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Student Perceptions of Language Learning in Two Contexts: At Home and Study Abroad

O'Donnell, Kathleen (2005) Student Perceptions of Language Learning in Two Contexts: At Home and Study Abroad. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This study investigated the relationship between students' self-reported perceptions of their learning experiences and outcomes on measures of oral fluency, grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, communicative ability and cognitive ability. Specifically, the study analyzed the correlation between activities in the classroom, in the social realm, and in the home environments with outcomes from measures Spanish acquisition. In addition, diary analysis was conducted to investigate which environment seemed most relevant to the learners during the semester.The participants in this study were 37 college students learning Spanish in two contexts: at home (AH) in a university in Colorado, and study abroad (SA) in Alicante, Spain. The results of four companion studies that investigated linguistic gain were correlated with the student perception scores produced through diary analysis. These analyses were conducted in order to understand relationships between students' reports of their activities during the semester and changes in their overall Spanish acquisition.The results indicated that differences existed between the AH and SA groups in terms of which environment seemed to be most relevant. While the AH group discussed classroom activities to the greatest extent, the SA group talked most about their experiences with Spanish in the social environment. In addition, while several measures of fluency, grammatical ability, and vocabulary acquisition were related to the home and social environments for the SA group, the AH group data showed relationships between the classroom environment and those measures. Very few relationships were noted between communicative ability, vocabulary and cognitive measures and the perception scores. However, two especially noteworthy relationships were found. For the AH group, the positive classroom environment was related to better attention control, and the negative classroom environment was related to reduced ability to control attention in the target language.It was concluded that differences between the two contexts were evident. While the AH learners were minimally exposed to native speakers outside the classroom, the SA group enjoyed a great deal of exposure. This contact, however, was generally only related to gains in their ability to communicate orally, and may have actually negatively affected learners' ability to produce grammatical forms.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDewey, Danddewey@pitt.eduDDEWEY
Committee MemberFreed, Barbara
Committee MemberChamberlain, Bobby
Committee MemberDonato, Richard
Date: 31 January 2005
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 28 October 2004
Approval Date: 31 January 2005
Submission Date: 7 December 2004
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Hispanic Languages and Literatures
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: context of learning; linguistics; spanish; study abroad
Other ID:, etd-12072004-075125
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:08
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:53


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