The Impact of scaffolding on EFL intermediate learners’ reading comprehension

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عنوان : The Impact of scaffolding on EFL intermediate learners’ reading comprehension

Islamic Azad University, Central-Tehran Branch

Faculty of Foreign Languages

A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS IN TEACHING ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE (TEFL)

The Impact of scaffolding on EFL intermediate learners’ reading comprehension

ADVISOR:

BEHDOKHT MAL AMIRI Ph.D.

READER:

MONA KHABIRI Ph.D.

 

2013

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Table of Content

LIST OF TABLES                                                                                           viii

LIST OF FIGURES                                                                                           ix

Chapter I : Background and Purpose                                                               1

1.1 Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..2

1.2    Statement of the Problem……………………………………………………………………………………..7

1.3 Statement of the Research Question………………………………………………………………………..12

1.4 Statement of the Research Hypothesis…………………………………………………………………….12

1.5 Definition of Key Terms……………………………………………………………………………………….13

1.5.1 Reading ………………………………………………………………………………………………………13

1.5.2 Reading comprehension ………………………………………………………………………………..13

1.5.3 Scaffolding ………………………………………………………………………………………………….14

1.6 Significance of the Study ……………………………………………………………………………………..15

1.7 Limitations and Delimitations of the Study……………………………………………………………..17

1.7.1 Limitations of the study ………………………………………………………………………………..17

1.7.2. Delimitations of the study……………………………………………………………………………..17

CHAPTER II : Review of the Related Literature                                         20

2.1. Reading Comprehension………………………………………………………………………………………21

2.2. Reading………………………………………………………………………………………………………………23

2.2.1. Models of Reading……………………………………………………………………………………….24

2.2.1.1. Bottom-up Models……………………………………………………………………………….25

2.2.1.2. Top-down Models……………………………………………………………………………….25

2.2.1.3. Interactive Models………………………………………………………………………………..26

2.2.2. Types of Reading…………………………………………………………………………………………26

2.2.2.1. Extensive Reading………………………………………………………………………………26

2.2.2.2. Intensive Reading……………………………………………………………………………….27

2.2.2.3. Silent Reading……………………………………………………………………………………28

2.2.3. Reasons for Reading…………………………………………………………………………………….29

2.2.4. Importance of Reading…………………………………………………………………………………30

2.2.5. Importance of Teaching Reading…………………………………………………………………..31

2.2.6. Process vs. Product of Reading……………………………………………………………………..32

2.3. Good vs. Poor Readers………………………………………………………………………………………..32

2.4. Schema Theory…………………………………………………………………………………………………..35

2.5. Inferencing…………………………………………………………………………………………………………36

2.5.1. The Difference between Reasoning and Inferencing…………………………………………37

2.5.2. Types of Inferences………………………………………………………………………………………37

2.6. Scaffolding and Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD): History of the Concept………..38

2.7. ZPD in the Classroom………………………………………………………………………………………….42

2.8. Learning from a Sociocultural Perspective……………………………………………………………..43

2.9. The Mind and Scaffolding……………………………………………………………………………………44

2.10. Educational Scaffolding: an Instructional Technique ……………………………………………45

2.11. Concepts Embedded in Scaffolding…………………………………………………………………….47

2.12. Self-scaffolding………………………………………………………………………………………………..48

2.13. Contexts of Scaffolding……………………………………………………………………………………..49

2.14. Successful vs. Inefficient of Scaffolding………………………………………………………………51

2.15. Macro and Micro Focuses on Tasks in Scaffolding……………………………………………….52

2.16. Scaffolding and Good Teaching………………………………………………………………………….52

2.17. Effective Scaffolded Instruction………………………………………………………………………….53

2.18. Guidelines for Effective Scaffolding……………………………………………………………………54

2.19. Types of Instructional Scaffolding to Use with English Learners…………………………….55

2.20. Challenges and Benefits of Scaffolding………………………………………………………………..57

Chapter III : Methodology                                                                               60

3.1. Participants…………………………………………………………………………………………………………61

3.2. Instrumentation …………………………………………………………………………………………………..61

3.2.1. Language proficiency test……………………………………………………………………………..61

3.2.2. The reading posttest……………………………………………………………………………………..64

3.2.3. Instructional Material……………………………………………………………………………………65

3.3. Procedure …………………………………………………………………………………………………………..65

3.3.1. Piloting the PET Test……………………………………………………………………………………65

3.3.2. Homogenizing the Participants………………………………………………………………………66

3.3.4. The Treatment……………………………………………………………………………………………..66

3.3.5. Administration of the Reading Post-Test…………………………………………………………68

3.4. Design……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….69

3.5. Data analysis………………………………………………………………………………………………………69

 

Chapter IV: Results and Discussions                                                             70

4.1.Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………………………………71

4.2.Results of Data Analyses……………………………………………………………………………………….71

4.3 Discussions………………………………………………………………………………………………………….81

Chapter V : Conclusion and Pedagogical Implications                                 86

5.1 Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………………………………87

5.2. Conclusion ………………………………………………………………………………………………………..87

5.3. Pedagogical Implications……………………………………………………………………………………..88

5.4. Suggestions for Further Research………………………………………………………………………….89

References                                                                                                         91

 

 

 

 

LIST OF TABLES

 

Table 4.1. Descriptive Statistics of scores obtained by both groups on PET                           72

Table 4.2: Mean Ranks of both groups on PET test                                                                 74

Table 4. 3: Test Statisticsaof PET scores                                                                                  74

Table 4.4:Descriptive Statistics of reading scores of both groups before treatment                75

Table 4.5: Mean Ranks of reading scores before treatment                                                     75

Table 4.6: Test Statisticsa of reading scores before treatment                                                  77

Table 4.7: Descriptive Statistics of the posttest scores                                                            78

Table 4.8: Mean Ranks of reading posttest scores                                                                   80

Table 4.9:Test Statisticsa of reading posttest scores                                                                 80

 

 

 

 

                                             LIST OF FIGURES

 

Figure Expanded ZPD (by van Lier, 2004, cited in Walquil ,2006)                                              50

Figure 4.1: Histogram representing the scores obtained by the control group on the PET test    73

Figure 4.2: Histogram representing the scores obtained by the experimental group on the PET                     test                                                                                                                                    73

Figure 4.3: Histogram representing the scores obtained by the control group on the reading                          pretest                                                                                                                              76

Figure 4.4: Histogram representing the scores obtained by the experimental group on the reading                pretest                                                                                                                              76

Figure 4.5: Histogram representing the scores obtained by the experimental group on the reading      posttest                                                                                                                             78

Figure 4.6: Histogram representing the scores obtained by the control group on the reading                posttest                                                                                                                             78

Figure 4.7: Bar graph representing the mean scores of the two groups on the reading posttest   81

Chapter I

Background and Purpose


1.1 Introduction

There is no doubt that developing the ability to read is a very important skill

because literacy has always been described in terms of being able to read. Reading is a necessity in modern societies because we are all surrounded by print. We read newspapers to keep abreast of recent world news during the day. We read novels and short stories for pleasure at night before going to sleep. We  read brochures and catalogues to decide whether to buy a specific product or  not. In addition to all these, thanks to modern technology, we need to read other  materials such as e-mails and short text messages. Given the importance of  reading in our daily lives, there is little wonder why assisting English language  learners in understanding reading comprehension texts has always been a major  preoccupation for reading researchers and teachers (Baleghizadeh, 2011 .1669).

Rivers (1981) said ”Justification for an emphasis on the development of the

reading skill is not hard to find. In many countries foreign languages are learned by numbers of students who will never have the opportunity of conversing with native speakers, but who will have access to literature and periodicals, or scientific and technical journals, written in the language they are learning. Many will need these publications to assist them with further studies or in their work; other will wish to enjoy reading in another language in their leisure time to keep them in touch with world” (p.260)

Rivers (1981) is of the belief that the reading skill, once developed, is the one which can be most easily maintained at a high level by the students themselves without further help from a teacher. Through it they can increase their knowledge and understanding of the culture of the speakers of the language, their ways of thinking, their contemporary activities, and their contributions to many fields of artistic and intellectual endeavor. To imagine that all students who have learned language at school will do this, however, is a blissful illusion. Unless students have been taught to read the target language fluently, without deciphering it laboriously word by word, and to approach a book or magazine article independently with confidence, it is unlikely that they will want to continue to read in that language after they have completed their studies.

Rivers (1981), maintain that “the ability to read another language with direct

comprehension and with fluency should be cultivated in progressive stages, and

practiced at first with carefully selected material which students can read with ease

and enjoyment. ” (p.260). Rivers continues that rushing students very quickly into reading material beyond their present capacity for fluent comprehension with occasional contextual guessing,- the ultimate goal, destroys confidence and forces students back to deciphering with a dictionary or word list. This deciphering allows students to piece together the denotational meaning of discrete elements, but they frequently remain to the overall meaning which evolves from the way these elements interact within the discourse. They miss the mood, tone, or special intent of the passage while extracting detailed information from particular segments. After that, when they have gained confidence, they will be ready for a wide range of materials selected primarily for content and pertinence to their interests, without specific attention to level of reading difficulty.(Rivers, 1981).

Aksan and Kisac, (2009) believe that ”the fundamental of learning is apprehension and the fundamental of apprehension is reading ” (p.834). ”Reading is an important language skill and a highly complicated act that everyone must learn. Reading is not solely a single skill but a combination of many skills and processes in which the readers interact with printed words and texts for content and pleasure”. (Al-mansour and Al-shorman, 2011 p.69).They believes that one can teach writing, speaking, vocabulary items, grammar, spelling and other language aspects through reading. The main goals of reading are enabling students to gain an understanding of the world and themselves, to develop appreciation and interests, and to find solutions to their personal and group problems.

Norris and Philips (1989) point out that reading is more than just saying what is on the page; it is thinking. Moreover, Beck (1989) asserts ”there is no reading without reasoning” (p.677). Also, among those researchers and theoreticians who recognize that reading involves thinking is Ruggireo (1984). He indicates that reading is reasoning. Yu-hui (2010) stated clearly that reading is a

thinking process to construct meaning (cf.Aloqaili, 2012 p.38).

Lorch and Broek (1997) maintain that being able to read and comprehend text is vital for success in our society [the United States] and its development has been a main component of instructional practice. In the past two decades, psychologists have dedicated a good deal of attention to the question of how competent, adult readers comprehend text. Influenced by work in linguistics and artificial intelligence, the efforts of these cognitive scientists have dramatically increased our understanding of the psychological mechanisms underlying reading comprehension.

Dreyer and Nel (2003) concern the strategies for reading comprehension, they argue that ”in order to meet the reading needs of students in the 21st century,

educators are pressed to develop effective instructional means for teaching reading comprehension and reading strategy use”.(p.27)

Lewis (1991, p.421) stated that the goal of reading extended text is to arrive at a coherent representation of the text. This goal is achieved by readers’ weighing and comparing data from their schemata, the text, and the context in which the act occurs(cf Aloqaili, 2012 p.39).

Broek and Kremer (2000, pp. 11-12) state that to be successful, readers must

have the inferential and reasoning skills to establish meaningful connections

between information in the text and relevant background knowledge. Central to

these skills is knowing what constitutes an inferential or casual/logical relation and being able to recognize or construct one when needed in order to form a coherent mental representation of the text (cf Aloqaili, 2012 p.39).

However, many students enter higher education underprepared for the reading demands that are placed upon them. When pressed to read, they often select  ineffective and inefficient strategies with little strategic intent (Saumell ,1999; Wad e et al., 1990; Wood et al., 1998). Often this is due to their low level  of reading strategy knowledge and lack of metacognitive control (Dreyer,1998; Strydom, 1997;Van Wyk, 2001). Another reason might be their inexperience coming from the limited task demands of high school and the fact that at the first-year level at the Potchefstroom University 50% of the focus is still on knowledge reproduction ( cf Dreyer and  Nel 2003).

The importance of reading is obvious for most people, “few people today

question the values of reading. In fact, most extol its virtues. Reading is a key

success in school, to the development of out-of-school interests, to the enjoyment of leisure time, and to personal and social adjustment. It helps children to adjust their peers, to become independent of parents and teachers, to select and prepare for an occupation, and to achieve social responsibilities. As our culture becomes more complex, reading plays an increasing role in satisfying personal needs and in promoting social awareness and growth. Through reading, we may broaden our tastes and our understanding of others; we make our life full, significant and interesting “(Dechant, 1991 p.vii).

This might not be so surprising when one considers that research conducted by Durkin (1979) revealed that teachers actually devoted only 2% of the classroom time designated for reading instruction to teaching students how to comprehend  what they read. Twenty years later, not much seems to have changed ( Pressley et al., 1998). Carrell (1998), points that in high school, reading  comprehension instruction is limited to the assignment of a  reading passage, accompanied by a number of short or multiple-choice  questions relating to the passage (personal experience and observation). Even at the university level, it is often assumed that students have the skills and  strategies needed to successfully comprehend expository text. Yet, there is little evidence to suggest that students at any level will acquire these skills and strategies if they have not been explicitly taught (cf. Dreyer, Nel 2003).

According to Alexandar (1996, p.90) instruction can be effective in providing students with a repertoire of strategies that promote comprehension monitoring and foster comprehension. For students to become motivated strategic strategy users, they need ‘‘systematically orchestrated instruction or training’’ (Alexander, 1996, p. 90) Kasper, (2000a, b); Singhal, (2001);Van Wyk, (2001) believe that in order to meet the reading needs of students within the 21st century, educators are pressed to develop effective instructional means for teaching reading comprehension and reading strategy use (cf. Dreyer,Nel 2003).

It was thought that if learning was mediated, or scaffolded, by adults, children could not only accomplish the task at a higher level but also would be able to  internalize their thinking, strategies or mechanisms used to be able to approach other similar tasks (Rogof & Gardener, 1984). So, gradually the nature and extent of the scaffolding would be diminished and it would be finally removed.

The metaphor of the ZPD as a construction zone promulgated by Newman  (1989) is an apt one, since scaffolding is used in the building profession  during constructions, renovations and extensions, and removed once the building is complete. They also used Leone’s notion of “appropriation’ to  describe learning in the ZPD whereby children are guided to reach solutions to  problems via the acquisition of skill in using tools, strategies and concepts. In this context leanings aligned with ‘relocation’ to a different zone (Cf, Yelland and Masters, 2007).

The term “scaffolding” refers to the support that a teacher can give learners so that they can work at a much higher level than is possible on their own. Ninio

and Bruner (1978) first used the term to describe how learning takes place in families, following the social learning model of Vygotsky (1978). Scaffolding support enables learners to successfully practice complex skills and as they

become independently competent, scaffolding is gradually withdrawn. An example is the guidance that a skilled artisan provides to an apprentice as they learn to complete a specialized task. In this process, the teacher models and explains each activity in a task, the learner watches and listens, and then practices the activity as the teacher guides them to do it accurately. In each step the learner takes over more control of the task until they are independent. (cf,  Rose,  Chivizhe, McKnight& Smith, 2006).

According to (Rose et al., 2006) “learning to read and write are unique kinds of  tasks, because they involve not simply physical activities, but recognizing and using meanings. So scaffolding strategies for reading and writing are planned to focus learners’ attention on patterns of language and to recognize the meanings they tend to express. However, by using scaffolding strategies teachers can support learners to read and write far more complex texts than they normally could on their own. This supported practice allows learners to develop reading and writing skills that they can then use independently.

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