Saudi teachers’ beliefs about reading instruction in English as a foreign language (EFL)

Open Access
Author:
Althewini, Abdulaziz M.
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
February 01, 2016
Committee Members:
  • Jamie Myers, Dissertation Advisor
  • Anne Whitney, Committee Member
  • Elizabeth A Smolcic, Committee Member
  • Sinfree Bullock Makoni, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • Saudi
  • ESL
  • EFL
  • teacher
  • teacher education
  • English
  • reading
  • professional development
  • belief
  • foreign language
Abstract:
English teachers’ beliefs about reading instruction, in a foreign language learning context, are an important issue that has not been examined by teacher education researchers although they have proven that teachers’ beliefs shape their teaching practices and impacts their outcomes. This research took this gap into consideration and generated a quantitative study to identify these beliefs in order to assist teacher educators become aware of their teachers’ attitudes and properly address their concerns with relevant professional development workshops. The research significantly contributed to the EFL (English as a foreign language) teacher education field and to the Saudi context more specifically by exploring and pinpointing EFL teachers’ beliefs about reading instruction and connecting those to recent research on second language reading instruction. Based on the cognitive theory of reading, a survey of 81 questions was conducted, using a 5-point Likert scale, in order to determine teachers’ degree of agreement and disagreement with a variety of different teaching practices in reading. Another goal was to examine whether teachers were more inclined toward one of the prevalent models of reading instruction: skills-based, whole language, and metacognitive strategy approach. The theory and application of these models are discussed, especially within the Saudi context and relevant literature. The survey was distributed to 78 teachers in two large Saudi universities: King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences and Shugra University. Basic numerical analysis was used to determine the weighted means as well as the agreement proportions of their responses for each item on the survey; and bootstrap statistical analysis was employed to determine which reading instruction model was more dominant. Findings indicated that teachers favored the metacognitive strategy approach more than the others. Most teachers (81.7%) identified with the metacognitive strategy approach, while 70.6% and 63% chose whole language and skills-based approach, respectively. Moreover, the study included a micro examination of the teachers’ responses within evidence-based major components of reading instruction. It was found that every teacher should be aware of these components, regardless of their preferred models since each model does not capture the total picture for reading processes, but focuses on a certain part of it. Those components, underlined in the cognitive theory of reading instruction, are six overarching skills that teachers should assist their students to acquire. These are as follows: help students acquire word recognition, gain reading comprehension, be aware of text structure, improve reading fluency, engage in strategic reading, and practice extensive reading. The study found out that teachers highly valued most of these skills except for reading fluency and extensive reading. The study connected this finding with current and relevant research on second language reading, illustrating why these two latter skills are neglected and underestimated; and looked at how teachers support their students’ learning of all six skills by offering strategies and practices that enable their students to excel in their reading ability.