Listening: 30 minutes
The examinees are required to be able to follow and understand a range of spoken materials including announcements and discussion about everyday life. They need to be able to follow the attitudes and intentions of the speakers. This section includes four parts with 25 questions. The examinees need to complete this part in 30 minutes.
Speaking: 10-12 minutes
An interviewer takes the speaking test. The candidates have to show their spoken English by taking part in conversation, asking and answering questions, and talking freely about their likes and dislikes. The examinees need to complete this part in10- 12 minutes.
3.3.2 Rating Scales
220.127.116.11 Writing Rating Scale of PET
The rating scale used to rate the writing section of PET in this study was the one provided by Cambridge under the name of General Mark Schemes for Writing. The rating was done on the basis of the criteria stated in the rating scale including the rating scale of 0-5 (Appendix B).
18.104.22.168 Speaking Rating Scale of PET
The rating scale used to rate the oral proficiency of the subjects was the predetermined official Cambridge General Mark Schemes for speaking. The rating was done on the basis of the criteria stated in the rating scale including the range of scores from 0 to 5 (Appendix C).
For reading pretest, the reading part of another PET with 35 items was selected. The examinees were expected to complete this test in 40 minutes (Appendix D).
The sample test was piloted with 30 subjects demonstrating almost similar characteristics as the target sample and after calculating item facility, item discrimination, and choice distribution no malfunctioning item was observed. Cronbach’s α was also run before the actual administration in order to make sure that the test had appropriate reliability and was suitable for the target sample.
The reading part of another PET, along with 35 questions, was used as post-test. The examinees were expected to complete this part in 40 minutes (Appendix E). The same procedure for piloting the pretest was also followed for this test. It should be mentioned that no malfunctioning item was also observed in post-test.
All the participants in this research study, received instruction based on “New Interchange “, by Jack C. Richards (1998) which consist of 16 units. The main purpose of this book is to integrate speaking, grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, listening, reading and writing. Each level includes a student book with self-study audio CD, a CD-Rom, workbook, teacher’s edition, and class audio CD. This book is taught in 20 sessions and one more session for the final test in Safir language school. For the purpose of this study, participants dealt with 4 units of the third part (units 10, 11, 12 and 13).
3.3.6 Cue Cards
The Cue cards (proposed and used in CSR by Klingner, Vaughn, & Schumm, 2001) (Figure 3.1), explain the steps to be followed in fulfilling each assigned role when students work in groups (These roles are explained in Appendix F). Cue cards outline the procedures to be followed in cooperative learning groups and provide structure and support for students while they are learning CSR. Cue cards help students stay focused on task and increase their confidence.
Figure 3.1: Sample CSR Cue Card
3.3.7 CSR Learning Logs
Students record their ideas in CSR learning logs and complete various activities (Appendix G). CSR learning logs enable students to keep track of learning and provide a springboard for follow-up activities. The students are encouraged to record their ideas in English. Logs promote active group participation for students. In other words, Logs furnish a way for all students to be active participants. These logs provide written documentation of learning, thus assuring the individual accountability that facilitates cooperative learning.
3.3.8 Clunk Cards
Clunk cards help “students” know what strategies to use when trying to figure out unfamiliar words (Figure3.2). The “teacher” uses clunk cards to remind the group of the steps to follow when trying to figure out a difficult word or concept. These cards direct students to (a) re-read the sentences before and after the clunk, looking for clues; (b) re-read the sentence without the clunk and think about what would make sense; (c) look for a prefix or suffix; and (d) break the word into smaller parts and look for words they know.
Figure3. 2: A Sample Clunk Card
In order to conduct this research, the following steps were carried out.
To accomplish the objectives of this study, 85 female students with age range of 18-26 were non-randomly selected from intermediate level classes at Safir Language School in Tehran.
Prior to the treatment, a sample PET test, was piloted among a group of 30 female students with almost similar characteristics of the representative sample. Then the three characteristics of individual items (Item Facility, Item Discrimination, and Choice Distribution) were calculated and two malfunctioning items were discarded from the test battery. The Cronbach Alpha formula was employed for calculating the reliability of the tests’ scores gained by the participants.
The writing part was rated according to the rating scale provided by Cambridge for PET by the researcher and another qualified rater. First, the rating scale was shared between the two raters and then in order to make sure that both had the same understanding of it, a few papers were rated by both. Since it was shown that there was consistency between the papers they rated, the researcher moved to the actual practice. Later on, the inter-rater reliability was calculated on the basis of the ratings done by both raters for the pilot test of PET. Since there was an acceptable consistency between the two raters, the researcher went through the same procedure for the main participants.
An already piloted PET was given to 85 intermediate level students of Safir Language School who were selected non-randomly.
The reading and listening parts of the exam were scored objectively, each question receiving 1 point. For the writing part, the first sub-part includes 5 items and each received 1 point and for the two other sub-parts which required students to write paragraphs the scoring was based on the analytic scale for rating writing tasks of PET by two raters.
Also, the speaking part of PET was rated according to the rating scale provided by Cambridge General Mark Schemes for speaking following the same procedure for correcting writings.
Based on the obtained results, 64students whose score fall between one standard deviation above and below the mean were selected as the participants of the study. Then, the participants were randomly divided into two groups of experimental (EG) (30 participants) and control (CG) (34 participants).
To make sure that the students were not significantly different in terms of their reading comprehension ability (the dependent variable of the study), they were given a reading comprehension pretest. This test was a piloted reading part of another PET with 35 items. The examinees were expected to complete this test in 40 minutes.
It should be mentioned that both pre and post-tests of reading comprehension were piloted among a group of 30 female students with almost similar characteristics of the representative sample.
All the participants were taught using the same material and they received the same amount of instruction. All classes comprising the two groups were instructed by the same teacher (the researcher). The only difference lay in the teaching of CSR strategies which was included in the experimental group. The course consisted of 20 sessions of 90 minutes spanning over a period of seven weeks. It should be mentioned that the “New Interchange “, consists of
16 units. For the purpose of this study, participants dealt with 4 units of the third part (units 10, 11, 12 and 13).
In the experimental group, reading passages were taught through using Collaborative Strategic Reading approach step by step as purposed by Klingner, Vaughn, & Schumms’ model, (2001) (Figure 3.3).
Figure 3. 3: CSR’s Plan for Strategic Reading
Before reading a given passage, students are asked to engage in the first strategy which is previewing (Table 3.2). The previewing strategy encompasses four activities to build and activate prior knowledge and to motivate students’ interest about the passage topic. First, the teacher introduces the passage topic and teaches any proper nouns or specialized vocabulary that may be unfamiliar to almost all students in the class. Second, students brainstorm what they already know about the topic. Third, students are taught to preview the passage and attend to text features such as headings and graphics to learn as much as possible in a very short period of time. Finally, students predict what they think they will learn from the passage. Students record their brainstormed ideas and predictions on their learning log.
Table 3.2: Stage 1 of CSR’s Plan for Strategic Reading
Stage 1 : Before Reading
• Students preview the entire passage prior to reading each section.
The goals of previewing are:
– To build and activate students’ background knowledge about the topic.
– To learn as much about a passage as they can in a brief period of time.
– To help students make predictions about what they will learn.
– To motivate students’ interest in the topic and to engage them in active reading from the onset.
In Previewing, the focus is on the following strategies:
1. Brainstorming: What do we already know about the topic?
2. Predicting: What do we predict we will learn about the topic when we read the passage?
During reading, students are guided to read the first section of the passage. As they read, students engage in the second and third strategies: “Click and Clunk” and “Get the Gist” (Table 3.2). The Click and Clunk strategy is designed to help students identify breakdowns in understanding and then resolve the misunderstandings using a series of “fix up” strategies. As students read the first section, they are instructed to identify “clunks” or breakdowns in understanding, and record them on their learning logs.
After reading the section, students return to the clunks and use the following “fix up” strategies to find the meaning of the word in its context: (1) re-read the sentence without the word -think about what word meaning would make sense in the sentence; (2) re-read the sentences before and after the clunk, looking for clues to determine the word meaning; (3) identify key elements in the word (e.g., prefixes, suffixes, a known word part); (4) identify word parts that may aid in understanding it.
Table 3.3: Stage 2 of CSR’s Plan for Strategic Reading
Stage 2: While reading
CSR: Click and Clunk
Students click and clunk while reading each section of the passage.
The goals of click and clunk are:
• For students to monitor their reading comprehension.
• For students to identify when they have breakdowns in understanding (clunks).
• To use “fix-up” strategies to figure out clunks.
• To identify and explain which fix-up strategy was used and why.
In Click and Clunk the focus is on:
1. Were there any parts that were hard to understand (clunks)?
2. How can we fix the clunks?
3. Use fix-up strategies such as:
a. Reread the sentence and look for key ideas to help you understand.
b. Reread the sentences before and after looking for clues.
c. Look for a prefix, root word, or suffix in the word.
d. Break the word apart and look for smaller parts of the words they know.
Also during reading, students are instructed to use a practice called “Get the Gist” (Table 3.3), which is