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4.3 Descriptive Statistics of the Main Administration

As fully explained in chapter three, after the procedure of piloting the PET, 150 other students as the main sample took part in the piloted PET reading comprehension test and both questionnaires on learning strategies and reading strategies. During the administration of the main study, a number of participants were excluded from data analysis due to subject mortality or their incomplete answers. Eventually, 120 students consisted of with the age range of 25-42 were appointed as the main subjects of the research.

 

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4.1 Introduction

This study investigated the relationship among EFL learners’ use of learning strategies, reading strategies, and reading comprehension. To this end, the following hypotheses were developed:

H01. There is no significant relationship between EFL learners’ reading strategies and reading comprehension.

H02. There is no significant relationship between EFL learners’ use of language learning strategies and reading comprehension.

H03. There is no significant relationship between EFL learners’ reading strategies and use of language learning strategies.

In order to test the hypotheses and find out the precise results, the researcher conducted a series of calculations and statistical routines that are elaborated comprehensively in this chapter. Both descriptive and inferential statistics were utilized in the process, details of which are presented below.

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3.5 Design

The design of the present study is descriptive and since the researcher has no control over the manipulation of the independent variables, it is ex post facto design as well. The predictor variables of the study are the use of learning strategies and reading strategies while reading comprehension is considered as the predicted variable. The participants’ age is regarded as an intervening variable over which the researcher has no control.

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3.3.2 The Reading Strategies Questionnaire

To determine the degree of participants’ use of reading strategies, the Survey of Reading Strategies (SORS), which consists of 30 statements related to different types of reading strategies, was used. The SORS is developed by Mokhtari and Sheorey (2002) to measure non-native English speakers’ metacognitive awareness and perceived use of reading strategies. SORS includes three categories of strategies: 13 items on Global Reading Strategies (GLOB) that are intentional, carefully planned techniques by which learners monitor or manage their reading, such as having a purpose in mind or previewing the text as to its length and organization; 8 items on Problem Solving Strategies (PROB) which are actions and procedures that readers use while working directly with the text, like adjusting one’s speed of reading when the material becomes difficult or easy; 9 items on Support Strategies (SUP) that are basic support mechanisms intended to aid the reader in comprehending the text such as using a dictionary or taking notes (Mokhtari & Sheorey, 2002).  The questionnaire uses a five-point Likert-scale ranging from 1 for never to 5 for always. In this regard, the result could vary from 30 to 150 and the higher the mark, the more reading strategies were used by the student. Fifteen minutes was given to the candidates to answer the questions.

 

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3.3 Instrumentations

In order to accomplish the purpose of the study, the following three instruments were utilized:

  1. The Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) questionnaire, By Oxford (1990) for assessing the frequency of use of language learning strategies by students.
  2. Survey of Reading Strategies (SORS) by Mokhtari and Sheorey (2002) to identify the degree of participants’ use of reading strategies.
  3. A reading comprehension test derived from PET Practice Tests had developed by Jenny Quintana (2003) to measure reading comprehension level of the participants.

 

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2.5.3 Reading Strategies and Reading Comprehension

During the past decades there has been substantial research on the relationship between reading comprehension and reading strategy performed in a second/foreign language context. Anderson (1991) conducted research on reading strategy use of Spanish speaking adult ESL students and reported that students who used more strategies comprehend better and that there was no significant relationship between the amount of unique strategies and comprehension. He concluded from his study that, “strategic reading is not only a matter of knowing what strategy to use, but the reader must also know how to use it successfully and orchestrate its use with other strategies. It is not sufficient to know about strategies, but a reader must also be able to apply them strategically” (as cited in Park, 2010, p. 20).  In another study, Block (1992) explored differences of reading strategy use between proficient ESL readers and non-proficient ESL readers and drew the results that less proficient readers used local strategies and more proficient readers relied on global strategies. Carrell et al. (1998) on the other hand stated that, “the relationships between strategies and comprehension are not simple and straightforward; use of certain reading strategies does not always lead to successful reading comprehension, while use of other strategies does not always result in unsuccessful reading comprehension”(p. 99).

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2.5.2 Categories of Reading Strategies

Reading strategies can be classified according to the time they are used; before, during, or after reading. They also can be categorized as either global or local according to the part of the text on which they focus (Young & Oxford, 1997). A general distinction is also made between “cognitive” and “metacognitive” strategies. Garner (1987) states: “If cognition involves perceiving, understanding, remembering, and so forth, then metacognition involves thinking about one’s own perceiving, understanding, and the rest” (p. 16).  Moreover, Mokhtari and Sheorey’s (2002) SORS uses another classification scheme to classify the reading strategies. SORS classifies the reading strategies into three different types of strategies: “global”, “problem-solving”, and “support” strategies.

McDough (1995) brings together the reading strategies identified in different research within four categories:

“Technical aid strategies”: These would include skimming, scanning, marking the text, and using the glossary.

“Clarification and simplification strategies”: These include syntactic simplification, producing synonyms, using paraphrase of rhetorical function, interpreting the text, and using inference.

“Coherence detection strategies”: These would include identifying the macro frame, keeping the meaning in mind, using information about the story, using background knowledge, and identifying key information.

“Monitoring strategies”: These would include consciously changing the plan, varying the reading rate, rereading, correcting mistakes, evaluating guesses, and questioning.

 

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2.5 Reading strategies

Since the 1980s, research on language learning strategies, mainly reading strategies in both first language and second language reading has increased. Carrell, Gajdusek, and Wise (1998) explain the reason for the increase of researchers’ interests in reading strategy as follows: “Reading strategies are of interest not only for what they reveal about the ways readers manage interactions with written text but also for how the use of strategies is related to effective reading comprehension” (p. 97). Furthermore, The National Reading Panel (2000) reported, “the past two decades of research appear to support the enthusiastic advocacy of instruction of reading strategies” (p. 4-46).

Looking for the reasons of this trend, Grabe (1991) claims that the changing view of reading from a linear, bottom-up approach to a concept driven, top-down approach had a strong influence on reading instruction. Reading was characterized as an active process and students needed to be taught strategies to read more efficiently. The goal of reading instruction began to provide students with a range of effective approaches to text, such as helping students define goals and strategies for reading, to use pre-reading activities to enhance conceptual readiness, and to provide students strategies to deal with difficult syntax, vocabulary, and organizational structure. The strategies approach designed to increase reading comprehension developed from models of thinking and learning processes in response to models of mental processing (McKeown, Beck, & Blake, 2009).

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2.4.2 Definitions of Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension traditionally refers to a reader’s complete understanding or full grasp of meaning in a text. However, according to Yang (2002) this is a broad definition and causes some confusion. Scovel (1998) states that, “Comprehension is not an absolute state where language users either fully comprehend or are left completely in the dark; rather, comprehension involves an active, dynamic, and growing process of searching for interrelationships in a text” (cited in Yang, 2002, P. 2).  He defines comprehension as the reader’s understanding of proposition -the basic unit of meaning- in the text. Since the proposition consists of words, sentences, or paragraphs, readers’ cognitive levels of comprehension can be graded based on these propositions. That is, one person might only engage in lexical comprehension (words), while another may get involved in syntactic comprehension (sentences), the level of which is obviously higher than the former.

According to the reader’s purposes in reading and the type of reading used, reading comprehensions are often distinguished. They are commonly referred to as: “literal comprehension” which is reading in order to understand, remember, or recall the information explicitly contained in a passage; “inferential comprehension” that is reading in order to find information which is not explicitly stated in a passage, using the reader’s experience and intuition, and by inferring; “critical or evaluative comprehension” takes place to compare information in a passage with the reader’s own knowledge and values; and reading to gain an emotional or other kind of valued response from a passage which is called “appreciative comprehension” (Richard, Platt, & Platt, 1992).

RAND Reading Study Group (2002) defines reading comprehension as “the process of simultaneously extracting and constructing meaning through interaction and involvement with written language” (P. 11).  They consider three elements for reading comprehension: “1) The reader who is doing comprehending, 2) the text that is to be comprehended, 3) the activity in which comprehension is a part” (P. 11). They further state that three elements define reading comprehension as a phenomenon that occurs within a large socio-cultural content that shapes and is shaped by the reader that interacts with each of the three elements. They maintain that understanding requires acknowledging that it is a cognitive, linguistic, and cultural activity.

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2.4 Reading Comprehension

 

Most researches on reading now focus on the effective reading strategies that increase students’ comprehension. Guthrie (1996) argues that most researchers study a single cognitive strategy, rather than conducting a long-term study of multiple strategies. As Guthrie puts it:

Engaged reading is based on motivational and cognitive characteristics of the reader who is intrinsically motivated, builds knowledge, uses cognitive strategies, and interacts socially to learn from text. These engagement processes can be observed in student’s cognitive effort, perseverance, and self-direction in reading.

It is the teacher’s responsibilities to motivate reading by selecting the appropriate materials and especially for those at the early stages of learning. Guthrie and Humenick (1996) performed a meta-analysis of studies that manipulated several aspects of intrinsic motivation support for reading. These findings suggest that “meaningful conceptual content in reading instruction increases motivation for reading and text comprehension”. This motivation-supporting practice showed that students who were provided choice of text performed higher on reading tasks than those with no choice. The third practice was using interesting texts. This conforms to Hedge’s proposal that in selecting task texts, teachers should seek interesting texts and consider variety of topics. Readers’ interest can be revealed by setting “a reading interest questionnaire” where students check the fields that suit their interest, i.e. short stories, thrillers, science fiction, etc. Since “each learner will have different strengths to build on and different weaknesses to overcome”(Hedge, p.205).

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