Output, noticing, and learning: an investigation into the role of spontaneous attention to form in a four-stage writing task

Focus of the study: The goal of this paper is to compare the effectiveness of collaborative and individual output tasks and how these tasks effect learning of English phrasal verbs. More specifically this study aimed to find out whether reconstruction cloze tasks or reconstruction editing tasks are more effective for learning phrasal verbs. And also the study examined the role of doing these tasks individually versus collaboratively on vocabulary acquisition. 
Instructional settings and participants: The study took place over a 13-week period and involved low-intermediate adult ESL learners enrolled in an intensive ESL program in a university in Canada. 
Instrumentation and procedure : The research design was composed of a pretest, treatment sessions and a four-day delayed posttest. Two types of tasks were used: A reconstruction cloze task and a reconstruction editing task. In total, four tasks were utilized, two of which were designed for collaborative use and the remaining two tasks were designed for individual use. The tasks and treatments focused on 16 target phrasal verbs. In the cloze tasks students were asked to write the missing words/phrases in a given conversation. On the other hand, in the editing task, students were given a conversation and then they were asked to find the errors, underline and correct them. 
The procedure of the study followed this order. One day before the treatment students were given a pretest in order to diagnose their knowledge of the target phrasal verbs to be used in the treatment, which took place on the next day. Four days after treatment a posttest on the phrasal verbs was given. The treatment included an input based lesson to familiarize students with the target phrasal verbs. During the treatment sessions, students were not engaged in any type of output activity. Lastly, students’ verbal interactions were recorded while they were engaged in collaborative tasks.     
Results and discussion:   The results show that when students worked on tasks collaboratively they were more successful in completing tasks than doing them individually. However, comparison of learners’ pretest and posttest scores did not reveal any significant findings as to the acquisition of the target phrasal verbs. In other words, the study shows effects of collaborative work for successful completion of tasks but not on vocabulary learning. Although collaborative work was not found to be associated with learning the phrasal verbs, the task type was. Editing tasks revealed significantly higher gains in learning the phrasal verbs than cloze tasks.  In short, this study documents advantage of editing tasks over cloze tasks.