Awareness, Type of Medium, and L2 Development: Revisiting Hsieh (2008)

Document Type

Book Chapter


The small number of published studies that has empirically compared face-to-face (FTF) instruction against computer-assisted instruction (CAI) appears to support superior learning benefits for CAI (cf. AbuSeileek, 2009; AbuSeileek & Rababah, 2007; Nutta, 1998; Torlaković & Deugo 2004; cf. Hsieh, 2008 for no effects). However, a recent critical review of these studies’ internal validity (Cerezo, Baralt, Suh, & Leow, 2013) reveals that the relative effects of this computerized medium against FTF instruction are still unclear and calls for a closer investigation of the cognitive processes employed while interacting with L2 data across type of medium. Interestingly, Hsieh (2008) collected but did not report concurrent data produced by her participants during L2 data exposure to a computerized version of the FTF instruction (C-FTF) and CAI conditions in her published study. This chapter seeks to address this important call by revisiting Hsieh (2008) to qualitatively compare, from a psycholinguistic perspective, the cognitive processes, and more specifically, level of awareness, employed in each type of medium (C-FTF vs. CAI) regarding the L2 development of a morpho-syntactic structure such as gustar ‘to please’ at the beginning level of Spanish. The findings indicate that the features of each instructional medium clearly prompted different levels of awareness and depth of processing. These findings also provide plausible explanations for the non-significant differences in performances between the two groups and for the superior gain scores on a delayed posttest for the CAI group reported in the original study and other studies. A pedagogical implication is provided.