The effectiveness of post-reading word-focused activities and their associations with working memory
Abstract The study investigates the effects of post-reading word-focused activities on vocabulary acquisition and the extent to which the effects are mediated by learners' working memory. Eighty-one university students were assigned to three experimental groups (Gap-fill, Sentence-writing, Comprehension-only) and a Control group. After completing a reading comprehension task, the Gap-fill and Sentence-writing groups completed word-focused activities, and the Comprehension-only group answered an essay question without receiving any form-focused instruction; the Control group only completed the tests. The Vocabulary Knowledge Scale developed by Paribakht and Wesche (1997) was employed to measure treatment effects, and a reading span test was used to measure the learners’ working memory capacities. The results show that on the immediate post-test, the Sentence-writing group performed the best, followed by Gap-fill, Comprehension-only, and Control. On the delayed post-test, the Sentence writing and Gap-fill groups equally outperformed the two other groups. Linear regression analysis revealed that working memory significantly predicted the gain scores of the Comprehension-only and the Gap-fill groups on the immediate post-test. Our results partially confirm the Task Involvement Load Hypothesis and suggest an interaction between working memory and the effects of different types of vocabulary instruction.