as second language (ESL), Nassaji (2003), found lower-level processes like word recognition, in addition to higher-level syntactic and semantic processes, contributed significantly to the distinction between skilled and less-skilled ESL readers. He concluded that efficient lower-level word recognition processes are integral components of L2 reading comprehension, and these processes must not be neglected even in highly advanced ESL readers. Poor L2 readers are slower in word recognition and generally weak at rapid and automatic syntactic processing because they “develop an overt knowledge of L2 grammatical structures before they become fluent L2 readers” (Grabe& Stroller, 2002, p. 23). Chen (1998), in his proficiency constrained model of Chinese readers of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in comprehending ambiguous English sentences, demonstrated that poor L2 readers are particularly weak in processing more complex ambiguous sentences. He holds that this weakness resulted from their lack of syntactic knowledge in the target language, which constrained their reading comprehension. Parry (1991) concluded that, in respect to vocabulary growth, successful readers read much more, thus exposing themselves to many more words in meaningful contexts.
At lexical and syntactic levels, Chen’s (1998) study of Chinese college EFL readers’ comprehension when processing simple ambiguous sentences revealed little difference in comprehension between good and poor readers. However, good readers performed much better than poor readers in processing more complex ambiguous sentences. A L2 readers’ linguistic proficiency is therefore a key factor that constrains the reader’s text comprehension. Liu and Bever (2002) also involved Chinese EFL college students as participants in their experiment to investigate the role of syntactic analysis in reading comprehension. They found that good readers did not exhibit apparent effort to use syntactic analysis in their comprehension processes. They accounted for this result by claiming that good readers were able to process sentences in a quick and subconscious manner because of their high L2 proficiency. In contrast, poor L2 competence can severely constrain the development of readers’ abilities in cognitive and metacognitive strategy use, thus affecting their reading comprehension.
As in good L1 readers, the knowledge of discourse organization contributes positively to reading comprehension in the L2 context. According to Carrell (1985, 1987), when the context is kept constant but the rhetorical organization is varied, good L2 readers recognize the discourse structures much better than poor readers, which helps good readers significantly in their understanding of text. In another study by Carrell (1992), she observed that the good readers were those who were more aware of the discourse organization of the original texts to recall information and who could also better describe the patterns of the tasks. Good readers are also sensitive to the structural elements of the text, which helps them to remember the main idea of the text and comprehend better (Commander & Stanwyck, 1997).
In addition, the use of prior knowledge to aid reading comprehension in good readers is recognized as a factor in comprehension (Bernhardt, 1993; Brantmeier, 2004; Haenggi & Perfetti, 1992; Spires & Donley, 1998). However, some studies have also documented cases where poor L2 readers often wrongly used their prior knowledge to compensate for their target language deficiencies (e.g., Lu, 1999).
In her research on L2 readers, Carrell (1988) noted that lower proficiency students tend to rely more heavily on bottom-up, text-based strategies, while more advanced English as Second Language (ESL) readers were able to engage in top-down processes based on their prior knowledge and schemata. Less-skilled readers activate more irrelevant information during reading than skilled readers (e.g., Gernsbacher, 1993, 1997). There is also evidence that less-skilled readers have poorer access to prior text than skilled readers (Gernsbacher, Varner, & Faust, 1990). These results cover on one major difference between good and poor readers, namely that good readers emphasize establishing coherence while poor readers emphasize the contents of the current sentence.
Regarding research in first language literacy, a similar interface has been established between reading ability and strategy use among native speakers of English. For example, Baker and Brown (1984) found that poor readers are generally deficient in reading skills and using strategies. Skilled readers, on the other hand, are more able to reflect on and monitor their cognitive processes while reading. They are aware not only of which strategies to use, but they also tend to be better at regulating the use of such strategies while reading. In other words, they know which strategies to use and how to use them, and they know the conditions under which they ought to be used.
Research in the field of strategies has proposed that poor readers are not strategic. That is, although they use some strategies, mainly “surface” ones, these are not suitable for their age and reading experiences (Padeliadu, Botsas & Sideridis, 2002). They use fewer strategies, less complex and use them in a maladaptive way (Botsas & Padeliadu, 2001). On the contrary, good readers possess a well-developed repertoire of strategies that along with their adaptive way of use helps them, to successfully comprehend texts (Botsas & Padeliadu, 2003).
Good readers are selective as they read. They are likely to focus more of their attention on the parts of the text that are most closely tied to their reading goals. As they read, good readers often make inferences. They may draw on their background knowledge or look for clues in the text to supply information about characteristics that the author has not provided directly.
Good readers monitor their comprehension as they read. When they realize that they do not understand what they are reading, they apply procedures to “repair” or “fix-up” their lack of understanding.
In short, good readers are most often strategic readers. That is, they use a number of comprehension strategies to get meaning from text. In addition, good readers engage in metacognition as they read. For example, readers with metacognitive awareness are able consciously and automatically to select the appropriate comprehension strategies for use with a particular text.
In contrast to good readers, most poor readers do not read strategically. Nor do they have sufficient metacognitive awareness to develop, select, and apply strategies that can enhance their comprehension of text.
During reading, poor readers may have difficulty decoding. In addition, some poor readers read too slowly, or lack fluency. As a result of their slow, labored reading, they often do not comprehend much of what they read, and the attention they have to give to figuring out the words that keeps them from understanding the text’s message.
2.6 Collaborative Strategic Reading
The results of reading from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed that many students are still not able to read fluently and answer comprehension questions correctly. There are some reasons behind low reading scores such as lack of awareness of alphabetic principle, phonological awareness, and other phonics-related skills that were overlooked in most approached related to teaching reading. According to Vaughn, Klingner, and Bryant (2001), although the new attention has been paid to phonics-related instruction, there is still a growing body of students who can read at the word level but struggle with meaning, or who can comprehend text adequately but struggle with the skills needed to acquire knowledge from text.
2.6.1 Strategies Used in Collaborative Strategic Reading
According to Vaughn et al. (2001, as cited in Standish, 2005), CSR was designed to address three importa
nt issues in reading instruction. The first, was meeting the needs of the increasingly diverse classrooms in the United States, including English language learners and students with learning disabilities. Second, CSR provided strategy instruction that increased the students’ comprehension of text and their ability to retain and transfer their new knowledge. Third, CSR was designed to facilitate collaborative, peer-mediated instruction among students in the content area classroom.
The strategies found in CSR are introduced first to the class as a whole. The teacher presents the first strategy in three separate sessions. First, she employs modeling phases, which incorporates the strategy, text and think-aloud by the teacher. Second, she uses a teacher-assisted phase where students are actively involved with the process of learning the strategy as a whole group. Third, the students are involved in an independent phase where they review the strategy and then work with a partner to use the strategy with their text. This instructional framework is used with each of the four strategies included in CSR (Vaughn et al., 2001).
The four strategies used in CSR are research-based and designed to incorporate the four best practices in making meaning from expository text (Palincsar& Brown, 1984; Pressley, Brown, El-Dinary, & Afflerbach, 1995, as cited in Standish, 2005). The first strategy, preview, is designed to activate the students’ background knowledge and to make predictions about the text before they begin to read. The second strategy, click and clunk, is designed to assist the students in monitoring their reading and enhancing their vocabulary development during their reading. The third strategy, get the gist, teaches the students to identify the main ideas in each section of text while they are reading. The fourth strategy, wrap-up, asks the students to summarize key ideas from the text and to generate questions about the material after reading (Vaughn et al., 2001).
Further, according to them, the preview strategy activates background knowledge and establishes predictions about the text by scanning the pictures, captions, graphics, title, headings, subheadings and key words. The objective of the preview strategy is to stimulate the students’ background knowledge about the topic, encourage interest and motivation to read the text, to make informed predictions about the text, to set a purpose for reading and to share and learn from other members of their group (Vaughn et al., 2001).
In addition, after the students preview the text, they begin reading as they employ the click and clunk strategy. This second strategy is a self-monitoring device to be used during the students’ reading of expository text. When the students click, they are recognizing words and their meanings in the context of the text. When they come to a clunk in their reading, they have found a word or section that they do not understand which is inhibiting their comprehension of the text. Students write down their clunks in their learning logs. After the students finish a section of the text, they discuss and solve their clunks. Solving clunks is termed de-clunking in CSR and involves the use of four “fix- up” strategies. The students work in their groups to solve the clunks with the “fix-up” strategies, including rereading, context clues, prefixes or suffixes and morphemic analysis (Vaughn et. al., 2001, as cited in Standish, 2005).
Get the gist, also known as finding the main idea, is practiced while reading the text. The students are required to get the gist after reading each section of the text. This strategy is specifically taught to the students in the teacher modeling and assisting phase and may need to be re-taught as the students acquire mastery of this difficult strategy. Students are taught to first identify the most important person, thing or