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Volume 16 Number 3, Autumn 2019, Pages 768-1068 PDF Download

Time-on-task as a Measure of Cognitive Load in TBLT

    Jiyong Lee

Recent studies in task-based research have increasingly implemented ways to measure cognitive load in order to ensure that the tasks that were intended to be more complex placed greater cognitive load onto the learner, which in turn would lead to systematic changes in outcome measures. This study aims to introduce a more objective, indirect measure of cognitive load: time-on-task. In this study, 42 native speakers of English carried out three types of oral tasks that each had three levels of task complexity, operationalized as the number of elements. Cognitive load was measured by learner self-ratings, prospective time estimations, the dual task methodology, and time-on-task. Results of a series of correlational analyses and repeated-measures ANOVA showed that time-on-task, which can further be divided into time-on-planning and time-on-speech, proved to be a valid measure of cognitive load.

Keywords: time-on-task, time-on-planning, time-on-speech, cognitive load, task complexity, self-ratings, prospective time estimations, dual task methodology, L1 speech, Task-Based Language Teaching