Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

Effect of Think Alouds on Literal and Higher-Order Reading Comprehension

Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

Effect of Think Alouds on Literal and Higher-Order Reading Comprehension

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study examines the effect of training in think alouds on literal and higher-order reading comprehension. Thirty-two (n = 32) eighth grade students of English as a foreign language (EFL) participated in the study. The participants were randomly assigned to control and experimental conditions. Descriptive statistics, correlation coefficients, and a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) test were conducted. The results indicated that think alouds is positively related to over all reading comprehension, critical, and interpretive comprehension as well as effective in improving critical comprehension. The results are discussed and recommendations for further research are suggested.

Recently, reading research and practice have focused on enabling readers to become proficient and self-motivated readers who monitor their comprehension through the application of a range of metacognitive strategies. Metacognition is a higher order thinking process dealing with a) knowledge about cognition and b) regulation of cognition. Knowledge about cognition involves readers' awareness of the existence and use of various strategies while reading. Meanwhile, regulation of cognition means that readers become able to evaluate, plan, and regulate reading activities (Anderson, Osborn, & Tierney, 1984; Cohen, 1998).

Think alouds, defined as the conscious disclosure of thought processes while reading, has been proclaimed as an effective technique in helping readers acquire a variety of metacognitive comprehension strategies such as evaluating understanding, predicting and verifying, and self questioning before, during, and after reading (Bauman, Jones, & Kessell, 1993 ;Pressley & McDonald, 1997; Cohen, 1998;Pressley, 1998; Wade, Buxton, & Kelly, 1999). Likewise, previous research on the applications of think alouds procedures in teaching reading has indicated that this technique is a useful mechanism in describing and defining the thought processes of readers (Crain-Thoreson, McCledon-Magurson, & Lippman, 1997) as well as enhancing learners' self-regulated learning (Zimmerman, Bonner, & Kovach, 1996). Similarly, Smith (1991) concluded, based on empirical evidence, that think alouds sheds light on readers' comprehension processes as they read written discourse.

In addition, several studies have reported empirical evidence that training in think alouds enables readers to acquire a wide-range of strategies that enhance comprehension and enable them to overcome text difficulties (Bauman, Jones, & Kessell, 1993). Furthermore, Silven & Vauras (1992) and Gordon &Day (1996) reported that training in think alouds improves gist comprehension and main idea identification.

The preceding review suggests that training readers in the application of think alouds strategies sheds light on their thought processes during reading as well as improves their comprehension of the gist and main ideas of written discourse. Furthermore, educators such as Carrell (1989) and Young (1993) have called for extending the application of think alouds and other metacognitive strategies into the domain of second and foreign language reading instruction. However, it remains unclear whether think alouds improves all types of literal and higher-order comprehension, especially when reading materials in a second or foreign language.

Therefore, the purpose of the present study is to examine the effect of training in think alouds on improving literal and higher-order reading comprehension of readers of English as a foreign language as described by Bums, Roe, & Ross (1999). These researchers defined literal comprehension as ability to understand directly stated ideas in the text thereby follow written directions, recognize details and sequence, and understand cause-effect relationships. Meanwhile, higher-order comprehension requires interpretation, analysis, and synthesis of information and involves the three types of interpretive, critical, and evaluative comprehension. …

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