Session 2D
Title: Collaborative Action Research: Preparing learners for extensive reading through 'Reciprocal Teaching Strategies'

Studies on the value of Extensive Reading (ER) report positive learner outcomes not only in improved reading skills, but also gains in motivation, enhanced listening, speaking and writing proficiency, expanded vocabulary and grammar range and knowledge (Day et al. 2011). Recognising the value of ER, we started to bring graded readers in to the classroom and from the difficulties students encountered, identified a significant gap in typical ELICOS reading instruction. Classroom ‘reading’ is typically taken from the course book following an Intensive Reading (IR) approach. Students have no choice, passages are typically short, difficult and informational. The IR approach did not prepare students to read fluently for overall understanding or pleasure, thus did not prepare students for successful ER.

To address this gap, we set up a collaborative action research project (AR) with the Academic Manager and two General English (GE) teachers. The primary research objective was to explore if and how the instructional technique ‘Reciprocal Teaching’ (RT), (Palincsar & Brown, 1984) designed to promote comprehension abilities in young L1 learners could be successfully adapted to the contextual and operational demands of an adult classroom in a private ELICOS college. Stage 1 explored to what extent RT could be applied and identified required modifications. Stage 2 evaluated the modified RT through teacher reflection, field notes and student feedback. Stage 3 explores the implementation across the GE curriculum.

Attendees will leave the session with an introduction to the principals of RT and a practical framework they can implement in their college.

The Reading Project won the English Australia award for Contribution towards Professional Practice in September 2013.The project was originally undertaken by Karen Benson in 2013. As the current DOS, Aparna Jacob is responsible for overseeing the project’s integration into the college’s curriculum. She will be joined by Julija Stepanova and Amanda Eads, two teachers who were involved in the project from the start.