CALICO Journal, Vol 24, No 3 (2007)

The Role of Organizational Devices in ESL Readers' Construction of Mental Representations of Hypertext Content

Khalid Al-Seghayer
Issued Date: 7 Aug 2014

Abstract


The current electronic text format is inherent to the problem of text integration, or, alternatively, cohesion deficit, which greatly affects reading comprehension. The question remains as to whether well structured hypertext would enable L2 readers, particularly ESL readers, to overcome potential difficulties in integrating information and building a unified representation of text content delivered by computer. This study examines the efficacy of embedding microstructural devices (e.g., headings, reviews, and logical connectives statements) and macrostructural devices (a graphical overview map of text content) on the construction and organization of computer hypertext presentations. The study also investigates the interaction between the effect of L2 readers' reading proficiency and the degree of structure in hypertext (structured vs. less structured) on ESL learners' development of coherent mental representations of hypertext content. The participants, 40 ESL students, were introduced to two hypertext reading programs. The first was considered well structured hypertext because it included organizational devices and explicitly showed its underlying hypertext structure. The second was considered less structured because it included no organizational devices and did not indicate the underlying structure of its hypertext. A repeated measures design was used in this study. Forty participants were measured under two conditions: well structured and less structured hypertexts. They were identified as intermediate ESL learners based on their TOEFL scores and were classified as proficient or less proficient readers based on their scores on the reading section of the TOEFL. To assess the efficacy of each type of hypertext, multiple choice and mapping main ideas and details tests were developed and administered to participants after they had read both hypertexts. Results of both tests were analyzed using a paired-samples t-test to compare performance in the two hypertext reading programs and a two-way (proficiency level by hypertext reading program) mixed model ANOVA. The investigation yielded findings showing that well structured hypertext aided ESL readers in developing a more coherent mental representation of the hypertext content, thereby increasing their reading comprehension. The results also indicated that well structured hypertext was more helpful to less proficient readers than it was to more proficient readers. These results offer theoretical, pedagogical, and technological implications for L2 reading instructors and instructional designers.

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DOI: 10.1558/cj.v24i3.531-559

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