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Effectiveness of hypermedia annotations for foreign language reading

Effectiveness of hypermedia annotations for foreign language reading

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Published by Le Nguyen Nhu Anh
Effectiveness of hypermedia annotations for foreign language reading
Effectiveness of hypermedia annotations for foreign language reading

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Published by: Le Nguyen Nhu Anh on Jun 02, 2013
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Effectiveness of hypermedia annotations forforeign language reading
Asim Sakar
& Gulcan Ercetin
University of Bahcesehir, Istanbul, Turkey
Faculty of Education, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey
This study first explores intermediate-level English learners’ preferences for hypermediaannotations while they are engaged in reading a hypermedia text. Second, it examineswhether multimedia annotations facilitate reading comprehension in the second language.The participants were 44 adult learners of English as a foreign language studying English forAcademic Purposes. Data were collected through a tracking tool, a reading comprehensiontest, a questionnaire, and interviews. Results indicate that learners preferred visual annota-tions significantly more than textual and audio annotations. On the other hand, a negativerelationship was found between annotation use and reading comprehension. Especially,pronunciations, audiorecordings, and videos were found to affect reading comprehensionnegatively. However, the qualitative data revealed that the participants had positive attitudestowards annotations and hypermedia reading in general.
annotation use, hypermedia, L2 reading
Hypermedia refers to computer-based applicationsthat provide information in a nonlinear way throughmultiple types of resources such as text, graphics,sound, video, and animation (Kommers
et al
. 1996). Itis suggested that hypermedia is potentially useful forsecond language (L2) reading because a given text canbe made comprehensible for L2 readers by annotatingit with multiple types of media in the form of glos-saries (Davis 1989; Martinez-Lage 1997; Roby 1999).In order to help L2 learners cope with an authentictext, glossaries have been considered more effectivethan simplifying the text (Widdowson 1984). Thus,glossaries may be utilized to facilitate reading com-prehension by providing information both at the wordor sentence level and at the topic level.While annotating L2 texts may be useful in helpinglearners cope with an authentic text, it also makes textprocessing more complicated. Current models of L2reading that emphasize interaction of bottom-up andtop-down processes for successful reading compre-hension (Bernhardt 1991) fall short in explaining textprocessing in a hypermedia environment. In this case,the reader is not only engaged in processing the textbut also the verbal and visual input that are providedthrough the annotations.Mayer (2001) proposes a cognitive theory of mul-timedia learning to explain how learning from verbaland visual input takes place. The theory, which in-corporates Dual Coding Theory and Cognitive LoadTheory, is based on three main assumptions. The
dualchannels assumption
suggests that visual and verbalinformation is processed in separate channels; how-ever, one type of information may be transferred to theother through the interaction between the channels.The
limited capacity assumption
suggests that eachchannel has a limited capacity. Finally,
active pro-
Asim Sakar, Bahcesehir Universitesi, 34538,Bahcesehir, Istanbul, Turkey.E-mail: asim@bahcesehir.edu.tr
18 October 2004
Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2005 Journal of Computer Assisted learning 21, pp28–38
Original article
cessing assumption
suggests that humans are activelyinvolved in the construction of knowledge. Thus,when verbal and visual input is provided through amultimedia presentation, the learner selects relevantwords and images and organizes them separately intoverbal and pictorial models where connections amongselected words and images are established to form acoherent mental structure. These two models arequalitatively different in that pictures provide holisticand nonlinear information while words provide dis-crete information in a linear way. Thus, the twomodels are supposed to complement each other.Learning takes place when the learner establishesconnections between the corresponding portions of theverbal and visual model with the help of priorknowledge, hence integrating these two models in theworking memory. Mayer provides empirical evidencesupporting his theory and contends that learning inmultimedia environments is facilitated when the in-formation is presented through the verbal and visualchannels in a way that does not overload the workingmemory such as presenting information by accom-panying words and with pictures instead of only inwords, placing words and pictures near rather than farfrom each other, presenting words and pictures si-multaneously instead of successively, and so forth.While evidence presented by Mayer is based onstudies conducted with native speakers of English, fewstudies have investigated the effectiveness of multi-modal information in L2 learning. The research re-view in the next section focuses on the studies thatinvestigated the impact of multimodal informationprovided through electronic glosses on L2 readingcomprehension.
Review of related literature
Early studies on the effectiveness of electronic glossescompared hyperdictionaries with conventional paperdictionaries (Roby 1991 cited in Roby 1999; Aust
et al
. 1993). These studies revealed that students ten-ded to consult the hyperdictionary more frequentlythan traditional dictionaries, while taking less time toread the text. However, neither study found significantdifferences between the groups in terms of readingcomprehension. Such comparisons between traditionaland electronic dictionaries may not be meaningfulanymore because reading on the computer is becom-ing widespread. Therefore, we need to investigate theeffectiveness of hypermedia dictionaries, addressingissues such as for whom and under what conditionsthey are effective. Later studies were confined to hy-permedia dictionaries and provided insightful in-formation by using tracking technology that recordedparticipants’ interactions with a given text.Several studies investigated learners’ preferencesregarding the types of annotations (Davis & Lyman-Hager 1997; Lomicka 1998; Chun 2001, Ercetin2003). Davis and Lyman-Hager found that the 42 in-termediate-level French learners had a strong pre-ference for annotations providing first language (L1)translations of words. This finding was confirmed byLomicka’s small-scale study with 12 French learners,who were also provided with other types of glossessuch as images, references, L2 definitions, and ques-tions. Chun and Ercetin investigated learners’ anno-tation preferences according to proficiency levels.Chun found that low-verbal ability learners used bothinternal and external dictionaries more than highverbal ability learners. This finding was confirmedby Ercetin, who found that intermediate profi-ciency students accessed annotations signifi-cantly more than advanced students. She also foundthat both groups accessed word definitions and videoannotations that provided further information aboutthe topic more frequently than the other types of an-notations such as pronunciations of words, audio re-cordings, and graphics providing extra informationabout the topic.As for the effectiveness of annotations, Davis andLyman-Hager (1997) did not find any meaningful re-lationship between annotation use and reading com-prehension although students reported positiveattitudes towards the annotations. On the other hand,Lomicka (1998) found that full glossing (L1 transla-tion and L2 definitions plus pronunciations, images,references, and questions) was more effective thanlimited glossing (L1 translation and L2 definitions) orno glossing, in facilitating L2 reading comprehension.However, Lomicka’s findings should be consideredwith caution because of its small subject size. Anotherpiece of evidence for the effectiveness of glosses forL2 reading comprehension came from an experimentalstudy conducted by Davis (1989), who found thatproviding definitions of words and comments asglosses during reading was as effective as providing
Hypermedia annotations for foreign language reading
Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2005 Journal of Computer Assisted Learning
, pp28–38
them before reading, and both techniques were moreeffective than providing no aids at all.Knight (1994) investigated the extent to which low-and high-verbal ability learners benefited from anno-tations by randomly assigning 112 Intermediate-levelstudents of Spanish to dictionary access and no dic-tionary access conditions. Knight’s study suggestedthat using a dictionary was more beneficial for low-verbal ability students because the correlation betweenthe frequency of word lookup and reading compre-hension was much higher for this group (
0.68)than the high-verbal ability group (
0.17). Thisfinding was also confirmed by Chun (2001), whofound no difference in the number of propositionsrecalled between the high and low ability groups, andthus concluded that the latter group benefited morefrom an external and internal bilingual dictionary. Onthe other hand, Ariew and Ercetin (in press), in a studywith a total of 84 intermediate and advanced learnersof English, found a negative correlation between an-notation use and reading comprehension for inter-mediate learners, while no relationship was observedbetween the two variables for the advanced group. Thefindings of this study shed doubt on the usefulness of annotations for L2 reading comprehension.Finally, Chun and Plass (1996), in a series of threestudies conducted with 160 university students of German, investigated the effectiveness of particulartypes of annotations on reading comprehension. Theyfound that presenting words with both visual andverbal annotations facilitated reading comprehensionmore than words with no annotations or with verbalannotations only.To sum up, the studies that are available to us haverevealed insufficient and inconclusive results aboutwhat types of hypermedia annotations learners preferto use and whether hypermedia annotations facilitatereading comprehension. Thus, this study aims to ad-dress these issues. More specifically, the researchquestions are:(a) What are the annotation preferences of inter-mediate-level English as a foreign language (EFL)learners when they are engaged in reading a hyper-media text?(b) Is there a relationship between the overall amountof annotation use and reading comprehension forintermediate-level EFL learners? If so, in whatway do particular types of annotations influencereading comprehension for intermediate-levelEFL learners?It was hypothesized that learners would prefer videosand pictures to access more information about thetopic (Ercetin 2003), while word definitions would bepreferred to comprehend the meanings of unknownwords (Davis & Lyman-Hager 1997; Lomicka 1998).However, no direct relationship was expected betweenthe overall amount of annotation use and readingcomprehension (Davis & Lyman-Hager 1997).
A total of 125 Turkish students studying English forAcademic Purposes at a Turkish university were giventhe Oxford Placement Test (Allan 1992) to determinetheir proficiency levels in English. This placement testcomprises two main sections, a listening test andgrammar test, with 100 items in each section. The testprovides percentage scores out of 200. For the pur-poses of this study, the score range between 135 and145 was considered intermediate level, which isroughly equal to level 5 in the IELTS, FCE, andCCSE, level 2 in Cambridge exams, AP according toARELS exams, and OP according to Oxford exams.The data for the 44 intermediate-level participantswere retained for analysis. Twenty-six of the partici-pants were males and 18 were females. The averageage was 20 years, ranging between 18 and 25 years.The participants all had considerable experience withcomputers and were familiar with language learningCD-ROMs, word processing software, Internet, ande-mail.
The data were collected through a hypermedia readingtext, a reading comprehension test, a questionnaire,and interviews.
 Hypermedia reading text 
An authentic online reading text was selected fromThe National Geographic Journal website (http:/www.nationalgeographic.com/greatland/) and wasannotated with multiple types of media such as text,graphics, audio, and video by using a reading software
A. Sakar & G. Ercetin
Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2005 Journal of Computer Assisted Learning
, pp28–38

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