An Examination of Reading Comprehension Test Scores and the Use of Graphic Organizers for Adult English as a Second Language Learners
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology
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The vast majority of the studies concerning graphic organizer use for the improvement of reading comprehension have been carried out with first language (L1) learners. The recommendations to employ graphic organizers as part of reading instruction are frequently found in L1 reading literature (Blachowicz & Ogle, 2001; McKenna & Robinson, 1997; Readance, Bean & Baldwin, 1981; Vacca & Vacca, 1999). However, there is an apparent dearth of graphic organizer research with second language (L2) learners in spite of the growing population of English Language Learners (ELLs) in the United States. As L2 learners come into contact with more dense and complex reading materials, they need special scaffolding devices to facilitate their reading comprehension (Jiang & Grabe, 2007). Graphic organizers that more closely resemble the discourse organization of a text can be used as scaffolding instruments to raise reading comprehension levels. The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to determine the relationship between graphic organizers and reading comprehension levels among adult ELLs. This study examined the effects of using graphic organizers that represent the discourse structures of a text on the reading comprehension test scores of adult ELLs. Data was collected using quantitative and qualitative mixed-methods, including the reading comprehension section of the English as a Second Language Assessment Battery (ESLAB), and follow-up interviews. The participants of this study included adult English as a Second Language (ESL) students from the Intensive English Program (IEP) of a Southeastern University. The quantitative data obtained from the reading comprehension test results were analyzed by using the IBM SPSS Statistics 24 software employing different statistical descriptive analyses and t-test analyses. The qualitative data collected from the follow-up interviews were transcribed and analyzed using a phenomenological approach with the aid of Atlas.ti software, which included a coding technique used to generate categories and to elicit emergent themes. The results of this study provide meaningful data about the impact graphic organizers can have on the reading comprehension test scores of adult ELLs. Findings from this study reveal that the use of graphic organizers that represent discourse text structures significantly improve the reading comprehension test scores of adult ELLs. These findings are consistent with the findings of Carrell (1985) who found that the instruction and use of graphic organizers facilitated reading comprehension in ESL contexts. The present study also confirms the findings of Martinez (2002) and Li, Wang, Cao, and Li (2014) that have highlighted the link between drawing students’ attention to discourse structures in texts and facilitating improved reading comprehension.