Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effect of Graphic Organizers and Marginal Glossing on Reading Comprehension of Texts with Sequential Structure

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effect of Graphic Organizers and Marginal Glossing on Reading Comprehension of Texts with Sequential Structure

Article excerpt


Reading comprehension refers to the ability to understand information presented in written form. While this process usually entails understanding textbook assignments, reading comprehension skills also may affect one's interpretation of directions on exams, labs, and homework assignments and completion of job applications or questionnaires. So, reading without comprehension or understanding is not reading.

Learners comprehend better when they see the text organized in such a way which can easily be understood, and which indicates the relationships between ideas. The two important ways that may have a significant impact on the teaching reading process are the use of graphic organizers (GO) and marginal glossing (MG).

Recent overviews of reading have argued that discourse comprehension skills contribute to reading abilities (Kintsch, 1998). One of the major ways in which students can be trained to recognize discourse structuring in texts is through the use of graphic organizers (GOs)-visual representation of information in the text. The recommendations to use GOs as part of reading instruction are commonly found in the first language (L1) reading literature (e.g., Blachowicz & Ogle, 2001; Vacca & Vacca, 1999) and extensively incorporated in textbooks for young L1 readers (e.g., Gunning, 2003; Thresher, 2004), though generally less common in second language (L2) contexts (Mohan, 1986; Smith & Mare, 2004; Tang, 1992). GOs are said to be particularly valuable because "a good graphic representation can show at a glance the key parts of a whole and their relations, so as Jiang and Grabe stated (2007) it" allows a holistic understanding that words alone cannot convey."



Graphic organizers are a series of visual charts and tools used to represent and organize a student's knowledge or ideas. Graphic organizers are often used as part of the writing process to help students map out ideas, plots, character details and settings before beginning to write. As part of the reading process, graphic organizers can help a student comprehend what he has read and make comparisons to other pieces of writing. Lev Vygotsky, a Russian theorist who was deeply interested in developmental psychology, was concerned with what type of assistance facilitated learning most efficiently among students at different age levels. Through his many experiments, he discovered that students, when given the appropriate assistance during a learning task, could achieve far more than they could when tackling learning tasks on their own. He introduced the existence of a "zone of proximal development" (ZPD), which he defined as, "...the distance between a child's actual development level, as determined by independent problem solving, and the higher level of potential development as determined by problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers" (Elliott et al., 2000, p. 55). Simply stated, the ZPD, as described by Vygotsky, is the difference between what a learner can do independently and what he or she is capable of doing with assistance.

According to Daugherity (2004), in any learning setting there are tasks that students are able to do alone, and there are tasks which students are able to do only with the assistance of others. The lack of ability is usually due to a lack of understanding, knowledge, and intelligence. In an online blended setting, Nathan and Barrett (2004) observe, "Scaffolding.. .can be provided by a range of elements in the learning process, for example, learning recourses, interactive technologies and/or other learners" (p. 87). One of the benefits of using graphic organizers as scaffolding tools includes providing the teacher with diagnostic information revealing the extent to which students understand the subject matter being presented. The diagnostic portion of the process can be accomplished by only a cursory look at the students' progress in compiling a graphic organizer or through a more in-depth inquiry into the students' understanding of the material. …

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