How teachers teach and readers read. Developing reading comprehension in English in Norwegian upper secondary school
AbstractThis thesis investigates practices of how teachers teach and readers read involved in developing reading comprehension in English in Norwegian upper secondary school. It is an article-based thesis comprising three articles and an extended abstract. The latter includes a review of reading research, theoretical framing, methods and research design, and a summary and discussion of the three articles. The general theoretical and conceptual framing of this thesis is that reading instruction and reading comprehension in Norwegian upper secondary school take place within a sociocultural environment. Therefore, the thesis draws primarily on Vygotskian thinking on the importance of the active learner and the teacher who supports such learners, the use of reading comprehension strategies as tools for learning, and reading proficiency as an externalisation of reading comprehension. This theoretical framing is integrated with reading theories and reading comprehension research. Methodologically, the thesis uses a mixed methods approach to study the qualitative and quantitative aspects of practices involved in developing reading comprehension in English as a second language (L2). Article I is a qualitative study which investigated reading instruction, reading strategies, and metacognitive awareness among teachers. It examined how English teachers and those who taught in the first language (L1) reported to include reading comprehension strategies in their instruction, and how they made their tacit knowledge of such instruction explicit after participating in a teacher professional development (TPD) course. The findings showed a change in how the teachers described their teaching over time. A small repertoire of reading strategies was identified, along with how and why these were used in the reading instructions. Article II is another qualitative study of reading instruction, reading strategies, and metacognitive awareness, this time among teachers and their students. This study investigated how L2 teachers taught reading comprehension strategies in their instruction one year after the TPD course, how their students used the strategies offered to them, and how the students reflected on their strategy use. Classroom observation showed that reading strategies were not only taught by the teachers and used by the students; interestingly, strategy use seemed to have a personal purpose for the students in vocational programmes, but not for the students in general programmes. Moreover, while the teachers in vocational programmes demonstrated a gradual release of responsibility for strategy use to their students, the teachers in general programmes did not. Article III is a large-scale quantitative study that investigated reading proficiency within and across English L2 and Norwegian L1 across a national sample of upper secondary school students, including a number of those in Article II. The results of this study support the view that girls read better than boys and that students in general studies read better than vocational students. However, while the gender effect was relatively smaller for the L2 than the L1, the study programme effect was relatively larger for the L2 than the L1. This study also found that, while vocational students were in majority among the poor readers, only half of them were poor readers in both languages; the others were poor readers in one language and proficient readers in the other. Contrary to expectations, among the latter was a group of boys in both study programmes who were proficient readers in the L2, while being poor readers in the L1. A final finding was that, in the sample as a whole, 49% of the explained variance in the students’ reading proficiency in English L2 was accounted for by a combination of gender, study programme, and L1 reading proficiency. Based on the findings in the three articles, the main contribution of this thesis is increased knowledge about how teachers teach and readers read when developing reading comprehension in English in Norwegian upper secondary school. The findings show that reading proficiency in the L2 is closely related to reading proficiency in the L1 and study programme, although this is not a linear relationship for all students. The findings further show that reading strategies can be valuable learning tools that help readers develop their L2 comprehension, and that the teachers do indeed teach such strategies. Nevertheless, the findings also suggest little reason to claim that reading strategies are effective when taught in isolation. Instead, they have to be explicitly taught by the teachers, and then used individually and independently by the students seeing personal purposes to do so.
List of papers
|Article I Brevik, L.M. (2014). Making implicit practice explicit: How do upper secondary teachers describe their reading comprehension strategies instruction? International Journal of Educational Research, 67, 52–66. The paper is removed from the thesis in DUO due to publisher restrictions. The published version is available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijer.2014.05.002|
|Article II Brevik, L.M. (accepted for publication). Strategies and shoes – Can we ever have enough? Teaching and using reading comprehension strategies in general and vocational study programmes. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research. The paper is removed from the thesis in DUO due to publisher restrictions.|
|Article III Brevik, L.M., Olsen, R.V., & Hellekjær, G.O. (under review). The complexity of second language reading: Investigating the relationship between L1 and L2 using upper secondary level national reading tests. Under review for Journal of Research in Reading. The paper is removed from the thesis in DUO due to publisher restrictions.|