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Attention to imagery in learning and recall of French sentences in the senior secondary school Larkin, Thomas Clelland

Abstract

The goal of this study was to ascertain whether attention to imagery, by grade 11 students learning French is an effective psychological set in learning French sentences compared to students who*learn "word for word". Thirty French sentences to be learned were presented to the students on an overhead projector. Recall of the sentences was measured by an immediate post test, and by a delay post test twenty-four hours later. Three pilot studies were carried out to verify the feasibility of adapting previous research findings largely derived from verbal learning studies which had used English language. Psychological components related to learning French as well as learning materials, recall tests and subject samples were also examined and modified where necessary. Subsequent to these pilot studies different teaching methods were included in the study as an independent variable to investigate a possible interaction with the learning techniques. One teaching method emphasised the orthography of French language expressions, during the classroom learning process, with reinforcement of the correct student response immediately following. The other method employed an aural-oral learning approach. The subjects in the experiment were exposed to these two learning methods for six weeks preceding the learning session of the experiment. Experimental subjects consisted of grade 11 students learning French at two B.C. schools; Semiahraoo Senior Secondary and Princess Margaret Senior Secondary. At each school approximately half of the students were instructed by one method and the other half by the other method. The teacher in each school was practiced in both methods in order to accomplish this. During the learning session students in each of the four groups were given specific instructions on how to learn the thirty French sentences. These instructions directed students either to learn by imaging the sentence meaning or by learning "word for word". There was also a control group in which students learned in their own style. In the post tests, sentence subjects were given on the test sheet and sentence predicates had to be recalled. Four recall measures were applied to the resulting recall data. The most difficult measure, which required exact recall of a French sentence to obtain credit, was found to be an unreliable measure because of its extreme stringency. The other three measures supported the theme that attention to imagery of sentence meaning was significantly more effective in recall than "word for word" learning. Results indicated that this treatment effect was present largely in the immediate post test. The experimental treatments probably lacked the impact to produce a significant effect in the long term recall. There was a significant school by recall measure interaction. That is, students in one school demonstrated a facility for recalling certain words and students in the other school demonstrated an ability to recall a different choice of words. The pre-experimental instructional methodology did not significantly effect recall scores.

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