Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Doctor of Philosophy




Friesen, Deanna C.


Previous research has found that specific reading strategies predict reading comprehension success in bilingual readers (Frid & Friesen, 2020; Friesen & Frid, 2021). Yet, the pattern in which readers recruit these strategies has not been investigated. In the first study, the patterns of strategy recruitment used by skilled vs. poor bilingual readers was analyzed with previously collected think-aloud data. Results showed that skilled bilingual readers recruit a variety of strategies, they pair necessary inferences with other strategies and utilize comprehension monitoring strategies. In contrast, poor readers perseverate on specific strategies, recruit fewer strategies in total and make more incorrect statements. Based on these findings, a strategy flowchart was designed to capture skilled reading behaviours (i.e., “because statements”, making connections). Participants in Study 2 and Study 3 were bilingual English-French adults and children respectively. Participants read stories, conducted think-alouds and answered reading comprehension questions. Half of the participants were randomly assigned to the intervention group (i.e, strategy flowchart) and the other half were in the control group. This research investigated whether teaching bilingual readers to recruit specific strategies improves comprehension. The findings of these studies did not support reading comprehension gains but did demonstrate reading behaviour changes from pre-test to post-test. Implications for French immersion and second-language educators are discussed as well as limitations and next steps for this area of research.

Summary for Lay Audience

This research investigated the reading strategies that bilingual adults and children use while reading texts in English and French. While reading, individuals can use strategies where they focus on meaning found directly in the text (i.e., summarizing), where they read “between the lines” (i.e., inferencing), where they connect the content to previous experiences (i.e., background knowledge) or where they think beyond the text (i.e., predicting, questioning, visualizing). This research investigated whether teaching readers to recruit effective strategies would improve reading comprehension and/or change readers’ strategy use. In the first study, previously collected “think-aloud” data were analyzed. Think-aloud responses require the individual to share their thoughts aloud as they are reading a text. Skilled readers used different strategies, they made connections between their think-alouds within a story, and they joined more inferences with other strategies. Poor readers commented on single strategies, they did not make connections between their think-aloud responses, and they made more incorrect statements. Based on the skilled readers’ strategy use, we developed a flowchart strategy intervention tool that taught readers how to utilize successful strategies in an effective manner. The second study recruited bilingual adults and the third study recruited bilingual children from fourth to sixth grade in French immersion programs. Both studies did not observe reading comprehension improvement from time 1 (i.e., before the intervention) to time 2 (i.e., after the intervention). However, the fact that participants were able to follow the flowchart tool appropriately indicates changes in their strategy use.