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Problematizing discourse completion tasks: voices from verbal report

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43 - 69
Number of pages27
JournalEvaluation and Research in Education
Journal issue1
StatePublished - 2008


Written discourse completion tasks have frequently been employed in pragmatics research as a key research instrument in eliciting the production of speech acts by second language learners while studies incorporating verbal report have provided evidence of the processes involved in second language speech act production. This study responds to the call to include native speakers in verbal protocol research and focuses on the paired concurrent verbal report of six English native speakers, elicited in conjunction with their responses to 18 written discourse completion tasks eliciting English requests. The study aimed to identify the focus of participants' attention while on task and employed content analysis to identify themes emerging from the participants' verbal protocols. Findings from the analysis sugest that participants' attention may be directed to perceived deficiencies in the elicitation instrument, reflecting criticisms in the research literature relating to the design and authenticity of written discourse completion tasks. Secondly, the study found that participants may respond to these deficiencies by recreating the task within an authentic speech event. In providing a respondent perspective on the research methodology, the study highlights implications for the design and employment of written discourse completion tasks in eliciting speech acts in second language acquisition research

Additional information

Sponsorship: British Academy Overseas Conference Grant 40614

    Research areas

  • Evaluating discourse completion tasks, verbal report

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  • Journal article

    Rights statement: This is an author's accepted manuscript of an article published in Evaluation & Research in Education, Volume 21, Issue 1, 2008, copyright Taylor & Francis, available online at:

    Accepted author manuscript, 196 KB, Word-document



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