Do Task Complexity Demands Influence the Learners’ Perception of Task Difficulty?

Nasrin Sanajou, Leila Zohali, Fateme Zabihi


This study investigates the effects of cognitive task complexity on EFL learners’ perception of task difficulty. Learners’ perception of task difficulty is measured by a five-item task difficulty questionnaire (as in Robinson, 2001a). The participants were 76 intermediate learners which were divided into two groups. One group performed a simple task (single task) and the other group performed a complex task (dual task). Having performed the tasks, the participants completed the task difficulty questionnaire. In order to see how the participants evaluated task difficulty, their ratings for each question of the questionnaire in the simple and complex tasks was compared using Mann-Whitney U. The results indicate that the complex task significantly affected learners’ perception of task difficulty in three items of difficulty, stress and interest. The results of task difficulty studies can help language educators in designing and employing more effective language teaching materials.



Task complexity, Task difficulty, Single task, Dual task

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