Promoting metacognition in extensive and academic reading for EAP students: a mixed-methods study
This study examines the role of extensive reading (ER) in promoting metacognitive thinking in academic reading (AR) during a 15-week ER-AR Course. Narrative reading in ER is a sense-making activity and this research aims to have this cognitive ability play a role in academic reading and writing. There were 72 experimental participants in four classes beginning an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program. Critical-thinking strategies were first developed in ER shared-reading lessons through focussing on six targeted metacomprehension strategies known to be used by effective readers. The same strategies were then available in subsequent AR lesson activities. Analogous problem solving involving the strategies was found to transfer or operate in parallel between the two reading sources. Three quantitative tests based on the declarative, conditional and procedural stages of knowledge-development theories provided statistical data which were then corroborated from qualitative sources in a mixed-methods approach. These data were derived from written-response lesson activities, monitored sustained-silent-reading (SSR) reports and spoken responses in think-aloud interviews and a teachers’ focus group. Students were required to complete approximately 35 hours of SSR as well as attend the 90-minute lessons. The results showed second language (L2) learners to be adept critical thinkers. The quantitative results showed significant improvements in metacomprehension knowledge from pre- and post-testing of the experimental participants, and from comparison testing with equivalent control groups not undertaking the ER-AR course. Rich, descriptive details provided examples of transfer or parallel use of the metacomprehension strategies in ER and AR. In individual, class and cohort assessments, a significant majority of participants demonstrated planful and evaluative critical thinking in academic reading and writing. The study implication is that blending ER and AR can provide an effective and enjoyable introduction to the metacognitive thinking necessary in academic disciplines.