CALICO Journal, Vol 22, No 2 (2005)

ESL Readers' Perceptions of Reading in Well Structured and Less Structured Hypertext Environment

Khalid Al-Seghayer
Issued Date: 7 Aug 2014


Current electronic text formats can hinder the acquisition of main ideas or the central representation of a text unless some structural cues are embedded in the reading environment. This principle is based on the premise of cognitive psychology that learning is a reorganization of cognitive structure and that readers are most likely incapable of performing such a task in a loosely structured presentation or one that lacks explicit organizational devices or structural cues.

The present study qualitatively examines how second language (L2) readers, particularly ESL readers, perceived the efficacy of displaying the underlying structure of hypertext and the ways in which its units or nodes are organized and interrelated help those readers develop a unified, coherent mental representation of hypertext content.

The participants, 40 ESL learners, were assigned to read two hypertext programs--well structured and less structured hypertext--and then sat for semistructured interviews (about 15-20 minutes). During the interview sessions, participants were asked to describe their perceptions of the effectiveness of explicitly showing the underlying structure of hypertext and how marking the organization and interrelationship of information in the hypertext helped them to grasp the main idea or central point of the hypertext.

The interviews were recoded, transcribed, coded, and categorized. The results showed that the ESL learners unanimously favored reading well structured over less structured hypertext and maintained its usefulness of showing the underlying structure of hypertext and how it is organized, thereby enabling them to develop a coherent mental representation of hypertext content, ultimately leading to successful hypertext processing.

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DOI: 10.1558/cj.v22i2.191-212


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