In order to explore how multi-word expressions are produced, we need somebody to write something. We decided to have students come to write short argumentative essays. In those texts, you would expect to find discourse expressions like "in my opinion", or "on the one hand -- on the other hand". This would give us freely produced MWE without explicitly triggering them.
Students come to the lab and first get some information about the experiment on paper. They sign a consensus form and fill in a small questionnaire. The questionnaire asks about their native language and other languages the speak/write, and about their writing (how many fingers do they use, do the look at the screen or at the keyboard, etc.). I also take observational notes and we will later see whether or not their self image is true. They get a topic to write about. First they can plan for 5 minutes and make notes on paper, after that they start writing for 30 to 35 minutes.
Students write a text about one of two topics: "Should students pay tuition for post-graduate studies in Greek Universities?" or " argue in favor or against having the options to be tested in all courses they take at each semester". The target audience are other students, so they write a letter to the editor of an imagined student news paper.
It's a small lab, so we can have four students at a time. However, they drop in from time to time and sometimes there are four, most often there is one writing while we start analyzing the incoming data. I will tell about this in the next post.
All four computers run Windows, but different versions. Ioannis installed Inputlog for keystroke-logging. You start the logging and MS Word is opening. You write as usual, Inputlog does not interfere with MS Word.
According to our plans, we will have around 60 writing sessions with Greek data in the end.