Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2009

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Teaching and Learning

First Advisor

Heilenman, L Kathy

First Committee Member

Ansley, Timothy N

Second Committee Member

Everson, Michael E

Third Committee Member

Lohman, David F

Fourth Committee Member

Schrier, Leslie


The study investigated the effects of a motivational and cognitive pre-tasks on oral task production by intermediate and low advanced college learners of French at a large public university in the United States. The motivation and cognitive groups engaged in an information-gap group discussion task in French following brief motivationally and strategically oriented pre-tasks conducted in the participants' native language, while the control group completed the discussion task without a pre-task. In addition, all groups completed a dictation as a measure of proficiency and a post-task motivation survey.

The results of the study did not show any significant differences between the motivation, cognitive and control treatments in terms of accuracy, fluency or complexity of their speech. Possible reasons contributing to the findings are discussed and interpretations are proposed. Particularly, it is suggested that strategies for motivating students and providing cognitive support for a language task need to be coupled with focus on the task content and/or form, addressed in the target language, in order to differentially affect the fluency, accuracy, and complexity aspects of the second language speech.

At the same time, the motivation group participants reported significantly higher interest in the task, higher perception of its value, and higher perception of their own autonomy, which indicates that the motivation pre-task did positively affect their motivation in relation to the task. Interest and value subcategories of the motivation survey were particularly sensitive to differences between the groups. It is suggested that regular support and promotion of positive motivational dispositions in a language class may, in the long run, result in an observable positive effect on certain aspects of the learners' speech.


accuracy, complexity, fluency, French, motivation, task-based instruction


x, 146 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 215-221).


Copyright 2009 Svetlana Borisovna Dembovskaya