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Title: The effect of background knowledge and text structure on Egyptian and Danish secondary school students' reading comprehension
Author: Abdalla, Mahmoud Ibrahim
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2001
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In the first phase of the thesis, one hundred Egyptian and Danish students read and then recalled two passages representing the two cultures. The passages were about the Egyptian festival of Shamm en-Naseem and the Danish festival of Fastelaven. This was followed by a cloze test. The results indicated that prior knowledge of the content of the passage aided comprehension. As predicted, Egyptian and Danish subjects recalled more T units (idea units) from the familiar text than the unfamiliar one. While there was a statistical significance (p<0.0001) between the two mean scores of Danish subjects, the performance of the Egyptian subjects on both passages was almost the same (the mean scores were 8.2 for the Egyptian text and 7.3 for the Danish text). The cloze test scores and the T unit analysis revealed that items that are closely related to cultural aspects of the text were best recollected by those who share the culture. However, there were cases when subjects in both groups failed to recall some of the culturally related ideas. In addition, the text structure affected the quantity and quality of information recalled by both groups. Six Egyptian and Danish subjects participated in the second phase of the study. This time subjects read the same passages in a think aloud manner. Their talk was recorded and then transcribed. Data analysis confirmed the above finding that prior knowledge of the topic aid comprehension. It was also evident that the think aloud technique played a significant role in facilitating subjects' overall understanding and encouraged more elaborations on cultural aspects of the text. The results also showed that subjects used different strategies to construct main ideas but the extent to which they could use these strategies was limited by the text structure and the information presented in it. The examination of the two case studies indicated that students relied on their linguistic skills to understand the passage when the topic is unfamiliar to them. The organization of the text and unfamiliarity of the content affected the quality of their predictions. The tendency was to provide general expectations rather than predicting specific ideas.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available