English Australia Journal : English Australia Journal 30.1
Volume 30 No 1 26 English Australia Journal semantic field of the words in the question, rather than simply searching for a visual match. Once target words are located, careful reading can take place to establish propositional meaning. Because this type of reading is based upon predetermined topics (e.g . , IELTS question items), cognition takes place below the level of building a mental model of textual content and no comprehension of the overall text is necessary. In other words, if the information located answers the question, how it relates to the rest of the text is unimportant. Skimming, or reading for gist, enables the reader to construct a mental macro-structure of the text with minimal cognitive processing. It is selective in that the reader decides how much of the text needs to be read to suit their purpose. A reader may draw upon their knowledge of text structure to decide which parts to read, e.g . , the first sentence of each paragraph. Also relevant in this context are previously learned test-taking strategies, defined as the consciously selected processes that test respondents use for dealing with both the language issues and the item-response demands in the test-taking tasks at hand (Cohen, 2006), such as responding to a multiple-choice question by eliminating options that one knows are incorrect. Reading strategies for test completion are widely mentioned in the literature (e.g . , Bachman & Palmer, 1996; Green, 2007; Khalifa & Weir, 2009; Urquhart & Weir, 1998), yet seldom dealt with in models of L2 reading. The gap in inquiry into test-taking strategies in reading/testing warrants investigation. The current study first explores types of reading strategies participants employed in the IELTS Academic Reading test questions. These strategies are then analysed for their prevalence and degree of success as well as the reading skills underlying their employment. Extending this analysis is qualitative discussion data collected from a subset of the participants. The potential impact of these reading strategies on the validity of IELTS Reading test results for stakeholders – particularly Australian universities – is then considered. Methodology To investigate the research questions both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. Quantitative data consisted of mock IELTS Reading test results as well as self-reported behaviours elicited through a retrospective protocol, quantified for analytical purposes. Qualitative data consisted of a post-testing focus group discussion about test-taker behaviour. This methodological framework encompasses empirical data collection while providing descriptive insight into the empirical findings (Dörnyei, 2007).
English Australia Journal 28.2
English Australia Journal 31.1