Leila Gholami PhD Defense: 'Formulaic vs. Non-Formulaic Constructions in Second Language Writing: A Mixed-Methods Learner Corpus Cum Experimental Research'

Committee: Bryan Smith (chair), Mark A. James, Paul K. Matsuda.  ::  ABSTRACT: Written corrective feedback (WCF) has received considerable attention in second language (L2) writing research. The conducive role of WCF in developing L2 writing and second language acquisition has been corroborated by a number of theoretical frameworks, and the findings of empirical studies, meta-analyses, and research syntheses. WCF research has predominantly addressed its effectiveness in improving learners’ syntactic, lexical, and orthographic knowledge. This dissertation project extends the scope of this line of research to formulaic aspects of language and investigates the relative effectiveness of WCF targeting formulaic vs. non-formulaic constructions in L2 writing. Synthesizing a dual corpus cum experimental data, the present dissertation project illustrates the complementarity of methodological approaches of learner corpus and experimental research designs by investigating both the acquisition of formulaic vs. non-formulaic constructions by L2 writers and the development of accuracy of (non)formulaic language usage in L2 writing over time. The text-analytic descriptive aspect of this research design aimed at investigating the extent of L2 learners’ non-target-like use of formulaic vs. non-formulaic forms in L2 writing and writing teachers’ WCF treatment of non-target (non)formulaic language use. A total of 480 first drafts of essays written by 33 advanced adult English-as-a-foreign language (EFL) learners during one semester and 480 drafts of essays corrected through WCF by three EFL teachers constituted the corpus in this study. Advancing the field of learner corpus research, the findings demonstrated that whereas learners’ non-target formulaic forms outnumbered that of non-formulaic ones in their writing assignments, all three teachers provided WCF more often for erroneous use of non-formulaic forms. The quasi-experimental aspect of the research design attempts to add new empirical evidence on the L2 learning potential of accessing and processing WCF provided for formulaic vs. non-formulaic constructions in L2 writing. To this end, a total of 66 EFL learners in a TOEFL-iBT preparation course participated in a pretest-posttest design, with 5 experimental groups (those who were provided with direct, indirect, direct plus metalinguistic, and indirect plus metalinguistic WCF) and a control group (those who were not provided with WCF). Maintaining a division between formulaic vs. non-formulaic forms, the findings provide empirical evidence on the interactions between types of WCF, types of linguistic targets, and the effectiveness of WCF in terms of enhancing L2 learners’ accuracy and acquisition in their revised writing and new writings in the short and long term. Another aspect of the current research project investigated language learning affordances of WCF by examining L2 learners’ depth of processing of WCF as manifested in their written languaging forms and the interactions between depth of processing and accuracy of target formulaic vs. non-formulaic form after receiving and processing different types of WCF in L2 writing. Adding novel empirical evidence on the nature of WCF processing, the findings indicated that the deeper processing of WCF was associated with L2 learners’ enhanced accuracy in their revised writing. In addition, L2 learners’ depth of processing of WCF was found to be modulated by formulaic vs. non-formulaic foci of non-target forms and different types of WCF.

This is a virtual presentation: https://asu.zoom.us/j/4514010759

Contact: 
Sheila Luna
Tuesday, Jun. 28, 2022, 1 p.m.
Location: 
Online

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