REAP Multimodal Learning Fall 09

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REAP Study on Multimodal Learning of Vocabulary

Logistical Information

Contributors Gabriel Parent, Luis Marujo, Adam Skory, Maxine Eskenazi
Study Start Date October 13, 2009
Study End Date November 20, 2009
Learnlab Courses English Language Institute Reading 4 and 5 (ESL LearnLab)
Number of Students 68
Total Participant Readings (est.) 816
Data in Datashop no


The term “Multimodal learning” refers to learning where two or more different modes are used in order to integrate a Knowledge Component. In the particular case of vocabulary, the typical modes would be:

Word learning episodes can occur through writing and speech. Spoken language knowledge is important as a foundation for reading, and may support word learning through reading. Under what conditions does spoken language input, when combined with written input, lead to better word learning for L2 learners?

Reap context definition.jpg

Passive Active Interactive
Explicit (general) Dictionary Definitions Practice Exercises
Implicit (instance) Interpreting meaning in context while reading Sentence Production (assessment) Practice Exercises


Intrinsic Motivation: Motivation to learn for learning's own sake rather than some external goal.

Extrinsic Motivation: Motivation for learn in order to satisfy an external goal, such as completing a task or passing an assessment.

Research question

Does personalization of practice readings to match students' personal interests increase ESL vocabulary learning?

Dependent variables

Normal post-test scores

Normal post-test scores for practiced words only

Long-term retention test scores, same post-test but administered months later.

Evidence of Transfer: sentence production tasks for target words, correct use of words in writing assignments for other courses.

Independent variables

Personalization of readings by topics of interest. In the control condition, the tutor did not use potential personal interest as a factor in its selection of reading materials. In the treatment condition, the tutor did use interest as a factor. All other selection criteria were the same in both conditions. Time on task was also the same.


Since intrinsic motivation seems to be important in language learning, the benefits of personalization will outweigh the costs.

Further Information

Annotated bibliography