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PSYC5232 Research Report handout
Assignment details
Word count: 2000 (please note that there is no leeway on the upper word limit)
Weighting: 30%
Due date: 25th November (Week 10)
Format: Word Document
Submission: Online through the Student Portal
Learning Objectives
a) Identify a range of individual and cultural differences that impact on learning and memory.
b) Describe the key processes involved in learning and memorising a new language
c) Critically evaluate and apply findings from current literature
d) Demonstrate the ability to write a psychological report
Core references
• DeKeyser, R. (2008). Implicit and Explicit Learning. In C. J. Doughty & M.H. Long (Eds). The Handbook of Second Language Acquisition. pp. 313-348. Blackwell Publishing Ltd: Oxford, UK.
• Dunlap, S., Perfetti, C. A., Liu, Y., & Wu, S.-M. (2011). Learning vocabulary in Chinese as a foreign language: Effects of explicit instruction and semantic cue reliability. Retrieved from http://www.pitt.edu/~perfetti/PDF/DunlapLearningVocabulary.pdf
• Taft, M., & Chung, K. (1999). Using radicals in teaching Chinese characters to second language learners. Psychologia, 42, 243-251. Retrieved from http://www2.psy.unsw.edu.au/Users/mtaft/TaftANDChung1999.PDF
You will also need to include at least three other references.
Task
Write a 2000 word Research Report based on the experiment conducted in the week 3 and week 4 tutorials. For this you will need to include the following sections.
Title (included in word count)
Needs to be professional, concise, and informative. Originality encouraged.
Abstract (included in word count)
A paragraph of approximately 100-150 words giving a brief summary of the background literature, aim, hypotheses, method, results, conclusion, and future directions of the current study.
Introduction (~800 words)
In this section, you will need to summarise and critically evaluate current findings and theories in this area. This is when you should introduce relevant terms and issues, remembering to provide definitions for technical terms. Note that a basic description of the structure of Chinese characters has already been given to you in the Background section included in this handout, and therefore there is no need to give it again in the introduction.
This section should also include descriptions of past studies, and a critical analysis of their findings. You need to think about whether appropriate methods and controls were employed in their study so that results are valid and reliable, as well as if the conclusions were logically drawn from the findings.
The introduction should end with the hypotheses of the current study, however, please remember that the hypotheses should follow naturally from the introduction. You also need to make sure that the predictions you’re making have been rationalised.
Method
You DO NOT need to write anything for this section, as this has been done for you and is included at the end of the handout. Please DO NOT copy and paste it into your report.
Results (~200 words)
The SPSS output tables are included in this handout and do not need to be replicated. However, you will need to write a paragraph describing the results and reporting the statistics in APA format.
You will also need to draw ONE graph based on the means provided. Please label the axes appropriately, and give your graph a title.
Discussion (~1000 words)
In this section, you will analyse and critically evaluate findings from the current study, and relate it back to past findings and theories. You should give one or more explanations for the current findings, and discuss the validity of the explanation(s). How are the current findings similar/different to past findings and why? What conclusions can be drawn? You should also discuss potential shortcomings of the current study and how they may be improved upon in the future. Please limit methodological shortcomings to those that may systematically influence the results.
References (not included in word count)
You need to provide in text referencing throughout the report, as well as a reference list at the end of the report.
Appendices
This is provided for you, and you DO NOT need to reproduce the tables.
Formatting
Please follow APA style formatting and referencing. If in doubt, refer to ‘Concise Rules of APA Style’ (6th Ed.).

Background
How do adult second language learners acquire knowledge about the orthographic structure of a different writing system? Previous experiments have suggested that although implicit learning of rules and regularities can occur through exposure to the writing system, adult learners further benefit from explicit instruction of those rules (e.g, Taft & Chung, 1999; Dunlap, Perfetti, Liu & Wu, in press). The current study looks at early adult acquisition of Chinese – a writing system dramatically different from English.
Written Chinese has complex and irregular rules regarding how orthography is mapped onto meaning. The most salient unit of Chinese orthography is the character, which is composed of a series of interconnected strokes arranged in a roughly square format. There are two general types of Chinese characters: simple and compound. Simple characters cannot be further decomposed into meaningful subcomponents. However, the majority of Chinese characters are compound characters, which can be further decomposed into functional orthographic subcomponents called radicals. There are two types of radicals: semantic radicals and phonetic radicals. This study will focus exclusively on the semantic radical, which is usually located on the left-hand side of the character. The semantic radical indicates the semantic category that the character belongs to. For example, character ? (river) possesses the semantic radical ?, which indicates that the meaning of the character has something to do with water. However, there is a lot of variability in the semantic regularity of Chinese characters. For example, ?is a semantically regular Chinese character because its meaning is related to the information provided by its semantic radical. On the other hand, the character ? (law), which also contains the semantic radical ? for water, is semantically irregular, because its meaning is unrelated to its semantic radical. Most Chinese characters have a left-right structure, with the semantic radical on the left. However, the semantic radical may also appear on the top or bottom of a character.
When Chinese is taught as a second language to adult learners, the function of the semantic radical in general, and the meaning of specific semantic radicals in particular, are often not made explicit (Dunlap et al., in press). This is may be due to concerns that the large variability in the semantic regularity of Chinese characters may render any knowledge of semantic radical function more confusing than helpful in terms of character learning. However, there has been evidence suggesting that not only do adult learners become sensitive to the relationship between orthography and semantics through implicit learning with relatively little exposure to Chinese characters, early explicit knowledge of semantic radical function may in fact be beneficial to character learning and retention (Taft & Chung, 1999).
Research questions
Can adult second language learners of Chinese learn the functional role of semantic radicals? Will this learning be better if the function and meaning of semantic radicals is explicitly taught? Can this learning be generalised to new characters?

Method
Participants
One hundred and sixteen students from a 2nd year undergraduate psychology course participated in the experiment as part of their course curriculum. Only the results from 91 participants, who completed all parts of the experiment, have had no previous experience of learning spoken or written Chinese, and did not experience language learning difficulties as a child, were included in the final analysis. Of the final sample, 70 were female, and 22 participants reported a language other than English as their first language. However, self-reported English fluency was high (M=4.74 on a five-point scale where 5 indicated very fluent).
Participants were randomly assigned to either the Explicit (N=46) or Implicit (N=45) instruction groups.
Materials
Learning materials consisted of two groups of Chinese characters: 15 were semantically regular, and 15 were semantically irregular. Both groups had three subsets of five characters with one of the following semantic radicals: the ? radical for grain (usually denoting characters with meanings related with grain production or farming), the ? radical for fire (usually denoting characters with meanings related to fire or cooking), and the ? radical for mouth (usually denoting character with meanings related to mouth actions such eating or talking). All characters had left-right structure, with the semantic radical always appearing on the left-hand side of the character. Visual complexity as measured by mean stroke count was matched between the two groups of characters. A full list of the learning materials is given in Appendix A.
Procedure
Participants took part in the learning trials lasting approximately 30 minutes. At the start of the experiment, participants were randomly assigned to either the implicit instruction group or the explicit instruction group. Prior to learning commencement, both groups were told that they are going to learn a list of 30 Chinese characters, together with their English translations. The explicit instruction group was further informed of the functional role of semantic radicals. They were also presented with each of the three semantic radicals they will encounter, and given information regarding the location and meaning of each of these semantic radicals. The instructions received by the two groups are given in Appendix C. After the learning trials, participants were then tested immediately on their Chinese character recall in the Immediate recalled test. Their demographic details were also collected during this session.
Learning trials
The learning trials were presented on a computer either on campus or at home. Learning trials consisted of three blocks, each block containing all 30 semantically regular and semantically irregular characters presented in randomised order. Each trial began with a 1000ms fixation cross in the centre of the screen, which was immediately replaced with a Chinese character together with its English translation directly beneath it, which remained on the screen for 5000ms. The next trial began automatically when the previous trial ended.
After the complete viewing of each block, participants took part in a quiz, which was aimed to consolidate previously learnt information. Results from the quizzes were not included in the analysis. Each quiz consisted of 10 randomly selected items from the list of 30 Chinese characters, so that at the end of the learning session, each of the items had been quizzed once. The quiz follows a similar format as the learning trials. Each trial begins with a 1000ms fixation cross, followed by a Chinese character without its English translation for 5000ms. The correct English translation then appeared on the screen for 3000ms. Participants were instructed to think of the English translation when they saw the Chinese character by itself, and give themselves a tick or a cross on a piece of paper when the correct English translation appeared.
Immediate recall test
At the end of the learning trials and quizzes, the participants were presented with the immediate test. All 30 characters from the learning trials were presented in randomised order in an internet based survey, and they were instructed to write down the meaning of the characters in English. Participants were given 10 minutes to complete this task.
Demographic data regarding the participants’ language background was collected at the end of the session.
Generalisation test
Exactly one week after the learning session, participants took part in the generalisation test, which took approximately 5 minutes. This test consisted of 18 new Chinese characters that the participants have not seen before, but all of which contained one of the three semantic radicals used in the learning materials. Half of these new characters had the same structure as the learning materials, with the semantic radical on the left (See Appendix B for full list of test materials). The other half of the new characters have a different structure as the learning materials, with the semantic radical on either the top or the bottom. The items were presented in random order, along with a multiple choice of four possible English meanings. Participants were instructed to guess the meaning they thought the character represented. Their responses were considered correct if they selected the meaning that is consistent with the meaning of the semantic radical.

Results
Immediate recall test
Mean
Mean accuracy (%)
Group/Regularity Regular Irregular
Explicit 64.78 (20.63) 54.93 (19.64)
Implicit 60.12
(20.28) 56.15
(23.72)
Standard deviation presented in brackets
2x2 repeated measure ANOVA
Tests of Within-Subjects Effects
Source Type III Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig.
Regularity .218 1 .218 17.549 .000
Regularity * Learning .039 1 .039 3.134 .080
Error(Regularity) 1.107 89 .012
Tests of Between-Subjects Effects
Source Type III Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig.
Intercept 63.350 1 63.350 825.626 .000
Learning .013 1 .013 .173 .679
Error 6.829 89 .077

Generalisation test
Participants were instructed to guess the meaning they thought the character represented. Their responses were considered correct if they selected the meaning that is consistent with the meaning of the semantic radical.
Mean
Mean accuracy (%)
Group/Structure Same Different
Explicit 56.04
(30.09) 43.96
(23.65)
Implicit 35.06
(22.22) 37.04
(18.04)
Standard deviation presented in brackets
2x2 repeated measure ANOVA
Tests of Within-Subjects Effects
Source Type III Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig.
Structure .116 1 .116 3.801 .054
Structure * Learning .225 1 .225 7.356 .008
Error(Structure) 2.717 89 .031
Tests of Between-Subjects Effects
Source Type III Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig.
Intercept 33.686 1 33.686 400.985 .000
Learning .885 1 .885 10.539 .002
Error 7.477 89 .084

Appendices
Appendix A: Learning materials
Semantically Regular Semantically Irregular
Character Stroke Count Semantic Radical Meaning Character Stroke Count Semantic Radical Meaning
? 15 ? grain ? 12 ? bit
? 10 ? seedling ? 10 ? increase
? 15 ? plant ? 10 ? label
? 8 ? stalk ? 12 ? tax
? 9 ? grow ? 10 ? secret
? 6 ? lamp ? 9 ? rotten
? 8 ? stove ? 10 ? annoyed
? 7 ? bright ? 8 ? bed
? 9 ? fry ? 9 ? boast
? 10 ? burn ? 9 ? practice
? 11 ? sing ? 5 ? leaf
? 6 ? eat ? 6 ? scare
? 9 ? bite ? 11 ? only
? 8 ? snore ? 9 ? us
? 8 ? taste ? 9 ? shiver
Mean 9.27 9.27
Appendix B: Generalisation test materials
Same Structure Different Structure
Character Stroke Count Semantic Radical Semantically Regular Meaning Character Stroke Count Semantic Radical Semantically Regular Meaning
? 6 ? Farm ? 7 ? Sprout
? 7 ? Wheat ? 7 ? Corn
? 9 ? Sow ? 8 ? Harvest
? 9 ? Blaze ? 10 ? Boil
? 8 ? Oven ? 7 ? Hot
? 8 ? Dazzle ? 6 ? Candle
? 8 ? Chew ? 9 ? Talk
? 7 ? Kiss ? 10 ? Yell
? 9 ? Shout ? 7 ? Swallow
Mean 7.888889 Mean 7.888889
Appendix C: Instruction to participants
Explicit group
In this experiment, you will learn a series of Chinese characters. The Chinese characters presented all have a component called the semantic radical, which usually (but not always) appears on the left-hand side of the character. All the characters presented today contain one of three semantic radicals. You will be able to learn the characters better if you know what each semantic radical means.
The semantic radical ? means grain or farm related.
E.g., ? means a type of rice.
The semantic radical ? means fire or heat related.
E.g., ? means light.
The semantic radical ? means actions to do with the mouth.
E.g., ? means to chatter.
Each character and its translation will be displayed for 5 seconds. Please look at the characters carefully, and try to remember their meanings.
There will be 3 blocks of presentations, followed by a final test.
At the end of each block, you will be given a short quiz about some of the characters you just saw. These quizzes are practice for the final test. For each quiz item, please write down your answer on a sheet of paper as soon as you see the character. The correct answer will appear on the screen automatically.
At the end of the presentation, please put away your answer sheet. Then, follow the link provided to complete the final test.
When you are ready, click the mouse to start the experiment.
Implicit group
In this experiment, you see a series of Chinese characters, along with their English translations. Your task is to learn as many of these characters as you can. Each character and its translation will be displayed for 5 seconds. Please look at the characters carefully, and try to remember their meanings.
There will be 3 blocks of presentations, followed by a final test.
At the end of each block, you will be given a short quiz about some of the characters you just saw. The quizzes are practice for the final test. For each quiz item, please write down your answer on a sheet of paper as soon as you see the character. The correct answer will appear on the screen automatically.
At the end of the presentation, please follow the link to complete the final test.
When you are ready, click the mouse to start the experiment.
PSYC5232 Research report
marking criteria
Content Description Marks assigned Feedback
Title and Abstract Original title.
150-200 words outlining the current study. /3
Introduction Introduce the past research. Include relevant definitions. Include a critical literature review. Use the findings of the past research to rationalise current aims. Include 3 fully operationalised hypotheses. /8
Results Description of the results in paragraph form, with the appropriate statistics. /6
Graph Bar or line graphs. Clear axes labels. Appropriate title. /3
Discussion
Summary of results and whether the hypotheses were supported. Rationalise why/why not, according from past research and logical reasoning. Limitations, future research directions, and conclusion. /8
Referencing and Presentation APA in text referencing, and full reference list
Appropriate presentation. /2
Total /30

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