Type of Document Dissertation Author Mendoza, Maria Beatriz Author's Email Address email@example.com URN etd-06212004-114840 Title Collaborative Construction of Word Knowledge in Voacabulary-related Group Activities in the ESL Classroom Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Middle and Secondary Education, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Elizabeth Platt Committee Chair Keywords
- Second Language Vocabulary Learning
- Sociocultural Theory
- Peer Collaboration
Date of Defense 2004-04-04 Availability unrestricted AbstractThe present study examined the issue of second language vocabulary learning from a sociocultural theoretical framework. The purpose was to research vocabulary learning in situations in which adult ESL learners collaboratively construct word knowledge (form, meaning, and use) through discourse. The participants in this study were seven adult ESL learners in an Intensive English Program. Data were collected in an intermediate reading class throughout a five-week session. The vocabulary discussed in class was academic in nature.
The participants were videotaped in the classroom as they talked about unfamiliar words that they encountered in reading passages. The learners also participated in follow-up activities (quizzes, reviews, and games) and were videotaped as the explained aspects of the target words. The researcher transcribed and coded the data in order to single out vocabulary-related episodes (VRE), series of turns in conversation in which the participants’ aim is to construct knowledge about one vocabulary item. A total of 76 VREs were analyzed. Through the use of Conversation Analysis (CA), the researcher to examined the VREs in order to identify both conversational features of peer-collaboration in vocabulary tasks as wells as cognitive features and their relevance to the development of word knowledge.
Through the analysis, the researcher observed that expertise was shared among participants, determining the way in which the learners assisted each other. The participants used both linguistic and non-linguistic forms of assistance in the conversations. The learners activated cognitive strategies that helped them through the process. The strategies identified by the researcher were “elaboration” strategies (Lawson and Hogben, 1996). Of the three aspects of word knowledge (i.e. form, meaning, and use – Nation, 1990), the participants concentrated mostly on meaning.
Further, the analysis of the data constituted a means to identify evidence of learning. The learners spontaneously demonstrated that they had developed knowledge in 26 VREs. However, an analysis of the follow-ups revealed that they learners demonstrated knowledge development when asked in the quizzes, reviews, and games. Thus, the lack of evidence in all VREs does not imply that the learners did not gained knowledge through participation in vocabulary-related group activities. The analysis also served to identify features that facilitated and constrained understanding of word form, meaning, and use. The participants took advantage of the affordances (van Lier, 2000) generated by the task, using each other’s expertise, the tools available to them, and the instructor’s assistance to develop knowledge about the words.
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