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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/5091

Title: Reading strategies and learning outcomes
Authors: Augstein, Elizabeth Sheila
Advisors: Thomas, LF
Keywords: Reading-to-learn problems
Cognitive organisation
Instructional directives
Reading strategy
Learning outcome
Publication Date: 1971
Abstract: The project was concerned with action research aimed at improving the range and effectiveness of reading-to-learn. Students (Advanced Level and Undergraduates) report reading-to-learn problems but they are only vaguely aware of the cognitive organisation (intuitive tactics and strategy) which underlies and structures their reading behaviour. The research emphasis was therefore primarily learner oriented. 2. This approach clarified such issues as: (i) Learner interpretation of instructional directives to learn for specific tasks. (ii) Learner methods of translating the task definition into an operational plan for reading. (iii) The systematic relationship between the tactics and strategies of reading (the time-structure of reading behaviour), and the variety of reading outcomes, within sentence, paragraph and chapter sized texts. (iv) Training procedures (incorporating feedback of performance) by which a student can explore now tactics of reading-for-learning. 3. This approach has required the development of three now techniques: a) A method for recording reading behaviour. b) A method by which the ‘structure of a text’ can be systematically described. c) A system of training procedures for encouraging students to develop more effective methods of reading-for-learning. 4. The empirical data showed that there were two related aspects in developing more effective reading-for-learning; the first was to develop a clearer definition of instructional directives and the second was the ability to translate these into effective operational plans. As a result of individual differences in cognitive structure and skill, students differ in their operational task definition in relation to specific learning outcomes. The plans of a 'beginner' or an 'expert' may bring about the same outcome but they differ considerably. Students also differ in their training needs within a training procedure for reading-to-learn effectively. This emphasises the need to level a hierarchically organised learner-controlled programme of self-diagnosis and training. 5. The theoretical outcome of the research was a tentative model of the student learning by reading. This model is based on the concept of a dynamic interaction between the learner's cognitive structure and skill, the learner's task definition and how this becomes operational, and the syntactic and semantic structure of the text. The model can be considered as a hierarchically organised multi-level description of the reading process. The reading strategy formed of the tactics and the learning outcome, represent the observables of this interaction. The model was influenced by the theories of J. Bruner, G. Miller, N. Chomsky and R. Gagné. 6. The research was directed towards the identification of strategies and outcomes of reading-to-learn, with the double aim of investigating these areas and training students to increase their skill; both these aims were in line with endeavours to increase self-organisation and individual autonomy in learning. 7. Whilst the goals of the research were largely achieved, the results have illuminated a number of practical and theoretical issues that need further investigation.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University.
Sponsorship: Social Science Research Council
URI: http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/5091
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