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Testing a threshold hypothesis: An approximate replication of Johnson, Mercado, & Acevedo

Johnson, Mark .D., & Nicodemus, C. (2016). Testing a threshold hypothesis: An approximate replication of Johnson, Mercado, & Acevedo (2012). Language Teaching, 49(02), 251-274. doi: 10.1017/S0261444815000087

Abstract: In order to better understand the role of working memory in second language (L2) written production, this study contributes to recent research attempting to apply Kellogg’s model of working memory in first language (L1) writing to L2 writing research (Ellis & Yuan 2004; Ong & Zhang 2010; Johnson, Mercado & Acevedo 2012). This paper describes an approximate replication of a study presented by Johnson et al. (2012) in order to determine whether the effects of pre-task planning sub-processes (idea generation, organization, and goal setting) are mediated by a hypothesized threshold of proficiency in the target language. To do this, the current study replicated a quasi-experimental research design to test the effect of specific pre-task planning sub-processes on the written language production of a group of L1 speakers of English. Using measures identical to those in Johnson et al. (2012), the study found no significant, multivariate effect of pre-task planning on the fluency and complexity of the participants’ written language production, suggesting no support for the hypothesized threshold of general proficiency in the target language. The implications of the study’s results are discussed in terms of Kellogg’s model (1996) of working memory in L1 writing and its ability to describe L2 composing processes.

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