• Investigating reading for academic purposes: sentence, text and multiple texts

      Unaldi, Aylin (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2010-12)
      This study examines the nature of reading in academic environments and suggests ways for a more appropriate assessment of it. Research studies show that reading in academic settings is a complex knowledge management process in which information is selected, combined and organised from not a single, isolated text but from multiple information sources. This study initially gathered evidence from students studying at a British university on their perceived and observed reading purposes and processes in three studies; a large scale questionnaire, longitudinal reading diary study and finally individual interviews in order both to establish whether the prominent reading skills used by them were as put forth in the studies on academic reading, and to examine in detail the actual cognitive processes (reading operations) used in reading for academic purposes. The study draws on the reading theories that explain reading comprehension and focuses specifically on different levels of careful reading such as sentence, text and multiple texts in order to explicate that increasingly more complex cognitive processes explain higher levels of reading comprehension. Building on the findings from the three initial studies, it is suggested that reading tests of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) should involve not only local level comprehension questions but also reading tasks at text and multiple texts levels. For this aim, taking the Khalifa and Weir (2009) framework as the basis, cognitive processes extracted from the theories defining each level of reading, and contextual features extracted through the analysis of university course books were combined to form the test specifications for each level of careful reading and sample tests assessing careful reading at sentence, text and intertextuallevels were designed. Statistical findings confirmed the differential nature of the three levels of careful reading; however, the expected difficulty continuum could not be observed among the tests. Possible reasons underlying this are discussed, suggestions on reading tasks that might operationalise text level reading more efficiently and intertextual level reading more extensively are made and additional components of intertextual reading are offered for the Khalifa and Weir (2009) reading framework. The implications of the findings for the teaching and assessment of English for Academic Purposes are also discussed.