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Computer-assisted vocabulary learning: multimedia annotations, word concreteness, and individualized instruction

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
This dissertation addresses research gaps in second / foreign language (L2) vocabulary learning by investigating issues surrounding multimedia annotations, word concreteness, and individualized instruction. Two experiments were conducted with beginner learners of L2 German who used Voka, an online flashcard-based multimedia program for intentional vocabulary learning designed by the author of this dissertation. Experiment 1 explored the effectiveness of annotations for vocabulary learning by also considering word concreteness and variation in annotation effectiveness among learners. Using a within-subjects design, 72 participants studied 15 abstract and 15 concrete German nouns. For each word, learners received a translation, an example sentence, and one of five annotation clusters that address the form, meaning and / or use of a word: PG) picture, gloss of example sentence, DG) definition, gloss, PA) picture, audio pronunciation, DA) definition, audio, or PAGD) picture, audio, gloss, definition. An immediate vocabulary posttest revealed that for both abstract and concrete words, annotation clusters containing a picture are significantly more effective than clusters without a picture. The delayed posttest data showed, however, that all annotation clusters are equally effective for abstract and concrete words. Furthermore, both posttests demonstrated that abstract words are significantly harder to learn than concrete words in all annotation clusters and that the effectiveness of annotation clusters varies across learners. Experiment 2 constructed an individualized learning environment by considering the effectiveness of different annotation clusters on learner performance in experiment 1 to then examine the additional effect of two presentation sequences of annotation clusters on L2 vocabulary learning. Using a between-subjects design, 68 participants studied another 28 nouns with Voka. The FIX group received a fixed presentation sequence that showed all words in each learner's most effective annotation cluster. The ALT group received an alternating presentation sequence of each learner's two most effective annotation clusters by studying 14 words in each cluster. The results showed that presentation sequence has no effect on L2 vocabulary learning. The dissertation discusses the implications of the findings of both experiments and identifies potential avenues for future research.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Heift, Trude
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