Completed Research Projects

The linguistic development of ELT undergraduate students’ L1 and L2 writing
Starting Date:
July, 2016
Expires:
July, 2018
Sponsor:
Boğaziçi University Research Council
Team:
Leyla Marti (Principal Investigator), Nur Yigitoglu (Co-Principal Investigator), Yasemin Bayyurt
Description:

The project aims to investigate undergraduate students’ academic literacy practices in their first languages (L1s) and second languages (L2s).

Syntactic and Metric Constraints in Silent Reading in Turkish: An Eye-tracking Study
Starting Date:
December, 2015
Expires:
June, 2017
Sponsor:
Boğaziçi University Research Council
Team:
Nazik Dinçtopal Deniz (Principal Investigator), Didar Karadağ (Research Assistant)
Description:

The project aims to investigate the role of phrase lengths in silent reading in Turkish and whether or not phrase lengths interact with syntactic parsing strategies in modulating human sentence processing routines.

Gains at higher levels of L2 writing proficiency: Linguistic complexity and argument sophistication
Starting Date:
February, 2016
Expires:
March, 2017
Sponsor:
Boğaziçi Research Council
Team:
Aylin Ünaldı (Principal investigator, Şebnem Yalçın
Description:

The study focuses on specific linguistic indicators that can be attributed to developmentally noteworthy changes in writing performance, and also investigates whether linguistic improvement is related to argumentation capacity and whether improved critical thinking ability fosters argumentation construction in L2 advanced writing.

Morphological Processing in a Foreign Language: The Cases of Turkish and English
Starting Date:
October, 2012
Expires:
June, 2016
Sponsor:
The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK)
Team:
Ayşe Gürel, Nesrin Kutlay, Serkan Uygun
Description:

This project investigates the representation of multimorphemic words in the mental lexicon. The project includes psycholinguistic experiments (e.g., online lexical decision paradigms) in Turkish and in English. The studies aim to examine whether the mental representation of/access to words is different in native and nonnative speakers.

The effects of priming in production of morphology in the second language
Starting Date:
March, 2014
Expires:
September, 2015
Sponsor:
Boğaziçi University Research Council
Team:
Ayşe Gürel (principal invesitgator), Hande Karakaplan (researcher)
Description:

This study aims to investigate the role of priming in adult second language (L2) acquisition of morphology. More precisely, the purpose is to explore whether (un)grammatical priming plays a role in adult L2 speakers’ (in)accurate use of an inflectional morpheme in English (i.e., the third person agreement –s). To this end, two experiments were designed to investigate whether grammatical and ungrammatical morphosyntactic priming has any impacts on L1 Turkish-L2 English learners’ subsequent production of the third person singular -s. The study also explored the duration of priming. The study involved a pre-test-post-test design and the data was based on oral production. Participants were asked to describe pictures shown on a computer screen subsequent to different prime sentences they heard from the researcher in the confederate-scripting paradigm. Participant’s correct and incorrect use of the target morpheme in their descriptions of the experimental items were then analyzed and quantified to identify priming effects in immediate and delayed post-tests.

Identity Construction in Foreign Language Learning (Yabancı dil öğreniminde yapılandırması)
Starting Date:
January, 2011
Expires:
January, 2015
Sponsor:
Boğaziçi University Scientific Projects Commission
Team:
Yasemin Bayyurt (Principal Investigator), Pınar Ersin, Zeynep Sena Abaylı
Description:

The aim of this project is to fill the gap in the research context of identity studies by shifting the focus from second language learning contexts to foreign language learning contexts. This project, specifically, aims to investigate Turkish English as a foreign language (EFL) learner identity in the Turkish setting. The project aims to answer the following research questions: Will an EFL learner experience an identity change after learning English? If yes, what type of changes will s/he experience? If yes, what are the factors affecting this change? The study will be carried out at the English Preparatory School (prep school) of a highly competitive, English-medium state university in Istanbul. Quantitative and qualitative data will be collected from an advanced level learner enrolled in this program to better understand the process that s/he experiences while learning English in a foreign language learning context along with his/her thoughts and feelings as s/he engages with both formal (i.e., classroom) and informal (i.e. outside the classroom) language practices. Quantitative data will be collected by a background survey to learn how many advanced level students use English outside the classroom and how many of them would be interested in a research project and qualitative data will be collected by the following sources: journals that are written by the participant, video recordings of the participant’s classes, transcripts of stimulated recall, interviews conducted with the participant, interview with instructors, and researcher journal. To collect data, a video-recorder and a digital audio-recorder will be used. Data will be analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative data analysis methods. For quantitative analysis, data obtained from the background surveys will be analyzed by frequency counts. For qualitative analysis, data gathered from video and audio recordings will be transcribed. Then, they will be coded for themes or categories. Transcription (Subscriber transcription program) and analysis (Atlas.ti scientific software) of the data will be done by using a computer and related software programs. Before the project starts, consent from the institution, the participating learner, and his/her instructors will be taken indicating they are voluntarily participating in the project. During the study, there will not be any content that will harm the institution, the participant or the instructors or degrade their legal rights. None of the content of the research project will be used for commercial purposes. At the end of the project, all the data and the information gathered from the institution, the participant.

A corpus-based meta-pragmatic analysis of academic writing in an EFL context (Akademik metinlerde üstsöylem (metadiscourse) ögelerine edimbilimsel bir bakış)
Starting Date:
March, 2010
Expires:
March, 2014
Sponsor:
Boğaziçi University Scientific Projects Commission
Team:
Yasemin Bayyurt (Principal Investigator), Leyla Martı, Senem Yıldız
Description:

Academic writing curricula should emphasize students’ awareness towards becoming more expressive and clear when they write in Turkish and in English. For example, they should learn when and where hedging is appropriate. Writing instructors in English programs should be aware of this so that they can be alert to the possible influence of students’ L1 on their L2 writing, and arrange appropriate instructions if this be the case. There is not much research done on hedging in academic writing in the Turkish context. Therefore, this study aims to close this gap and provide the academic audience with the details of university students’ academic writing practices in Turkish and English. In order to do that a larger corpus of Turkish students’ academic writing in Turkish and in English should be compiled and the occurrence of metadiscoursal features should be analyzed for pattern and significance. This project will establish the basis of the Boğaziçi University English Language Learner Corpora (BUELC), which will be the first organized written corpora of English language learners/users in higher education instutions in Turkey.

Validation of reading span tests as measures of working memory capacity in L2 reading: Evidence through eye-tracking methodology
Starting Date:
October, 2010
Expires:
May, 2013
Sponsor:
The Scientific & Technical Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK)
Team:
Cem Alptekin, Gülcan Erçetin
Description:

The role of working memory capacity in reading comprehension has been well established by numerous studies in the first language and few studies in the second language. Working memory is measured by various span tests such as reading span and operation span. A common feature of these tests is that they require processing and storage of information at the same time. Research has shown that the type of WM test that has the highest correlation with reading comprehension is the reading span test. However, the methodological inconsistencies in the development of reading span tests make it difficult to generalize the findings from these studies. One such inconsistency is the language used to measure working memory capacity in the second language. While reading span is measured in the first language in some studies, it is measured in the second language in others. Moreover, the type of task used in processing the sentences is also inconsistent. While some tests require judging syntactic accuracy of sentences, others require judging semantic veracity. The aim of this study is to investigate whether such inconsistencies in the measurement of reading span affect the validity of reading span tests. Criterion-related validity and construct validity are two main dimensions of test validity. The former can be investigated through correlational data whereas the latter involves examing test takers’ mental processes while they take the test. Since the available conventional techniques used to investigate test takers’ mental processes interfere with the natural test taking process, recording test takers’ eye movements while they complete the test overcomes such weakness. This method provides valuable information about test takers’ strategies, thus is an alternative method in construct validation. Examining eye movements in construct validation is a new method and has been used in few studies. Thus the main goal of this project is to investigate how methodological inconsistencies in the development of reading span tests affect the validity of these tests through tracking eye movements of test takers in the context of second language reading comprehension processes.

Second language acquisition of the article system in English by adult Turkish learners
Starting Date:
November, 2011
Expires:
December, 2012
Sponsor:
Boğaziçi University Research Council
Team:
Ayşe Gürel
Description:

This study aims to examine article use in late second language (L2) learners of English in three different semantic contexts (i.e., [+definite; +specific]; [-definite; +specific]; [-definite; -specific]). To this end, L2 acquisition of English articles by native speakers of Turkish—a language without an article system—is investigated to identify the most problematic semantic context(s) of article use. Findings will contribute to verify previous assumptions that suggest that irrespective of the first language, most adult L2 learners have problems in correctly supplying the indefinite article “a” in [-definite; +specific] contexts.

Leonardo da Vinci Transfer of Innovation Project: M-Learning for the young people at risk groups [M-LARG]
Starting Date:
January, 2009
Expires:
December, 2012
Sponsor:
European Union, Education and Training, Lifelong Learning Programme
Team:
Yasemin Bayyurt, Gülcan Erçetin, Fidel Çakmak, Saadet Tıkaç, Nuri Başoğlu, Hüseyin Şimşek, Nur Başak Karataş
Description:

MLARG involves the implementation of mobile learning (m-learning) technologies in foreign language teaching to enhance language learning facilities of students coming from lower socioeconomic backgrounds (ages 16-17) in vocational high schools. Thus, this project is both innovative – e.g., use of technology in foreign language education, and inclusive – i.e., designed for young people at risk groups . The project involves the development of methodology and language learning materials suitable for mobile language learning (MLL), and its implementation. Therefore, it can be said that the methodology and the content developed for MLL and m-learning infrastructures will be the major outcome of the project.

The aim of the present project is to use mobile learning technologies (MLT) to design language teaching materials and methodology for young people (ages 16-17) with limited financial resources studying at vocational high schools. The main reasons for choosing Mobile learning (m-learning) can be listed as follows: (i) m-learning helps learners to develop positive attitudes towards literacy both in school subjects and technology; (ii) m-learning motivates learners to take part in activities in mobile medium of communication (MCM) via multimedia tools, such as, mediaBoard, portal page, and clips; (iii) m-learning allows “anywhere”, “anytime” and “personalized” learning for everyone (Atwell, 2005). Since during the implementation of the project, the participant will have access to m-learning facilities; it is considered that using m-learning at “anytime and anyplace” will give young people at risk groups a strong feeling of being taken care of, valued, and included in the society. M-learning will also allow them to personalize their way of learning and increase their self-esteem and confidence. Moreover, in the project, through use of m-learning technologies the content will not be presented in a fixed environment but in various environments, such as, PDAs, Cascading Style Sheets and Small Screen Rendering (SSR).

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