In order to help readers with or without reading difficulties, it is very important to understand what specific problems they encounter during their reading process (Lau, 2006). Moreover it is necessary to identify poor readers’ awareness of the strategies they employ while comprehending a text and to explore if they use these strategies effectively. It is noteworthy that despite the ample evidence concerning the relationship between reading strategy awareness and reading comprehension, no research has provided evidence on the fact that awareness of cognitive and metacognitive strategies contribute to reading comprehension beyond and above reading accuracy and fluency. In addition an attempt was made to focus on quantifying the verbalised retrospection verbal data in order to achieve more valid insights into readers’ strategy awareness and to define more obvious differentiation between poor and good readers.
Specifically, the present study was designed and conducted aiming to examine:
(a) The range of cognitive and metacognitive reading strategies employed by poor and good readers.
(b) The possible differences between poor and good reader’s awareness, in terms of frequency and efficiency, of using cognitive reading strategies.
(c) The possible differences between poor and good reader’s awareness, in terms of frequency and efficiency, of using metacognitive reading strategies.
(d) The contribution of reading strategy awareness (cognitive, metacognitive strategies) to reading comprehension, beyond the well-established effects of reading accuracy and reading speed.
Eighteen poor readers (10 boys and 8 girls) and eighteen good readers (10 boys and 8 girls) participated in the study. Their ages ranged from 11-4 to 12-2 years (M = 11.8 years, SD = 0.24 years). All participants were Greek speaking sixth-grade students and selected from ten classrooms with a total number of 201 students from five state primary schools in Northern Greece. Thirty six (36) participants were selected according either to their higher or lower reading ability based on the scores of a group administered screening reading test and the verification of their reading ability by teachers’ judgments.
The sample selection was performed in two steps. In the first step, a screening test was administered to 201 sixth grade students. 26 good readers that they had cut off scores above the 87th percentile and 26 poor readers that they had cut off scores below the 13th percentile on the screening test were selected. The lower or higher reading achievement of the students was verified by the teacher’s judgments for 24 poor readers and 22 good readers. In the second step of sample selection, a total of 10 students, one student with intellectual disability, 5 poor readers and 4 good readers, who seemed to be introvert and shy or failed to collaborate with the research assistants in the retrospective procedure, were excluded from the study. Five of the selected poor readers attended a resource room program (3-4 hours per week).
The study was conducted by using retrospective interviews, as the basic instrument, in combination with reading comprehension, reading accuracy and fluency test scores; moreover, a screening reading test was used for student selection.
Screening Reading test. A Greek standardized screening reading test (Triga, 2004) was used to measure the general reading ability and select the sample of the study. It consisted of 42 multiple choice sentence completion items. The test was designed to be used for students aged between 10 and 14.
Reading material. Each student was exposed to two texts (a narrative and an informational text), which were followed by four reading comprehension open-ended questions. The texts, of different genres -narrative and informational respectively- were selected with the assumption that the theme will be familiar to the participants, eliciting strong interest in the texts. The narrative text, entitled “The little tree”, consisted of 236 words (see Appendix 1). It had to do with the warm reception of trees for reforestation from the students of a classroom. The informational text, entitled “The Euro”, consisted of 228 words (see Appendix 2). Its theme was related to national currencies of EC countries by Euro. All students were tested individually in a quiet room at their school. Students’ reading aloud was tape-recorded and subsequently timed using a hand-held stopwatch. Reading records were used