Difficulty in an online language learning course and its impact on learner tactics and strategies

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
The notion of difficulty in Second Language Acquisition research is a highly discussed topic, and it has been extensively explored in the literature. However, research studies investigating difficulty in the context of Computer Assisted Language Learning instructional design are scarce. This thesis explores the concept of difficulty in an online Modern Greek language course and how it can be implemented in an adaptive dashboard for a digital learning environment. The thesis examines different metrics of difficulty for a language learning unit. It introduces a new metric for difficulty, the Linguistic Complexity Index, consisting of three indicator indices connected respectively to lexical, morphological, and syntactic complexity. The results indicated that only morphological and syntactic complexity have a statistically detectable correlation to the effort required by the learner as operationalized by time of completion for each unit of the course. Additionally, the study revealed changes in learners' behavior depending on the variability of each of the three indicator indices. Increased lexical complexity relates to an increase in the use of deductive learning tactics, whereas increased syntactic complexity relates to an increase in the use of inductive learning tactics. Variability of morphological complexity showed no statistically detectable connection to the use of deductive versus inductive learning strategies. These findings have interesting implications for applying the three complexity indicator indices in designing adaptive presentation of language learning resources.
131 pages.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Nesbit, John
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