The Role of Vocabulary Knowledge, Syntactic Awareness and Metacognitive Awareness in Reading Comprehension of Adult English Language Learners
Guo, Ying (author)
Roehrig, Alysia D. (professor directing dissertation)
Wagner, Richard K. (outside committee member)
Kamata, Akihito (committee member)
Phillips, Beth M. (committee member)
Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems (degree granting department)
Florida State University (degree granting institution)
The importance of vocabulary knowledge, syntactic awareness and metacognitive awareness in reading comprehension has been established in the first language research. By contrast, fewer studies have documented the role of these components in the reading comprehension of English language learners (ELLs) in the field of second language (L2) research. The proposed study specifically focused on an L2-only model to examine the role of L2 vocabulary knowledge, syntactic awareness and metacognitive awareness of reading strategies in L2 reading comprehension with 278 Chinese college students majoring in English. More specifically, First, confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling were used to (1) evaluate whether vocabulary knowledge, syntactic awareness and metacognitive awareness were distinguishable psychological constructs, and (2) examine the strength of the relations between each construct with reading comprehension. Second, the following questions were addressed: (1) whether poor L2 readers are inferior to good L2 readers in syntactic awareness, vocabulary knowledge and metacognitive awareness of reading strategies (MANCOVA was used to address this question); (2) whether the correlations among vocabulary knowledge, syntactic awareness and metacognitive awareness in reading comprehension were different for poor L2 readers and good L2 readers; and (3) whether the relation between each of three constructs vocabulary knowledge, syntactic awareness and metacognitive awareness to reading comprehension differ across the poor-reader and good-reader groups. The multigroup analyses were conducted using structural equation modeling. 278 undergraduates whose native language is Chinese, enrolled as English majors, from 3 Chinese universities participated. Those with TOEFL reading scores in the sample's top and bottom 25% were identified as good and poor readers. Eight assessments were administered concurrently, with two measures each of vocabulary knowledge, syntactic awareness, metacognitive awareness, and reading comprehension. Vocabulary knowledge was assessed using the Vocabulary Level Test (Nation, 1990) and the Depth of Vocabulary Knowledge Measure (Dian & Mary, 2004). The Sentence Combination Subtest of the Test of Adolescent and Adult Language (Hammill, Brown, Larsen & Wiederholt, 2007) and the Syntactic Awareness Questionnaire (Layton, Robinson & Lawson, 1998) were used as indicators of syntactic awareness. The Metacognitive Reading Strategies Questionnaire (Taraban, Kerr & Ryneason, 2004) and the Metacognitive Reading Awareness Inventory (Miholic, 1994) assessed the construct of metacognitive awareness of reading strategies. Reading ability was assessed by using the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Reading Comprehension Subtest (Schedl, Thomas & Way, 1995) and the Gray Silent Reading Test (Third-Edition; Blalock & Weiderholt, 2000). These were all paper and pencil, group administered assessments, which participants completed in a counterbalanced order. Confirmatory factor analysis suggested the two-factor model of Vocabulary Knowledge/Syntactic Awareness and Metacogntive Awareness offered the best fit to the data. Structural equation modeling indicated that 87% variance in reading comprehension is explained by the Vocabulary Knowledge/Syntactic Awareness and Metacognitive Awareness factors taken together. However, Vocabulary Knowledge/Syntactic Awareness has a stronger relationship to reading comprehension than metacognitive awareness does. MANCOVA indicated significant differences between poor and good readers in both constructs. Multigroup analyses using structural equation modeling suggested the correlation between the Vocabulary Knowledge/Syntactic Awareness and Metacognitive Awareness in poor readers was the same across poor-reader and good-reader groups. Similarly, the pattern of relations of Vocabulary Knowledge/Syntactic Awareness and Metacognitive Awareness to reading comprehension remained constant across the poor-reader and good-reader groups.
Metacognitive, Syntax, Reading, Vocabulary, English Language Learners
April 14, 2008.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning System in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Alysia D. Roehrig, Professor Directing Dissertation; Richard K. Wagner, Outside Committee Member; Akihito Kamata, Committee Member; Beth M. Phillips, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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