Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Paired-Speaking Tasks: Planning Conditions and Task Performance
by Larson, Garrett M., Ph.D., Northern Arizona University, 2020, 187; 28001706
Abstract (Summary)

Paired-speaking tasks elicit collaborative learning when performed among peers. Previous research has shown that peer-peer interactions have many positive benefits for learning (e.g., Gass, 2003; Sato & Ballinger, 2016; Swain & Lapkin, 1998). When administering paired-speaking tasks, learners are often given time to plan for their scored task performance. When considering task characteristics that affect learner output, planning time is one of the few task variables that has shown relatively consistent positive effects (Ellis, 2005). While planning, the presence or absence of explicit planning directions on what and how to plan has also been shown to affect output (e.g., Skehan & Foster, 2005). Even though planning time has been well researched in the field, few studies have examined what learners actually talk about during planning (e.g., Ortega, 1999; Wendel, 1997). This dissertation addresses two under-researched areas concerning planning for paired-speaking tasks which correspond to the two research questions: (1) how planning condition (i.e., unguided vs. guided planning) affects learners’ planning conversations in terms of four planning characteristics (i.e., task-related episodes (TREs), question use, interaction pattern, and first language (L1) use), and (2) how these characteristics across the two conditions predict speaking scores (i.e., task performance).

Forty-four pairs of learners from eight sections of a listening and speaking course completed one of two versions (i.e., an unguided and guided version) of the same paired-speaking task (i.e., planning and performing a presentation). The guided planning group (n = 18) were given additional instructions on what and how to plan, while the unguided planning group (n = 26 pairs) were not. Each groups’ planning conversations and task performances were audio-recorded. The planning conversations were also transcribed in order to identify each of the four planning characteristics. To answer the first RQ, the means and standard deviations were identified for each of the four planning characteristics for each of the two planning conditions. Subsequently, independent samples t-tests were performed to examine the differences between the two groups. To answer the second RQ, the planning characteristics were treated as predictor variables in a series of linear (multiple) regressions, while pairs’ speaking scores were treated as the dependent variables (i.e., overall scores and scores on three sub-domains: delivery, content, and language use).

For RQ1, the results found similarities and differences between the two groups. During planning, both groups prioritized content-related issues and produced a similar number of language-related TREs. Both groups also produced a similar number of confirmation and opinion questions. Looking at the differences, guided planners produced more organization related and rereading TREs, agreement questions, and were more likely to work non-collaboratively. Unguided planners produced more task-management and off topic TREs, information questions, and used their L1 (i.e., Chinese) more often. The similarities can be explained by a number of factors that were the same for each group, including a high degree of task familiarity and background knowledge, and a low degree of task difficulty. The differences can be explained by the presence or absence of explicit planning time directions. For RQ2, both groups performed similarly and well, however, guided planners performed slightly better. The regressions showed that the average total number of TREs produced can predict unguided planners’ language-use scores, that confirmation and opinion questions can predict guided planners’ delivery scores, and that opinion questions can predict guided planners’ overall scores.

The findings from this study have methodological and pedagogical implications. The study introduced a new way of identifying what learners talk about during planning and offers teachers guidance on how to teach planning strategies to students.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Crawford, William, Kang, Okim
Commitee: Egbert, Jesse, Asencion Delaney, Yuly
School: Northern Arizona University
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 82/1(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Linguistics
Keywords: Applied linguistics, TESOL, Paired-speaking tasks
Publication Number: 28001706
ISBN: 9798662469365
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