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Determinantes psicolingüísticos da compreensão de leitura em inglês como língua estrangeira II

RESULTS

The final sample for the study included 280 undergraduate college students, 118 males (42.1%) and 162 females (57.9%). The mean age for the sample 23.06 years. 105 of the participants were from the UNAM whereas 175 of them were students at UAM. As to their field of studies, 208 (74.3%) were from the Division of Social Sciences and Humanities; 38 (13.6%) from the Division of Basic Sciences and Engineering; and 34 (12.0% from the Division of Biological and Health Sciences.

The descriptive analysis of the main variables under study yielded the following results: (1) Reading comprehension in English: mean score of 19.32, equivalent to 52/100, with an standard deviation of 4.99; (2) Reading comprehension in Spanish: mean score of 25.62 (equivalent to 69/100) with a standard deviation of 4.75; (3) Linguistic competence in English: mean score of 15.85 (equivalent to 31/100) with a standard deviation of 5.87; (4) Perception of lexical transparency between English and Spanish: mean score of 93.8 (equivalent to 69% of correctly identified cognates within the corresponding test) with a standard deviation of 19.46; (5) Cognitive style: mean score of 9.55 (slightly above de median of possible scores for such test) with a standard deviation of 4.72; (6) Locus of control: mean score of 20.24 (slightly above the median of possible scores for the corresponding test 20) with a standard deviation of 6.84, (7) Action Orientation (AOF subscale): mean score of 6.57 (slightly above the median of possible scores for the corresponding subscale of Kuhl’s scale=6.0) with a standard deviation of 6.57.

Multiple regression analysis. The regression model originally proposed to explain the variability of reading comprehension in English (RCE) -Model 1- estimated from the scores of the 280 subjects included in the sample under study, yielded the following results (Table 1): An F=25.46627 for the associated analysis of variance, indicating a significant regression of model 1 (p<0.01), a multiple correlation coefficient of 0.59904 (Multiple R), and a determination coefficient of 0.35885 (R. Square), indicating that the independent variables explained 35.88% of the variability in discourse processing in English under Model 1.

RCE = b0 + b1RCS + b2 LCE + b3PLT + b4CS + b5LC + b6AOF + e...........(Model 1)1

 

 

However, under Model 1 only three variables showed to be significant, namely, reading comprehension in Spanish, linguistic competence in English and perception of lexical transparency between L1 and L2 (p < 0.0000; 0.0000; and 0.05, respectively). Therefore, alternative models were examined, withdrawing each of the nonsignificant variables. Models with 5, 4 and 3 independent variables were tested. The model with three independent variables (RCS, LCE, and PLT) was the only one in which all explanatory variables were significant (Table 2 - “Sig T column”).

RCE = b0 + b1RCS +b2 LCE + b3PLT+ e...............................(Model 2)

 

 

The regression analysis for Model 2 (Table 2) yielded a multiple correlation coefficient of 0.59652, a determination coefficient of 0.35584 (that is, RCS, LCE, and PLT explained 35.584% of RCE’s variability under model 2, roughly equivalent to the percentage obtained under model 1), and an F value of 50.82 indicating the existence of a significant regression for model 2 (p<.01). Column “B” in Table 2 presents the estimators for the b0, b1, b2 and b3 parameters, from which the following fit model was derived (Prediction Model):

RCE = 2.5829 + .38847 RCS + .27944 LCI + .0253 PLT............Prediction Model

Nevertheless, and given the fact that the exclusion of the psychological variables from the original model contradicted to a certain extent research findings in the field suggesting their theoretical relevance, it was hypothesized that they could have not a direct but an indirect influence on he discourse processing skills in English. That is, it could be the case that the psychological variables did not explain RCE in the presence of RCS, LCI and PLT due to the fact that they could be involved in the explanation of the variability of any of those variables. Hence, and as a first step in such direction, it was decided to analyze the influence of the reader’s cognitive style, locus of control and action control on his/her text processing skills in Spanish, based on the following considerations: (1) The knowledge of the first language is considered to be play the role of a metamodel in the acquisition of a foreign language (Beaugrande, 1984); (2) The analysis of correlations among variables showed that the correlations between text processing skills in Spanish and the psychological variables (Table 3) was stronger than that between the latter variables and linguistic competence in English or perception of lexical transparency between L1 and L2. Hence, it was hypothesized that the psychological set of variables could exert a preliminary influence on reading comprehension in the first language which, in turn, could become a major determinant of reading comprehension in the foreign language. Accordingly, the following model was tested:

RCS = b0 + b1 CS + b2LC + b3AOF + e...................................(Model 3)

 

 

The results in Table 4 show a significant regression for Model 3 (F=10.29472, p<0.0001) with all three independent variables (cognitive style, locus of control and action control) significant (p<0.0256; p<0.0005 and p<0.0002, respectively).

Furthermore, the three psychological variables explained 10.1% of the variability of reading comprehension in Spanish as indicated by the associated determination coefficient (R Square), with a multiple correlation coefficient of .31723 (Multiple R). The estimators for the model’s coefficients generated the following prediction model:

RCS = 22.0089 + .20289 EC + .15381 LC - .21925 AOF............Prediction Model

Notice that the weights for cognitive style (CS) and locus of control (LC) were positive as well as the correlation coefficients between reading comprehension in Spanish (RCS) and both, cognitive style and locus of control (Table 5). Hence, it is suggested that these two psychological variables are directly proportional to reading comprehension in Spanish. On the other hand, both the coefficient of action control in the predictive model as well as its correlation with reading comprehension in Spanish were negative, indicating that such variable is inversely proportional to RCS.

In short, in can be concluded that the last three variables in Model 1 (cognitive style, locus of control and action control) are not significant because what we actually have is a rather indirect effect of those variables a two-phase model which is explained as follows:

PHASE 1

Reading comprehension in Spanish is a function of the reader’s cognitive style, locus of control, and action control orientation. Model 3

PHASE 2

Reading comprehension in English is a function of the reader’s level of reader comprehension in Spanish, linguistic competence in English, and ability to perceive lexical transparency between L1 and L2. Model 2

 

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS

The main research hypothesis of this study was that that the variation in reading comprehension in English in Mexican university students was a function of the interaction of both linguistic variables (text processing strategies in L1, linguistic competence in L2 and perception of lexical transparency between L1 and L2) and psychological variables (cognitive style, locus of control and action control). However, and even though the influence of the aforementioned variables was partially validated from the series of regression analyses performed, it became evident that the explanation of the variability in reading comprehension in L2 was not straightforward (i.e., one that could be accounted for on the basis of the direct contribution of the complete set of originally proposed variables). Rather, such variability was partially explained on the basis of a two-stage process in which the influence of the three linguistic variables integrated into the model showed to be direct, whereas the influence of the three psychological variables was indirect (Figure 2). Figure 2:

 

Specifically, and as originally hypothesized, the readers’ ability to process academic written discourse in English has shown to be a function of three major predictor variables, namely, reading comprehension in Spanish, linguistic competence in the foreign language, and ability to perceive lexical transparency between the two languages. In such regard, a model has been validated that accounts for an initial 35% of the variance of reading comprehension in English taking as predictor variables the three linguistic variables incorporated into the original model. On the other hand, and even though the set of psychological variables did not show a direct, significant contribution in the explanation of reading comprehension in English, an alternative multiple regression analysis, which considered the readers’ text processing strategies in L1 as the dependent variable, revealed that the reader’s cognitive style, locus of control and action control orientation have a slight, though significant contribution, in the explanation of the variability of text processing strategies in L1. Hence, given the fact that reading comprehension in Spanish constitute in our model the most important predictor of the variability associated with discourse processing in English, and that the former is in itself partially explained by the complete set of psychological variables, a two-stage explanatory model of reading in LLL2 is suggested from this study based on the following considerations.

First, it has been found that the ability of the reader to process written academic discourse in L1 is the most powerful predictor of his/her reading comprehension in the foreign language, maybe in the form of the metamodel of language proposed by Beaugrande (1984) paving the way for the extrapolation of reading strategies from L1 to L2. Second, text processing skills in English have also been explained by the reader’s level of linguistic competence in the foreign language, competence that would represent the linguistic knowledge base of the reader and that would play a major role in the successful construction of meaning from text. Third, the ability to perceive and exploit lexical transparency between L1 and L2 has also been found to constitute a determinant of text processing ability in the foreign language.

Furthermore, it has been found that cognitive style, locus of control, and action control orientation function as indirect psychological mediators of reading comprehension in English, exerting an indirect impact on such variable via their influence on the reader’s discourse processing ability in the first language, the first major predictor of L2 reading in our study. In such regard, it may be the case that the influence of psychological variables can be more strongly differentiated in the explanation of reading comprehension in L1 due to the fact that the reader would have already developed and internalized a sound spectrum of lexical, semantic, syntactic and grammatical decoding skills, thus making it more feasible to discriminate the differential impact of psychological variables, in themselves more distal to the central process under study. On the other hand, the impact of linguistic variables in the explanation of text processing variability in L2 would be expected to be more preeminent, since the readers’ lexical, syntactic and grammatical repertories would tend to be more limited as a result of the limited level of linguistic competence in the foreign language. Hence, upon constructing meaning from text the specialized processes associated with the linguistic dimension of analysis would constitute the strongest determinants in the construction of meaning from text.

To conclude, the model validated from this study provides a preliminary, non-exhaustive explanation of an otherwise extremely complex phenomenon: the development of academic written discourse processing skills in a foreign language. In such regard, further research is needed in order to broaden our explanatory framework, integrating the analysis of the contribution of additional predictive variables not considered in this investigation which may include vocabulary knowledge in L2 (Nation, 1983), lexical access (Baddeley, Loggie, Nimmo- Smith & Brereton, 1985), previous knowledge (Afferbach, 1990); and socially-related factors (Parry, 1993; Street, 1993; Au, 1998)

 

REFERENCES

Afferbach, P. P. (1990). The influence of prior knowledge on expert readers’ main idea construction strategies. Reading Research Quarterly, 25 (1), 31-41.

Au, K. H. (1998). Social constructivism and the school literacy learning of students of diverse backgrounds. Journal of Literacy Research, 30 (2), 297-319.

Baddeley, A., Logie, R., Nimmo-Smith, I., & Brereton, N. (1985). Components of fluent reading. Journal of Memory and Language, 24, 119-131.

Beaugrande, R. (1984) Reading skills for foreign languages: A processing approach. In A. K. Pugh & J. M. Ulijn, J. M. (1984). Reading for professional purposes: Studies and practices in native and foreign languages. Heinemann: London.

Beaule, B., & Mckelvie, S.J. (1986). Effects of locus of control and relevance on intentional and incidental memory for passages. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 63, 855-862.

Beck, I. L., & Carpenter, P. E. (1986). Cognitive approaches to understanding reading. American Psychologist, (October), 1098-1105.

Fearch, C., & Kasper, G (1986). The role of comprehension in second language learning. Applied Linguistics, 7 (3), 257- 274.

Findley, M. J., & Cooper, H.M. (1983). Locus of control and academic achievement: A literature review. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44 (2), 419-427.

Fowler, W. S., & Coe, N. (1976). Nelson English Language Tests. Hong Kong: Thomas Nelson & Sons.

Kuhl, J. (1987). Feeling vs. being helpless: Metacognitive mediation of failure-induced performance deficits. In F. E. Weinhart & R. H. Klowe (Eds.). Metacognition, motivation and understanding. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

Kuhl, J. (1991). Action versus state orientation. Psychometric properties of the Action Control Scale (ACS 90). In J. Kuhl & J. Beckmann. (Eds.) Volition and Personality: Action versus State Orientation (pp.). Toronto: Göttingen Hogrefe.

Linn, M. C. (1978). Influence of cognitive style and training on tasks requiring the separation of variables schema. Child Development, 49, 874-877.

Mwamwenda, T. S., & Mwamwenda, B. B. (1986). Transkenian students’ Locus of Control and academic achievement. Psychological Reports, 59, 511-516.

Nation, P. (1983). Testing and teaching Vocabulary. Guidelines, 5(1), 12-25.

Parry, K. (1993). The social construction of reading strategies: New directions for research. Journal of Research in Reading. 16 (2), 148-158.

Pitts, M. M., & Thompson, B. (1984). Cognitive styles as mediating variables in inferential comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 19 (4), 426-435.

Pugh, A. K., & Ulijn, J. M. (1984). Reading for Professional Purposes: Studies and Practices in Native and Foreign Languages. London: Heinemann.

Romero-García, O., & Pérez de Maldonado, I. (1985). Escala Levenson de locus de control: Análisis factorial en Venezuela. Publicación 51. Mérida, Venezuela: Universidad de los Andes.

Spiro, R. J., & Tirre, W.C. (1980). Individual differences in schema utilization during discourse processing. Journal of Educational Psychology, 72, 204-208.

Street, B. V. (1993). The new literacy studies, guest editorial. Journal of Research in Reading, 16 (2).

Strickland, B. R. (1989). Internal-external control expectancies. American Psychologist, 44 (1), 1-12.

Van Dijk, T. A., & Kintsch, W. (1983). Strategies of discourse comprehension. New York: Academic Press.

Vivaldo, L. J. (1992). Determinantes lingüísticos y psicológicos de la variabilidad del procesamiento del discurso académico escrito en lengua extranjera (inglés) en estudiantes universitarios. Master in Education Dissertation. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México.

Vivaldo, L. J. (1994). Lectura y evaluación: Un enfoque estratégico. Imágenes Educativas,1 (4), 3-13.

Williams, E., & Moran, C. (1989). Reading in a foreign language at intermediate and advanced levels with particular reference to English. Language Teaching (The International Abstracting Journal of Language Teachers and Applied Linguists), Cambridge University Press.

Witkin, H., Oltman, P., Raskin, E., & Karp, S. (1971). A manual for the Group Embedded Figures Test. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologist.

1 Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Unidad Iztapalapa - Área de Investigación en Lenguas y Culturas Extranjeras.
2 Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México - Facultad de Psicología.
3 Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana - Unidad Iztapalapa - Departamento de Matemáticas.

 

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