significant difference was found among the 3 proficiency groups in using support strategies. Park (2010) explored reading strategy use of 115 Korean college students learning English as a foreign when they read authentic expository/technical texts in English. The results revealed that the students reported using reading strategies with high frequency when they read authentic expository/technical texts in English, and their reading comprehension ability was related to their reading strategy use to some degree; the higher their reading comprehension ability, the more they used sophisticated reading strategies.
The aim of this chapter is to define and justify every single procedural step that is to be taken throughout different stages of this study. Accordingly, the participants, procedure, instrumentation, design, and statistical analyses of the study are discussed in detail.
The number of participants in this research was 150 female EFL learners, between 25 and 42 years old, who were selected randomly from among those who are attending in upper intermediate level of Safir language school. During the administration of the main study, a number of participants were excluded from data analysis due to subject mortality or their incomplete answers. Eventually, 120 students with the age range of 25-42 were appointed as the main subjects of the research.
Besides, to ensure the reliability of the reading comprehension test, 30 other students who had almost the same characteristics as the main sample of the study took part in piloting the PET reading comprehension test.
In order to accomplish the purpose of the study, the following three instruments were utilized:
1. The Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) questionnaire, By Oxford (1990) for assessing the frequency of use of language learning strategies by students.
2. Survey of Reading Strategies (SORS) by Mokhtari and Sheorey (2002) to identify the degree of participants’ use of reading strategies.
3. A reading comprehension test derived from PET Practice Tests had developed by Jenny Quintana (2003) to measure reading comprehension level of the participants.
3.3.1 The Language Learning Questionnaire
The most frequently used instrument for assessing learning strategies In the L2 field, is the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) (Alsamadani, 2009, pp. 20-21); therefore, it was used in this study. The Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) is developed by Oxford (1990). The SILL was first designed as an instrument for assessing the frequency of the use of language learning strategies by students at the Defense Language Institute of Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California. Two revised versions of the SILL, one for foreign language learners whose native language is English (80 items) and the other for learners of English as a second or foreign language (ESL/EFL, 50 items), were published in the appendix to Oxford (1990) “Language learning strategies: What every teacher should know”. Learners are asked to report on a scale of one to five on how often they use each strategy. The choices are: never or almost never, usually not, somewhat, and usually, always or almost always. The later version of SILL covers six categories of strategies for language learning: Items 1-9 concern the effectiveness of memory (memory strategies); items 10-23 concern the use of mental processes (cognitive strategies); items 24-29 are the compensation for missing knowledge (compensation strategies); items 30-38 deal with the organization and evaluation of learning (meta-cognitive strategies); items 39-44 concern emotion management (affective strategies); and items 45-50 deal with learning with others (social strategies).The range of score is calculated to be between 1.5 to 3.8 the items are in Likert scale ranged from always=4, usually=3, sometimes=2, and never=1. It is estimated that 50 to 60 major studies, including a dozen dissertations and theses, have been done using the SILL. According to research reports and articles published in the English language within the last ten to fifteen years, the SILL appears to be the only language learning strategy questionnaire that has been extensively checked for reliability and validity in multiple ways (Oxford, 1996). The reliability and validity of SILL have been assessed in different studies. According to Ehrman and Oxford (1990), SILL has consistently scored above .90 using Cronbach alpha which indicates high internal reliability. Oxford (1996) reported Cronbach Alpha of 0.96 for SILL.
For the ease of understanding and accuracy of the data in this study, the Persian version of Oxford’s Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) was used. It is a Likert-Scale questionnaire with 50 questions (Appendix A). The time allocated to this questionnaire was 40 minutes.
3.3.2 The Reading Strategies Questionnaire
To determine the degree of participants’ use of reading strategies, the Survey of Reading Strategies (SORS), which consists of 30 statements related to different types of reading strategies, was used. The SORS is developed by Mokhtari and Sheorey (2002) to measure non-native English speakers’ metacognitive awareness and perceived use of reading strategies. SORS includes three categories of strategies: 13 items on Global Reading Strategies (GLOB) that are intentional, carefully planned techniques by which learners monitor or manage their reading, such as having a purpose in mind or previewing the text as to its length and organization; 8 items on Problem Solving Strategies (PROB) which are actions and procedures that readers use while working directly with the text, like adjusting one’s speed of reading when the material becomes difficult or easy; 9 items on Support Strategies (SUP) that are basic support mechanisms intended to aid the reader in comprehending the text such as using a dictionary or taking notes (Mokhtari & Sheorey, 2002). The questionnaire uses a five-point Likert-scale ranging from 1 for never to 5 for always. In this regard, the result could vary from 30 to 150 and the higher the mark, the more reading strategies were used by the student. Fifteen minutes was given to the candidates to answer the questions.
In the present study, Persian translated version of the instrument, prepared by Amiri and Maftoon (2010), was administered and to ensure its reliability, the researcher computed it through Cronbach alpha (Appendix B).
3.3.3 Reading Comprehension Test
A reading comprehension test derived from PET Practice Tests developed by Jenny Quintana (2003) to measure reading comprehension level of the participants. The reading comprehension test that the researcher used in this study is adopted from reading comprehension parts of PET Practice Tests developed by Quintana (2003) which is written in level format of Preliminary English Test provided by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations. This instrument consists of six reading comprehension passages followed by five multiple-choice reading comprehension questions on each that participants are supposed to answer them in 30 minutes (Appendix C).
To accomplish the purpose of the study, the researcher carried out the following procedure:
The first step was piloting, thirty learners with almost the same characteristic as the target sample –female, adults between 25 and 42, and upper intermediate level- took the PET reading comprehension test. The test consisted of six reading comprehension passages followed by five multiple-choice reading comprehension questions on each, derived from reading comprehension parts of PET Practice Tests (Quintana, 2003), the time allocated was 30 minutes.
Before administrating the questionnaires, the participants were fully briefed on the process of completing the questionnaires and the process of choosing answers in Persian. The researcher was the one explaining how to choose answers and put them in the answer sheets. At this time, the researcher stayed in the classroom for further question that might came up. The participants were presented by both questionnaires and the piloted PET test in one session. It took approximately 85 minutes to answer the questionnaires and the comprehension test.
Subsequently, the questionnaires and piloted PET reading comprehension test were scored. This was followed by the statistical analyses which will be elaborated in due course.
The design of the present study is descriptive and since the researcher has no control over the manipulation of the independent variables, it is ex post facto design as well. The predictor variables of the study are the use of learning strategies and reading strategies while reading comprehension is considered as the predicted variable. The participants’ age is regarded as an intervening variable over which the researcher has no control.
3.6 Statistical analyses
In the present study the data analysis provides descriptive statistics and inferential statistics as well. Descriptive statistics like mean, standard deviation, and standard error of the mean were obtained. Afterwards, to check the normality of distribution, skewness ratio and kurtosis ratio were calculated. The reliability of the research instruments was estimated through Cronbach alpha. For inferential statistics, Pearson Product-Moment correlation was used in order to investigate any significant relationship among EFL learners’ learning strategies, reading strategies, and