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The effects of reading strategies instruction on reading comprehension of students of legal English


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Lukica, Ivana. (2017). The effects of reading strategies instruction on reading comprehension of students of legal English. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of English Language and Literature.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij glotodidaktike) [mentor Šamo, Renata].

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The complex phenomenon of reading has long been recognized as a topic of great interest across many disciplines such as cognitive psychology, educational psychology, applied linguistics, teaching methodology and neuroscience, to name just a few. Despite the long history of research and numerous findings about the reading process, as well as the emergence of many theories of reading which have attempted to explain what goes on in one's mind while reading, neither a single definition, nor a unifying explanation of the reading process exist today. Investigations into the differences between excellent and poor readers yielded interesting results as to the factors that contribute to or hinder reading comprehension. Strategies have been identified as one of the factors that contribute to efficient learning several decades ago and have also been defined and classified in many different ways. So much so that we can read about learning strategies and learner strategies as well as about reading strategies and comprehension strategies. Terminological issues aside, it has been determined that using many strategies or many different strategies is not enough for them to positively influence one's comprehension. It is not even enough to use a group of strategies that have been termed as better or more useful (e.g. metacognitive strategies). Research has shown the importance of knowing which groups of strategies to use for a particular task and how to use them to maximize their effect. In other words, attention has been shifted from strategies to strategic competence and strategic behaviouor. According to this view, there are no metacognitive as opposed to cognitive strategies. Rather, there are metacognitive awareness and metacognitive control as two resources for understanding and using strategies (Grabe, 2009). Alongside attempts of conceptualization, a growing number of instructional models have been developed in hope of raising metacognitive awareness of strategies, enhancing reading comprehension or positively influencing other factors that contribute to better comprehension and more successful reading. One such model is Styles- and Strategies-Based Instruction which comprises five steps (strategy preparation, strategy awareness raising, strategy instruction, strategy practice, personalization of strategies) in order to facilitate comprehension (Cohen and Weaver, 2006). It can be incorporated into any lesson or any course, applied to pre-existing or new material and most importantly – it gives learners the freedom to choose, practice and internalize strategies according to their individual needs and preferences. In addition to strategies, reading is also strongly affected by affect, which Day and Bamford (1998, p. 21) call „the secret garden of reading“. Several affective factors influence reading, most notably attitudes and motivation. Although second language learning motivation and first language reading motivation have been the subject of scientific research for several decades and have endured similar attempts at defining and framing as have strategies, foreign langauge reading motivation is a relatively uncharted territory in need of much investigation and study. If one is to research reading in the field of foreign languages for specific purposes, they are faced with few landmarks indeed. Given the scope of this doctoral thesis, we have attempted to provide a theoretical overview of the aforementioned reasearch areas, before presenting the results of our own research into the effects of reading strategies instruction in the field of English for Legal Purposes. Our primary goal was to determine the effects of Styles- and Strategies-Based Instruction on reading comprehension, metacognitive awareness of reading strategies and reading motivation in an English for Legal Purposes course at the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Law. In addition, we wanted to determine possible correlations between reading comprehension, reading strategies and reading motivation. Lastly, we wanted to investigate the influence of gender on reading comprehension, strategy awareness and reading motivation. 78 first semester students participated in the study which took place in three stages over a period of 15 weeks. The participants took an English reading comprehension test and were grouped either as excellent, average or poor readers according to their results. Several instruments have been used in the first stage of the study in order to collect data on students' foreign language learning and reading experience, including attitudes towards reading and frequency of reading, as well as opinions about the reading process and reading strategies, perceived use of reading strategies and motivation to read in English (Background questionnaire 1, Survey of Reading Strategies, Reading motivation questionnaire, semi-structured interview). 10 weeks of reading strategies instruction ensued before the second English reading comprehension test was given to the participants. At that stage, Background questionnaire 2, Survey of Reading Strategies and Reading motivation questionnaire were administered, and semi-structured interviews and a group discussion were conducted in order to determine the effects of instruction in the experimental group and compare it to the control group. The results showed significant differences between male and female participants in overall reading strategy awareness and English reading motivation in favour of females. Female participants use global and problem-solving strategies very often, while male participantsreport frequent use of only problem-solving strategies. Furthermore, female participants are more extrinsically motivated, while male participants derive their English reading motivation mostly from the importance of reading component of motivation. Secondary school English grade point average, perceived reading competence in English and frequency of reading in English correlated positively with reading comprehension results on both tests indicating their importance for reading comprehension. A positive correlation was deterimined between perceived strategy use and English reading motivation in both stages as opposed to no correlation found between perceived strategy use and reading comprehension results in both stages. However, a positive coreelation between support strategies and multiple choice task of the reading comprehension test in stage three has been found indicating that students who used more support strategies achieved better results on the multiple choice task. Positive effects of strategies instruction on strategy awareness were partially confirmed, but not on reading comprehension or reading motivation. However, semi-structured interviews conducted in the third stage of the study point to positive effects of strategies instruction on confidence and motivation of the poor readers. In addition, excellent readers reported transfering reading strategies from English to Croatian and/or German language. On the basis of our results, as well as previous results that emphasise positive effects of strategies instruction on strategy awareness, reading motivation and reading comprehension, we propose that more attention should be given to fostering strategic reading behaviour through integrated reading strategies instruction in English for Legal Purposes courses.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: reading strategies, foreign language reading motivation, reading comprehension, reading strategies instruction
Subjects: English language and literature
Departments: Department of English Language and Literature
Supervisor: Šamo, Renata
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij glotodidaktike
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2017 13:03
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2017 13:03

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