentence and an L1 gloss. The participants were instructed to fill in the blanks with the glosses in the margin. The involvement index was 2. Group 3 only had to write original sentences with the words. The index for this group was assessed to be 3. Based on ILH, it was predicted that group 3 would outperform group 2 which in turn would do better than group 1. The results strongly supported that the involvement load hypothesis contention can be generalized to low-proficiency learners, though no significant difference was found between the groups on Task 3 and Task 2 about their passive knowledge of the target words. Similarly, Kim (2008) also provided empirical evidence for the involvement load hypothesis in a carefully designed study consisting of two experiments.

However, Folse (2006) using different writing tasks reports that his study showed word learning to be more a function of repeated exposure than involvement. Moreover, study conducted by Martinez- Fernandez (2008) indicated that tasks used in this study did have a different effect on vocabulary gain, but did not support predictions made by the Involvement Load Hypothesis. Likewise, findings of the study done by N. Allemzade Gorgi (2010) suggests that, contrary to the prediction of the involvement load hypothesis, tasks with lower involvement load index led to superior performance. Obviously, a review of literature reveals inconsistency regarding the validity of the claim made by involvement load hypothesis in the area of lexicon in the first place. Secondly, studies which investigate the validity of this hypothesis with a relevant variable in pedagogy, namely gender seems to have been ignored. This study addresses these gaps through the following questions: 1) Do reading tasks with higher involvement load index lead to better retention of unfamiliar English vocabulary items? 2) Is the effect of task-induced involvement the same or different in retention of unfamiliar word meaning in reading tasks across gender?

3. Methodology

3.1. Design and participants of the study

This study has a factorial design in which the researcher examined both the main effect of two variables i.e. gender and involvement load of tasks as well as the interaction effect of these variables in retention of unfamiliar words. A total of thirty high proficiency English students studying English in Max Foreign language institute took part in this study (15 males and 15 females). All of them were Turkish and were studying English in EFL context and aged between 14 and 26.

3.2. Tasks description

Three tasks were designed of the same reading comprehension passage with 7 glossed non words on top of the passage which were highlighted in bold print in text. Task 1 was a reading comprehension followed by 7 true/false questions. In this task, none of the target words were involved in questions. In fact, the participants neither needed the meanings of the target words, nor looked them up. Nor did they evaluated the target items with other words or context to see if a given word suits a particular context. Hence the involvement load induced by this task was zero. However, in task 2 participants, in order to answer 7 other true/false questions correctly, needed the meaning of the glossed words but neither searched for the meaning of words nor evaluated the target words. As such the involvement load index (ILI) of task 2 was 1. Finally, task 3 comprised task 2 plus composition writing where the element of evaluation was also added; hence the involvement load index was 2.

3.3. Administration and scoring procedures

Having 6 groups of 5 and 3 tasks with differing involvement loads at hand, the researcher had only one administration. (Both male and female participants, prior to the administration, had been randomly formed into 3 groups of 5). On the administration day, after giving some instruction on task completion, tasks were distributed among the participants. Unexpectedly and immediately following task completion, they were assigned a sheet of paper on which all the targeted words were listed (seven non- words which had been contextualized in reading comprehension tasks), and they were encouraged to write down the Persian meaning or the English equivalents of the target words. Regarding scoring the post test, if nothing or wrong translation was provided the item was scored 0; for relevant but not exact information the item scored .05; if full and exact meaning was provided, the item scored 1.

4. Results and conclusions

This study addressed the following research questions: To address these questions the researcher, using three reading tasks with different involvement loads in six groups, put the involvement load hypothesis to test. Based on

the data (table 1) which displays mean retention scores, and standard deviation of post test scores, it is supported that the task with an involvement load of 2 is more effective than both tasks with involvement loads of 1 and 0 in retention of target vocabulary items. Similarly, the task with an involvement load of 2 was found to be more useful than the task with the involvement load of 1. As was expected, tasks with higher involvement loads turned out to be associated with better vocabulary retention in reading tasks. This strongly supports the Involvement Load Hypothesis (ILH), that is, the task with more involvement load leads to better retention of unfamiliar words. However, it does not automatically follow that this advantage is a sheer function of involvement induced by a given task. Alternative factors and constructs such as time spent on task (interaction time), motivation, intelligence quotient, frequency of repetition, noticing, intention, attention and maybe other ones can interfere with the result achieved. Hence if one is to conclusively argue "that the higher the involvement load the better word recall potential", these multiple variables among others need to be taken into account simultaneously.

Table 1: Case Summaries

Task gender N Mean Std. Deviation Minimum Maximum

task Male 5 1.20 .837 0 2

A female 5 1.40 1.140 0 3

Total 10 1.30 .949 0 3

task Male 5 2.40 1.140 1 4

B female 5 2.60 1.140 1 4

Total 10 2.50 1.080 1 4

task Male 5 4.00 1.581 2 6

C female 5 4.00 1.581 2 6

Total 10 4.00 1.491 2 6

Total Male 15 2.53 1.642 0 6

female 15 2.67 1.633 0 6

Total 30 2.60 1.610 0 6

Table 2: One-Sample Kolmogorov-Smirnov Test

N Normal Parameters3"" Most Extreme Differences Kolmogorov Asymp. Sig.

Mean Std. Absolu Positiv Negati -Smirnov Z (2-tailed)

Deviation te e ve

Score 30 2.60 1.610 .179 .179 -.094 .978 .294

a. Test distribution is Normal.

b. Calculated from data._

To find out if the distribution is normal One-Sample Kolmogorov-Smirnov Test was applied (table 2). However, the researcher is interested in lines 2 through 4 of table 3 where line 2 tells us that there is indeed a highly significant involvement load effect. According to line3, however, there is not a significant gender effect. By the same token, line 3 reports that contrary to the popular belief that "gender is a factor not always apparent, but always present in pedagogy" in current study gender of the participants as a significant variable in education seems to introduce no meaningful variation in participants' ability in recalling the meaning of unfamiliar words. (Alpha set at 0.05).

Although Tow-way ANOVA analysis revealed that mean differences are significant, this significance means there is at least one significant difference amongst the group mean. In order to exactly detect where the difference lies, Post Hoc tests (table 4) were run and it was found that groups that were assigned to task 3 outperformed groups that were subject to task 2 and task 1, and participants of tasks 2 did better than those who attempted task 1 in their word recall ability. Hence this study strongly supports the involvement load hypothesis.

To juxtapose this study with some of the relevant studies in the literature, the results of current study correspond with the study carried out by Hulstijn and Laufer (2001), who investigated this hypothesis through reading comprehension. Furthermore, findings of this study agree with the study done by Keating (2008), which reached to

the conclusion that tasks that induced higher degree of involvement resulted in more retention of new words' meaning. However, study led by Martinez-Fernandez (2008) suggests that higher degree of involvement load did not lead to better vocabulary development and even contradicted the Involvement Load Hypothesis. Likewise, the study done by Folse (2006) led to ambiguous results and somehow rejects the validity of the claim made by the involvement load hypothesis. In a similar vein, Pei-jyun Wu (2008) investigated the effect of task induced involvement load on listening vocabulary learning of EFL college students and the result indicated that participants with higher involvement index did not significantly outperform participants in a task with lower ones. Obviously the current state of the issue is inconclusive to draw a definite conclusion in this respect as studies investigating the effectiveness of different lexical intervention during reading and listening and writing have led to conflicting results.

Table 3: Result of Two-way ANOVA

Source Type III Sum of Squares Df Mean Square F Sig. Partial Eta Squared

Task 36.600 2 18.300 11.43 7 .000* .488

Gender .133 1 .133 .083 .775 .003

Task * gender .067 2 .033 .021 .979 .002

Error 38.400 24 1.600

Total 278.000 30

Note: * Appears where there is a significant difference at 0.05 level.

Table 4: Post Hoc Tests (Results of LSD)

(I) (J) Mean Difference (I- Std. Sig.

Task Task J) Error

task 1 task 2 -1.20* .566 .044*

task 3 -2.70* .566 .000*

task 2 task 3 -1.50* .566 .014*

Note: * Appears where there is a significant difference at 0.05 level.

To address this inconsistency, the current study builds on Laufer and Hulstijn's (2001) motivational-cognitive construct of task-induced involvement in vocabulary acquisition. Although finding from this study provided empirical support for the hypothesis, there is a point to consider. The low vocabulary retention rate, as Hui-FangTu (2003) points out, endorses the notion that one incidental encounter with unfamiliar words is scarcely enough for acquisition to take place, no matter how involving a task may be. It is believed that at least ten exposures are required to make a word a promising candidate for acquisition. Even so, exposure, yet, by itself may not suffice for vocabulary learning, in that many words may simply go unperceived. What follows is that incidental learning of vocabulary is a gradual process, and substantial vocabulary knowledge may best be built upon through repeated exposure as well as elaborate processing of lexical items. Hence, tactful exploitation of multiple tasks with different involvement loads may foster optimal vocabulary development in learners.

5. Implications of the study

This study bears some clear implications for the field. First, teachers as well as learners can be informed that mental involvement is instrumental to learning: the deeper they are involved in a given task, the better their vocabulary gain might be. Furthermore, knowledge of the relationship between involvement induced by different

tasks and retention of unfamiliar words can be helpful in rethinking and formulation of more comprehensive and rigorous theories in the field. Practically speaking, this awareness can inform material developers, policy makers and teachers' thinking in making language related decisions. Another contribution of such a study is that the finding can either provide evidence in support of the claim made by Involvement Load Hypotheses (ILH) or help challenge its validity. Finally this study provides some evidence for the claim that focus on form is beneficial to L2 word learning.

6. Limitations of the study

A limitation of studies of this kind is that they cannot provide the most convincing evidence to confirm anything. At best, the findings can only suggest whether and how the relationship is between the involvement load and retention of unfamiliar words. In fact, the researcher failed to control any other relevant variables such as motivation, interest, and time on task that may intervene and confound the results achieved. In addition, the present study provided the participants with only one exposure to the target words and investigated the short term effects of tasks with different involvement loads on vocabulary learning which. Another limitation of the study is that only three tasks were investigated in testing the involvement load hypothesis. Needless to say, the list of task-type is constrained only by practitioners, creativity. Moreover, the researcher failed to interview the participants, although through interviews more information could have been obtained about the learners, attitudes, the tasks and the reasons why certain words were being remembered more than other words. On top of all, no delayed posttest was given. The absence of which, however, makes it impossible to test the effect of these tasks on long -term memory. Finally, another concern which may be raised about this study is that the researcher employed non-words instead of English words to ensure that they are unknown at the onset. This technique eliminates the need for pre-test and the danger of learning from it, however, such words seemed a little unnatural and problematic. But the connection between a word and its meaning is arbitrary.

7. Future directions

For future studies it is suggested that more studies be done in order to determine the exact share of each constituent components of the involvement indexes (need, search, evaluation). Further, more studies on which different task types with the same involvement load are needed in order to shed light on the interaction between task type and involvement load in word retention. It would also be very helpful for researchers in vocabulary learning studies to test both recall and recognition of the target words. Words that are recalled would indicate that they are learned better than words that are only recognized. Moreover, research may investigate what exactly goes in the learner s minds, and what they do with the target words when responding to these tasks.

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