Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Hannah Pitner



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Rebecca Adams

Committee Member

Ronald Fuentes

Committee Member

Diana Ruggiero


Relatively little research has considered how tasks are performed and experienced by students in different types of classrooms. Research shows that innovative classroom designs can lead to higher levels of cognitive engagement, connections between form and meaning, and more diverse forms of input (Schmidt, 1990; Svalberg, 2012) and are particulary beneficial for young learners (Nunan 2013). While significant research has explored TBLT, very little has looked at its effectiveness with young learners, particularly in the foreign language classroom. (Butler & Zeng 2014, Ellis 2020). The present quasi experimental mixed methods study examines the effects of the classroom setting on interaction processes and affective factors within the Spanish classroom with vocabulary as the target linguistic feature. Classroom comparisons are made between traditional and Montessori designs. Data was collected with a group of fifteen 4th and 5th grade novice language learners split into two TBLT Spanish classes during a one-month summer enrichment program. Each group of learners attended equal class time in a traditional classroom and in an age-appropriate Montessori classroom. Data on motivation, attitude, and anxiety was collected through uptake sheets given to learners at the end of the pre-task and the main task. Vocabulary data was collected through pre, post, and weekly vocabulary tests. Interaction data was collected through recording of pair task work, then transcribed and coded for total turns, off task turns, and vocabulary usage. Overall, the Montessori classroom design exceeded the traditional classroom in affective factors and vocabulary acquisition following previous research by Gurzinsky-Weiss et al. (2015) on innovative classroom design. Opinion gap tasks were most effective in terms of affective factors for young learners as well as rate of learning, while information gap tasks promoted the highest levels of target language usage. Findings of this study allow for deeper understanding of how TBLT can be more effective for young learners in terms of classroom type and task type to increase interaction and vocabulary acquisition as well as promote positive effects on affective factors.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest


Open Access