Edited by Gisela Granena, Daniel O. Jackson and Yucel Yilmaz
[Bilingual Processing and Acquisition 3] 2016
► pp. 89–104
Methodological implications of working memory tasks for L2 processing research
A growing body of research within cognitive perspectives of second language acquisition (SLA) has investigated how individual differences in working memory (WM) capacity may impact second language (L2) processes. Many of these studies have employed versions of complex span measures, such as the reading span test (RSPAN). The findings of these studies are mixed, and no standard scoring methods exist for these tasks. Therefore, this study examines the consequences of different scoring methods and data analysis procedures of two common complex span tasks (reading span and operation span) used in L2 sentence processing research. L2 Spanish learners completed two WM span tasks and an online Spanish sentence interpretation task. The results indicate that various scoring methods of the complex span tasks were significantly correlated within tasks. However, in examining the relationship between WM and sentence interpretation, we found that different results emerged, depending on WM task type, scoring method and type of analysis. Implications for research investigating WM resources in SLA are discussed.
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