This paper reviews software design guidelines from the field of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) and empirical results from the field of vocabulary acquisition. We categorize the empirical evidence in terms of three key aspects of instructional software for vocabulary teaching: task type, media and scheduling. We describe how design of an online adaptive vocabulary teaching system incorporated each of these aspects. This paper also presents a study that investigates the effectiveness of this system in comparison with a self-paced vocabulary learning system designed without the benefit of optimal task types, media or scheduling. Twenty-six adult English as Second Language (ESL) learners were assigned to a month-long vocabulary learning study that included 250 vocabulary items from the Academic Word List (AWL). Multiple choice and recall vocabulary quizzes were administered at pre-, post-, and delayed posttests. Results showed statistically significant advantages for the participants using the system designed to optimize task-type, media and scheduling. Effect sizes above 1.0 were observed favoring the experimental condition for both the pre vs. post and pre vs. delayed gain scores and in both the recall and multiple choice question tests. The large effect sizes indicated that the combination of the three CAVL aspects was constructive and that they likely derive benefit from different underlying cognitive mechanisms
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