Experimental Linguistics Module – Autumn 2011

Tuesday 2-4pm, Bancroft Building room 102.6

  • Module Description

    The goal of this module is to take students with no prior training in the methods or tools of experimental psychological science and provide them with the theoretical and practical training required to be able to critically engage with the Psycholinguistics literature and to undertake experimental linguistics research themselves. The module will include hands-on training in inferential statistics and hypothesis testing, experimental design, data collection (including training in ethical human subjects research protocols), and data analysis. The module will also engage students in considering strengths and limitations of various kinds of linguistics data, and how multiple sources of data and methods of data collection can be combined to enhance understanding. Students will develop their critical reading skills and gain practice in presenting primary source literature to their peers.


This page has all the information and files students need to complete the experiment running assignment.

The general experiment overview is here.

Instructions for running the experiment are here.

The consent form is consent. Make sure you keep your signed consent forms in a private location and don’t lose them. You must submit 6 signed forms to get full credit for this assignment.

The participant questionnaire is here.

The log book is here. Make sure you enter the answers to the participant questionnaire in the log book for each participant, and that you keep track of subject numbers and the date of each run. You’ll be expected to look for relationships between participant biographical data and the experimental results, so you’ll need this info. Also, the logbook will be one of the pieces of work you’ll submit for assessment. Be thorough in your note taking and back up your files often.

We’ll be using DMDX to run this experiment. Everyone should have DMDX installed, and configured via TimeDX, but if anyone is encountering difficulties, come see me.

To run the experiment, you’ll need to download one of the following zip files, which contains the dmdx script (called ‘consonants.rtf’) and the .wav files that the script calls on. Chose the zip file whose name matches the video monitor screen width and height settings (if you’ve forgotten yours, you can run TimeDX, and open the ‘select video monitor’ test – don’t run the test, just note the width and height and Hz values).

800×600.zip | 1024×600.zip | 1280×800.zip | 1366×768.zip

Download and unzip the file and you’re ready to go.

***ETA: I have fixed the parameter line error in the 1024×600, 1280×800 and 1366×768 files. [9.Nov.2011]***

If you’re downloading the 1280×800 file, make sure you chose the file that matches your computers Hz settings (the default is 60, but some of you have machines running at 59).

Open DMDX, browse to the right file (consonants.rtf or consonants59.rtf), click syntax check, and you’re ready to do a run through. Thanks to Kirsty, we’ve discovered that if you have any text in the ID number box, browse won’t work, so beware of that.

Thanks to Janusz, we also discovered that you’ll need to change one of Window’s keyboard settings to prevent the computer seizing up when you hit a shift key 5 times in a row. This post on Lifehacker explains the problem and solution (on Windows 7 and 8 ‘accessibility’ has been renamed ‘access’ or something like that).

Please use the comments option on this post to let me (and everyone else) know about any issues you encounter, or question you may have. If you have a question, chances are someone else will be glad to know the answer too.

Also, just fyi, I noticed that I’d missed one set of comparisons in the design, so there are now 200 trials in the whole experiment, which means it will take more like 15-20 minutes. I’ll add another post later, and provide more information in class, about the exact design and the hypotheses that motivate them.

Here are the processing-instructions for completing the initial data preparation. It should take about 1hr to complete these steps for all your subjects. I strongly encourage students to work together on this – you’ll be able to help each other if there is any point where you are confused. Upload the new ‘yourlastname.xls’ files to the Blackboard dropbox which has been created for it. I have to have the files before 8am on Monday, December 12th in order to have time to process them before class on Tuesday. Late submissions will only get partial credit (maximum 4/10). Uploading this file gets you the 10 marks that you would have got by attending class on Tuesday Dec. 6th and completing these steps in class.


5 Responses to “Experiment”

  1. Ben Power said

    When I tried the consonants.rtf file for res 1280×800 60Hz it didn’t work because the first line of the file has video mode defined by . This should be . When I changed it, the file worked ok. Regards, Ben

  2. Ben Power said

    When I tried the consonants.rtf file for res 1280×800 60Hz it didn’t work because the first line of the file has video mode defined by vm 1280,1280,800,32,60. This should be vm 1280,800,800,32,60. When I changed it, the file worked ok. Regards, Ben

    • Linnaea said

      Thanks Ben – that was a mistake on my part. All the files will have the same problem, so everyone should adopt Ben’s solution. Video modes are defined as follows:
      number of pixels horizontally, number of pixels vertically, number of scan lines, number of bits of colour, screen Hz

      the number of pixels and number of scan lines should be identical

      Remember, open the file with wordpad or notepad, NOT with microsoft word

      • Linnaea said

        I’ve edited the .rtf files and fixed the parameter lines. You all can either make the edits yourself as described by Ben, or just download a new zip file. Sorry for the mistake, but I’m glad to know that otherwise it works fine.

  3. madiha said

    Thanks, it works now!

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