Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Roberta Vann


Second language (L2) learners preparing for academic study in English-speaking universities face major challenges in acquiring needed vocabulary that classroom study cannot fully overcome. According to recent second language vocabulary acquisition (SLVA) research, learners must deeply process target vocabulary in comprehensible contexts appropriately spaced over time. However, effective materials facilitating such encounters outside the classroom are rare. This paper reports the results of a usability study for the researcher's learning system called DAVI (Developing Academic Vocabulary Independently), a system designed in light of the SLVA literature to help students independently acquire Academic Word List (AWL) vocabulary. DAVI uses Microsoft Excel-based vocabulary study pages that seek to encourage learners to manipulate target vocabulary in meaningful tasks, including Google searches within learner-friendly websites. Chinese students studying in an intensive English program at the high-intermediate level used a pilot version of DAVI during fall 2009, providing data to the teacher-researcher by such means as her observation of participants' use of the system, learners' DAVI assignment uploads, and a final questionnaire. These data were used to determine whether students thought DAVI benefited their vocabulary acquisition, how the way in which they used DAVI may have affected their vocabulary acquisition, and what vocabulary study methods they prefer. Results suggest that the present version of DAVI was too technologically challenging for participants and violated their preferences for more traditional methods of vocabulary study. Results also indicated web-based vocabulary development resources for students at this level are inadequate, suggesting that a Learner-Comprehensible corpus be built specifically to support AWL acquisition.


Copyright Owner

Monica Richards



Date Available


File Format


File Size

86 pages