Stimulated Recall Methodology in Second Language Research (Second Language Acquisition Research)


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Anytime you remember something, say it, interrupt me, stop the tape if you want. I'm interested in finding out what you were thinking when you were writing, and it doesn't matter at all to me if those thoughts were silly or profound. I'll audio-record our conversation so I don't have to divide my attention by taking notes.

Stimulated Recall Methodology in Second Language Research

Composing Process Bosher was concerned with the composing process of Southeast Asian students. Her particular focus was differences between students who had graduated from a high school in the United States and those who had completed high school in their home country. Her data collection process consisted of giving participants an article to read followed by a task in which they wrote their opinion about the topic of the article data from three participants were reported on in her published article, but data were also gathered from others. The article was from a local newspaper and the topic was of concern to at least some of the students it was about recent school district requirements that students would have to pass competency tests to graduate from high school and the impact that this new requirement would have on the Southeast Asian community.

The writing prompt asked them to write about whether or not second-language students should be required to take competency tests before graduating from high school.

Stimulated Recall Methodology in Applied Linguistics and L2 Research - CRC Press Book

During the hour of writing, videocameras were focused on the paper so that the movements of pen and paper were visible. While students were writing, they were observed on a monitor situated in another room. In particular, their pause time was noted, as was the time when they referred back to the original reading. Immediately following the writing session, the students were interviewed, with pause times of several seconds used as prompts to probe the students' thought processes during the writing protocol.

Their comments were audiotaped. Pragmatics Robinson investigated interlanguage pragmatics using a stimulated recall. Of specific concern was the speech act of refusal. The participants in her study were 12 Japanese ESL students all female. At that time, the tapes of their think-alouds were played back "to remind subjects of specific thoughts" p. Some questions that were used to probe specific intentions during the recall session were "What did you intend to say?

Finally, evaluation questions included "What were your alternatives? In sum, what these studies have shown is that in stimulated recall procedures, as an initial step the researcher can create a context for an event to be recalled later.


  • Alison Mackey!
  • Project MUSE - Stimulated Recall Methodology in Second Language Research (review).
  • Stimulated Recall Methodology in Second Language Research.: Susan Gass and Alison Mackey.

We have presented examples of events that have been used in L2 research. As in the examples presented here, events can include oral interactions, paper and pencil tasks, reading passages, and L2 written products.

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We now turn to a discussion of some issues surrounding the recall part of the procedure. Classification of Recall Support In this section we provide information about ways in which various aspects of the stimulated recall procedure can be classified, including details about the relation to the action, participant training, instrument structure, and stimulus for the recall. Obviously, the stimulus is a key part of any methodology in which the data collected rely on participants recalling a previous event.

Not wishing to reinvent the wheel, we have based our classification system on the method put forward by Fxrch and Kasper described in chap. They presented a broad system, establishing criteria according to which a range of introspective methods can be classified. We present a revision and extension of their model that applies directly to verbal protocols obtained through stimulated recall methodology.

We focus on the recall support aspects of their model. In each categorization, we also present illustrations for our revised model based on recent L2 studies that utilized stimulated recall methodology. In the adaptation in Fig. In addition we present an extension of their model, situating many of the classificatory terms on a scale and illustrating each term with reference to recent L2 studies also situated on the scale.

We conclude with recommendations about the procedure itself. In this section we are concerned not so much with what introspection is used for nor the modality of use; rather, we focus on the recall support needed. Thus, our discussion of classification schemes begins with the attempt to identify the cognitive information that is the focus of the recall, in terms of whether or not it is related to a specific action.

In the examples given in section 2, concrete actions that were the focus of recalls can be seen in the L2 writing examples and in the task-based interaction. If the cognitive information to be recalled is not related to a concrete action, there is less specificity in the recall.

For example, learners might be asked to recall general tendencies in their behaviors, such as their strategy use in the previous few days e. There is no concrete situation or action that they are asked to focus on, but rather they are asked to abstract to their thought processes in general. Adaptation of classification scheme from Faerch and Kasper As they noted: Our model predicts that retrospective reports on the immediately preceding cognitive activity can be accessed and specified without the experimenter having to provide the subject with specific information about what to retrieve.

In this particular case, the subject will have the necessary retrieval cues in STM after a general instruction is given "to report everything you can remember about your thoughts during the last problem". This form of retrospective verbal report should give us the closest approximation to the actual memory structures. Of course, recalls also exist as delayed recalls, as in diary studies or exit interviews. In these cases the stimulus is often rather weak: "On Fridays, write in a language diary about your experiences in class over the last week" or "In this exit interview please tell us about your feelings about the language program from which you have just graduated.

Obviously, researchers should take care in making claims and should spell out potential problems with validity when data are based on delayed or weak stimulus recalls. However, Cohen and others Bloom, have also pointed out that the majority of loss of memory may occur almost immediately after the event; thus, delays of 3 hours to 3 days may result in similar data. Figure 3. Immediately after finishing revisions on an essay draft, participants are interviewed about the changes they made, using! Delayed Recall Example: L2 Reading.

After reading a passage in the L2, participants are given a list of questions about their comprehension of the passage. After the straight comprehension questions, they are asked to write about particular difficulties they may have had with the passage, and how they overcame them.

They are asked to take the questions home and bring their answers in the next day. Nonrecent Recall Example: L2 Strategies. After taking a placement test in the middle of the instructional year, one class of participants is divided into groups of successful and less successful students. These students are given email accounts, and are asked to send at least one message a week to a researcher, speculating on the ways in which they are learning vocabulary during the current semester, as opposed to the previous semester. Examples of consecutive, delayed and nonrecent recalls.

There seems to be a lack of consensus in the literature on the topic of training. First, instructions and training need to be distinguished. Of course, in many if not most experiments, participants are generally provided with some form of instructions, however brief. While both are clearly important, in this classification scheme our focus is on training as opposed to instructions.

We also need to consider that on-line recalls, or think-alouds, are more difficult to carry out without training than stimulated recall procedures. When asked to vocalize their thoughts during a problem-solving task, many people need some practice as well as a model to follow. Adequate direction is often needed to keep participants on track and in the "there and then" as opposed to the "here and now" see chap. Ericsson and Simon , , claim that participant training does not affect the validity of the verbal report and in effect only serves to increase completeness.

We argue that in some designs, training participants by showing them videotapes of others carrying out the procedure or giving them transcripts or diagrams to view may affect the quality of the report data in many ways. Empirical research is still needed to address this issue. For example, priming studies in the psychology literature have shown that participants' verbalizations can be affected by a number of factors in the preceding input.

In the L2 context, we need to be particularly vigilant about introducing potentially confounding input variables. The training effect and the effect of memory interference on the recall data are both important issues that should not be underestimated and should be the focus of methodological investigation. In the absence of such detailed empirical work, it seems safe to say that participants should be trained if pilot studies have shown that they need such training in order to provide recalls and that the minimum training necessary should be provided to avoid influencing or affecting the subsequently recalled data.

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Stimulated Recall Methodology in Second Language Research

Procedural Structure In terms of the instrument used for collecting the stimulated recall data, we put forward a categorization in terms of structure. Obviously, a low-structure recall procedure allows learners to specify what they verbalize, when they verbalize, and how much they verbalize.

The more constraints imposed on the recall in terms of time or researcher control over questions, the more structured it becomes.

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Conversely, a high-structure multiple-choice questionnaire becomes lower in structure if open-ended questions are used or if a question such as "anything else to report? Audiotapes, videotapes, written products, and computer-captured data can all be used as stimuli. Obviously, many caveats apply in terms of the potential effectiveness of the stimuli, particularly when a stimulus with high support is used. It is important to be aware that not all participants respond in the same way to the stimulus and to be cautious about claims for strong levels of support.

Since we can only speculate about how strong or weak support is for learners, regardless of researchers' intentions, when considering stimuli, we must also note that retrospective protocols can be obtained without a stimulus.

Video stimulated recall, reflection and dialogue: introduction to the method; Melanie Nind

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Stimulated Recall Methodology in Second Language Research (Second Language Acquisition Research) Stimulated Recall Methodology in Second Language Research (Second Language Acquisition Research)
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