07.06.2021 - 14:00
On 7 June at 14:00 Maile Käsper will defend her doctoral thesis “Supporting primary school students’ text comprehension and reading interest through teaching strategies” in Education.
Professor Krista Uibu, University of Tartu
Professor Emeritus Jaan Mikk, University of Tartu
Associate Professor Sari Sulkunen, University of Jyväskylä (Finland)
Text comprehension is considered a basic life skill that will provide a cornerstone for students’ in life overall. It is a process that involves decoding words and analysing information. Text comprehension is affected by several factors, the most important of these being student-related factors (such as vocabulary development, age, gender, and reading interest) and teachers’ teaching strategies. In the thesis, the general teaching strategies and the language teaching strategies were studied. General teaching strategies are more often used in the Estonian first stage of primary school (from first to third grade: ages 7 to 10 years), where learning is more integrated and less subject-based. As the students become older, there is a need for more specific teaching strategies (such as language teaching strategies in native-language lessons), because teaching becomes more subject oriented. Therefore, subject-based teaching strategies are introduced, which are more prevalent in the second stage of primary school (from fourth to sixth grade: ages 11 to 13 years). The aim was to determine age and gender differences in text comprehension and the effects of teaching strategies on primary school students’ text comprehension, vocabulary, and reading interest. The results revealed that in terms of vocabulary and text comprehension, gender was shown to play a significant role in students’ performance where girls continue to outperform boys. Also, students with good results in the lower grades of primary school also performed well in the upper grades. According to the results, Estonian primary school teachers used three specific types teaching strategies in their lessons: supporting active learning, teaching text comprehension, and teaching grammar. Supporting active learning was most popular among first-to-third grade teachers. Meanwhile, fourth-to-sixth grade teachers favoured teaching grammar to their students. In the thesis it was revealed that teaching strategies affect students’ text comprehension, vocabulary and reading interest directly and indirectly. Properly chosen general and language teaching strategies help to support students’ text comprehension, and interest in reading. The frequent use of reading interest strategy supported students’ vocabulary, text comprehension, and reading interest. Teachers should be cautious when implementing text comprehension and grammar strategies. The use of these teaching strategies can affect students’ interest in reading, which in turn can inhibit the development of comprehension. Therefore, teachers should be aware of their students’ strengths and weaknesses in language learning in order to give better support to their text comprehension, vocabulary, and reading interest. The findings of the thesis demonstrate that interest in reading plays an important role in students’ text comprehension. The strategy for developing reading interest supported all the studied reading outcomes: students’ text comprehension, vocabulary development, and reading interest. If the aim is to promote students’ text comprehension, then the importance of reading interest in the process should be recognised.
The defence will be held in Zoom.