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Topic Interest, Language Proficiency, Relevance, and Causal Reasoning in L2 Text Comprehension Keiko Fukaya & Yukie Horiba St. Luke’s College of Nursing.

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Presentation on theme: "Topic Interest, Language Proficiency, Relevance, and Causal Reasoning in L2 Text Comprehension Keiko Fukaya & Yukie Horiba St. Luke’s College of Nursing."— Presentation transcript:

1 Topic Interest, Language Proficiency, Relevance, and Causal Reasoning in L2 Text Comprehension Keiko Fukaya & Yukie Horiba St. Luke’s College of Nursing Kanda University of International Studies

2 Background A successful comprehension of a text requires readers to construct a coherent representation of the text. (Graesser, Millis, & Zwaan, 1997; Kintsch, 1998; van Oostendorp & Goldman, 1999) Topic interest influences the relevance of content information in a text, affecting the process and memory of the text. (L1: Alexander, Jetton, & Kulikowich, 1996; Kaakinen & Hyona, 2005; McNamara, 2007; L2: Barry & Lazarte, 1998; Bugel & Buunk, 1996; Chen & Donin, 1997) Language proficiency affects text comprehension. (Horiba, 1996; Zwaan & Brown, 1996; Stevensen, Schoonen, & de Glopper, 2003 ) Events’ causal-chain status and causal connectivity are important to the comprehension and memory of a narrative text. (L1: Trabasso, Secco, & van den Broek 1984; L2: Horiba, 1996; Horiba, van den Broek, & Fletcher, 1993) However, it has not been made clear how topic interest and language proficiency may influence the effect of causal relations and relevancy on L2 text comprehension.

3 Research Questions Q1: Do L2 readers recall events on the causal chain better than events off the chain? Q2: Do they recall events with more causal connections better than events with fewer connections? Q3: Do Nursing majors recall ‘health care’ related information relatively better than Nonnursing majors?

4 Method Participants: 34 Nursing (high-interest) majors & 37 Non-nursing (low-interest) majors ( Japanese college freshmen / EFL students) Material: One narrative text about a patient Procedure: Participants read the text and recalled its content. Level of L2 proficiency was assessed by TOEFL-ITP and VLT. Analysis: Recall protocols were analyzed for 1) events’ causal-chain status and connectivity (Trabasso, Secco, & van den Broek, 1984) 2) propositions’ content type (c.f., Bovair & Kieras, 1985)

5 Passage: “Who Decides the Treatment?” Michael Cantos, a 15-year-old, who has recurrent metastatic Ewing sarcoma, has been hospitalized with fever and neutropenia, common complications of his recent chemotherapy. Michael lives with his parents, two younger siblings, and his paternal grandmother.... When Michael was first diagnosed, he was told that this type of cancer was aggressive and had already spread from the primary site in his pelvis to his bronchi and parenchyma.... {Note: The underlined words were glossed with the L1 translation.} A sample list of events (43 events in total) E1 : Michael Cantos was a 15-year-old E2 : M has recurrent metastatic Ewing sarcoma E3 : M has been hospitalized with fever and neutropenia A sample list of propositions (209 propositions in total) P1: HOSPITALIZE [$ MICHAEL-C] P2: WITH [P1 P3] P3: AND [FEVER NEUROPENIA] P4: REF [MICHAEL 15-YEAR-OLD] P5: POSSESS [15-YEAR-OLD EWING-SARCOMA] P6: MOD [EWING-SARCOMA METASTATIC] P7: MOD [EWING-SARCOMA RECURRENT] {*Health care related concepts are Italicized.}

6 123 4 5 678 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 1920 21 2224 43 26 2527 282930 31 32 36373839 40 42 41 U UU U U U Causal network structure of the Decision text 23 3334 35

7 L2 proficiency (%)Recall (Probability) TOEFLVLTEventsPropositions Nurse65.767.5.42.25 Non-nurse72. Results Nurse group scored significantly poorer than Nonnurse group on TOEFL (F[1,133] = 25.7; p <.0001) and VLT (F[1,133] = 16.5; p <.0001). The two groups recalled similar amounts of information. When L2 proficiency was statistically controlled, Nurse group outperformed Nonnurse in recall (F[1,131] = 8.5; p <.01). General picture: L2 proficiency & recall

8 Event recall by causal-chain status Group Causal-chain status OnOff MSDM Nurse. Non- nurse. Both Nurse and Nonnurse groups recalled on-chain events better than off-chain events. { Nurse:F(1,42)=4.45, p=.04; Nonnurse:F(1,42)=3.35, p=.07}

9 Event recall by number of causal connections Group No. of connections 12345 Nurse.28 (.10).42 (.07).38 (.06).63 (.11).65 (.17) Non- nurse.32 (.10).40 (.07).37 (.06).56 (.11).61 (.18) Both Nurse and Nonnurse groups recalled events with connections better than events with fewer connections. Only Nurse group had a significant effect. {Nurse:F(1,42)=5.12, p=.03; Nonnurse:F(1,42)=2.74, p=.10}

10 Proposition recall by type of content Type of content Health-careGeneral MSDM Nurse. Non- nurse. {Nurse: F(1,208) = 1.16, p =.28, Nonnurse: F(1,208) = 6.17, p =.01} Nurse group recalled health-care related information as well as general information, whereas Nonnurse group did not.

11 Discussion 1.Despite lower level of L2 proficiency, Nurse group recalled the content of the text as well as Nonnurse group. Nurse & Nonnurse: On-chain events> Off- chain events These L2 readers were sensitive to the relative importance of events in the situation that are described in the text. They understood the storyline. the causal chain effect

12 2. Nurse: More connected events > Less connected events Nonnurse: More connected events ≧ Less connected events L2 readers with high interest were more successful in understanding how events, actions and states are causally connected to each other in the situation described in the text. t he causal connectivity effect

13 3. Nurse: General information = Health-care information Nonnurse: General information > Health-care information L2 readers with high interest found health-care related information relevant and encoded health- care and general information equally strong in their text representation. But low interest L2 readers encoded only general information in their text memory. the relevancy effect

14 Conclusion 1.L2 readers utilize general knowledge of causal world and construct a representation of the content of a text. As a result, their recalls show the effect of an event’s causal-chain status and causal connectivity. 2.Those with high interest in the topic of the text (i.e., Nursing majors) find health-care information to be more relevant and encode this information as strong as general information into their representation of the text. This may be related to their higher sensitivity to the causal structure of the particular text used in the study. Low interest readers encode only general information into their text memory.

15 References Alexander, P. A., Jetton, T. L., & Kulikowich, J. M. (1996). Interrelationships of knowledge, interest, and recall: Assessing a model of domain learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 87, 559-575. Barry, S., & Lazarte, A. A. (1998). Evidence for mental models: How do prior knowledge, syntactic complexity, and reading topic affect inference generation in a recall task for nonnative readers of Spanish? The Modern Language Journal, 82, 176-193. Bovair, S., & Kieras, D. E. (1985). A guide to propositional analysis for research on technical prose. In B. K. Britton & J. B. Black (Eds.), Understanding expository text (pp. 315-362). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Bugel, K., & Buunk, B. P. (1996). Sex differences in foreign language text comprehension: The role of interests and prior knowledge. The Modern Language Journal, 80, 15-31. Chen, Q., & Donin, J. (1997). Discourse processing of first and second language biology texts: Effects of language proficiency and domain-specific knowledge. The Modern Language Journal, 81, 209-227. Horiba, Y. (1996). Comprehension processes in L2 reading: Language competence, textual coherence, and inferences. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 18, 433-473. Horiba, Y., van den Broek, P., & Fletcher, C. R. (1993). Second language readers’ memory for narrative texts: Evidence for structure- preserving top-down processing. Language Learning, 43, 345-372. Graesser, A. C., Millis, K. K., & Zwaan, R. A. (1997). Discourse comprehension. Annual Review of Psychology, 48, 163-189. Kaakinen, J. K., & Hyona, J. (2005). Perspective effects on expository text comprehension: Evidence from think-aloud protocols, eyetracking, and recall. Discourse Processes, 40, 239-257. Kintsch, W. (1998). Comprehension: A paradigm for cognition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. McNamara, D. S. (2007). Reading comprehension strategies: Theories, interventions, and technologies. New York, NY: Lawrence Erlbaum. McCrudden, M. T., Schraw, G., & Kambo, G. (2005). The effect of relevance instructions on reading time and learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97, 88-102. Stevensen, M., Schoonen, R., & de Glopper, K. (2003). Inhibition or compensation? A multi-dimensional comparison of reading processes in Dutch and English. Language Learning, 53, 765-815. Trabasso, T., Secco, T., & van den Broek, P. (1984). Causal cohesion and story coherence. In H. Mandl, N. L. Stein, & T. Trabasso (Eds.), Learning and comprehension of text (pp. 83-111). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. van Oostendorp, H., & Goldman, S. R. (Eds.). (1999). The construction of mental representations during reading. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Zwaan, R. A., & Brown, C. M. (1996). The influence of language proficiency and comprehension skill on situation model construction. Discourse Processes, 21, 289-327.

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