Investigating the relationship between connectives and readers' reading comprehension level.
The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between connectives in Turkish texts and readers' reading comprehension. Research was conducted with a total of 50 teachers. In the study group, readers' reading comprehension was determined through 10 descriptive texts by using open-ended questions. The results of the analysis revealed that, while there is no statistically significant correlation between the reading comprehension scores of the good readers and the numbers of the connectives such as temporal, causal, adversative and additive in the texts forming the study database, a negative correlation was found between the reading comprehension scores of the poor readers and concession connectives at the level of r = -0.805 (p>0.05) and the connectives expressing expansion at the level of r = -0.647 (p>0.05).
Keywords: Coherence, Language education, Discourse markers, Cohesive markers, Conjunctions
In order for the reading process to continue without interruption and result in comprehension, it is a prerequisite to provide readers a text that is well-formed based on certain criteria. Ebrahimpourtaher (2011) states that the act of reading is an interactive process ensuring the communication between the reader and the writer discursively through a written text. When propositions come together, they form their unique pattern, and a structure having distinguishing characteristics from other texts emerges. "Cohesion" is achieved through cohesive devices that help to ensure semantic fluency, and these devices have an important role in the reading process. Halliday and Hassan (1976:3-4) define cohesion as "distinguishing a text from other statements that are not texts, enabling the parts of a text to stick together, and organizing the meaning relationships in a text (cited in Coskun 2007:240). Connecting elements are described as "the elements that connect related words, groups of words, and particularly sentences, and link these in terms of meaning and sometimes structure (Atabay et al. 1983:49). Connectives such as "because," "but" and "after" are means of making connections and help skilled readers in their reading process by emphasizing the relationship between events (Sanders and Noordman 2000). Connectives point to the existence of a relationship between certain events and thus, provide opportunities for different formations on how to integrate the information (Gemsbacher 1997; cited in Cain and Nash 2011). In the literature, they are also named as connecting elements, conjunctions, linking element, discourse markers and connectors.
In the Penn Discourse TreeBank (PDTB) and METU Turkish Corpus projects, discourse connectives are categorized based on both their syntactic and functional characteristics. In terms of syntax, there are three categories including (1) coordinating conjunctions, (2) subordinating conjunctions, and (3) discourse adverbials (Forbes-Riley et al. 2006; Zeyrek and Webber 2008; Kurtul 2011).
Halliday and Hasan (1976) categorized connective elements functionally as follows:
a. Temporal connective elements
b. Causal connective elements
c. Adversative connective elements
d. Additive connective elements
Coordinating conjunctions are divided as simple and correlative coordinating conjunctions. Examples of simple coordinating conjunctions include but, because, and, so. As for correlative conjunctions, the examples include both ... and, either ... or, neither ... nor (Kurtul 2011:60-62).
Subordinating conjunctions are divided as simple and compound subordinating conjunctions. Simple subordinating conjunctions function as connecting the main clause with sub-clauses. Compound subordinating conjunctions are formed with the combination of a suffixal lexical item and nominalizer affix or case affix. While examples of simple subordinating conjunctions include gerund affixes, compound subordinating conjunctions in Turkish can be as ..., as much as, when ..., since ..., like ..., because of ..., after ..., before ..., until ..., if ..., despite ... and so on (Kurtul 2011:63-64).
According to Chaudron and Richers (1986), discourse markers are divided into two groups. Macro Discourse Markers determine the direction of a text by emphasizing the important information and listing it or pointing its importance. Micro Discourse Markers are the words showing the relationship between the sentences or filling the gaps in a text. For example, some discourse markers in Turkish include: for this reason, otherwise, unlike, in spite of this, other than this, moreover, firstly, as a result, for instance.
Temporal connectives construct a time and order relationship by showing the events in a text happen before, after or simultaneously with each other (Coskun 2005:83). Considering various classifications, it is clear that they do not differ to a large extent. Researchers making these classifications agree that temporal connectives show order and simultaneity in time (Issever 1995; Balyemez 2010; Kurtul 2011). Halliday and Hasan (1976) exemplify such connectives as follows: after that, at the same time, before this, finally, at first, later, at last, initially, shortly, next time, another time, in the meantime, until ..., so far, briefly etc.
Causal connectives point out the situations where events or cases mentioned in the 1st and 2nd members are causally affected by each other (Kurtul 2011:69). Such connectives make a connection among the units in the regional or holistic level of a text based on causality (Issever 1995:101). Halliday and Hasan (1976) exemplify such causal connectives as follows: for this reason, thus, accordingly, because, therefore, as a result, in this case, under these circumstances, otherwise etc. There are several ways of classifying such connective elements.
Kurtul (2011:69-73) examines causal connective elements as four categories including cause, pragmatic cause, condition and conditional cause. On the other hand, Issever (1995:101) categorizes this type of connective elements based on cause-effect, effect-cause and purpose relationships.
Adversative connectives are used to emphasize the difference between two elements, present the cases where one of the two elements is valid, and connect two opposite elements to each other. Halliday and Hasan (1976) exemplify such adversative connectives as follows: but, however, if only, still, in spite of this, in fact, yet, on the other hand, at the same time, instead of, at least etc.
Kurtul (2011) describes such connectives in four categories including adverseness, pragmatic adverseness, dissimilarity and pragmatic adverseness.
Additive connective elements are used to expand the discourse, take the topic further (Kurtul 2011), list words, groups of words or sentences with the same function or provide new information (Coskun 2005) and show that two propositions that are linked to each other are in an additive relationship (Issever 1995). In the literature, it can be seen that additive connectives are also named as expansion connectives (Issever 1995; Coskun 2005).
Halliday and Hasan (1976) exemplify such additive connectives as follows: and, also, either ... or, or, with, other than this, moreover, for instance, thus, similarly, on the other hand.
Finally, examining the studies revealing the relationship between connectives and readers' level of reading comprehension, different findings have been reported. While some studies (Sanders and Noordman 2000; Degand and Sanders 2002; Innajih 2006; Wifield and Tomitch 2012) found that connective elements had a facilitative effect on reading comprehension, these elements did not have any effect in other studies (Irwin 1982; Geva 1986; Murray 1995).
Significance and Aim of the Study
Reading has an importance place in human life. Comprehension is the prerequisite of reading, ff there is no comprehension, it means that reading is not successful (Ciftci and Temizyurek 2008). Considering that text is in the centre of reading education, the importance of the text becomes more clear. In order for the reading comprehension process to be effective and successful, the text should have certain characteristics. One of these characteristics is the role of connectives enabling the cohesion and coherence of the text in the reading comprehension process. This is where the significance of this study emerges.
Considering the studies in the literature, it is clear that connectives are important variables in predicting reading comprehension (Irwin 1982; Geva 1986; Murray 1995). It can be seen that the studies on connectives in Turkish have been very limited in number and focused mostly on students' use of connectives in their writings. Moreover, no studies on the relationship between connectives and reading comprehension regarding Turkish have been conducted. From this perspective, the significance of this study increases in the sense that it would fill a gap in the literature and provide data regarding the issue.
The findings of this study are expected to point out some characteristics for both authors in producing texts for a certain audience and teachers in selecting texts to use in their classrooms.
The primary aim of this study was to examine the relationship between connectives in Turkish texts and readers' level of reading comprehension.
In this regard, the following research questions guided this study:
1. Is there a relationship between Temporal, Causal, Adversative and Additive connectives and good readers' level of reading comprehension?
2. Is there a relationship between Temporal, Causal, Adversative and Additive connectives and poor readers' level of reading comprehension?
3. Is there a relationship between Subordinating conjunctions, coordinative conjunctions and discourse markers and good readers' level of reading comprehension?
4. Is there a relationship between Subordinating conjunctions, coordinative conjunctions and discourse markers and poor readers' level of reading comprehension?
This section presents information regarding the research design, participants, data gathering tool and data analysis.
This study aiming to examine the relationship between the connectives in Turkish texts and good and poor readers' level of reading comprehension separately employed correlational survey design. Since it was aimed to describe a case and tried to define the research topic in its own conditions, correlational survey designed seemed suitable for the study.
Correlational survey models are the research designs aiming to determine the existence of variance between two or more variables and/or its extent (Karasar 1994).
The participants of the study were the teacher candidates studying at the Turkish Language Teaching Department of Nigde University Education Faculty in the spring term of 2012-2013 academic year. Based on the aim of the study, the participants were divided into two groups as "good readers" and "poor readers" after a reading comprehension test was administered. Those who got 55 or less points in the test were defined as poor, and those who got 56 or more as good readers. The study was conducted with 50 teacher candidates, 25 in the poor readers group and 25 in the good readers group
Data Gathering Tool
To determine good and poor readers in the first phase of the study, a descriptive text titled as "Lion" from the Britannica Basic Education and Culture Encyclopedia (1992) which was suitable for the level of readers in the sample in terms of readability. Readability level and information density were considered in the text selection. In determining the readability level of the text, "Cetinkaya-Uzun Readability Formula" (Cetinkaya 2010) that is a valid evaluation tool in defining and categorizing Turkish texts in terms of readability was used.
In the second phase of the study, 10 descriptive texts were employed. These 10 texts whose names are given in Table (3) were taken from the Britannica Basic Education and Culture Encyclopedia (1992). In the selection of texts that would be used as data gathering tool, two criteria were considered. One of these is the step of identifying the readability level using Cetinkaya-Uzun readability formula as mentioned above. Texts which were close to each other in terms of readability were selected. Table 1 presents the "average word length," "average sentence length" and "readability scores" of the texts used in the study.
As can be seen in Table 1, the average word length was between 2.56-2.89, the average sentence length was between 11.1816.74 and the readability scores were between 31-38.
The second criteria considered in the text selection was that there should not be perfect linear relationship between the independent variables. In this sense, the connectives in the texts were analyzed semantically and structurally (see the section on identifying the variables, Table 2 and Table 3), and the texts having different linear relationship in terms of variables were included in the study. The reason is that the "b" value would be the same between the variables having a perfect linear relationship statistically. In other words, we cannot say which variable is important (Field 2005; cited in Cetinkaya 2010).
Briefly, in this study, two latent variables were identified based on definition and classification of connectives structurally and semantically, and the relationship between the variables and the good and poor readers' level of reading comprehension was investigated. There are also observable variables under the two variables identified. To ensure the reliability of the coding, randomly selected two texts out of the 10 texts used were analyzed by two other researchers. The consistency between the researchers was reliable as it was calculated for the semantic analysis of connectives (96%) and the structural analysis of the connectives (100%).
At this step, the following formula was used (Tavsancil and Aslan 2001):
Reliability = Agreement rate/
Agreement + Disagreement rate
The data were analyzed in accordance with the conceptual framework formed beforehand. The structural analysis of connectives was based on the structural categorization mentioned above, and as for the semantic analysis, the semantic categorization of connectives was used.
The number of connectives structurally and semantically with regard to the 10 texts used as the data gathering tool is presented in Table 2 and Table 3.
As can be seen in Table 2, the number of connectives structurally was between 15-26 in subordinating conjunctions, 21-48 in coordinating conjunctions, and 1-9 in discourse markers.
As shown in Table 3, the number of connectives semantically was distributed as between 10-25 in temporal connectives, 2542 in causal connectives, 5-13 in adversative connectives, and 3-13 in additive connectives.
Data Gathering and Analysis
The process of reading each text and answering questions related to it was completed in approximately 30 minutes. The implementation was conducted as one text per week and the study was completed in 10 weeks. An instruction on the application was presented before proceeding to the reading comprehension test. This instruction is as follows:
a) Please read the whole text before answering the questions.
b) Please answer all the questions. If you encounter a difficult question, proceed to the next one, come back to it later and try to answer it.
c) Spelling mistakes will not be evaluated, so do your best.
d) Please write in a readable form.
e) Do you have any questions?
f) Please start.
The answers of the participants were gathered through the answer evaluation form and evaluated based on this form.
The question number column (#) in Table 4 gives the order of each question. The second column indicates the category of questions. The other three columns are related to scoring procedure and evaluation. Finally, the last row is for writing the total score.
In addition, the correlation between the scoring of the researcher and two field experts was also calculated. The findings of this analysis are presented in Table 5.
As seen in Table 5, the correlation between the scoring of the researcher and the other two raters was positive and high. This finding shows that the scoring reliability is high (Turgut 1977).
The statistical technique used in the analysis of the answers is presented below, and the significance level used for rejecting or accepting the hypotheses for the research questions was 0.05.
The relationships between the selected variables and the reading comprehension scores were calculated using Pearson Correlation Coefficient, and the calculated correlation coefficients were tested against the hypothesis that "the correlation coefficient of the universe is equal to zero."
The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between connectives in Turkish texts and readers' level of reading comprehension. In line with this aim, the findings revealed in the analysis of the data gathered through the tools described in the method section are presented based on the research questions using tables and interpretations.
First Research Question
The first research question of the study was "Is there a relationship between Temporal, Causal, Adversative and Additive connectives and good readers' level of reading comprehension?.'" The findings are presented in Table 6.
As can be seen in Table 6, there was no significant relationship between the good readers' level of reading comprehension and "temporal connectives" r= -0.271 (p>0.05), "causal connectives" r= -0.337 (p>0.05), "adversative connectives" r= -0.523 (p>0.05) and "additive connectives" r= -0.337 (p>0.05).
The findings revealed that there is no significant relationship between good readers' level of reading comprehension and temporal, causal, adversative and additive connectives. However, there was a weak, negative relationship between the temporal connectives such as but and while "used in situations where events or cases mentioned in the 1st and 2nd members are followed by each other or overlapped' (Kurtul 2011), causal connectives such as because, for this reason and since "indicating that events or cases mentioned in the 1st and 2nd members are causally affected by each other" (Kurtul 2011), and additive connectives such as for instance, thus, either ... or and otherwise which expands the discourse and takes the topic further. On the other hand, there was a moderate, negative correlation between the good readers' level of reading comprehension and adversative connectives such as but and although "making a discourse relationship to emphasize the differences between the situations pointed by the first and the second members" (Kurtul 2011). Since the relationships are not statistically significant, interpretations cannot be made regarding these relationships.
Second Research Question
The second research question of the study was "Is there a relationship between Temporal, Causal, Adversative and Additive connectives and poor readers' level of reading comprehension?." The findings are presented in Table 7.
As can be seen in Table 7, there was no significant relationship between the poor readers' level of reading comprehension and "temporal connectives" r= 0.075 (p>0.05), "causal connectives" r= -0.525 (p>0.05), but a negative, moderate and significant relationship with regard to "adversative connectives" r= -0.805 (p>0.05) and "additive connectives" r= -0.647 (p<0.05).
The findings above show that there is no relationship between the poor readers' level of reading comprehension and temporal and causal connectives, but there is a negative and significant relationship in terms of adversative and additive connectives. In other words, as the number of adversative connectives such as but and although and additive connectives such as for example, thus, either .... or and otherwise increases, the poor readers' level of reading comprehension decreases.
Third Research Question
The third research question of the study was "Is there a relationship between Subordinating conjunctions, coordinative conjunctions and discourse markers and good readers' level of reading comprehension?." The findings are presented in Table (8) below.
As shown in Table 8, there was no significant relationship between the good readers' level of reading comprehension and "subordinating conjunctions" r= -0.187 (p>0.05), "coordinative conjunctions" r= -0.368 (p>0.05), but a negative, strong and significant relationship with regard to "discourse markers" r= -0.760 (p<0.05).
The findings revealed that there is no significant relationship between good readers' level of reading comprehension and subordinating and coordinative conjunctions. However, there seems to be a strong, negative relationship between the discourse markers such as otherwise, for this reason, for example, and for instance and the good readers' level of reading comprehension.
Fourth Research Question
The forth research question of the study was "Is there a relationship between Subordinating conjunctions, coordinative conjunctions and discourse markers and poor readers' level of reading comprehension?." The findings are presented in Table 9.
As shown in Table 9, there was no significant relationship between the poor readers' level of reading comprehension and "subordinating conjunctions" r= 0.096 (p>0.05), "discourse markers" r= -0.600 (p>0.05), but a negative, strong and significant relationship with regard to "coordinative conjunctions" r= -0.740 (p<0.05).
The findings revealed that there is no significant relationship between poor readers' level of reading comprehension and subordinating and coordinative conjunctions. However, there is a moderate, negative relationship between the discourse markers such as also, in fact, before, after and both .... and and the poor readers' level of reading comprehension.
The finding that there is no significant relationship between the connective elements categorized semantically and the good readers' level of reading comprehension can be interpreted as that the readers were able to make the connection between propositions through the connective elements. When compared with the findings of other studies in the literature, this case seems to be parallel with Haberlandt's view (1982) that conjunctions makes it faster to comprehend sentences by meeting the readers' expectations regarding the relationship between two sentences. On the other hand, the findings regarding the relationship between the poor readers' level of reading comprehension and adversative and additive connectives do not support this view of Haberlandt's. In the study of Meyer et al. (1980), those having poor reading skills are defined as students lacking the knowledge of high level text structures that could be used to comprehend and remember a text. At the same time, based on the findings of their study, these researchers stated that students with poor reading skills did not have text knowledge that would lead them to identify and use conjunctions (cited in Ben-Anath 2005).
Examining the findings regarding the relationship between the connective elements categorized structurally and good and poor readers' levels of reading comprehension, discourse markers such as in addition, firstly, as a result decreased the good readers' level of comprehension significantly, and coordinative conjunctions such as on the other hand, and, or, or, both ... and and neither .... nor decreased the poor readers' level of comprehension significantly. The fact that the coordinative conjunctions used in Turkish are borrowed from foreign languages and the relationships between propositions in Turkish are originally achieved through gerunds can be seen as a reason that such connective elements negatively affected reading comprehension. As for the subordinating conjunctions, they positively affected the poor readers' comprehension, but were observed not to be effective in the good readers' comprehension. This case can be due to the fact that a sub-clause is an element of a main clause through a set of affixes added to a verb, and consequently, the processing becomes easier as a result of the simplification of the syntactic structure of the main clause. Arya et al. (2011) stated that in their study, the syntactic structure did not affect the students' reading comprehension either negatively or positively. On the other hand, the findings of Cain and Nash (2011) showed that the connective elements helped developing readers to process the text, but did not have any positive effects on developed readers.
As a result, it was found that there was a negative, significant relationship between adversative connectives, additive connectives and discourse markers and the poor readers' level of reading comprehension while there was a negative, significant relationship between discourse markers and the good readers' level of reading comprehension.
According Cetinkaya's etc. (2014) research findings; ; the students' connectives knowledge test points average who never or rarely read is lower than the students who read more frequently. Similarly, the students' average with low writing frequency was found lower than students with more frequent writing.
In this study aiming to investigate the relationship between the connective elements in Turkish texts and readers' level of reading comprehension, the relationship between both the good readers' and the poor readers' levels of reading comprehension was examined. The level of reading comprehension was determined by means of 10 descriptive texts and open-ended questions. On the other hand, the connective elements in the texts used for determining the readers' level of reading comprehension were identified, and analyzed structurally and semantically. At this step, based on the syntactic criteria, the connectives in the Turkish texts were categorized as "subordinating conjunctions," "coordinative conjunctions" and "discourse markers." Moreover, in terms of semantics, the connective elements were categorized based on being "temporal," "causal," "adversative" and "additive."
The analysis revealed that while there was no significant relationship between the good readers' level of reading comprehension and temporal connectives, causal connectives, adversative connectives and additive connectives, there was a negative, moderate and significant relationship with regard to adversative connectives, r= -0.805 (p>0.05) and additive connectives, r= -0.647 (p<0.05).
Furthermore, based on the structural variables, there was a negative, significant relationship between the good readers' level of reading comprehension and discourse markers, r= -0.760, as there was also a negative, significant relationship between the poor readers' level of reading comprehension and subordinating conjunctions, r= -0.740.
In accordance with the results of the research, it would be reasonable for the teachers or text writers that would choose a reading text for a certain reader group to choose the texts that would be suitable for the levels of reading skills of readers in terms of structural features of the text because the texts with high reading-difficulty levels, or outside of the area of interest of readers not only would not improve the reading motivation and reading habit of students, but also would cause students to have a negative attitude towards reading.
This study is complied from master thesis titled as "Investigating The Relationship Between Connectives In Turkish Texts and Readers Reading Comprehension Level" Which was defended at the Institude of Educational Sciences of Nigde University, 2013 by the supervision of Assist. Prof. Dr. Gokhan Cetinkaya.
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Nigde University, Turkey
Nigde University, Turkey
Table 1. Readability Levels of the Texts Used in the Study Title AWL ASL RS Hawk 2.6 15.05 38 The Mediterranean 2.72 14.14 34 Bicycle 2.78 15.81 31 Shoes 2.68 14.57 35 Slang 2.76 14.89 33 Barometer 2.8 15.44 31 The Atlantic 2.71 16.74 32 Ice Age 2.56 15.23 38 Ahi Community 2.78 13.58 33 Bullfighting 2.89 11.18 32 Table 2. Type and Number of Connectives Structurally Title Subordinating Coordinating Discourse Marker Hawk 24 44 9 The Mediterranean 16 42 6 Bicycle 22 29 8 Shoes 20 48 3 Slang 26 41 4 Barometer 20 21 4 The Atlantic 15 30 1 Ice Age 25 36 3 Community 20 34 5 Bullfighting 24 39 1 Table 3. Type and Number of Connectives Semantically Title Temporal Causal Adversative Additive Hawk 18 38 13 8 The Mediterranean 10 33 13 8 Bicycle 13 34 6 6 Shoes 10 36 12 13 Slang 17 34 9 11 Barometer 10 25 5 5 The Atlantic 12 25 5 4 Ice Age 25 29 7 3 Ahi Community 14 33 5 7 Bullfighting 11 42 5 6 Table 4. Answer Evaluation Form # Name of Reader Text Title 1 Level of Definition not Definition Definition Knowledge written written written partially completely 2 Level of 0 point 12 points 25 points interpretation No Partial Full interpretation interpretation interpretation 0 points 12 points 25 points 3 Level of Using Not related Partially Successfully Knowledge and their related their related their Experiences knowledge and knowledge and knowledge and experiences experiences experiences with the text with the text with the text 0 points 12 points 25 points 4 Level of No evaluation Partial Successful Evaluation evaluation evaluation 0 points 12 points 25 points Total 100 points score Table 5. Correlation between the Scoring of the Researcher and the Raters # Text Title Researcher First Rater Second Rater l Hawk .748 .803 2 The Mediterranean .920 .901 3 Bicycle .808 .836 4 Shoes .792 .790 5 Slang .933 .842 6 Barometer .896 .809 7 The Atlantic .702 .746 8 Ice Age .902 .811 9 Ahi Community .742 .703 10 Bullfighting .752 .749 Table 6. The Relationship between Temporal, Causal, Adversative and Additive Connectives and Good Readers' Level of Reading Comprehension (GRLRC) 1 2 3 4 5 1 GRLRC N=25 r 1 2 Temporal N=25 r -.271 1 3 Causal N=25 r -.337 -.056 1 4 Adversative N=25 r -.523 .033 .363 1 5 Additive N=25 r -.252 -.286 .491 .647 (*) 1 (*) The significance level is .05. Table 7. The Relationship between Temporal, Causal, Adversative and Additive Connectives and Poor Readers' Level of Reading Comprehension (PRLRC) 1 2 3 4 5 l PRLRC N=25 r 1 2 Temporal N=25 r .075 1 3 Causal N=25 r -.525 -.056 1 4 Adversative N=25 r -.805(*) .033 .363 1 5 Additive N=25 r -.647(*) -.286 .491 .647(*) 1 (*) The significance level is .0 5. Table 8. The Relationship between Subordinating Conjunctions, Coordinative Conjunctions and Discourse Markers and Good Readers' Level of Reading Comprehension (GRLRC) 1 2 3 4 l GRLRC N=25 r 1 2 Subordinating N=25 r -.187 1 3 Coordinating N=25 r -.368 .227 1 4 Discourse Marker N=25 r -.760(*) .148 .089 1 (*) The significance level is .05. Table 9. The Relationship between Subordinating Conjunctions, Coordinative Conjunctions and Discourse Markers and Poor Readers' Level of Reading Comprehension (PRLRC) 1 2 3 4 l PRLRC N=25 r 1 2 Subordinating N=25 r .096 1 3 Coordinating N=25 r -.740 * .227 1 4 Discourse Marker N=25 r -.600 .148 .089 1 * The significance level is .05.
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|Author:||Gender, Yusuf; Cetiinkaya, Gokhan|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2015|
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