?Fl Learners' Attitudes towards Using Mind Mapping Technique in Their Reading Comprehension

Article excerpt


Reading is purposeful and requires active involvement on behalf of the readers, as during reading a text, they have different aims to achieve (Koda, 2005). As Gambrell, Block, and Pressley (2002) names comprehension as the most important part of reading, helping students to cope with complicated texts they face is one of the crucial parts of teaching English to EFL learners. Among different strategies that are applied to improve reading comprehension, mnemonics, and its more recent type, mind maps are prominent. Mind maps that are graphic and visual presentation of materials, was first introduced by Buzan in the late 19th century. The purpose of this study was to investigate the attitudes of EFL learners towards using mind mapping technique in reading comprehension. The participants of this study were 31 male and female students of business management at Hakiman Institute of Higher Education, Bojnourd, Iran. It was their first semester and they participated in a pre-English course as a compulsory one. After eight sessions of treatment, when they were familiar with mind mapping strategy and applied it for the reading passages of their textbook, their attitudes toward using mind maps for reading comprehension was investigated through Likert-type questionnaire and oral interview. The findings revealed the positive attitudes of the participants towards the use of mind maps in reading classes.

Key Words: Attitudes, Mind Mapping Technique, Reading Comprehension, EFL

1- Introduction

Reading, as a critical aspect of literacy, is regarded as an interaction between the reader and the text (Alderson & Urquhart, 1984). Among the variety of techniques and skills of teaching reading, five of them are identified as essential by the National Reading Panel (2000). They are: (a) phonemics awareness, (b) phonics, (c) comprehension, (d) fluency, and (e) vocabulary. As such, comprehension plays a key role as a reading skill that EFL learners are required to master in particular.

Reading comprehension is crucial in Iran as an EFL context, too. There is a vast range of research in this scope to find the learners' difficulties and to find some solutions for them. Gorjian, Hayati, and Sheykhiani (2009) claimed that in Iranian educational system, learners have difficulties in comprehending a text and there is no special policy in order to teach them some strategies for the sake of better comprehension. In this educational system, there are just some activities and questions after reading to check learners' comprehension and strategy instruction seems to be a missing component.

As teachers can teach strategies to improve the reading comprehension of their students, Zipp, Maher, and D'Antoni, (2011) emphasized this role that teachers are unable to teach the students to think but, "our obligation to our students is to help them turn the wheels of their mind with ever increasing power and clarity as they grow and learn" (p. 60). Thompson (2000) stated that applying reading strategies would enhance the students' rate of comprehension and change them from a passive one to an active one. As Ness (2009) argued, the instruction of reading comprehension strategies is highly beneficial in all the levels and as Javdan Faghat, and Zainal (2010) restated, these strategies help the reader to interact with the text.

Mnemonics are one of these strategies that are applied in reading activities especially for reading comprehension for years. Mnemonics or memory-enhancing strategies refer to a "specific reconstruction of target content intended to tie new information more closely to the learners' existing knowledge base and, therefore, facilitate retrieval" (Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1990, pp. 271272).

Mnemonics works as a bridge to link new information to the already existing one and "mnemonic strategy instruction is based on the premise that concrete information that is meaningful or familiar may be elaborated and made easier to learn than abstract and seemingly unrelated information" (Fontana et al. …