semantic map is constructed. According to Roy et al. (2006), many semantic map studies lack specificity of administration procedures, making it unclear the amount of teacher input that is actually taking place during the mapping activity and making replication impossible.
So from this point of view to practical semantic mapping process, as considered in this research, providing semantic maps for a reading text in the classroom, as mentioned before, can be done in three ways:
۱) Teacher-initiated semantic mapping, which is done by teacher at the beginning of the course. In this type the teacher provides the maps based on the vocabularies in the text. Then, s/he develops the maps based on the existed related terms and explains the relationships between different terms within the text. Finally the students read the text after finding out the provided related maps
۲) Teacher-student interactive semantic mapping, which is done by both the teacher and student during the course. Somehow, in the middle of a reading course the students can help the teacher in developing semantic maps. They use their existing knowledge and match them with the new terms to reach an understanding of the passage, with teacher help.
۳) Student-mediated semantic mapping, which is done by students themselves after they become masters in comprehending and using semantic mapping process, at the end of the reading course. After some semantic mapping exercise during a reading course, the students can provide the maps themselves. They make the maps based on their own prior knowledge and experiences and reach a chain of words that increase their comprehension of what they will read.
As mentioned before, the role of teacher as facilitator and consulter is important in all three versions.
۱.۸.۲. Reading Comprehension. The goals of reading are to understand written text, integrate new ideas and generalize from what is read. Research has shown that poor readers guess, an inefficient way to approach new text. Good readers, however, use decoding skills (Pressley, 2000).
Comprehension instruction is a vital and dynamic area of inquiry in reading, one that promises to provide much more information about how to improve student understanding of text; information that could be used to transform reading instruction in schools (Durkin, 1978).
Reading is often thought of as a hierarchy of skills, from processing of individual letters and their associated sounds to word recognition to text-processing competencies. Skilled comprehension requires fluid articulation of all these processes; beginning with the sounding out and recognition of individual words to the understanding of sentences in paragraphs as part of much longer texts. There is instruction at all of these levels that can be carried out so as to increase student understanding of what is read (Pressley, 2000; Anderson & Pearson, 1984). Based on research, a strong case can be made for doing the following in order to improve reading comprehension in students:
۱.۸.۲.۱. Decoding. Perhaps it is a truism, but students cannot understand texts if they cannot read the words. Before they can read the words, they have to be aware of the letters and the sounds represented by letters so that sounding out and blending of sounds can occur to pronounce words (Novak & Canas, online document). Once pronounced, the good reader notices whether the word, as recognized, makes sense in the sentence and the text context being read and if it does not, takes another look at the word to check if it might have been misread (Gough, 1984).
Thus, a first recommendation to the educators who want to improve students’ comprehension skills is to teach them to decode well. Explicit instruction in sounding out words, which has been so well validated as helping many children to recognize words more certainly (e.g. Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998), is a start in developing good comprehension, but it is just a start.
۱.۸.۲.۲. Vocabulary. It is well established that good comprehension depends to have good vocabularies (Anderson & Pearson, 1984). This correlation, however, does not mean that teaching vocabulary will increase readers’ comprehension, for that is a causal conclusion. As it turns out, however, when reading educators conducted experiments in which vocabulary was either taught to students or not, comprehension improved as a function of vocabulary instruction.
The students do develop knowledge of vocabulary through incidental contact with new words they read. This is one of the many reasons to encourage students to read extensively (Pressley, 2000).
۱.۸.۲.۳. World knowledge. Reading comprehension can be affected by world knowledge, with many demonstrations that readers, who possess rich prior knowledge about the topic of a reading, often understand the reading better than classmates with low prior knowledge (Anderson & Pearson, 1984). That said, readers do not always relate their world knowledge to the content of a text, even when they possess knowledge relevant to the information it presents. Often, they do not make inferences based on prior knowledge unless the inference be absolutely demanded to make sense of the text (Mayer, 2003).
The received wisdom in recent decades, largely based on the work of Anderson and Pearson and their colleagues at the Center for the Study of Reading at the University of Illinois in the 1970s, 1980s and into the early 1990s, was that reading comprehension can be enhanced by developing reader’s prior knowledge.
Typically, however, when readers process text containing new factual information, they do not automatically relate that information to their prior knowledge, even if they have a wealth of knowledge that could be related. In many cases, more is needed for prior knowledge to be beneficial in reading comprehension. The lesson that emerged from these studies was that readers should be encouraged to relate what they know to information-rich texts they are reading, with a potent mechanism for doing this being elaborative interrogation (Pressley, 2000).
۱.۸.۲.۴. Active comprehension strategies. Good readers are extremely active as they read, as is apparent whenever excellent adult readers are asked to think aloud as they go through text (Pressley et al., 1989). Good readers are aware of why they are reading a text, gain an overview of the text before reading, make predictions about the upcoming text, read selectively based on their overview, associate ideas in text to what they already know, note whether their predictions and expectations about text content are being met, revise their prior knowledge when compelling new ideas conflicting with prior knowledge are encountered, figure out the meanings of unfamiliar vocabulary based on context clues, underline and reread and make notes and paraphrase to remember important points, interpret the text, evaluate its quality, review important points as they conclude reading, and think about how ideas encountered in the text might be used in the future. Young and less skilled readers, in contrast, exhibit a lack of such activity (Cordón & Day, 1996).
Reading researchers have developed approaches to stimulating active reading by teaching readers to use comprehension strategies. Of the many possible strategies, the semantic maps or graphic organizers often produce improved memory and comprehension of text. Constructing mental images representing ideas in text and analyzing stories read into story grammar components is a helpful way in reading courses (Pressley et al., 1989).
Of course, excellent readers do not use such strategies one at a time, nor do they use them simply when under strong instructional control.
Hence, researchers moved on to teaching students to use the individual strategies together, articulating them in a self-regulated fashion (i.e., using them on their own, rather than only on cue from the teacher). In general, such strategy proved teachable, beginning with reciprocal teaching and continuing through more flexible approaches that began with extensive teacher explanation and modeling of strategy, followed by teacher-scaffolded use of the strategy, and culminating in student self-regulated use of the strategy during regular reading (Anderson &Pearson, 1984; Pressley et al., 1989).
۱.۹. Limitations of the Study
This study had some limitations in practical level:
۱- The study conducted on a particular level of English learning and a limited number of populations. In order to generalize the results beyond this population and to give a certain consideration, the amount of effects should be examined on other levels of education.
۲- There are several strategies of the semantic mapping both in kind and in the way of application. In this study, only some determined and limited number were implemented and studied.
۳- The study was limited to certain types of reading comprehension because of the specific lessons that were chosen and the particular strategies that were considered.
۴- There was no control over the amount of prior knowledge of the examined population, which is the basic element in semantic mapping strategies application.
۵- The scope of the study was also restricted to females and to the procedures of carrying the study out.
CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF THE RELATED LITERATURE
In this section, some key issues related to semantic mapping and of concern to this study were presented and the related studies in this regard were discussed. Moreover, some theoretical and practical issues about the application of these strategies in reading classrooms by many researchers and teachers were reviewed.
Theoretically, the researcher attempted to shed light on the meaning of semantic mapping strategy and reading comprehension , some examples of semantic mapping strategies, how can students’ reading comprehension be increased by using these strategies and the shared role between teachers and students in using these strategies .
On the practical level, the study has summarized the results of relevant research studies. So, it helps to direct the attention of English language teachers, in general, and the English language teachers of the intermediate stage, in particular, to the important role of semantic mapping strategies in teaching reading in the English textbooks to perceive how students interact effectively with these strategies.
۲.۲. Theories Relating to Semantic maps
Semantic maps were developed in 1972 in the course of Novak’s research program at Cornell where he sought to follow and understand changes in children’s knowledge of science. During the course of that study the researchers interviewed many children, and they found it difficult to identify specific changes in the children’s understanding of science concepts by examination of interview transcripts. This program was based on the learning psychology