Using Group Discussion with Taiwan’s EFL College Students: A Comparison of Comprehension Instruction for Book Club, Literature Circles, and Instructional Conversations

Fu-Yuan Shen


The research presented here involved a one-semester study; during this period of time, reading comprehension instruction representing three major discussion-centered approaches (Book Club, BC; Literature Circles, LC; Instructional Conversations, IC) was designed and implemented. The effectiveness of the three experimental approaches and one control approach (basal comprehension) were compared. BC and LC are peer-led, small-group discussions, while IC is teacher-led group discussions. The design of the instruction for the control approach was based on the basal reading program used in the participating classroom. Student participants (N = 160) were all EFL college students attending a public university on the eastern coast of Taiwan. Assessments of reading comprehension, including three standardized tests and two essays, were developed to compare students’ performance in relation to higher level comprehension. No significant differences were found on one measure of lesson-text understanding, factual comprehension. However, for interpretive comprehension and theme-related essays, the BC, LC, and IC students outperformed the basal control students; occasionally, the BC students scored slightly higher than the LC and IC students did. For the beyond-lesson-text comprehension assessment, there was a modest superior result in favor of the experimental students.

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English Language Teaching       ISSN 1916-4742 (Print)   ISSN  1916-4750 (Online)

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