Measuring Effectiveness: Musings on the What and the How

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Yayun Anny Sun


Norris and Ortega’s (2000) article on L2 instruction permits a helpful overview of the domain of instructed SLA. The authors’ detailed description of the coding process provides a useful matrix of instructional techniques in terms of Focus on Form (FonF), Focus on Forms (FonFS), Focus on Meaning (FonM) and implicit/explicit techniques. It is also helpful to follow the different types of measurements that SLA researchers have employed. However, while helpful and essential to the purpose of the study, Norris and Ortega’s coding scheme has its limitations as some instructional treatments do not readily fit into one cell or another. As Norris and Ortega themselves state, we need to exercise caution when comparing studies with seemingly similar constructs, and we might need to extract and separately analyze parts of a treatment to arrive at a clearer picture of its effectiveness. For instance, while VanPatten (2002) himself has identified Processing Instruction (PI) as an explicit treatment, a closer analysis of PI’s components reveals that it may be a hybrid of both explicit and implicit treatment. Similarly, treatments that are labeled as output practice, input practice, or feedback can have many manifestations depending on how they are actually executed in each individual study.

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