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A Think-Aloud Study Cognitive and Metacognitive Reading

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					                   A Think-Aloud Study: Cognitive and Metacognitive Reading
                                      Strategies of ELT Department Students

                                                                                                      Demet Yaylı1


Suggested Citation:
Yaylı, D. (2010). A think-aloud study: Cognitive and metacognitive reading strategies of ELT department
         students. Egitim Arastirmalari-Eurasian Journal of Educational Research, 38, 234-251.
                                                         Abstract
        Problem Statement: The main purpose of reading instruction is to foster strategic readers who are capable
        of using cognitive reading strategies flexibly and controlling their comprehension. Since cognitive and
        metacognitive reading strategies play a pivotal role in reading comprehension, there is a need for
        studies focusing on strategy use by EFL learners from contexts other than mainstream ESL. There is
        little research that uses think-aloud and/or retrospective protocols to investigate strategy use by
        learners of English in Turkish universities.
        Purpose of Study: This study employs think-aloud and retrospective protocols to gather verbal report
        data on cognitive and metacognitive reading strategy use by the students enrolled in an English
        Language Teaching (ELT hereafter) department in Turkey.
        Methods: This study relies on the think-aloud and retrospective protocols of 6 proficient (PR hereafter)
        and 6 less proficient readers (LPR hereafter), who were chosen as participants according to their mid-
        term (20%) and final reading exam scores (40%) in the Advanced Reading and Writing course and their
        paper-based Reading Comprehension TOEFL scores (40%). First, the participants were asked to read and
        paraphrase an expository and a narrative text in the think-aloud session. Second, in the retrospective
        session, they were asked to share how they comprehended the two texts, what comprehension
        problems they encountered and how they solved them. Data analysis aimed to reveal both cognitive
        and metacognitive reading strategy types and also the frequencies of their use, as included in the verbal
        protocols.
        Findings and Results: The PRs used cognitive and metacognitive reading strategies more frequently than
        the LPRs in both text types, and both groups mainly used the same strategy types. The findings also
        revealed that the LPRs especially referred to cohesive ties, mainly while guessing the meaning of
        unknown vocabulary items or making connections within the text. Therefore, ‘using cohesive ties’ and
        ‘awareness of cohesive ties’ were taken as cognitive and metacognitive reading strategy types,
        respectively.
        Conclusions and Recommendations: The limited variety in reading strategy use may stem from the similar
        literacy and foreign language education in the EFL context in Turkey, which is teacher-centered,
        structural and behavioristic. Bearing this in mind, learners should be explicitly trained in what
        cognitive reading strategies are and how they are used at different times, and this awareness will in
        turn help learners monitor and evaluate their comprehension.
        Keywords: English as a foreign language; cognitive reading strategies; metacognitive reading strategies;
        think-aloud; retrospection




1   Asst.Prof.Dr., Pamukkale University Faculty of Education, TURKEY, demety@pau.edu.tr

				
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