Elementary students' prior knowledge and the Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (CIRC) model in second-language reading comprehension

Yi-Fang Yeh, Fordham University

Abstract

This study first examined the effects of prior knowledge of Chinese and the Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (CIRC) model on Chinese reading comprehension, listening comprehension, usage/grammar, and overall Chinese proficiency as assessed by the SAT II Chinese Subject Tests with Listening. The effects were studied in terms of high and low prior knowledge fluency in Chinese as a second-language students. The second purpose of this study was to examine the nature of students' understanding of Chinese idioms within the Chinese culture as reflected in their journal responses.^ Thirty fifth- and sixth-grade students from a Chinese heritage school in Northern New Jersey, consisting of 14 males and 16 females, participated in this study. Using the median score on the (composite) SAT II Chinese Subject Test with Listening as a partition, students were classified as high or low prior knowledge in terms of their Chinese language proficiency. The study was conducted over twelve 50-minute lessons, using two intact fifth- and sixth-grade English-speaking students of Chinese heritage classes (N = 30). Both classes were taught 12 units on selected Chinese idiom stories using the CIRC model. The CIRC model integrates oral language development with reading and writing through a step-by step teaching procedure which enables students to activate their prior knowledge to help them understanding the reading passages through the teacher's scaffolding and guidance and peer interactions in collaborative activities.^ No significant differences were found between high prior knowledge and low prior knowledge in the gain scores of students in the areas of reading comprehension, listening comprehension, usage/grammar, and the overall composite scores. No significant interactions occurred between high and low prior knowledge levels. The CIRC treatment did improve both groups of students' level of Chinese proficiency for all areas of the SAT II Chinese Subject Test with Listening. There was no significant difference in improvement between the two groups. Analysis of the students' journal responses found that within the 12 lessons of the 12-week treatment period, 10% to 57%, with a mean of 40.35%, of students' journal responses were at surface level of understanding and 43% to 90%, with a mean of 59.65%, were at deep level of understanding. A significant difference in deep over surface knowledge of level was found between the high and low prior knowledge groups of students, favoring the former. The findings also indicated that, in general, students tended to realize a deep level of understanding when they had experienced a similar personal experience to that represented in the moral within an idiom.^ The findings of this study suggest that students' prior knowledge and the CIRC model may favorably impact achievement in reading comprehension and to an extent, other areas of language proficiency. More research is suggested for examining the influence of potential factors on CIRC results.^

Subject Area

Education, Bilingual and Multicultural|Education, Reading|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

Yi-Fang Yeh, "Elementary students' prior knowledge and the Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (CIRC) model in second-language reading comprehension" (January 1, 2007). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3255006.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3255006

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