Dissertation Defenese: Celia Zamora

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The Department of Spanish and Portuguese cordially invites you to attend the dissertation defense of Celia Zamora, M.S. titled The Secret is in the Processing: A Study of Levels of Explicit Computerized Feedback in Heritage and L2 Learner of Spanish.

Abstract: The field of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) has expressed interest in pursuing a research agenda that expands the current heritage language (HL) strand of research to investigate how this heterogeneous population re-learns their family language, and how this experience differs from that of second language (L2) learners. This dissertation examines an unexplored aspect of this strand– Depth of Processing (DOP), and its potential effect on the development of the Spanish pluperfect subjunctive in contrary to fact conditional sentences in the past, in both HL and L2 learner participant populations, and how it is facilitated by computerized feedback in more and less explicit conditions.

The current study focused on four main issues: 1) it investigated how Spanish HL participants processed input in their heritage language, and how it was similar or different than L2 participants; 2) it examined how the Speaker profile (HL and L2) and/or 3) Type of feedback (i.e. +EF, -EF, control) had an effect on subsequent performance on assessments; and 4) it looked at the potential correlation between levels of processing on performances following the experiment. Levels of processing were measured by means of think-aloud protocols collected during the experiment. Performance was examined by way of two assessment tasks- a controlled production and a semi-spontaneous picture description task. The study consisted of three sessions and it followed a pretest/immediate posttest, and delayed posttest (DP) design.

Results showed that although the HL participants significantly outperformed the L2 participants on both tasks at the immediate posttests, the significant difference was not maintained on the DP. With regards to the levels of explicitness, both the +EF and -EF groups significantly outperformed the control group on both tasks. However, the difference between both groups was not significant, although the +EF appeared to perform better than the -EF condition immediately after the treatment on both tasks. On the DP, the –EF condition outperformed the +EF condition on both tasks. Finally, with respect to DOP, the +EF facilitated more instances of higher levels of processing than the –EF condition, and DOP was positively and significantly correlated with better performances at the DP.