Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Arts




Friesen, Deanna C.


The current study examined the use of reading strategies in connection to reading comprehension success. 38 graduate students, who did not consider English their first language participated in this study. The participants’ vocabulary knowledge, word reading fluency, decoding, and working memory were measured. Think-alouds captured strategy use and reading comprehension was assessed through questions about the text. Results indicate that vocabulary knowledge was correlated to reading comprehension success but word fluency, decoding and working memory were not. A factor analysis on strategy use revealed that three factors emerged to account for unique variance in reading comprehension performance. These factors were text analysis and integration (text structure, vocabulary, connecting and predicting), meaning extraction (summarizing and inferencing), and extrapolating beyond the text II (visualizing and elaborative inferencing). Therefore, reading strategy use predicted reading comprehension success beyond vocabulary knowledge and working memory.

Summary for Lay Audience

Students that are learning English as a second language fall behind their academic studies resulting in them potentially having fewer job opportunities. Reading comprehension is connected to an individual’s academic success and job-related success (Green & Ridell, 2007). Individuals can use the knowledge and strategies that they use with their first language towards learning their second language. Reading strategies have been found to be correlated with reading comprehension. Thus, this study examined which reading strategies were helpful in improving post-secondary students’ understanding of the stories that they read. Reading strategy use was measured in this study through having participants read stories and state out loud what they were thinking while they were reading the stories.

Other factors’ relationship with reading comprehension was also measured. These factors included vocabulary knowledge, working memory, decoding, and word reading fluency. Working memory is the ability to focus on the information that is relevant to an activity, in this case it was information relevant to the understanding of the stories. Decoding involves the correct pronunciation of words and understanding letter-sounds relationships. Word reading fluency is the accuracy and speed of reading. In this study, vocabulary knowledge was correlated with reading comprehension. The reading strategies that correlated with reading comprehension included summarizing, making inferences while reading, connecting different parts of the text and referring to the structure of the text. Reading strategies were also grouped together. Certain reading strategies were more helpful to the student when used together compared to when they were used individually.

Therefore, by knowing which reading strategies were helpful to individuals while reading can then help improve students’ reading comprehension. Professors can then use this information to teach students which strategies are useful to help them understand the texts that they may be reading. Professors can encourage students to use specific reading strategies while also monitoring their use of those strategies. Thus, by improving their reading comprehension, students can also then positively impact other areas of their life and potentially tackle barriers such as accessing counselling services.