EFL students' English language knowledge, strategy use and multiple-choice reading test performance: a structural equation modeling approach
University of Southampton, School of Education,
In Taiwan, a reading comprehension component is included in the English test of the Senior High Academic Ability Examination (SHAAE) – a national examination which can be regarded as a university entrance examination for students in their final year of senior high. This reading subtest consists of a multiple-choice format. Studies on language assessment, L2 reading and L1-L2 reading have suggested that EFL students’ performance on multiple-choice reading comprehension tests is attributed to two major factors: English Language Knowledge and Strategy Use. This feature raises a number of issues. Does the multiple-choice reading comprehension subtest of the English component at the SHAAE measure what it is intended to assess? Do Taiwanese senior high school students’ English Language Knowledge and Strategy Use have an effect on their multiple-choice reading comprehension test performance? What are the relative contributions of students’ English Language Knowledge and Strategy Use to their reading comprehension test performance? Is there a language threshold for students’ deploying some strategies to contribute to their reading test performance? The current study sets out to address these issues. It investigates the relationship among Taiwanese senior high school students’ English language knowledge, reading and test-taking strategy use, and their multiple-choice reading comprehension test performance. The findings of the research are connected with: (a) the English language teaching approach for English language teachers in Taiwan; (b) the validity of the reading comprehension subtest of the English component at the SHAAE; and (c) the validity of salient models of language ability.
A quantitative research approach is used that involves an ex post-facto correlational research design, utilizing survey methodology. An English Language Knowledge test, a Strategy Use questionnaire, and a multiple-choice reading comprehension test serve as instruments. 1064 EFL students in six senior high schools located in the south region of Taiwan participated in the study. Data was collected in the classroom during English class sessions. Participants took a reading test and completed a Strategy Use questionnaire. Three to seven days later, they sat an English Language Knowledge test. Exploratory factor analysis is conducted to extract components underlying the data collected from instruments. Structural Equation Modeling is applied to examine the relationship among students’ English Language Knowledge, Strategy Use and their reading test performance.
The main finding of the study is that Taiwanese senior high school students are strategic readers/test-takers. Their English Language Knowledge and Strategy Use contribute to their reading test performance. However, compared with that of English Language Knowledge, the contribution of students’ Strategy Use to their reading test performance is smaller. In addition, a language threshold is present for students deploying strategies contributing to their reading test performance. In conclusion, the thesis addresses the need for implementing strategy instruction for students to improve their Strategy Use in a reading test and further to promote their reading test performance. The discussion also compares the outcome of the research with other approaches to Reading/Test-taking Strategy Use and current models of Strategic Competence.
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