“as important as word recognition is, it is only one aspect of reading process. Reading is about meaning and the comprehension of meaning. Comprehension is the goal and purpose of reading. Without it there is no reading (p.ix).
Rayner and Pollatsek, (1989) argue that “reading is a highly complex skill that is a perquisite to success in our society[the united states]. In a society such as ours, where so much information is communicated in written form, it is important to investigate this essential behavior. In the past 15 years, a great deal has been learned about the reading process from research by cognitive psychologists” (p.ix).
Al-Mansour & Al-Shorman (2011), believed that “through reading, one can
teach writing, speaking, vocabulary items, grammar, spelling and other language aspects. The basic goals of reading are to enable students to gain an understanding the world and themselves, to develop appreciation and interests, and to find solutions to their personal and group problems”. (p.35)
Burch (2007), states that “as teachers work in their classrooms to develop lessons, activities, and demonstrations to extend the literacy learning of their
students, they must constantly strive to meet the diverse needs of their students by selecting and implementing a variety of instructional models and materials. Many teachers have found that their knowledge of each student’s competencies allow sthem to adjust lessons and support each student as they extend that student’s literacy learning. Classroom teachers ask themselves how they can help students especially those low performing children in their own roomslearn and accelerate at faster rates” (p.67).Thus the researcher has used scaffolding within the students’ zone of proximal development to accomplish it.
Many researchers and reflective practitioners such as Vygotsky (1933, 1978)
feel that the strategies that will best accomplish enhanced learning are those that
support learning within the child’s zone of proximal development ( cf,Burch,
Wood, Bruner, and Ross (1976) used the term “scaffolding”, to describe this
support which has been defined as support system that helps children achieve
success on tasks that would be too difficult for them to achieve by themselves (cf, Burch, 2007).
Verenikian(2003), holds the view that” the popularity of the scaffolding metaphor indicates its conceptual significance and practical value for teaching and educational research”( p.1). Although it was originally used with young kids, research showed it is effective among a wide variety of different student population, from young kids (Beed et al., 1991; Coltman et al., 2002; Palinscar, 1998) to middle school students (Chang et al., 2001; McLoughlin & Oliver, 1998; Oliver, 1999), to undergraduate and graduate students (Bean & Stevens, 2002; Kao, 1996; Sharma, 2001); from regular students to students with learning disabilities (Beed et al., 1991; Gaskins et al., 1997; Lepper et al., 1997; Palincsar, 1998). The extensive success of scaffolding indicates its role as successful intervention of learning. (cf,Hu, 2006).
Scaffolding can also be used to reduce learners’ cognitive load (Oliver, 1999) and prevent them from feeling frustrated by difficult tasks (Rosenshine &
Meister, 1992). If the learners have to struggle with a task all by themselves and keep experiencing failure, they will quickly feel frustrated and may eventually give up. Support from other people or tools can ”shoulder some of the intellectual burden” (Jackson, Stratford, & Krajcik, 1996, p. 1) so that learners can focus on more critical components within a task. To leverage students’ cognitive load, a teacher can take over part of the cognitive load or provide scaffolding tools, such as cue card (Rosenshine & Meister, 1992). To regulate the difficulty of a task, the teacher by scaffolding can provide a simplified version of the task at the beginning and gradually increase the difficulty or divide a complex task into small manageable pieces that learners can handle (Rosenshine & Meister, 1992). However, leveraging cognitive load does not mean taking over all intellectual burden from students.
Good instruction should always balance between challenge and support (Roehler & Cantlon, 1997). As students become more competent, it is important to gradually take away support and hand over more responsibility to students. Otherwise, they might either become overly rely on the help or not be able to tackle with the full version of a task. (cf Hu, 2006).
Hammond and Gibbons (2001) believed that scaffolding is defined as a process or product that enables a learner to a goal, solve a problem, or finish a task that the individual would not be able to do without support from other human beings or tools). From its definition, we can see that the nature of scaffolding is instructional intervention, which is intentionally designed to enhance student’s learning. Furthermore, scaffolding is not just any form of support that is offered to students. It has to be the support that helps learners construct knowledge and thinking rather than remembering simple facts.(cf Hu, 2006).
Using scaffolding has a lot of benefits.” It provides a supportive learning environment. Instructors are caring and interested in helping students learn.
Students are free to ask questions, provide feedback and support their peers in learning new material. An instructor who uses scaffolding becomes more of a mentor and facilitator of knowledge than the dominant content part. It provides the incentive for students to ask a more active role in their own learning. Students share the responsibility of teaching and learning through scaffolds that require them to move beyond their current skill and knowledge levels. Through this interaction, students are able to take ownership of learning event.” (TA connection newsletter, 2008). Due to these benefits of scaffolding as well as complexity of reading comprehension the researcher decided to investigate whether scaffolding could improve the reading comprehension ability of EFL learners.
1.3 Statement of the Research Question
In order to meet the above-mentioned objective, the following research question was formed:
Does scaffolding have any significant effect on intermediate EFL students’ reading comprehension ability?
1.4 Statement of the Research Hypothesis
To respond to the research question empirically, the null hypothesis was formulated as follows:
H0: Scaffolding has no significant effect on intermediate EFL students’ reading comprehension.
1.5 Definition of Key Terms
As Grabe (1991, p.377) describes Godman’s perception of reading which is seen as an active process of comprehending [where] students need to be taught strategies to read more efficiently ( e.g., guess from context, define expectations, make inferences about the text, skim a head to fill in the context, etc.( cf, Alyousef, 2005).
Alyousef, (2005) maintain that “reading can be seen as an ‘interactive’ process between a reader and a text which leads to automaticity or (reading fluency). In this process, the reader interacts dynamically with the text as he/she tries to elicit the meaning and where various kinds of knowledge are being used: linguistic or systematic knowledge (through bottom-up processing) as well as schematic knowledge (through top-down processing)”(p.8).
1.5.2 Reading comprehension
Reading comprehension is defined by Snow and Sweet (2003) “as the process of simultaneously extracting and constructing meaning”( p.1).
Kavcar, Oguzkan and Sever (1994:4) argue that reading comprehension is the perception, making sense of and comprehension of written matters, in more clear words it is to cognize in all respects the information, feelings and thoughts that are desired to be transmitted as they are, without having caused any misunderstandings, in
its course and without leaving any doubtful points behind (cf Aksan and Kisah 2009).
Aarnoutse & Van Loewe (2000), mention that reading comprehension can be defined as constructing a mental representation of textual information and its interpretation(Van Den Broke & Kremer, 2000) or in other words, as extracting meaning from written words, sentences, and texts (cf, Keer and Verhaeghe, 2005).
In this study reading comprehension as the dependent variable is operationally defined as the participants’ performance on the reading comprehension test of PET.
According to Burch (2007) scaffolding is” the gradual withdrawal of adult (e.g., teacher) support, as through instruction, modeling, questioning, feedback, etc., for a child’s performance across successive engagements, thus transferring more and more autonomy to the child”.
In this study the researcher followed scaffolding operationally means as a model including:
Building the field. “Teachers design activities and lead students on knowledge understanding and developing new skills” (Hu, 2006). “The construction of shared experiences, understandings and language is a crucial phase for ESL students. (Dansie ,2001 p.66)”.
Modeling, refers to the patterning of thoughts, beliefs, strategies, and actions after those displayed by one or more models-usually teachers or parents who explain and demonstrate skills (Schunk and Zimmerman, 1997). (Anderson., 1988) said that the role of the teacher is paramount. Research suggests that the frequency with which students read in and out of school depends upon the priority classroom teachers give to independent reading (cf. Loh 2009). Hu, (2006) argues that “modeling refers to the patterns teachers explicitly explain their thinking and action while demonstrating it”.
Joint construction. “Teacher and students work together to achieve shared
understanding and responsibility of the task at hand” (Hu, 2006). “This stage allows the teacher to hand over some of the responsibility to the students while still providing support, enabling them to do what they are not quiet able to do on their own “(Dansie ,2001 p.69). The teacher begins to remove much of the support that has been provided before. The students are handed the main responsibility, the lead role. The teacher now takes a strategic monitoring role, assessing students’ performance to gauge the least support that will be needed to complete the task successfully. Here, the contingent nature of scaffolding, through the adapting of strategies to the needs of each student, is strongly evident. (Dansie,2001 p.70)
Independent construction. “More responsibilities are shifted to students and students take control over the task while teacher gradually withdraws support. (Hu, 2006). “Finally, there is a full hand-over of responsibility to the student” (Dansie, 2001 p.70).
1.6 Significance of the Study
Hinkel, (2005) believes that” With the expanding influence of English as lingua franca and more recently with the emerging ubiquity of technology, the number of L2 English learners has been continuing to grow dramatically worldwide. However, the rising numbers of English language learners do not merely result in teaching second or foreign language (FL) to more people. The evolving complexity of human societies, political structures, and the ever-increasing pace of globalization have also led to the emergence of new types of learners and learning needs, adding new dimensions to recent research and heightening the need for new knowledge in and about L2 teaching and learning “(p.xvii).
Nation (2006) believes that developing reading skills in a second language (L2) presents learners with many challenges. And, he goes on to say that among these challenges, perhaps most obvious is the lexical knowledge learners must develop Another hurdle for students to overcome is the sometimes complex syntax