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Title: Understanding the Complexities of Chinese Word Acquisition Within an Online Learning Platform
Because Chinese reading and writing systems are not phonetic, Mandarin Chinese learners must construct six-way mental connections in order to learn new words, linking characters, meanings, and sounds. Little research has focused on the difficulties inherent to each specific component involved in this process, especially within digital learning environments. The present work examines Chinese word acquisition within ASSISTments, an online learning platform traditionally known for mathematics education. Students were randomly assigned to one of three conditions in which researchers manipulated a learning assignment to exclude one of three bi-directional connections thought to be required for Chinese language acquisition (i.e., sound-meaning and meaning-sound). Researchers then examined whether students’ performance differed significantly when the learning assignment lacked sound-character, character-meaning, or meaning-sound connection pairs, and whether certain problem types were more difficult for students than others. Assessment of problems by component type (i.e., characters, meanings, and sounds) revealed support for the relative ease of problems that provided sounds, with students exhibiting higher accuracy with fewer attempts and less need for system feedback when sounds were included. However, analysis revealed no significant differences in word acquisition by condition, as evidenced by next-day post-test scores or pre- to post-test gain scores. Implications and suggestions for future work are discussed.  more » « less
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11th International Conference on Computer Supported Education
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National Science Foundation
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