Exploring ESL students’ perceptions of their digital reading skills

John, Gilbert (2014) Exploring ESL students’ perceptions of their digital reading skills. EdD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This study investigates English language learners’ interaction with paper text and web text reading. Four main research questions shape the study: 1) What evidence exists to suggest that ESL learners use different strategies when reading printed text as opposed to reading web text? 2) What metacognitive strategies do ESL students use and report when reading and learning from printed and web-based texts? 3) What issues do ESL learners identify in relation to their use of the Internet? and 4) What are the implications for ESL pedagogy? While research has increasingly been focused on second language reading, it has primarily been centered on how the learner interacts and decodes printed text. However, little research has been conducted on how the English language learner processes web text, navigates the Internet, or evaluates and comprehends what he/she is reading through the use of digital literacy skills and metacognitive strategies.

The intention of this study was to gain insight into the online reading strategies of English language learners in order to explore if there was a need for the Teaching of English to Students of Other Languages (TESOL) profession to teach digital literacy in the language classroom. A subjectivist approach was used to examine the metacognitive online reading strategies of intermediate and upper intermediate ESL students. The present writer acted in the role of both workshop facilitator and researcher during the eight-week study between September and November 2011. Data were drawn from the researcher’s observation notes, interviews with the student participants, group discussions, and student participants’ journals. As a result, data generation included both public views (expressed orally through interviews) and private and reflective views (expressed through journal writing). Thus, the data contained both real time and ex post facto viewpoints. The central voices heard were the researcher and the student participants. The research methodology for the study was interpretive and qualitative. Data triangulation was achieved through a series of interviews and text analysis.

The findings of this thesis suggest that while students may appear digitally literate enough to randomly surf the Net, they lack sufficient skills to effectively research and evaluate information online. In addition, the study shows that language learners engage in characteristically different reading practices and strategies when reading print and web text. The research also indicates that there is a need for digital literacy skills to be taught in conjunction with the teaching of the target language in the TESOL settings studied.

Recommended pedagogical practices include suggestions to teach digital literacies in conjunction with print-based literacy practices; to provide both TESOL teachers-in-training and seasoned TESOL educators the means to develop digital literacy skills through formal instruction or through professional development workshops; to emphasize the need for lifelong learning of digital skills to keep current with the constant changes and development of digital technology; to reshape TESOL curricula to accommodate digital literacy and language teaching practices to meet the needs of the language classroom in the 21st century; to create literacy lesson sequences that will help the language learner develop, strengthen, and apply critical reading strategies; and to promote the wider adoption of more interactive teaching.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (EdD)
Supervisors: Bailey, M.C.
Gimenez, J.
Keywords: ESL, digital reading, metacognition, reading strategies
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1024 Teaching
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Education
Item ID: 14080
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2014 11:22
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2016 12:21
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/14080

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