The Effect of Task Sequencing on the Writing Fluency of English as Foreign Language Learners

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, Islamic Azad University, Karaj Branch, Alborz, Iran

Abstract

This study investigated the effect of sequencing tasks from simple to complex along +/- reasoning demands on fluency in writing task performance of English as Foreign Language (EFL) learners. The participants of this study included 90 intermediate EFL learners from three intact class divisions at the Islamic Azad Uni- versity, Shahr-e-Qods Branch. They were distributed in three groups: Experimental A, Experimental B, and a Control group. The students in all groups participated in the writing pre-test. During the eight treatment sessions (in relation to task performance) the first experimental group received a series of picture description tasks in a randomized order of cognitive complexity. The second experimental group received the same tasks, but ordered from simple to complex based on their required reasoning demands. The control group, however, did not receive any picture description tasks; rather they received some typical writing activities. Finally, the post-test was administered to all participants. The results of the data analysis, through Analysis of Variances (ANOVA) using the SPSS software, showed no significant impact for sequencing tasks from simple to complex on fluency in writing task performance.




 

Keywords


Abdollahzadeh, S., & Kashani, F. A. (2011). The effect of task complexity on EFL learners’narrative writing task performance. Journal of English Language Teaching and Learning, 8, 1-28.

Baralt, M. (2010). Task complexity, the cognition hypothesis, and interaction in CMC and FTF environments (Doctoral dissertation, Georgetown University, Washington DC). Retrieved February 2015 from https://repository.library.georgetown.edu/bitstream/handle/10822/553230

Birjandi, P., & Ahangari, S. (2008). Effects of task repetition on the fluency, complexity and accuracy of Iranian EFL learners’ oral discourse. Asian EFL Journal, 10(3), 28-52.

Birjandi, P., & Seifoori, Z. (2009). The effect of training and task-planning on the complexity of Iranian learners’ oral speech. Applied Linguistics, 2(1), 57-80.

Choong, K. P. (2011). Task complexity and linguistic complexity: An exploratory study.

Teachers College, Columbia University Working Papers in TESOL & Applied Linguistics, 11(1), 1-28.

Choong, K. P. (2014). Effects of task complexity on written production in L2 English (Doctoral

Dissertation, Teachers College, Columbia University). Retrieved February 2015 from  http://gigalib.org/index.aspx

DeKeyser, R. M. (2000). The robustness of critical period effects in second language acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 22, 499-533.

Dörnyei, Z. (2007). Research methods in applied linguistics: Quantitative, qualitative and mixed methodologies. Oxford: OUP.

Ellis, R. (2000). Task-based research and language pedagogy. Language teaching research, 4(3), 193-220.

Ellis, R. (2003). Task-based language teaching and learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ellis, R. (2008). The study of second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ellis, R. (2009). Task‐based language teaching: Sorting out the misunderstandings. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 19(3), 221-246.

Frear, M.W. (2014). The effects of cognitive task complexity on writing.       (Doctoral dissertation, Auckland University of Technology). Retrieved August 2014 from http://aut.researchgateway.ac.nz/handle/10292/7309

Frear, M. W., & Bitchener, J. (2015). The effects of cognitive task complexity on writing complexity. Journal of Second Language Writing, 30, 45-57.

Gilabert, R. (2005). Task complexity and L2 narrative oral production (Doctoral dissertation, University of Barcelona, Spain). Retrieved August 2014 from http://www.tdx.cat/handle/10803/1662

Ishikawa, T. (2006). The effect of manipulating task complexity along the [here-and now] dimension on L2 written narrative discourse. In M. D. P. Garcia-Mayo (Ed.), Investigating tasks in formal language learning (pp.136-156). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Iwashita, N., McNamara, T., & Elder, C. (2001). Can we predict task difficulty in an oralproficiency test? Exploring the potential of an information processing approach to task design. Language Learning, 51(3), 401–436.

Kim, Y. (2009). The effects of task complexity on learner-learner interaction. System, 37(2),254–268.

Kuiken, F., Mos, M., & Vedder, I. (2005). Cognitive task complexity and second language writing performance. Eurosla yearbook, 5(1), 195-222.

Kuiken, F., & Vedder, I. (2007). Task complexity and measures of linguistic performance in L2 writing. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 45(3), 261-284.

Kuiken, F., & Vedder, I. (2008). Cognitive task complexity and written output in Italian and French as a foreign language. Journal of Second Language Writing, 17(1), 48-60.

Kuiken, F., & Vedder, I. (2011). Task performance in L2 writing and speaking: The effect of mode. In P.  Robinson (Ed.), Second language task complexity: Researching the cognition hypothesis of language learning and performance (pp. 91–104). Amsterdam: John Benjamin.

Kuiken, R., & Vedder, I. (2012). Syntactic complexity, lexical variation and accuracy as a function of task complexity and proficiency level in L2 writing and speaking. In A.

Housen, F. Kuiken, & I. Vedder (Eds.). Dimensions of L2 Performance and proficiency: Complexity, accuracy and fluency in SLA (pp.143-169). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Lee, Y. G. (2002). Effects of task complexity on the complexity and accuracy of oral production in L2 Korean (Doctoral dissertation, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu).  Retrieved August 2014 from

http://thesis1gigalib/docview/276045459

Lee, E., & Rescorla, L. (2002). The use of psychological state terms by late talkers at age 3. Applied Psycholinguistics, 23, 623-641.

Levkina, M. (2013).  The role of task sequencing in L2 development as mediated by working memory capacity. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Barcelona). Retrieved August 2014 from

http://diposit.ub.edu/dspace/handle/2445/54846?mode=full

Long, M. (1989). Task, group and task-group interactions. Retrieved August 2014 from  http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED366184.pdf

Long, M. H., & Crookes, G. (1992). Three approaches to task‐based syllabus design. Tesol Quarterly, 26(1), 27-56.

Maftoon, P., Birjandi, P., & Pahlavani, P. (2014). The impact of using computer-aided argument

mapping (CAAM) on the improvement of writing achievement of Iranian learners of English. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 4(5), 982-988.

Maftoon, P., & Sharifi Haratmeh, M. (2012). The relative effectiveness of input and output- oriented tasks with different involvement loads on the receptive and productive vocabulary knowledge of Iranian EFL learners. Journal of Teaching Language Skills, 52.

Nuevo, A. M. (2006). Task complexity and interaction: L2 learning opportunities and development (Doctoral dissertation, Georgetown University). Retrieved fromhttps://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ana_Maria_Nuevo/publication/275969754.pdf

Norris, J. M., & Ortega, L. (2009). Towards an organic approach to investigating CAF in instructed SLA: The case of complexity. Applied Linguistics, 30(4), 555-578.

Nunan, D. (1989). Designing tasks for the communicative classroom. Cambridge: CUP.

Nunan, D. (1991). Communicative tasks and the language curriculum. TESOL Quarterly, 25(2),79-295.

Nunan, D. (2004). Task-based language teaching. Cambridge: CUP.

Preliminary English Test (PET). (2015). Retrieved March 2016 from http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/exams/preliminary/exam-format

Polio, C. G. (1997). Measures of linguistic accuracy in second language writing research. Language Learning, 47(1), 101-143.

Prabhu, N. (1987). Second language pedagogy. Oxford: OUP.

Rahimpour, M., & Hosseini, P. (2010). The impact of task complexity on L2 learners’ written narratives. English Language Teaching, 3(3), 198-205.

Revesz, A. (2011). Task complexity, focus on L2 constructions, and individual differences: A

classroom-based study. Modern Language Journal, 95(1), 162-181.

Robinson, P. (1995a). Task complexity and second language narrative discourse. Language Learning, 45(1), 99-140.

Robinson, P. (1995). Introduction: Connecting tasks, cognition and syllabus

design. In Peter Robinson (Ed.), Task complexity and second language syllabus design: Data-based studies and speculations (pp.1-16). Brisbane: CLTR.

Robinson, P. (2001a). Task complexity, cognitive resources, and syllabus design: A triadic framework for examining task influences on SLA. In P. Robinson (Ed.), Cognition and second language instruction (pp. 287-318). Cambridge: CUP.

Robinson, P. (2001b). Task complexity, task difficulty, and task production: Exploring interactions in a componential framework. Applied Linguistics, 22, 27-57.

Robinson, P. (2003). The cognition hypothesis, task design, and adult task-based language learning. Second Language Studies, 21(2), 45-105.

Robinson, P. (2005). Cognitive complexity and task sequencing: Studies in a componential framework for second language task design. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 43(1), 1–32.

Robinson, P. (2007a). Task complexity, theory of mind, and intentional reasoning: Effects on L2 speech production, interaction, and perceptions of task difficulty. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 45, 191-213.

Robinson, P. (2007b). Criteria for classifying and sequencing pedagogic tasks. In M. G. Mayo(Ed.), Investigating tasks in formal language learning (pp. 7-27). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Robinson, P. (2010). Situating and distributing cognition across task demands: The SSARC model of pedagogic task sequencing. In M. Putz & L. Sicola (Eds.), Cognitive processing in second language acquisition: Inside the learner’s mind (pp. 243-268). Amsterdam: John Benjamins

Robinson, P. (2011). Second language task complexity, the Cognition Hypothesis, language learning, and performance. In P. Robinson (Ed.), Researching task complexity: Task demands, task-based language learning and performance (pp. 3-38). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Robinson, P., & Gilabert, R. (2007). Task complexity, the cognition hypothesis, second language learning and performance. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 45(3), 161-177.

Robinson, P., Ting, S., & Urwin, J. J. (1995). Investigating second language task complexity. RELC Journal, 26(2), 62–79.

Romanko, R., & Nakatsugawa, M. (2010). Task sequencing based on the cognition hypothesis.In A. M. Stoke (Ed.), JALT2009 Conference Proceedings (pp. 436-445). Tokyo: JALT.

Salimi, A., Dadashpour, S., & Asadollahfam, H. (2011). The effect of task complexity on EFL learners' written performance. Social and Behavioral Sciences, 29, 1390–1399.

Scarborough, H. (1990). Index of productive syntax. Applied Psycholinguistics,11(1), 1–22.

Shatz, M., Wellman., & Silber, S. (1983). The acquisition of mental verbs: A systematic investigation of first references to mental states. Cognition, 14, 301-321.

Shehadeh, A., & Coombe, C. A. (Eds.). (2012). Task-based language teaching  in foreign language contexts: Research and implementation (Vol. 4). John Benjamins Publishing.

Skehan, P. (1996). A framework for the implementation of task-based instruction.  Applied linguistics, 17(1), 38-62.

Skehan, P. (2003). Task-based instruction. Language Teaching, 36, 1-14.

Skehan, P. (2009). Modelling second language performance: Integrating complexity, accuracy,fluency and lexis. Applied Linguistics, 28, 510-532.

Skehan, P., & Foster, P. (1997). Task type and task processing conditions as influences on foreign language performance. Language Teaching Research, 1(3), 185-211.

Skehan, P., & Foster, P. (1999). The influence of task structure and processing conditions on narrative retellings. Language learning, 49(1), 93-120.

The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS). (n.d.). Retrieved March (2016) from

https://www.wechsleradultintelligencescale.com/.

Thompson, C. (2014). Guided planning, task complexity and second language oral development.

 (Doctoral dissertation, University of Central Lancashire). Retrieved August 2014 from

http://clok.uclan.ac.uk/10568/2/Thompson.

Van den Branden, K. (2006). Task-based language teaching: from theory to practice. Cambridge: CUP.

Teo, T., & Koh, J. H. L. (2010). Assessing the dimensionality of computer self-efficacy among pre service teachers in Singapore: a structural equation modeling approach. Int. J. Educ. Dev. Using Information Commun. Technol, 6(3), 7-18.       

Todman, J., & Lawrenson, H. (1992). Computer anxiety in primary schoolchildren and university

Abdollahzadeh, S., & Kashani, F. A. (2011). The effect of task complexity on EFL learners’narrative writing task performance. Journal of English Language Teaching and Learning, 8, 1-28.

Baralt, M. (2010). Task complexity, the cognition hypothesis, and interaction in CMC and FTF environments (Doctoral dissertation, Georgetown University, Washington DC). Retrieved February 2015 from https://repository.library.georgetown.edu/bitstream/handle/10822/553230

Birjandi, P., & Ahangari, S. (2008). Effects of task repetition on the fluency, complexity and accuracy of Iranian EFL learners’ oral discourse. Asian EFL Journal, 10(3), 28-52.

Birjandi, P., & Seifoori, Z. (2009). The effect of training and task-planning on the complexity of Iranian learners’ oral speech. Applied Linguistics, 2(1), 57-80.

Choong, K. P. (2011). Task complexity and linguistic complexity: An exploratory study.

Teachers College, Columbia University Working Papers in TESOL & Applied Linguistics, 11(1), 1-28.

Choong, K. P. (2014). Effects of task complexity on written production in L2 English (Doctoral

Dissertation, Teachers College, Columbia University). Retrieved February 2015 from  http://gigalib.org/index.aspx

DeKeyser, R. M. (2000). The robustness of critical period effects in second language acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 22, 499-533.

Dörnyei, Z. (2007). Research methods in applied linguistics: Quantitative, qualitative and mixed methodologies. Oxford: OUP.

Ellis, R. (2000). Task-based research and language pedagogy. Language teaching research, 4(3), 193-220.

Ellis, R. (2003). Task-based language teaching and learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ellis, R. (2008). The study of second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ellis, R. (2009). Task‐based language teaching: Sorting out the misunderstandings. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 19(3), 221-246.

Frear, M.W. (2014). The effects of cognitive task complexity on writing.       (Doctoral dissertation, Auckland University of Technology). Retrieved August 2014 from http://aut.researchgateway.ac.nz/handle/10292/7309

Frear, M. W., & Bitchener, J. (2015). The effects of cognitive task complexity on writing complexity. Journal of Second Language Writing, 30, 45-57.

Gilabert, R. (2005). Task complexity and L2 narrative oral production (Doctoral dissertation, University of Barcelona, Spain). Retrieved August 2014 from http://www.tdx.cat/handle/10803/1662

Ishikawa, T. (2006). The effect of manipulating task complexity along the [here-and now] dimension on L2 written narrative discourse. In M. D. P. Garcia-Mayo (Ed.), Investigating tasks in formal language learning (pp.136-156). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Iwashita, N., McNamara, T., & Elder, C. (2001). Can we predict task difficulty in an oralproficiency test? Exploring the potential of an information processing approach to task design. Language Learning, 51(3), 401–436.

Kim, Y. (2009). The effects of task complexity on learner-learner interaction. System, 37(2),254–268.

Kuiken, F., Mos, M., & Vedder, I. (2005). Cognitive task complexity and second language writing performance. Eurosla yearbook, 5(1), 195-222.

Kuiken, F., & Vedder, I. (2007). Task complexity and measures of linguistic performance in L2 writing. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 45(3), 261-284.

Kuiken, F., & Vedder, I. (2008). Cognitive task complexity and written output in Italian and French as a foreign language. Journal of Second Language Writing, 17(1), 48-60.

Kuiken, F., & Vedder, I. (2011). Task performance in L2 writing and speaking: The effect of mode. In P.  Robinson (Ed.), Second language task complexity: Researching the cognition hypothesis of language learning and performance (pp. 91–104). Amsterdam: John Benjamin.

Kuiken, R., & Vedder, I. (2012). Syntactic complexity, lexical variation and accuracy as a function of task complexity and proficiency level in L2 writing and speaking. In A.

Housen, F. Kuiken, & I. Vedder (Eds.). Dimensions of L2 Performance and proficiency: Complexity, accuracy and fluency in SLA (pp.143-169). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Lee, Y. G. (2002). Effects of task complexity on the complexity and accuracy of oral production in L2 Korean (Doctoral dissertation, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu).  Retrieved August 2014 from

http://thesis1gigalib/docview/276045459

Lee, E., & Rescorla, L. (2002). The use of psychological state terms by late talkers at age 3. Applied Psycholinguistics, 23, 623-641.

Levkina, M. (2013).  The role of task sequencing in L2 development as mediated by working memory capacity. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Barcelona). Retrieved August 2014 from

http://diposit.ub.edu/dspace/handle/2445/54846?mode=full

Long, M. (1989). Task, group and task-group interactions. Retrieved August 2014 from  http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED366184.pdf

Long, M. H., & Crookes, G. (1992). Three approaches to task‐based syllabus design. Tesol Quarterly, 26(1), 27-56.

Maftoon, P., Birjandi, P., & Pahlavani, P. (2014). The impact of using computer-aided argument

mapping (CAAM) on the improvement of writing achievement of Iranian learners of English. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 4(5), 982-988.

Maftoon, P., & Sharifi Haratmeh, M. (2012). The relative effectiveness of input and output- oriented tasks with different involvement loads on the receptive and productive vocabulary knowledge of Iranian EFL learners. Journal of Teaching Language Skills, 52.

Nuevo, A. M. (2006). Task complexity and interaction: L2 learning opportunities and development (Doctoral dissertation, Georgetown University). Retrieved fromhttps://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ana_Maria_Nuevo/publication/275969754.pdf

Norris, J. M., & Ortega, L. (2009). Towards an organic approach to investigating CAF in instructed SLA: The case of complexity. Applied Linguistics, 30(4), 555-578.

Nunan, D. (1989). Designing tasks for the communicative classroom. Cambridge: CUP.

Nunan, D. (1991). Communicative tasks and the language curriculum. TESOL Quarterly, 25(2),79-295.

Nunan, D. (2004). Task-based language teaching. Cambridge: CUP.

Preliminary English Test (PET). (2015). Retrieved March 2016 from http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/exams/preliminary/exam-format

Polio, C. G. (1997). Measures of linguistic accuracy in second language writing research. Language Learning, 47(1), 101-143.

Prabhu, N. (1987). Second language pedagogy. Oxford: OUP.

Rahimpour, M., & Hosseini, P. (2010). The impact of task complexity on L2 learners’ written narratives. English Language Teaching, 3(3), 198-205.

Revesz, A. (2011). Task complexity, focus on L2 constructions, and individual differences: A

classroom-based study. Modern Language Journal, 95(1), 162-181.

Robinson, P. (1995a). Task complexity and second language narrative discourse. Language Learning, 45(1), 99-140.

Robinson, P. (1995). Introduction: Connecting tasks, cognition and syllabus

design. In Peter Robinson (Ed.), Task complexity and second language syllabus design: Data-based studies and speculations (pp.1-16). Brisbane: CLTR.

Robinson, P. (2001a). Task complexity, cognitive resources, and syllabus design: A triadic framework for examining task influences on SLA. In P. Robinson (Ed.), Cognition and second language instruction (pp. 287-318). Cambridge: CUP.

Robinson, P. (2001b). Task complexity, task difficulty, and task production: Exploring interactions in a componential framework. Applied Linguistics, 22, 27-57.

Robinson, P. (2003). The cognition hypothesis, task design, and adult task-based language learning. Second Language Studies, 21(2), 45-105.

Robinson, P. (2005). Cognitive complexity and task sequencing: Studies in a componential framework for second language task design. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 43(1), 1–32.

Robinson, P. (2007a). Task complexity, theory of mind, and intentional reasoning: Effects on L2 speech production, interaction, and perceptions of task difficulty. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 45, 191-213.

Robinson, P. (2007b). Criteria for classifying and sequencing pedagogic tasks. In M. G. Mayo(Ed.), Investigating tasks in formal language learning (pp. 7-27). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Robinson, P. (2010). Situating and distributing cognition across task demands: The SSARC model of pedagogic task sequencing. In M. Putz & L. Sicola (Eds.), Cognitive processing in second language acquisition: Inside the learner’s mind (pp. 243-268). Amsterdam: John Benjamins

Robinson, P. (2011). Second language task complexity, the Cognition Hypothesis, language learning, and performance. In P. Robinson (Ed.), Researching task complexity: Task demands, task-based language learning and performance (pp. 3-38). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Robinson, P., & Gilabert, R. (2007). Task complexity, the cognition hypothesis, second language learning and performance. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 45(3), 161-177.

Robinson, P., Ting, S., & Urwin, J. J. (1995). Investigating second language task complexity. RELC Journal, 26(2), 62–79.

Romanko, R., & Nakatsugawa, M. (2010). Task sequencing based on the cognition hypothesis.In A. M. Stoke (Ed.), JALT2009 Conference Proceedings (pp. 436-445). Tokyo: JALT.

Salimi, A., Dadashpour, S., & Asadollahfam, H. (2011). The effect of task complexity on EFL learners' written performance. Social and Behavioral Sciences, 29, 1390–1399.

Scarborough, H. (1990). Index of productive syntax. Applied Psycholinguistics,11(1), 1–22.

Shatz, M., Wellman., & Silber, S. (1983). The acquisition of mental verbs: A systematic investigation of first references to mental states. Cognition, 14, 301-321.

Shehadeh, A., & Coombe, C. A. (Eds.). (2012). Task-based language teaching  in foreign language contexts: Research and implementation (Vol. 4). John Benjamins Publishing.

Skehan, P. (1996). A framework for the implementation of task-based instruction.  Applied linguistics, 17(1), 38-62.

Skehan, P. (2003). Task-based instruction. Language Teaching, 36, 1-14.

Skehan, P. (2009). Modelling second language performance: Integrating complexity, accuracy,fluency and lexis. Applied Linguistics, 28, 510-532.

Skehan, P., & Foster, P. (1997). Task type and task processing conditions as influences on foreign language performance. Language Teaching Research, 1(3), 185-211.

Skehan, P., & Foster, P. (1999). The influence of task structure and processing conditions on narrative retellings. Language learning, 49(1), 93-120.

The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS). (n.d.). Retrieved March (2016) from

https://www.wechsleradultintelligencescale.com/.

Thompson, C. (2014). Guided planning, task complexity and second language oral development.

 (Doctoral dissertation, University of Central Lancashire). Retrieved August 2014 from

http://clok.uclan.ac.uk/10568/2/Thompson.

Van den Branden, K. (2006). Task-based language teaching: from theory to practice. Cambridge: CUP.

Teo, T., & Koh, J. H. L. (2010). Assessing the dimensionality of computer self-efficacy among pre service teachers in Singapore: a structural equation modeling approach. Int. J. Educ. Dev. Using Information Commun. Technol, 6(3), 7-18.       

Todman, J., & Lawrenson, H. (1992). Computer anxiety in primary schoolchildren and university students. British Educational Research, 18(1), 63–72.

Weil, M. M., & Rosen, L. D. (1995). A study of technological sophistication and technophobia in university students from 23 countries. Computers in Human Behavior, 11(1), 95–133.

Wood, R. E., Bandura, A., & Bailey, T. (1990). Mechanisms governing organizational performance in complex decision-making environments. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 46, 181-201.

students. British Educational Research, 18(1), 63–72.

Weil, M. M., & Rosen, L. D. (1995). A study of technological sophistication and technophobia in university students from 23 countries. Computers in Human Behavior, 11(1), 95–133.

Wood, R. E., Bandura, A., & Bailey, T. (1990). Mechanisms governing organizational performance in complex decision-making environments. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 46, 181-201.