The Effectiveness of Teaching Reading (Meta) Cognitive Strategies in Improving UAE Grade-12 Students’ Reading Comprehension Proficiency for School-based Tests and University Admission Exams

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
This study seeks to investigate the effectiveness of strategy-based instruction in improving the reading comprehension proficiency of the UAE grade twelve students in school-based tests and university admission exams like IELTS, TOEFL and CEPA after serious problems regarding reading comprehension have been reported, and many reform procedures have been taken to rectify these problems at university and pre-university levels. In addition, the study attempts to find any correlation between students’ gender and language proficiency in one side, and the acquisition of reading strategies in the other side. For this purpose, a mixed-method research with experimental design has been employed. Both quantitative and qualitative data have been collected by means of a set of instruments including pre and post-tests of reading comprehension with linked surveys to examine awareness of used strategies. Moreover, think-aloud protocol has been utilized to collect data about the subjects’ ability to verbalize their implementation and awareness of used strategies. A sample of about 82 male and female subjects has been randomly selected from two government schools for boys and girls and divided into two equal groups (control and experimental). After three weeks of treatment, the pre and post-test collected data are submitted to SPSS to conduct required test (t tests, ANOVA). The results of the study have indicated a statistically significant effect of strategy-based instruction in improving the learners’ reading comprehension performance, and confirmed a significant correlation between language proficiency and learning the reading strategies. On the other hand, while female students outperformed the male students in the reading performance test, there was no statistically significant difference between both genders regarding awareness of used strategies or their ability to verbalize these strategies implementation. Furthermore, the semi-structured interviews with teachers and observations of conventional reading classes provided some insights into the real practice of reading instruction and material, which helped to form a clear picture that enabled the researcher to provide recommendations for those who are involved in the reading programs (teachers, students and parents as well as curriculum designers and decision-makers).
reading strategies, reading skills, reading comprehension, Strategy-Based Instruction (SBI), reading assessment, cognition, Metacognition, learner autonomy