From: Daniel Tight <dan.tightstthomas.edu>
Subject: The Role of Perceptual Learning Style Preferences and Instructional Method in the Acquisition of L2 Spanish Vocabulary
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Institution: University of Minnesota
Program: Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007
Author: Daniel G Tight
Dissertation Title: The Role of Perceptual Learning Style Preferences and Instructional Method in the Acquisition of L2 Spanish Vocabulary
Subject Language(s): Spanish (spa)
Andrew D Cohen
Carol A Klee
This study explores the acquisition of concrete nouns in intermediate-level
L2 Spanish by L1 English college students. Specifically, it investigates:
(1) the perceptual learning style preferences (visual, auditory,
tactile/kinesthetic, mixed) of the study sample, (2) the role of these
preferences in learning the target vocabulary, and (3) the role of
instructional method (more-preferred modality, less-preferred modality,
mixed-modality, none) in this lexical learning.
Prior to instruction, subjects (N = 128) completed the perceptual learning
style portion of Cohen, Oxford, and Chi's (2001) Learning Style Survey.
They also completed a vocabulary pretest consisting of both
fill-in-the-blank and multiple-choice translation tasks. Subsequently, all
participants studied 36 Spanish words, 12 each through a single
more-preferred modality, a single less-preferred modality, and
mixed-modality (visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic) instruction. A
fourth set of 12 words, which were not studied, served as a control.
Following 2 learning sessions, 1 classroom-based and 1 computer-based,
subjects took posttests immediately, after a 1-week delay, and after a
Results of a repeated-measures ANOVA indicated that subjects performed
equally well on the vocabulary posttests, regardless of learning style
preference. Overall, mixed-modality instruction was more beneficial than
instruction in a more-preferred modality, which in turn stimulated greater
learning than instruction in a less-preferred modality. Such differences
were statistically significant on the 1-week and 1-month posttests. Further
analysis revealed, however, that differences between the more- and
less-preferred modalities were primarily an artifact of the large number of
visual learners, combined with an overall effectiveness of visual
instruction for all subjects, rather than a product of style matching in
general. Finally, on all posttests any type of instruction resulted in
significantly greater vocabulary gains than no instruction.
These findings suggest that: (1) students with any of the perceptual
learning style preferences investigated can successfully learn L2
vocabulary, (2) all of the techniques for vocabulary study employed in the
current research lead to substantial lexical gains in a brief period of
time, and (3) such gains, at least in the case of concrete nouns, may be
maximized by using mixed-modality and visual techniques, rather than
tailoring instruction to individuals' perceptual learning style preferences.
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