• Influences of Interest on L2 Reading Comprehension

      Beglar, David; Nemoto, Tomoko; Swenson, Tamara; Johnson, Scott; Elwood, James Andrew (Temple University. Libraries, 2014)
      In educational psychology, the cognitive and affective motivational variable interest has been demonstrated to have a positive influence on text-based learning outcomes where individuals learn in their first language (L1), yet little interest research has been conducted among second language (L2) learners. Research in L1 contexts also has shown textual concreteness to be an important factor in comprehension and recall with a mediating role in interest processes. Furthermore, gender studies outside of L2 contexts have indicated that gender is an important factor in interest processes. Two experiments were conducted to engage these qualities in L2 contexts. For experiment 1 it was hypothesized that reading short stories that were more interesting and more concrete would result in higher comprehension and recall test scores. For experiment 2, it was hypothesized that female and male participants would comprehend and recall higher interest short stories better than low interest ones, with stronger effects for male students. In the results of a pilot study and experiment 1, seven interest components (ease of comprehension, concreteness, unpredictability, personal relevance, excitement, attention and engagement, and socialness) were perceived. However, no significant differences were found between comprehension and free recall scores. It is possible that, because of lack of depth of vocabulary recognition, the concreteness of vocabulary was not experienced as such by the participants. Experiment 2 results indicated that despite the use of a "female-oriented" and "male-oriented" story, perceptions of interest of male and female readers did not significantly differ. One interpretation of these results is that the stories used in the study were insufficiently vetted to determine gender differences in short stories or that differences unrelated to gender interest in the structure and themes of the stories confounded the results. Another interpretation of these results is that the similarities between female and male reading interests outweigh differences. A peripheral concern of this study was the provision of a comparison of Bayesian and traditional statistical approaches in the context of one of the study experiments.