A Review of Subject and Treatment Characteristics in CMC Research

Pacific Second Language Research Forum (PacSLRF), Brisbane, July 2006.


Phil Hubbard, Stanford University , USA

Click here for the PowerPoint.


The past few years have seen a number of CALL research articles addressing the area of computer-mediated communication (CMC). The present study joins others (e.g., Abrams (2003) and Thorne & Payne (2005)), reviewing collections of CMC papers in the search for generalizations that capture important trends. Rather than looking at results, though, the focus here is on selected subject and treatment characteristics.

            In a previous study, I explored a number of hypothesized subject and treatment trends for CALL as a whole using a corpus of 78 research articles in four CALL-oriented journals from 2000 to 2003. Among the key findings were that researchers often fail to provide important data on study subjects and/or treatment, and that much of what has been reported about CALL and learners engaged in it has come from research on untrained, novice users.

            The present study extracts the CMC-oriented articles from the previous corpus and adds to them articles from the following two volumes of each of the four journals for a total of 64. Specifically, the full corpus comes from

            CALICO Journal: 18-22, 2000-2005 (15 issues)

ReCALL: 13-17, 2001-2005 (10 issues)

Language Learning & Technology:  5-9, 2001-2005 (15 issues)

CALL Journal: 15-18, 2002-2005 (20 issues)

            The presentation reports on the degree to which previously identified trends for CALL as a whole appear to hold true for CMC separately. It also includes references to some exemplary CMC studies and recommendations for improving the design and reporting of future studies.