Academic journal article Journal of College Reading and Learning

Mapping Strategies

Academic journal article Journal of College Reading and Learning

Mapping Strategies

Article excerpt

Reading is an essential skill for both educational and professional success; it is the best way of staying in touch with vital new findings and increasing one's academic and professional standing. Moreover, it is an important source of pleasure, both in native and foreign languages (Chastain, 1988; Li & Wilhelm, 2008; Saricoban, 2002). Also, the benefits students obtain from this skill are much greater than those which they receive from other skills such as listening, speaking, and writing (Saricoban, 2002). That is, they can comprehend more through reading than through speaking, listening, and writing. For this reason, reading should be emphasized in the initial stages of teaching a foreign language. Like the other three language skills, reading is a process involving the activation of relevant knowledge to accomplish an exchange of information from one person to another. Active mental processing is necessary for communication to occur. Reading is not only a receptive but an active skill (Chastain, 1988). It is a process that involves various mental activities and numerous subpro cesses. To understand main ideas, readers use their background knowledge as well as the information provided by the reading text. Scholars (Basque & Pudelko, 2004; Birbili, 2006; Celce-Marcia, 1991; Chastain, 1988; Mokhtari & Reichard, 2002; Yanez, 1987) advocate the use of reading strategies to aid students in adjusting to the demands of most texts. Using these skills can easily be initiated at beginning or intermediate levels to provide students with strategies that are considered, as Baker (2004) states, "an essential aspect of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language" (p. 303). Furthermore, Mokhtari and Reichard (2002) believe that "increasing students' awareness of their comprehension processes while reading is an important first step toward their becoming constructively responsive, strategic and thoughtful readers" (p. 256). Clearly, not all strategies are equally effective, due to different types of reading texts, tasks, and strategies employed by individual readers (Phan, 2006). These strategies are divided into prereading, while-reading, and postreading (Jalilifar, Hayati, & Saki, 2008; Li & Wilhelm, 2008; Saricoban, 2002). Prereading and postreading strategies are not of concern in this study. From among the while-reading strategies, however, knowledge-mapping (KM) and underlining are discussed in more detail because they are part of a topic that is growing more and more significant, not only for EFL (English as a Foreign Language) students, but also for students who are native speakers of English. On the one hand, Amer's (1994) findings suggest that KM and underlining strategies play an important role in reading comprehension with regard to open-ended questions. On the other hand, there is a lack of universal agreement and clear-cut response regarding the usefulness of these strategies on the students' performance in multiple-choice reading comprehension tests.

Review of Literature

Research has indicated that visual aids have the potential for lowering the language barrier and making content information more comprehensible to readers. Visual aids can also be used to highlight the linguistic device of knowledge structures, recognition of which is a step toward academic, second-language acquisition (Birbili, 2006; Chang, Sung, & Chen, 2005; Rewey, Dansereau, Dees, Skaggs, & Pitre, 1992). In this regard, while-reading strategies require readers to delve into written texts. In other words, they help students to comprehend the content and to perceive the rhetorical structure of the text. As students master these strategies, their understanding of readings is greatly enhanced (CelceMurcia, 1991; Yanez, 1987). A number of useful while-reading strategies can guide students through the text and help them comprehend it better. These strategies include identifying the main and supporting details of the text, identifying the organization of the text, and using strategies such as SQ3R (a five-step reading strategy: Survey, Question, Read, Recite/Recall and Review), outlining, KM, and underlining (Baker, 2004; Mokhtari & Reichard, 2002). …

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