Edited by Naoko Taguchi and YouJin Kim
[Task-Based Language Teaching 10] 2018
► pp. 160–190
Chapter 7. Independently measuring cognitive complexity in task design for interlanguage pragmatics development
This study examines the effects of task design on interlanguage pragmatics, bringing together task complexity and L2 pragmatic outcomes measured holistically. Fifteen expert judges were asked independently to assess task complexity and to evaluate the pragmatic performance of 60 EFL learners who had written a response to four email messages at 4 different levels of complexity. On the basis of needs analysis, complexity had been manipulated by along the following parameters: +/−frequency of input, +/−familiarity with interlocutor, +/−intentional, +/−causal reasoning, +/−dependency of steps, +/−number of elements, and +/−dual task. In order to validate complexity independently, two techniques were applied. On the one hand, a subjective perception questionnaire evaluating mental effort and difficulty was answered by 15 experienced teachers. On the other hand, subjective judgments on a pragmatic scale by the same teachers followed by retrospective protocol analysis were used in the classification of tasks from simple to complex. Pragmatic outcomes were assessed on a holistic rating scale of pragmatic performance. While descriptive statistical results pointed in the direction of predictions, inferential statistics only confirm a difference between the first level of complexity and the other three. As for the effect of sequence, expert judges did not find the outcomes of the two sequences to differ. Results are discussed in light of task performance, task sequencing, and interlanguage pragmatics development.
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