The Case for Negotiative Tasks

Pp. 44-45 summarize the arguments against open-ended discussion and for tasks so far

How do researchers decide on effectiveness of tasks vs discussion?

The remainder of the chapter looks at one experiment in great detail--allowing us to see the process by which researchers reach their conclusions.

The experiment

  1. Research Questions
  1. Do learners retain information…
  1. immediately?
  2. one week later?
  1. Materials
  1. Translated into English for ease of reading
  2. procedures and criteria in Ch. 3 were followed to create an equivalent task based activity; because it has to be kept equivalent, activity was left more open-ended than previous examples.
  3. Guiding Discussion Questions
  1. 3 phases
  1. Activity
  1. phase 1
  1. associations and group work
  1. phase 2
  1. questions and group work
  2. follow up questions in groups as well
  1. phase 3
  1. discussion
  1. Procedures
  1. 3rd semester Spanish classes at university
  1. 2 classes did task based activity (groups)
  2. 2 classes discussed via questions
  1. pg 48 - table of time spent (minutes) per phase: the task naturally took more time (which is mentioned in the summary as something that needs to be fixed for future research)
  2. summarise
  1. immediately after, students were asked to summarise what they learned
  2. were asked to write in native language because research shows students write more in native language
  1. Follow up
  1. no discussion took place in the class between activity and 1 week later
  1. Analysis
  1. pg. 49 - table of learners who spoke during discussions: discussion only involved ⅕-⅓ students; same pattern as before: turned into a conversation between instructor and two kids instead of the whole class. p. 51 emphasizes that luck played a part in the success of the conversation there; there was no guarantee any students would have personal experience
  2. pg. 50-52 - transcript of discussion class: main concern with “discussion” (q&a) classes is that there is less time each individual spends with the language and the topic (back to research questions above: how many opportunities). There is  lack of linguistic support in these discussions and students do not get a chance to gather their thoughts.
  3. pg. 53-57 - transcript of activity class
  1. table 4.3 shows amount of times groups spoke: note all learners verbally participated in their groups and there was significantly more information elicited via the task than the discussion
  2. not mentioned by book but occurred to me that in addition to the linguistic support the task provides thanks to the teacher, the very act of reaching a consensus creates a safety net: at least three people had to have agreed to each idea presented by each group, so the affective filter is low.
  3. Students were more vocal and offered more answers during the task-based discussion.
  1. remembering
  1. With informational outcome in mind: measured the number of ideas present in the protocol that emerged during interactions and the number correctly remembered.
  2. Those who did the activity remembered more distinct items; discussion generated less items, so less were remembered.
  3. It says a greater percentage remembered the phase 3 discussion in the discussion classes than in the task-based. There was a greater wealth and depth of information in the second class’s discussion transcript so I can see why.
  4. pg. 60 - table that shows percent remembered 1 week later
  1. activity based has 97% rate of at least some aspect being remembered; both had at least 90% of some aspect being remembered
  2. over the three phases, the task activity had the most retention of facts, though, again, phase three stuck with the discussion students more than the task students