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The Relationship among EFL Learners’ Use of Language Learning Strategies, Reading Strategies, and Reading Comprehension
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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.