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Title: An empirical study of the effectiveness of collaborative reading in tertiary level EFL teaching in Iran
Author: Momtaz, Esmaeil
ISNI:       0000 0004 2737 3923
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2012
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It is widely assumed that collaborative learning leads to better learning. This assumption is supported by some research evidence especially in Western countries. However, there has been very limited research into the three elements which are the focus of the present study, namely: collaborative reading, EFL pedagogy, and the Iranian context. This research addressed four questions related to Iranian EFL reading comprehension classes in two different educational settings: 1. Does collaborative reading lead to greater comprehension of a text than private reading? If so: 2. Does this effect vary according to students’ competence in reading comprehension? 3. What strategies are used by the students during collaborative reading, and 4. In what ways might these strategies contribute to the higher level of comprehension? The study sample comprised two groups of students in two different universities (one from the private and one from the public sector). The research method, design and procedures were exactly the same in both groups of the study. A quasi-experimental design was used to answer the first two questions. Both groups were divided into two classes of equal reading comprehension abilities, as indicated by a pre-test. The major intervention of the study consisted of four texts of equal length, comprising two rated in a pilot study as conceptually difficult/linguistically easy, and two rated as conceptually easy/linguistically difficult. The subjects in each class were involved in reading the two types of texts for four sessions. Each class read two of the texts collaboratively in small groups and the other two privately. After reading the text the participants took a comprehension test. Collaborative reading resulted in consistently higher scores than private reading, for all four texts, although in four cases overall (1 in Lower Proficiency Group [LPG] and 3 in Higher Proficiency Group [HPG]) the difference was not statistically significant. The results of the comprehension measure indicated that students who had a lower level of reading proficiency (i.e., LPG) benefited from collaborative reading more than HPG, who were more proficient readers. Qualitative methods were employed to answer the third question. Group interactions during collaborative reading were tape recorded and transcribed. Analysis of the transcriptions revealed that collaborative readers were involved in five major processes of collaborative reading, namely: brainstorming, clarifying the language, paraphrasing, summarizing, and interaction management. Participants’ attitudes, feelings and reactions towards collaborative reading were explored in interviews, which were recorded and transcribed for analysis. The analysis showed that most of the students had developed a positive attitude towards collaborative reading. They underlined that collaborative reading helped them access multiple perspectives, remove their affective and psychological barriers, develop their language and team work skills, and save time and energy. The findings of this study suggest that collaborative reading helps to enhance the reading comprehension of students at the lower level of reading proficiency. The results of the pre-test and major intervention indicated that students from the public sector universities (as represented by HPG) have a consistently higher level of reading proficiency than those from the private sector universities (as represented by LPG); therefore, collaborative reading is predicted to result in greater improvements in comprehension for the latter group. The affective benefits of collaborative reading appear, however, to be the same for students from both sectors. On the basis of the conclusions drawn from the research project, it is recommended further work be carried out to support Iranian English teachers and lecturers in introducing collaborative reading into their teaching methodology at the tertiary level especially for the less proficient readers and at private sector universities. Recommendations are made for further research in the field of collaborative learning in the Iranian EFL context.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English language