An action research study of collaborative strategic reading in English with Saudi medical students

Al-Roomy, Muhammad (2013) An action research study of collaborative strategic reading in English with Saudi medical students. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This is an investigative action research study on ways of improving the reading comprehension skills of Arabic medical school students. The study first analysed the difficulties of teaching and learning English and reading in English in a Saudi university medical college. An intervention was planned and implemented based on Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR –Klingner and Vaughn, 1996). This involved using group work to teach explicitly a set of reading strategies to a class of students who had failed their first year examinations. The process and outcomes of this intervention were analysed through mainly qualitative research methods including: semi-structured interviews which were audio taped to explore students' reading habits, field notes and video and audio taped observations to examine students’ interactions while reading, the results of the reading comprehension test taken at the end of the course, and a questionnaire of students’ perceptions completed after implementing collaborative strategic reading.
The results of the first action research cycle suggested that CSR had enabled these students to improve their reading comprehension considerably. However, the analysis also revealed some issues about the group work on which this was based, suggesting that improved interaction in groups might enable students to make better use of the CSR strategies. A second cycle of action research, this time with a different class of first year students, was therefore enacted including group work training using the idea of exploratory talk (Mercer 2000) alongside CSR to help students to think more critically and constructively.
Analyses revealed significant findings. First, CSR had a positive improvement on students’ learning by boosting their learning strategies. Second, students were able to build on the structure of CSR and gained other collaborative skills. Third, students reported positive feedback about CSR and its strategies and changed their views about group work and its efficacy in the classroom. Moreover, when CSR was combined with exploratory talk the group work became more critical and productive.
However, analysis of data from group work transcripts suggested that Mercer’s typology, developed with British children, may not be so useful for Arabian students working with English as a foreign language. The sociolinguistic context means that a different typology is required and the thesis suggests one appropriate to Saudi students who are studying English for a specific academic and professional purpose.
The findings offer a framework for developing reading comprehension through group work and combining it with exploratory talk. The thesis has implications for those in similar contexts to the research site and makes some practical recommendations. It also raises questions about conducting action research in this context and engages with micro and macro political issues related to the purpose of teaching and learning English in the college and how they limit teaching and learning practices.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC0980 Types of education > LC1025 Collective education
L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC1390 Education of special classes of persons
L Education > LG Individual institutions (Asia. Africa. Oceania) > LG021 Asia > LG359 Saudi Arabia
P Language and Literature > PE English
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2013 11:52
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2013 11:52
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/46830

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