The effects of two instructional approaches on the reading comprehension achievement of ESL college students

Eric Otero, Fordham University


This investigation measured the academic effects of the direct instruction with an adapted whole language approach on the reading comprehension performance of ESL college students. Specifically, the study ascertained which approach was more effective in developing high and low proficiency levels in reading comprehension. Quasi-experimental in design, the research included 50 first-year ESL college students who were screened into high and low reading proficiency levels as measured by the criterion reference instrument Reading/Everyday Activities in Life (Lichtman, 1977). The accessible population was randomly assigned to each treatment group. English reading comprehension achievement was assessed as the difference between entry-level pretest scores and exit-level post-test performance. These data were statistically analyzed, employing analysis of variance and analysis of covariance. Results of these analytic techniques revealed: (a) a significant difference in the posttest mean scores favoring the whole language group from the direct instructional group; (b) significant differences in post-test mean scores between those students classified as high and low in reading proficiency; and (c) no significant interactions in the posttest mean scores between the high and low reading proficiency levels. Data from the pretest scores evidenced that although ESL learners can be grouped by proficiency levels, these levels can contain significant individual differences. These individual differences for both good and poor readers were best treated by the whole language intervention. The findings of this investigation recommend the whole language approach as more effective in teaching reading comprehension. It was concluded that: (a) the whole language group significantly outperformed the direct instruction group in terms of main effects as well as by high and low proficiency levels; and (b) direct instruction and whole language are practical approaches in teaching reading comprehension to ESL college students.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Literacy|Reading instruction|Secondary education|Language arts

Recommended Citation

Otero, Eric, "The effects of two instructional approaches on the reading comprehension achievement of ESL college students" (1993). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9328419.