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ERIC Number: ED529222
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 192
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1246-1273-7
Attention to Irregular Verbs by Beginning Learners of German: An Eye-Movement Study
Schierloh, Maren
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Michigan State University
In this study I examine the noticing of verbs with stem vowel changes by beginning adult learners of L2 German who have not been formally introduced to this linguistic feature. Two research questions (RQs) guided the experimental design and the empirical analyses in this study: (1) Do adult beginning learners of German who are unfamiliar with stem-changing verbs attend to those irregularities during reading? (2) Is increased attention to irregular verbs associated with subsequent learning of them? Regarding RQ1, I hypothesized that during the reading, learners would fixate on vowel-stem-changing verbs significantly longer than regular verbs in which the stem does not change, with fixations measured through eye-tracking technology. Regarding RQ2, I hypothesized that variations in eye fixation durations would not be predictive of the learning of stem-changes in that there would be no statistically significant correlation between pre- and posttest improvements and fixation times. I predicted that learners would improve on the inflections and overall spelling of verbs due to the exposure to the verbs during the reading activity. The participants, 43 beginning learners enrolled in a first semester German course, took a picture-based sentence production test to estimate their initial command of stem-changing verbs. Then, they read sentences with stem-changing verbs (experimental condition) and regular verbs (control condition) on a computer screen. The sentences appeared in pairs of two, one baseline sentence (no-stem change, regardless of condition) and one critical sentence (stem-change in the experiment condition). The sentence endings as well as the person (2nd and 3rd person singular) were counterbalanced across 24 trials, which were also randomized for each participant. As they read, participants' eye movements were recorded. Last, participants took a post-test, which was identical to the pre-test with the difference being the order in which the stimuli-pictures were presented. I used multivariate ANOVA modeling to investigate whether the novel verb irregularities (i.e., vowel stem changes) had an effect on learners' eye fixations (total time, first fixation duration, and gaze duration). Statistical and visual inspection of the data revealed outlying observations, which were cut from the regular data set (truncated) and analyzed separately via Chi-square tests and logistic regressions. Regarding total time, there was a significant effect of verb type, which was also evident in the analysis of the outlier data. For first fixation, statistical significance was only found with the outlier observations, revealing a trend similar to the findings with total time. The findings regarding gaze duration were also not statistically significant. The outliers evidenced the same but weaker pattern. Overall, there was a notable trend showing that irregular verbs were fixated on longer, which was statistically significant in half of all statistical analyses. The correlation analyses between total time gains (i.e., the fixation time critical condition subtracted from the baseline condition) and learning gains revealed that noticing (longer fixations on irregular verbs) was related to holistic learning gains (not necessarily associated with stem-changes). I interpret the results from multiple perspectives with reference to previous research on noticing and language learning. The results provide for a more nuanced yet more empirically-based understanding of the noticing construct. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A