Looking Back and Moving Forward


This summer has been full of surprises. Due to a medical issue, I was forced to postpone my trip to Peru until August. However, because of the new schedule, I will now be staying and working at La Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas for THREE weeks! I will have a full week to get acquainted with the area and my resources during the students’ first week back on campus after their winter break, and then I will have two weeks to conduct my study!

In order to prepare my experiment, I have been analyzing my results from a pilot study I conducted right before the spring 2017 semester ended. I did not want to limit my participant pool for when I conduct part of my real experiment in the fall, so I ran the experiment on English speakers, without specifying their other language abilities. I did have them fill out a form describing other languages they can speak, but this pilot experiment was mostly for control purposes, to make sure the stimuli were not too hard or too easy. I found that I had largely underestimated the perceptive abilities of my participants. In order to zoom in on my results, I am cutting the intervals in half; instead of increasing duration and pitch by the amounts in the pilot study, my levels will now be in closer intervals so I can see the changes more clearly.

Because of my American accent, I am nervous about the participants in Peru understanding me. Therefore, I have been writing a script that I will record Professor Terukina (a Peru native) reading. This will avoid any confusion that could be caused by the language barrier. While I do speak have some Spanish skills, I am not fluent, and I want to make sure that my language skills do not compromise the experiment.

The pilot study I conducted in late spring showed me some tactics to use in Peru; however, I am still trying to streamline the experiment. Time in many other countries is treated differently than in United States. While in this country it is considered rude to arrive a few minutes late to a commitment, other countries do not always have the same culture. Having instructions recorded will help me use my time effectively, and I have requested a “waiting room” for students. I’ll have to wait until my first day to determine if I need to increase the amount of time for each participant.

I may have to add time for each slot anyway: when I altered the stimuli, I added six more levels for each of the two experiments. In addition, because I am examining how the language the participant is using or perceiving affects results, I have some reading comprehension activities to use before and between the two experiments, as well as a much more detailed questionnaire about their language abilities, to use during the study. My next step is to tackle these written sections of the experiment, so I am going to focus on making them as efficient as possible.


  1. jacampbell says:

    Hi Sora!
    Thanks for your comments! My professor here and I just visited many different classrooms to “advertise” participation in my study, and I tried to make the tone of the presentation as relaxed as possible. Luckily, my study does not include language production, only perception, so it’s more okay if the environment seems pretty academic.

  2. Hey Jessica!

    I’m glad that everything worked out with travel stuff! Just writing to compliment you on how reflective you’re being on working across cultures: recognizing that although you speak Spanish your accent might still impede understanding, considering different perceptions of time. The only thing I have to add is making sure that the professors you’re working with are contextualizing your work properly when they’re presenting it to their students. You want students to come in relaxed and feeling as little like they’re in an academic area as possible, since settings / contexts will affect what kind of language they produced.

  3. rsplummer says:

    Hi, this sounds like a very interesting experiment! I will be interested to see what you find in comparing your two samples. I can relate to how you had to tweak your experiment based on preliminary data, as I had to tweak the stimuli for my psychology experiment after getting back some preliminary data. In my experience, I found that it can be tedious, but it’s helpful to have that information so that your experiment can produce the best results. It sounds like for your experiment, it was very smart to collect that pilot data and make sure your stimuli produce changes that you can detect!
    I was wondering if there were any other variables you were measuring that may affect people’s perceptive abilities? For example things like parent education level/income, the state/region where participants grew up, or any other background variables. I wonder If these things would affect your results.
    Looking forward to hearing your findings!