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Research Study Report
Lizz Caplan-Carbin, Ph.D.
University of South Florida
Classroom Practice
Language learning takes place in many locations. Students bear some responsibilty for reading their textbook and for putting forth effort outside of the classroom. Time in class is short and precious, and is probably best spent providing what students can not usually get on their own - group interaction in the target language, communicative practice and comradery in language learning. Yet there is a tendency for German students to want grammar clarification during classroom time. German rule-based grammar has the danger of taking up too much of the class time, leaving little room for more natural approaches to language learning. One way to minimize the time that grammar focus devours is to pinpoint and synthesize specific aspects of grammar and discover the ways they are best represented. Synthesizing grammar means to endeavor to find the right words or the right pictures, or to display the right motions, that can best depict and explain the concepts to the maximum number of learning preferences in the shortest amount of time possible.
Financial/Logistical Considerations
The computer has given teachers new ways to accomplish that. When I use a computer in the classroom, I really just consider it a “glorified blackboard”. I know it makes me a better teacher because I don’t have to worry about my poor handwriting, or that I have my back to the classroom while scribbling. I know that I won’t forget any important pieces of the puzzle, and I know that it has been a useful crutch to help me maintain student attention. But most of the things that I do on a computer, can be printed out onto transparency sheets and then projected to the class on an OHP. Someone with artistic skills never needed a computer to do that. One of the things that does require the computer is animation. I don’t have the artistic skills to illustrate the grammar to the extent that I think is necessary to reach all learners. That presents the rationale to weigh the expense of the technology against the necessecity for its use. Computer assisted presentation can add fun, efficiency and perhaps cognitive assistance, but it should not be assumed that there are no detriments to its use. That presents the rationale to study its effects in closer detail.
German syntax, word order rules, are rather rigid and they consist of two primary principles: 1) the verb must always be in the second position and 2) under certain circumstances, the verb must be in the last position. The difference between the two rules is predicated by other rules, some of which are best described with expressions of motion and of state changes, expressions which are in turn, best depicted through animated imitation of those changes.
Grammar is an interesting subject. It’s the backbone, not the bane, of language learning and it forms a crucial foundation for second language acquisition.
Explicit grammar instruction can facilitate language learning for cognitive adults. Facilitate means "to ease and speed the process of" and "cognitive adult" refers to someone who is thinking about language learning, exerting particular efforts, and making conscious decisions to acquire new linguistic abilities.
I was highly encouraged to delve into this study when I discovered the work of Lloyd Rieber. Working with learners of all ages from 5th grade through adult, Rieber compared static illustration of Newtonian Physics instruction with animated versions.
He wasn’t the only one who had worked with animation. It has been a promising area of research for instruction in the fields of physics, math and science, where the principles instructed are those that involve motion or other change of physical or theoretical state.
One thing Animation studies have in common is that they all show some kind of quantitative differences due to the use of animation in instruction.
 Some have asserted significant benefits affecting attitudes, enjoyment, motivation and frustration levels while others have tried to measure animation’s effect upon immediate recall, retention, and problem-solving skills.
The second thing that animation studies have in common is that they are nearly all based on the theoretical work of Alan Paivio on Dual Coding Theory.  Most of them are actually framed so that they set out to show support, with success, for the theory.
.. that memory operates through two separate, semantic representation systems, the verbal, and the non-verbal. Information is easier to retain in memory when it is dual coded, or represented in both subsystems - in pictures and in words.
Activating imagery in tandem with verbal association forms referential connections across the two cognitive subsystems. Dual coding theory postulates that referential connections across the verbal and nonverbal memories are stronger, more flexible than the associative connections within each separate system, because they add a level of meaning. (one to many)
Associative structure:  A within-system network of links and references.  The functional connections of logogens to each other (in the verbal subsystem) or of imagens to each other (in the nonverbal subsystem).
Imagens:  Representations from which mental images are generated.  Imagens correspond to natural objects, holistic parts of objects, and natural groupings of objects.
Logogens:  A hypothetical verbal representation that registers perceptual word information and makes a word response available when enough relevant information has accumulated.
Referential availability:  The probability that cues to one subsystem will be able to make associations to memories in the other subsystem, or that logogens will activate imagens and vise versa.  The capacity for stimuli to simultaneously activate memories in both subsystems is a function of the availability of referential connections.
Referential connection:  A between-system structural connection or “access route”  that permits activation of memory in one system to trigger activity in the other representational system.  An example of a simple referential connection is the tie between the image of an object and its name.
There are three aspects to consider concerning German modal verbs: Their meanings, their special conjugations, and their effect on word order.
The meanings of the modals under focus as well as their irregular conjugations are primary to the acquisition of the total process of their use.  They are not, however, congruent to animation.  There is no movement involved in the semantic representation of modal verbs nor in their differentiation of subject-verb agreement or the irregular stem-vowel change, e.g., können > kann.  Animating the instruction for these features could have a positive effect in terms of intrinsic motivation and focus of attention, but it could also be detrimental as a distraction, misdirecting attention.
Data collected in this study also permit investigation of the effects of animation on the acquisition of three different types of information:
Content congruent to animation: a dynamic process of transformation – word order
Content noncongruent to animation: a limited state change – verb conjugation
Content requiring rote memorization: arbitrary choice – vocabulary meanings
The three types of information give rise to three types of errors:
(1) morphology or errors of vocabulary, meaning of words (M)
(2) spelling or form errors, conjugation (C)
(3) placement or syntax errors, word order (W)
Animated vs. Static textual presentation?
Will animating the textual explanation of a grammatical process accompany higher test scores measuring a language learner’s ability to complete the three discrete tasks which constitute that process, than static presentation of the explanation?
Task x Type Interaction?
Will the effect of presentation type be different for each of those three discrete tasks?
Class section differential?
Will the pattern of type x task interaction differ from class section to class section?
Participants were students enrolled in three sections of beginning German I at a state university in the southeastern United States. Ages of participants ranged from 18- 60 years, with a large proportion in their early 20's. Sixty-six students registered for one of  three sections of the course designated GER1120. Due to drop-outs and absences, there were 44 participants available to take the pretest.
Within each class section, the participants were ranked, matched, and then randomly divided into two groups, which were randomly assigned to either animated or static presentation.
Sample size shrunk between the proposal and the data collection, and again between the pretest and the posttest.
There were 41 participants available to view the instructional treatments and to take the posttests, but only 36 represented matched pairs, (i.e., 18 matched pairs). As seen in Table 1, there had been 21 matched pairs available for the pretest, but three absences for the posttest eliminated three of those pairs, leaving three unmatched participants, in addition to the two unmatched participants of the pretest total.
A pretest survey investigated the participants’ characteristics concerning their prior experience with German and with L2 in general. Chi-square analyses revealed no significant differences between groups based on their L2 experiences.
Internal Consistency Reliability (Cronbach Alpha) for Pretest Scores by Group (n=44)
Variable # of Items   Total    Item to Total    Animated   Range    Static      Range
Overall Test 40             .86        (-.09 to .67)            .90 (.06 to .65) .82       (-.10 to .72) Meaning        6             .46        (-.06 to .41)           .22 (.06 to .48) .63       (-.26 to .56) Conjugation 24             .87        (.16 to .61)             .91 (.00 to .77) .79       (.00 to .68)
Word Order 10             .77        (.30 to .61)             .86 (.48 to .73) .60       (.01 to .53)
A participant’s raw score consists of the number correct out of 118 points possible.  Forty-four points are designated to measure the word order task, 28 measure the meaning task, and 46 are a measure of conjugation skills.  All tests will be scored by two German instructors to achieve a measure of inter-rater reliability.
Internal Consistency Reliability for Posttest Scores by Group (n=41)
Variable # of Items Total      Item to Total     Animated    Range Static    Range
Overall Scale 44 .90         (.07 to .72)               .87 (-.04 to .66)   .92       (.00 to .81)
CM 18      .80       (.03 to .50)                .78 (-.09 to .67) .82         (.00 to .65) CI 18 .92        (.44 to .86)                .88     (.00 to .88) .93         (.27 to .84) CS   7 .88        (.46 to .87)                 .88    (.42 to .83) .88         (.43 to .91)
WM 18 .66        (.00 to .81)                 .69    (.00 to 1.0)  .53         (.00 to 1.0)
WI 18 .96        (.50 to .96)                 .47 (-.12 to .59) .53         (.61 to .98)
    Animated    Static
Word Order             M    98.41    99.44
of the Modal
Verb (WM)           SD       5.01      2.50
     Range     83.33     88.90
to 100.00 to 100.00
  Skewness      -2.98      -4.50
    Kurtosis       7.60     20.00
Appendix K
P. 113
Conjoint Retention Theory
Paivio's encoding theory concerns the processing of incoming information. It suggests ways that instructional material can be presented in order to maximize the intake of input. A tangent theory by Kulhavy, Lee and Caterino (1985), concerns the retention of processed information and the recall event for dually encoded (inter-connected) data. "The conjoint retention hypothesis is essentially a rendition of the dual coding approach.” The difference is that conjoint retention theory focuses more on the recall activity rather than the initial encoding process.
The verbal information can only have adherence to images that are meaningfully representative of the verbal proposition. Meaningful representation can be created either through convention (Winn & Solomon,1993) or by relationship to reality (the degree of realism). The animations created for this study have a conventional relationship to the propositions explained.  It is a convention to expect that a sequence of words will be perceived as having a left-to-right order, so that the word farthest left is in the "first position" and the one farthest right is "last." Another convention dictates that a movement toward the right signifies a movement toward "the end." The spatial arrangements of linguistic elements plays a large role in the establishment of meaning (Winn & Solomon, 1993).
SEE “inkus.html”
SEE “modals0.html”