Islamic Azad University
Bandar-Abbas Branch
Department of Foreign Languages
The Effect of Three Semantic Mapping Strategies on the Reading Comprehension of Iranian Intermediate EFL Learners in Kerman
Supervisor:
Dr. Mohammad Shariati
Advisor:
Dr. Masoud Sharififar
By:
Motahareh Shahsavari Googhari
A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree of Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (M.A)
May, 2011
In The Name Of God
Dedicated to

My Family
And all those who always

Support, help and think me
Acknowledgement
Thanks God for the power he gave me to carry out this survey.
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Dr. Shariati, the supervisor, for his thought- provoking ideas, initial encouragement, helpful insights, valuable assistance, useful comments as well as his meticulous reading of the final draft of this thesis.
I am also grateful to Dr. Sharififar, the consulting advisor, for his helpful suggestions during the project and his careful reading of the final draft.
Further, I would like to express my appreciations to all those who have stimulated and guided my thinking over the years by pertinent observation and critical comments. Of these may I single out a few, and apologize for omitting the others: Dr. Rostami, Dr. Shariati and Miss Mohammadi.
I am indebted to Nabovat high school personnel for invaluable assistance in administering the reading comprehension tests and also doing the treatment in the research.
Last but not least, I wish to express my gratitude to my lovely daughter, Hasti, and also my husband who has not only been too much patient during the years but also has encouraged me to move forward whenever I felt frustrated.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgement………………………………………………………………………….….I
Table of Contents ………………………………………….………………………….….…II
List of Tables……………………………………………………….…………..……………VI
List of Graphs……………………………………………………………………………….VII
Abstract ………………………………………………………………….…………….…VIII
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1-1. Overview……………………………………………………………………………….1
1-2. Rationale and Background…..……………………………………..………………….1
1-2-1. Foreign Language Learning Strategies..……………………………………………1
1-2-2. Learning Strategies and Learning Skills………….….………….…………….…..2
1-2-3. Learning Strategies and Reading Comprehension…..…………………..…………3
1-2-3-1. Visual Reading vs. Reading Comprehension………………………………5
1-2-4. Semantic Mapping and Reading Comprehension……….…………….… ……….6
1-2-4-1. The Effectiveness of Semantic Maps………..……………………………8
1-2-4-2. Problems of Implementation. ……………….……………………..…….12
1-3. Statement of the Problem ……………………………………………………..……..13
1-4. Purpose of Study…………………………………………………………….……….14
1-5. The Significance of the Study……………………………………………………..…15
1-6. Research Questions………………………………………………………………..…16
1-7. Research Hypotheses……………………………………….……………………..….16
1-8. Definition of Key Words……………………………………………………………..17
1-8-1. Semantic Map……………………………………………………………………17
1-8-1-1. Characteristics of Semantic Maps………….……………………………20
1-8-1-2. Constructing semantic Maps……………………..………………………22
1-8-1-3. Steps of Semantic Mapping……………………………………………..24
1-8-1-4. Types of Semantic Mapping…………………………………………….24
1-8-2. Reading Comprehension……………………………………….……………….. 32
1-8-2-1. Decoding………………………………………………..………….……..33
1-8-2-2. Vocabulary…………………………………..…………….……….……..34
1-8-2-3. World Knowledge………………………..…….…………………….…..34
1-8-2-4. Active Comprehension Strategies…………..……………………………35
1-9. Limitations of the Study…………………………………………..………………….36
CHAPTERTWO: REVIW OF THE RELATED LITERATURE
2-1. Introduction………………………………………………..…………………………….37
2-2. Theories Relating to Semantic Maps…………………………………………………….37
2-3. Theoretical Section………………………………………………….……………….….39
2-4. Practical Section…………………………………………………………..…………..…42
CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY
3-1. Introduction………………………………………………………………………………55
3-2. Participants…………………………………………………………………………….…55
3-3. Instrumentation…………………………………………………………………….…….56
3-4. Procedures…………………………………………………………………………..……58
3-4-1. Procedures of Developing a Semantic Map……………………………………..58
3-4-2. Procedures of a Semantic Mapping Activity…..……………………….……….61
3-4-2-1. Introducing the Topic………………………..…………………………….61
3-4-2-2. Brainstorming…………………………………….……………………….61
3-4-2-3. Categorization…………………………………………………………….62
3-4-2-4. Personalizing the Map……………………………………………………63
3-4-2-5. Post-assignment Synthesis……………….……..…………………….….63
3-4-3. Procedures of Reading Tests………………………….……………………….…64
3-5. Design……………………………………………………………………………………66
CHAPTER FOUR: DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION
4-1. Introduction………………………………………..………………………………….…67
4-2. Validity and Reliability of the Study………………………………………..…………..68
4-2-1. Validity of the Pre-test and Post-test……………………………..…….…………68
4-2-2. Validity of the Semantic Maps……………………………..…………….…..…..68
4-3. Reliability of the Tests…………………………………………….………………….…69
4-4. The Conditions of the Research Variables………………….…………………….……..70
4-4-1. Pre-test and Post-test Variable Scores in Experimental Group……..…..………..70
4-4-2. Pre-test and Post-test Variable Scores in Control Group………..….…..…………73
4-5. Consideration of Research Hypotheses……………………………….…………….…..75
4-5-1. First Hypothesis……………………………………………………………………75
4-5-2. Second Hypothesis……………………………..…………………………………78
CHAPTER FIVE: CONCLUSION
5-1. Introduction………………………………………………………………………………81
5-2. Summery…………………………………………………………………………………81
5-3. Discussion of Findings………………………………………..……………………..…..82
5-4. Pedagogical Implications…………………………………………………………….….84
5-5. Suggestions for Further Study…………………………………………….……….……86
References…………………………………………………………….……………………..88
Appendixes………………………..………………………………..……………………..…96
Appendix A: Reading Comprehension Test as Pre-test……………….…………………..…96
Appendix B: Reading Comprehension Test as Post-test………………………..….……….98
Appendix C: Reading Comprehension Lesson 1 and the Related Semantic map..…………100
Appendix D: Reading Comprehension Lesson 2 and the Related Semantic map………..…102
Appendix E: Reading Comprehension Lesson 3 and the Related Semantic map…….…….104
Appendix F: Reading Comprehension Lesson 4 and the Related Semantic map…….…….106
Appendix G: Reading Comprehension Lesson 5 and the Related Semantic map……….….108
Appendix H: Reading Comprehension Lesson 6 and the Related Semantic map…….…….110
Appendix I: Reading Comprehension Lesson 7 and the Related Semantic map……….…..112
Appendix J: Reading Comprehension Lesson 8 and the Related Semantic map………..….114

List of Tables
Table 4.1: The correlation of test-retest…………………………………….…………….…69
Table 4.2: Pre-test and post-test statistics in experimental group………………..………….71
Table 4.3: Pre-test and post-test statistics in control group……………………………….….73
Table 4.4: T-test statistics for comparison between mean scores of experimental and control groups in post-test………………………………….…………………………………….…..76
Table 4.5: The comparison between the pre-test and the post-test in experimental group…………………………….……………………………………………………………77
Table 4.6: The post-test statistics for three subgroups: A, B and C………………….………79
List of Graphs
Graph 4.1: Pre-test descriptive statistics in experimental group…………………..………..72
Graph 4.2: Post-test descriptive statistics in experimental group……………………………72
Graph 4.3: Pre-test descriptive statistics in control group…………………………………..74
Graph 4.4: Post-test descriptive statistics in control group………………………………….74
Graph 4.5: The comparison of the post-test scores distributed in experimental and control group………………………………………………………………………………………….76
Graph 4.6: Statistics of sub-groups A, B and C in the post-test……………………………..80
Abstract
The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of semantic mapping strategies on reading comprehension of learners in intermediate level and also to determine the most effective strategy type among: teacher-initiated, student-mediated and teacher-student interactive strategies. Some 60 female participants in high school participated in the study.
Two valid reading comprehension tests were used in this study as pre-test and post-test. To investigate the effect of semantic mapping strategies a treatment after the pre-test and before the post-test was conducted in order to teach semantic mapping strategies to learners. To analyze the recorded data, Sample T-test was used. To determine the best strategy among the three considered kinds, factor analysis was conducted.
The final analysis showed that using semantic mapping strategies before, during or after reading texts increased the comprehension of the learners and among the three kinds of semantic mapping strategies in this study; teacher-initiated, student-mediated and teacher-student interactive kind; the latter is the most effective one.
Keywords: Semantic mapping strategies, Reading comprehension

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

1.1. Overview
The current study investigated the patterns of semantic mapping strategies in reading comprehension texts acquired by Iranian learners of intermediate level. It is essentially a study on the comprehension of texts by EFL learners in Kerman.
The chapter discusses the place of the current study in the context of foreign language reading comprehension and semantic mapping research, the nature of semantic mapping strategies and the need to conduct a study of semantic mapping in reading comprehension within a foreign language learning context. Given the theoretical framework of the study, the main purposes and the significance of the study, two research questions are formulated.

1.2. Rationale and Background
In this section, going from the general to detailed issues, the basic framework of the present study according to the current learning issues is regarded.

1.2.1 Foreign language learning strategies. Learning strategies are “techniques, approaches, or deliberate actions that students take in order to facilitate the learning and recall of both linguistic and content area information” (Wenden, 1987:6). Oxford (1990) considered that “any specific action taken by the learner to make learning easier, faster, more enjoyable, more self-directed, more effective, and more transferable to new situations” is a language learning strategy. Oxford (1990) divided strategies into two major types, direct and indirect. The indirect strategies are divided into metacognitive, affective, and social strategies. Metacogntive strategies, like advanced organizers, are “actions which go beyond purely cognitive devices, and which provide a way for learners to coordinate their own learning process” (p. 136).
Cohen (1998:8) expressed the following:
Since strategies themselves have sometimes been referred to as ‘good’, ‘effective’, or ‘successful’ and the converse, it needs to be pointed out that with some exceptions, strategies themselves are not inherently good or bad, but have the potential to be used effectively whether by the same learner from one instance within one task to another instance within that same task, from one task to another, or by different learners dealing with the same task. Perhaps if enough learners in a given group successfully use a given strategy in a given task, then claims could be made for the effectiveness of that strategy in that instance for that group. Otherwise, it is safest to refer to what often amounts to panoply of potentially useful strategies for any given task.
Furthermore, various researchers suggested (Ellis, 1994) that one trait of good language learners is that they are able to cater their foreign language learning strategy use to their proficiency level demands.

1.2.2. Learning strategies and learning skills. Rehearsal, finding essential points within the learning material, connecting newer and older knowledge and using keywords and advance organizers (section 1.3.1.1.) are the learning skills that may be called cognitive and metacognitive learning strategies. Learners utilize these strategies in the acquisition, storage, and retrieval of information (Virtanen et al., 2003). Successful foreign language learners are characterized by knowing how to use language learning strategies effectively, including the ability to change them as their language proficiency increases (Gregersen et al., 2001). The results of several “good language learner” studies suggest that successful foreign language (FL) learners use a variety of strategies to assist them in gaining command over new language skills (O’Malley, 1987:138). The selection of appropriate language learning strategies enables students to take responsibility for their own learning by enhancing learner autonomy, independence, and self-direction, necessary attributes for life-long learning (Oxford, 1990). By understanding the strategies that successful FL learners use, less competent learners should be able to improve their skills in a foreign language through training in strategies evidenced among those who are more successful.

1.2.3. Learning strategies and reading comprehension. As one of four main skills and a complementary ability in learning a second or foreign language, reading comprehension has an utmost importance in all second language acquisition or learning programs (Baker& Gersten, 1998). An alarmingly high number of students go through school without learning to comprehend what they read beyond a very rudimentary level (National Reading Panel, 2000; Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). Many learners have only the ability of visual reading without any ability of making relevance between the meanings of discrete parts of the text. Finally, they could not achieve a comprehension of the whole text and the outcome is disability in reading or miscomprehending the texts or disability in responding comprehension tests (Yeselson, 2000; Anderson& Pearson, 1984).
Because so much of what students are able to access from the general curriculum depends on their ability to read and understand grade level textbooks, development of comprehension strategies is essential in order for them to adequately access the curriculum. Besides students with reading disabilities, however, there are also large numbers of students without disabilities who have serious reading comprehension problems (Baker & Gersten, 1998). Current reform efforts stipulating that all students should be held accountable for high learning standards, including the ability to read a variety of texts with comprehension (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998).
Another reason which systematically decreases reading demands for some students as a large-scale option is that many effective reading interventions have been developed but are not yet typically implemented on a regular basis in most general education or special education classrooms. If these techniques were used correctly and consistently in learning contexts, the comprehension of many students would improve substantially. In fact these approaches would also benefit students who are already proficient readers, increasing their feasibility in both general and remedial education settings (Baker & Gersten, 1998).
School psychologists and administrators who regularly work with teachers on classroom instructional approaches are in a strong position to advocate the importance of quality reading comprehension instruction. In many cases, students with comprehension problems seem unaware of their comprehension difficulties (Gersten et al., 2001).
Reading strategies are some effective tools for comprehending the reading material; they represent procedural rather than declarative knowledge, stressing “how” as much or more than “what” (Pressley, 2000:559). These strategies help readers to engage with the text, to monitor their comprehension, and to fix it when it has failed. Rather than a single strategy applied in a reading class, students need to have a repertoire of strategies that they learn and apply in many reading contexts and not just in a reading class (Williams, 1994).
The learners should develop reading comprehension techniques in order to be good readers (Baker & Gersten, 1998). In the other words, effective reading requires not only accurate reading skills, but also the ability of automatic comprehension. If the text organization be in an understandable way, the comprehension takes place (Adams, 1990). Learning reading comprehension requires a strategy to decode words and different parts of the text to reach a whole understanding of it (Williams, 1994).
Students may lack appropriate reading strategies or they may not know when to use strategies they, in fact, do possess. Williams (1993:833) proposed that some students with comprehension problems have difficulty in “getting the point,” most likely because they are unable to create effective representations of the text being read. According to many linguistics and researchers, reading is a necessary skill that any learner needs. But teaching reading skills has not been given care enough in Iranian schools too (Birjandi& Noroozi, 2000; Ajideh, 2003).
There are many strategies and activities that can be used for reading comprehension disabilities; they are used to make students understand the reading text instead of a visual reading (Harvey & Goudvis, 2000). One of the ways that may have a significant impact on the teaching reading process is the semantic mapping strategy (Darayesh, 2003).

1.2.3.1. Visual reading vs. reading comprehension. Let’s begin by picturing a child reading a book silently to herself. She’s just sitting there, fairly motionless, staring at a book. Occasionally, she turns a page. Sometimes she laughs quietly to herself for no apparent reason because, we know that, inside her head, she is exploring a story and listening to the author that tells a tale through a voice that only she can hear.
As the reader sits motionless, s/he is simultaneously decoding the text and comprehending the message contained within the text. That is what reading is all about; decoding and comprehension. The integration of these two skills is essential to reading comprehension, and neither one is more or less essential than the other. Language comprehension generally refers to one’s ability to understand the text.
It is also worth noting that there are different types and levels of language comprehension. Language comprehension in this context, then, refers to the ability to understand and draw inferences from text. The text should be in a language and at a level that the reader is able to understand (Pressley, 2000).
Reading comprehension is like the motor in a car; if every part functions well and the motor is put together properly, the motor as a whole will function well, but even when some of the parts are not functioning very well, the motor sometimes still runs, albeit poorly.
So, reading comprehension is understanding a text that is being read, or the process of “constructing meaning” from a text. Comprehension is a “construction process” because it involves all of the elements of the reading process working together as a text is read to create a representation of the text in the reader’s mind (Williams, 1993: 638).
Reading comprehension skills separate the passive unskilled readers from the active readers. Skilled readers do not just read but they actually interact with the text. They can predict, for example, what will happen next in a story using reading clues presented in the text, then create questions about the main idea and plot of the text and also monitor understanding of the sequences, context or characters (Sanders, 2001). The readers comprehend better when the text has an understandable organization that indicates the relationship between ideas. In this study, it means that to what extent students comprehend the interrelationships between the ideas presented in the reading comprehension texts by use of semantic mapping strategy.

1.2.4. Semantic mapping and reading comprehension. At initial stages of reading comprehension many students have the ability of compensating reading problems or errors by using the reading strategies and becoming accurate decoders, but most of them fail to reach a level of sufficient fluency to become fast and efficient readers (Adams, 1990). Actually there should be a kind of communication between the reader and the text. It means that the learner should interact with the text in order to reach the ultimate goal of learning; communication (Pressley, 2000).
To read effectively, the learners should have the ability of using their linguistic and rhetorical competences simultaneously. Having controlled linguistic competences is not enough for effective comprehension in reading. It is the rhetorical competence that most second language learners lack (Harp & Brewer, 1996). So, the students should be taught how to read in order to create lifelong readers. Here, further research is needed to give us more answers to questions concerning the best teaching reading strategies which deal with this interaction. The students should make difference between visual reading and reading comprehension.
Visual organizers of text or semantic maps can be used to help students comprehend what they are reading (Sinatra, 1984; Sinatra, Stahl-Gemake, & Berg, 1984). Graphic displays of text can be helpful in providing a visual picture of the content and showing key linkages. Pupils learn to identify the text structure of passages by identifying a possible “map” of the structure. In doing this, students are taught to read the text, searching for ways it might be mapped; using familiar terminology (Baker &Gersten, 1998). Struggling readers with reading comprehension problems often need to connect new information to the content they already know or learned. This is common for most students, but especially for students with reading below grade level. The strategies should be used to help them in reading comprehension.
On the other hand, the biggest challenge in reading is to help students see that the details within the text are related.  When students see how the details are related to each other, they discover that the information is easier to learn.   This also helps students respond more meaningfully to the information that follow.  Whether the teacher is using semantic maps in his/her instruction or the student is developing his/her own semantic maps, the cognitive processes which the student employs through these maps help him/her put the pieces together in a meaningful, learnable whole (Ausubel, 1968).

1.2.4.1. The Effectiveness of semantic maps. The majority of literature base assessing the effects of graphic organizers examined one or more of the following:
1. Where the semantic map was used in the instructional sequence (Simmons, 1988)
2. Whether the semantic map was teacher or student constructed (Armbruster, Anderson, & Meyer, 1991)
3. The effect on students with disabilities or varying ability levels in reading (Guastello, 2000)
Studies have shown that semantic maps have been useful as an advance organizer (which is constructed before the task) as well as a post organizer (which is constructed after the task) in the classroom (Simmons, 1988). According to Griffin and Tulbert (1995), outcomes of semantic maps studies remain unclear because different types of these strategies are used in each study. Therefore, some semantic organizers may be more useful as an advance organizer and others as a post organizer.
As mentioned, semantic maps are simply visual diagrams of ideas on paper. Teachers and students use them to create visual models of ideas presented in students’ textbooks, classroom lectures, or video such as films and documentaries. Semantic maps are great study guides that provide a visual map of ideas and their relationships to each other (Bayes &Husein, 2008).
According to research, these strategies are effective study guides that can provide students with a general overview of information, show patterns, highlight main ideas, and organize supporting facts. They can also help students understand and memorize ideas (Sinatra, 1984).
Semantic maps are also helpful study guides for all students, but they are especially beneficial for students with expressive language and receptive language disorders and those who are visual learners. With this type of representation, semantic organizers help students with language processing deficits by visually presenting the most important information and eliminating information that is not as critical. This helps students focus and to place information into a mental framework without excess language processing demands getting in the way (Roy, 2006).
Moreover, used as study guides, semantic maps can help students to link information to prior learning and provide a foundation to link future learning. The process of placing information onto the graphic organizer helps students think about concepts and organize those thoughts as they write. When used as a small group learning activity, they can help students learn different ways of looking at the information by discussing ideas with others (Zaid, 1995).
On the other hand, semantic mapping has been shown to be a beneficial learning/teaching technique for native speakers of English at all grade levels in regular and remedial classrooms as well as for those who are learning-disabled (Novak & Canas, online document). Students, who use these maps, manifest considerable improvement in reading comprehension, written expression, and vocabulary development. Its value for English as a Foreign Language has also been acknowledged. Studies by Baron (1969) showed that semantic processing was an effective vocabulary learning strategy. Moreover, a series of studies principally by Harp and Brewer (1996) examined how schema theory and semantic mapping can improve the reading skills of ESL students.
Ellis (2001) identifies three benefits of using semantic maps or graphic organizers. First, graphic organizers make the content easier to understand and learn. They also help students separate important information from what might be interesting but not essential information. Second, according to Ellis (2001), semantic maps decrease the necessary semantic information processing skills required to learn the material. By making the organization of content information easier to understand, graphic organizers allow material to be addressed at more sophisticated levels. Finally, students who use semantic organizers may become more strategic learners. An individual’s approach to a task is called a strategy (Bulgren et al., 2002). Strategies include how a person thinks and acts when planning, executing, and evaluating a task and its subsequent outcomes (Deshler & Lenz, 1989). When the organization of a topic becomes apparent, reading and writing skill, communication skills, analytical skills as well as creative skills are subject to improve with the use of graphic organizers (Ellis, 2001).
Semantic maps and the curriculum planning. In curriculum planning, semantic maps can be enormously useful. They present, in a highly concise manner, the key concepts and principles to be taught. The hierarchical organization of semantic maps suggests more optimal sequencing of instructional material (Novak & Gowin, 1984).
Since the fundamental characteristic of meaningful learning is integration of new knowledge with the learners’ previous concept and propositional frameworks, proceeding from the more general, more inclusive concepts to the more specific information usually serves to encourage and enhance meaningful learning. Thus, in curriculum planning, we need to construct a global “macro map” showing the major ideas that planned to present in the whole course, or in a whole curriculum, and also more specific “micro maps” to show the knowledge structure for a very specific segment of the instructional program (Pressley, 2000).
Using concept maps in planning a curriculum or instruction on a specific topic helps to make the instruction “conceptually transparent” to students (Pressley, 2000: 548). Many students have difficulty identifying the important concepts in a text, lecture or other form of presentation. Part of the problem stems from a pattern of learning that simply requires memorization of information, and no evaluation of the information is required. Such students fail to construct powerful concept and propositional frameworks, leading them to see learning as a blur of myriad facts, dates, names, equations, or procedural rules to be memorized. For these students, the subject matter of most disciplines, and especially science, mathematics, and history, is a cacophony of information to memorize, and they usually find this boring. Many feel they cannot master knowledge in the field. If semantic maps are used in planning instruction and students are required to construct concept maps as they are learning, previously unsuccessful students can become successful in making sense out of science and any other discipline, acquiring a feeling of control over the subject matter (Bayes & Husain, 2008).
Varying the ability levels. Many students, particularly students with language disabilities, lack skills for processing and organizing written and oral information (Canas, 2004). These students experience difficulties with making inferences, understanding relationships and connections, distinguishing main ideas from insignificant details, and understanding the gist of a passage or lecture (Kameenui & Simmons, 1980). Students with language disabilities and other students who struggle to understand relationships, need instruction that explicitly demonstrates the connectedness of knowledge (Adams, 1990). Semantic maps have been shown to be effective in improving the understanding and application of content material for students of varying ability levels (Darayesh, 2003).
Semantic maps as assessment tools. Although semantic maps are far more frequently used as instructional tools (e.g. Briscoe & Lemaster, 1991) than as an assessment tool, the validity of several semantic mapping techniques has been well established in the literature (e.g. Ruiz-Primo, Shavelson, & Schultz, 2001).
As an assessment tool, semantic maps can be thought of as a procedure to measure a student’s declarative knowledge (Ruiz-Primo, Shultz, & Shavelson, 2001). Any assessment can be conceived as a combination of a task, a response format, and a scoring system. Based on this framework, a semantic map as an assessment tool can be characterized as: (a) a task that invites students to provide evidence of their knowledge structure; (b) a format for student response; (c) a scoring system by which students’ semantic maps can be evaluated accurately and consistently.
On the other hand, if state, regional, and national exams would begin to include semantic maps as a segment of the exam, there would be a great incentive for teachers to teach students how to use this aid. Currently there are a number of projects in the USA and elsewhere that are doing research to see if better evaluation tools can be developed, including the use of semantic maps. For example, the “Computer concept maps” tool allows the comparison of an “expert” semantic map for a topic with maps constructed by students, and all similar or different concepts and propositions are shown in color (Bayes & Husein, 2008: 853).

1.2.4.2. Problems of implementation. The greatest challenge is to change the school situational factors in the direction of the teacher as coach from the prevailing model of teachers as disseminator of information. Surely, it is needed to engage teachers and administrators in training programs to model the new educational approaches, and to seek their counsel on ways to improve on this new model for education (Pressley et al., 1989).
There is also the challenge of changing assessment practices that now rely primarily on multiple-choice tests that measure mainly rote recall of information, to performance-based tests that require students to demonstrate that they understand basic concepts and can use these concepts in novel problems solving, and that they can grow and modify their concepts and learn new concepts (Sinatra, 1984).
In the semantic mapping model, remains plenty of room for acquisition of specific facts and procedures, but these should be learned within the context of powerful conceptual frameworks. Research (Yeselson, 2000) has shown that factual information acquired in a context of meaningful learning is not only retained longer, but this information can be used much more successfully to solve new problems. In fact, research overwhelmingly supports the value of “guided learning”, such as that involved in semantic mapping model (Mayer, 2003).
Moreover, there is an enormous job of teacher education that needs to be done before the semantic mapping strategy can be implemented in schools. Teachers need to become familiar with the use of semantic map and the various tools it contains (Novak & Gowin, 1984). They also need to learn about the theory underlying semantic mapping, including the ideas in this paper. Teacher education programs should model the kind of learning recommended here.
“Teachers should work collaboratively to build on some of the simpler semantic maps dealing with education ideas and perhaps add resources to some of the more complex maps. Even with the current state of technology and pedagogical understandings, it is possible for schools to mount semantic mapping model for Education” (Novak & Canas, online document: 23).

1.3. Statement of the Problem
As mentioned above, how to read meaningfully is the main problem of EFL learners in second language classrooms (Adams, 1990). The learners only learn reading to fulfill their needs in the achievement tests and this does not go beyond their school textbooks. Actually, they do not know the process of reading and required techniques for reading comprehension (Canas, 2004). Consequently, they usually gain low marks in reading comprehension tasks. Most of the students read the text as if it consists of discrete elements and does not interact with the passage they read, nor they build relationships between the terms in the text to build up the meaning and then to lead themselves toward reading comprehension. Students are not aware of the strategies that may help them in reading, because they are not taught to do so (Williams, 1994). The problems of reading exist for Iranian learners also (Birjandi& Noroozi, 2000). The low marks in reading comprehension tests and the teachers’ considerations are themselves emphasis on this issue as a problematic area, which may cause further problems in the higher levels of learning English.
This study concerned teaching students how to use semantic mapping strategies in reading and teaching them how to build up the structure of the maps. It is believed that learners learn better if they are taught to build up relations between the terms in the text (Williams, 1994). This strategy motivates and involves students in the thinking, reading and writing skills. It is based on building up new relationships between the components of the text that enhances vocabulary development by helping student link new information with previous knowledge or experience (Mayer, 2003).

1.4. Purpose of the Study
The present study followed two main purposes. Firstly, to teach and apply the semantic mapping strategies in the classrooms in order to investigate the direct effect of these strategies on improving reading comprehension ability of intermediate Iranian learners. In case of existence of such effect, the result can be generalized to other levels of education. The results of this study may help the teachers and learners in reading skills and also in other relevant skills that need comprehension of the texts in some way, such as writing skills and the thinking processes relevant to the field.
The second purpose of the current study is to determine and introduce the best or the most effective semantic mapping strategy between three considered kinds which are: 1. Teacher-initiated; 2. Student-mediated; 3. Teacher-student interactive semantic mapping strategy. These three types are three variations of semantic mapping technique, so this is a comparative study in this aspect. The most effective one can be focused and offered to all English Language Teaching courses; particularly in reading courses, as a teaching reading aid.
There are other goals within these two main purposes. One is using the semantic mapping technique to change the provided lessons into semantic maps. The other is teaching the students the semantic maps in an effective way

1.5. The Significance of the Study
As it is obvious in the next chapter (which is a review of related literature) , there are different researches and studies about the effect of semantic mapping strategies on reading comprehension and also on the cognitive abilities and related thinking processes around the world. Here the researcher’s goal is to discover the relationships between two variables: semantic mapping strategies and reading comprehension. The effect of these strategies on Iranian learners’ reading comprehension abilities in a particular level (intermediate) is considered. Moreover, the study investigated three kinds of these varied strategies: teacher-initiated, student-mediated and teacher-student interactive one, on comprehension in Iranian classroom contexts, in order to introduce the most effective one as a useful aid in reading classes. Anyway, in all three considered kinds, the learners need their teachers as facilitators and coordinators to improve their reading in an interactive way (Canas, 2004). This is, in itself, a new issue which has not given enough care and not worked on, in Iran, by now. By this way, the results of this study could be a little step toward solving the reading comprehension problems for Iranian learners.
In this study the semantic mapping strategy is considered because this strategy has capability of implementing in the classrooms. It can easily be taught and implemented by the students, in addition to its significant role in developing students’ thinking skills and reading comprehension.
Semantic mapping strategy can be used for different instructional purposes. It assists teachers in syllabus design to identify the patterns of organization of ideas and concepts (Pressley, 2000). Applying semantic mapping strategies before reading the text can be useful for introducing the important and new vocabulary and keywords in a selection to be read (Zaid, 1995). It shows the interrelations between the terms. Also, these strategies can be used to activate and tap learner’s background knowledge and as a helpful reference for clarifying confusing points during reading (Sinatra et al. 1984). In addition to its significant role in developing thinking skills and reading comprehension, this strategy can be easily taught and implemented by students.

1.6. Research Questions
There are two questions which are considered in this research to be answered:
1- What is the nature of relationship between semantic mapping strategies and reading comprehension for Iranian intermediate EFL learners in Kerman?
2- Which of the three semantic mapping strategies; teacher-initiated, student-mediated or teacher-student interactive strategies, is the most effective one for the purposed population?
1.7. Research Hypotheses
The hypotheses of the study based on the research questions were:
1- There are significant differences a) between the mean scores attained by the experimental group and those attained by the control group on post-test and b) between the mean scores of experimental group on the pre-test and the post-test that can be attributed to the semantic mapping strategies.
2- There are significant differences between the mean scores of three subgroups A ( which used teacher-initiated semantic mapping strategy), B (which used student-mediated semantic mapping strategy) and C (which used teacher-student interactive semantic mapping strategy) within experimental group in post-test that show one of the three semantic mapping strategies is the most effective one on reading comprehension ability of learners.

1.8. Definition of Key Words
In this section the



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