Volume 17 Number 2

Anonymity and Motivation in Asychronous Discussions and L2 Vocabulary Learning
Nihat Polat, Duquesne University
Rae Mancilla, Duquesne University
Laura Mahalingappa, Duquesne University

This study investigates L2 attainment in asynchronous online environments, specifically possible relationships among anonymity, L2 motivation, participation in discussions, quality of L2 production, and success in L2 vocabulary learning. It examines, in asynchronous discussions, (a) if participation and (b) motivation contribute to L2 vocabulary learning, (c) if motivation is related to level of participation in anonymous versus nonanonymous discussions, and (d) if a student’s quality of L2 use varies in anonymous vs. nonanonymous discussions. Data from 87 high school students enrolled in a cyber-charter school Spanish II course in the Eastern United States included a pre- and post-cloze, a vocabulary recognition test, e-documents retrieved from the asynchronous discussions, and demographic information and motivation surveys. Results revealed that students who participated in the asynchronous discussions received significantly higher scores on the post-test than those who did not. In terms of level of participation, nonanonymous forums may have a comparative advantage over anonymous ones for learners with high levels of introjected regulation, whereas for learners with high levels of identified regulation, both forums are advantageous. Introjected regulation was the only significant predictor of success in learning L2 vocabulary. Finally, nonanonymous forums seem to generate higher quality L2 production than anonymous ones.

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