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  • 1. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL of ACADEMIC RESEARCH Vol. 5. No. 4. July, 2013 C. Cetinkaya. A neglected skill: silent reading fluency. International Journal of Academic Research Part B; 2013; 5(4), 475-480. DOI: 10.7813/2075-4124.2013/5-4/B.67 A NEGLECTED SKILL: SILENT READING FLUENCY Cetin Cetinkaya Duzce University, Faculty of Education (TURKEY) DOI: 10.7813/2075-4124.2013/5-4/B.67 ABSTRACT The aim of this research was to draw attention to one of the neglected skills which is silent reading fluency. th th With this aim, the present study was conducted with a total of 378 4 and 5 grade students. Test of Silent Contextual Reading Fluency (TSCROF) was used to measure the students’ silent reading fluency skill. The results showed that most of the students have poor silent reading fluency skills. Additionally, there was a significant difference in favor of fifth grade students among fourth and fifth grade students and in favor of male students among male and female students. Keywords: silent reading, reading fluency, elementary school students 1. INTRODUCTION Reading is a complex intellectual process which consists of various constituents such as seeing, perception, comprehension and detailed or different thinking (1). One of the basic imperatives to realize this challenging process is fluent reading (2). As has been in every country, bringing skills of fluent reading to the individuals has gained importance in Turkey in recent years. While fluency in reading is an important feature of good readers, inadequacy in fluency is a feature of the readers that cannot read well. Varieties in fluent reading not only distinguish good and poor readers from each other but also are amongst the most important predictors that affect reading comprehension (3). Fluent reading is constructing meaning from the text by using accurate, fast and prosodic reading skills (47). These skills show themselves as recognizing words easily, reading in an accurate speed, intonation and reading by separating the sentences into proper phrases in terms of semantics and syntax during oral reading studies. These features, during both oral and silent reading, either ease or limit understanding according to the existing competence of the reader. Most of the definitions for fluent reading associate fluent reading with oral reading. Most of the researches carried out especially on the level of primary school show that there is high level of relationship between the skill of fluent oral reading and reading comprehension (8, 9). Though the process of oral reading is in the focus of improving fluent reading, the recent researches stress that silent reading is also important for reading success (5, 7). Silent reading is the commonly used way of reading after the first grades during which teaching of reading is performed. Oral reading is not as practical way of reading as silent reading. Oral reading is much slower when compared to silent reading. Researches show that the number of pausing times that readers do during oral reading is higher than they do during silent reading. Increase in the number of pausing times decreases the speed of reading. This does not improve the fluent reading of the kids (10, 11, 12). Some researches (13) assert that individual oral reading or shared reading studies are commonly used in the classrooms. These studies generally occur in such a form that a student reads orally and the others follow. While these kinds of reading help teacher measure various reading skills, Gilbert (14) suggests that these measurements provide limited data. Moreover, the pausing times and comebacks of readers that listen to the oral reader doubles (15). In case a poor reader reads, learning process of the followers is affected negatively due to the possibility of lack of attention and regression in their own reading and learning process. Miller and Smith (16), who analyzed the effects of fluency of oral reading and silent reading to comprehension, found out that the participants' levels of comprehension during oral reading and silent reading differ. A student who can read silently and fluently comprehends much better. Focusing on oral reading cause some habits -such as reading word by word, letter by letter, tracing with finger, wiggling lips, moving tongue and vocal cords, nodding, reading with inner voice, repeating comebacks frequently during silent reading whichhamper comprehension and last a lifetime. Oral reading slows down the speed and in case of syllabication or reading the words orally, the time of reading the text increases four-five times more (17). In addition to all of these, oral reading, especially during the ages which are entitled as critical periods for the students during which they can develop learned helplessness, may result in shyness, fear, decrease in the self confidence and accordingly the reader student may dispense reading skill through developing learned helplessness. Lots of studies conducted in the literature (18-21) argue that there is a relationship between the classroom atmosphere and learned helplessness. Making poor readers among the primary school students read orally in the classroom, on the critical period during which success vs. inferiority complex is experienced, may result in learned helplessness about reading skill. Baku, Azerbaijan| 475
  • 2. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL of ACADEMIC RESEARCH Vol. 5. No. 4. July, 2013 The constraints mentioned above put forward the fluency of silent reading. Oral reading helps students, who just started to read, learn how the written language gains meaning in oral language.Thus, lots of researches have been conducted to define and develop fluency of oral reading (5, 22).However, after the importance of silent reading during reading process is realized, it is observed that defining and developing the fluency of silent reading have been concentrated on recently (23, 24). The student's silent reading ability at sufficient level is possible by canalizing the teaching process that we started with oral reading towards the silent reading and by building a balance between oral and silent reading (25). When the studies conducted within Turkey are examined, it is observed that the researches on the measurement and development of silent reading fluency are very limited. In a research conducted by Yildirim and Ates (26) it was studied whether the fluency of silent reading predicts comprehension or not and the findings gained set forth that silent reading fluency is an important predictor of reading comprehension. Limitedness of the researches about the subject shows that more researches are needed for either the measurement or development of silent reading fluency. Through this research, it is aimed to define the primary school students' silent reading fluency and draw educators' and academicians' attention to the subject. 2. METHOD th th The aim of this research was to define silent reading fluency of 4 and 5 grade students. In line with this purpose, survey method was utilized through the research.A survey method is a part of quantitative research approaches and in this method the aim of the researcher is to try to define the level, thoughts, beliefs, attitudes etc. of the participants towards a case (27). In this research, it was tried to define the levels of silent reading fluency of the participants through prepared texts. 2.1. Participants th th The data of this research was collected from a total of 378 4 and 5 grade students from three primary schools, having an average socio-economical level, randomly selected in the central district of Yozgat. Gender and grade distribution is given in the table below: Table 1.Demographic features of the students participated in the study Grade Age Gender Male Female Total 4 9-10 f 91 109 200 5 % 45.5 54.5 100 10-11 f 82 96 178 % 46.1 53.9 100 The reason for choosing 4th and 5th grade students as the participants of the study is that there is more acquisition in these grades to develop the skills for fluent reading and reading comprehension when compared to the lower grades. In the first years of the primary school, teaching of reading is at the forefront rather than comprehension and fluency.Also, reading fluency is actualized mainly through oral reading in these years. During st nd rd the 1 , 2 and 3 grades of primary school, group teaching is intensely applied and in these studies oral reading is th th preferred rather than silent reading.For these reasonsthis research was conducted with 200 4 grade and 178 5 grade students. 2.2. Instrument The measurement tools used in the research were created by examining the related literature.Many various methods exist in the literature to evaluatethe silent reading fluency of the students. Test of Silent Contextual Reading Fluency (TOSCRF) which is used in this research as it was used in the similar studies (28, 29, 30), is composed of words that are independent from context and unconnected to each other. Silent reading fluency of the participants is defined through these texts. TOSCRF shows whether the student is above or below the average. It does not suggest why he is below the average. In order to define the reason, additional measurements are needed to be done for definitions (30).Two informative texts were used for the preparation of measurement tools.The texts th th were selected from the books of 4 and 5 grades’ Turkish Language books which are published by the Ministry of National Education and not instructed in the schools where this study was carried out. The reason for excluding the books from the ones that are instructed in these schools is to ensure that the students have not encountered the th th text. During the text selection, frequently used words list, prepared by Cetinkaya (31) for 4 and 5 grades, was taken into consideration. The lengths of the sentences in the text differ from 4 to 11 words. After defining the texts, they were written with a font style to which the students are familiar, the words were displaced in such a way that they would not form a context and all the punctuation and the spaces between the words were removed.Besides, all the words were written in capitals and the measurement tools became ready by copying the texts. Scoring of the data collected from the measurement tool starts in the line marked lastly and goes on towards the text's beginning line. Student gets a point for every word that he distinguishes correctly. The application is disannulled in case a full line is omitted and if so, the test needs to be applied again to that student. The students are warned not to cross lines in the center of a letter, not to cross lines that are not precisely separating the words and not to cross excessively italicized lines. 476 | PART B. SOCIAL SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES
  • 3. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL of ACADEMIC RESEARCH Vol. 5. No. 4. July, 2013 2.3. Procedure To ensure data collection to be error-free, informative meetings were held with the teachers of the classrooms defined beforehand. During the meetings, the aim of the research, features of the data collection tools, timeframe specified for application, the materials that the students may need during application, the classrooms that would be preferred during application and sitting arrangement were explained to the teachers and their questions about application were answered. Next, sample applications were carried out in the classrooms defined for data collection and application awareness for the students was created. During the sample applications, the displaced words of the sentences written in capitals without spaces on the board were separated with different colors of chalks. This activity was repeated for a few times with the participation of the teacher and the voluntary students. Before starting the application, the students were asked to empty the desks and prepare their pencils and erasers. The students were also informed that the application would be started and finished all together and no one should break the silence. The applications were started with “Start” and finished with “Finish” instructions of the teacher after a warning of “you have one minute left” after two minutes. The forms were collected without deranging the sitting arrangement. Evaluations were done on the data collected by two independent raters. During these evaluations, the total of the words that were distinguished correctly by each student was specified as silent reading fluency of each student. Average coherence between the independent raters was calculated as.86. Statistical analyses on the collected data, which will be answers to research problem and questions, were performed. 3. RESULTS Table 2.Descriptive Ratings for Standard Scores Index Score Intervals >130 121-130 111-120 90-110 80-89 70-79 <70 Descriptive Ratings Very superior Superior Above Average Average Below Average Poor Very poor Percentage Included In Each Interval 0.80 2.91 8.73 26.71 60.85 Silent reading fluencies of the participants were shown in Table 2 by taking Allen and Hammill's classification (32) into account. No students out of a total of 378 participants were rated as “superior” or “very superior” because none of them could distinguish 120 or more words in the specified timeframe. The number of the participants who scored between 110 and 120 and were rated as “average” or “above average” is only 14.Scoring between 80 and 89, 32 participants were rated as “below average” according to Allen and Hammil’s classification.87.56 % of the rest of the participants were rated as “poor” or “very poor”. Table 3. Silent reading fluency mean and standard deviation scores of the students according to grade levels Grade 4 5 N 200 178 X 25.98 33.82*** SS 12.73 15.44 p<.001 The independent-samples t-test (or independent t-test, for short) compares the means between two unrelated groups on the same continuous, dependent variable was used to assess whether or not the students' silent reading fluency differs according to grades. The result showed that there was a significant difference th between silent reading fluency scores of the students in favor of 5 grades (t(376)=-5.410, p=.000). Table 4. Silent reading fluency mean and standard deviation scores of the students according to gender Gender Female Male N 173 205 X 31.54 28.10 SS 15.21 13.90 p<.05 The independent-samples t-test (or independent t-test, for short) compares the means between two unrelated groups on the same continuous, dependent variable was used to assess whether or not the students' silent reading fluency scores differs according to gender. The result revealed that there was a significant difference between silent reading fluency of the students in favor of female students (t(376)=-2.300, p=.022). Baku, Azerbaijan| 477
  • 4. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL of ACADEMIC RESEARCH Vol. 5. No. 4. July, 2013 4. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION In this research, the importance of silent reading which is thought as a neglected skill was concentrated on, the level of significance between the silent reading fluency of male and female students and the silent reading th th fluency of 4 and 5 grade students were examined with the help of method used for measuring silent reading fluency. In the research, it is seen that most of the participants’ silent reading fluency is poor. Focusing on teaching oral reading too much may cause some skills of this ability to be transferred into the silent reading process. In literature, there are researches on that oral reading studies decrease silent reading fluency (10, 17, 26). For not transferring the skills in oral reading to the silent reading, silent reading should be passed balancedly and practices should be done to increase silent reading fluency. th Another finding in the research is that 5 grade students are more successful in terms of silent reading fluency level. It is an expected situation that the higher is the level of the grade, the higher is the fluency of the students’ silent reading ability. After the period of teaching reading ended and the period of reading for learning started, as the level of the grade gets higher, the teachers should use more silent reading and comprehension activities in learning environments. In the classification defined by Chall (33), the development processes of th reading-writing skills were defined in separate stages. According to this classification, 5 grade students were considered as in “reading for learning new information” stage, it was expressed that in this stage, the skills and habits of silent reading are more important than oral reading skills in reading success. Such a case in this research th may have contributed significant difference to occur in favor of 5 grade students. That there is a significant difference in favor of girls among the averages of the participants’ silent reading fluency can be explained with that girls’ attitudes towards reading are higher than boys. Besides, there are researches which correlates the significant difference in favor of girls in reading which includes a complicated mental process with teacher expectations (34,35), with higher amount of female teachers (34,36,37). During teaching fluent reading, silent reading fluency is as important as oral reading fluency. Whereas both of the reading types include similar skills, they are not completely the same. Reading on a proper speed with correct pronunciation and as prosodic as to reflect that a meaning is inferred from the text is the accepted description for oral reading fluency (38). Silent reading fluency is reading by a proper speed and comprehensibly with a constant attention and concentration in an easy and comfortable way (38). Comprehension variant is the common key for both definitions. Silent reading fluency measurements should be applied in schools. If the students cannot read the test items correctly and precisely in the specified time frame, or cannot infer the correct meaning from the text, this situation affect their academic success (3). This situation requires the silent reading fluency of the students to be evaluated. Determining tracing methods proper to silent reading fluency and using them in schools are also required. Besides, that the teachers cannot support the students during silent reading activities indicates that the studies do not support the silent reading fluencies of the students. During the silent reading studies, teachers can contribute to the fluency and comprehension of the students by presenting a broad alternative list to the students, by choosing texts in appropriate difficulty level, by controlling silent reading of the students at school and at home and by creating environment that the students can read the books which are their own choices (39). With this study, silent reading fluency which is regarded as a neglected skill, which is focused in recent years in the world, about which there are very few researches have been made in Turkey, is tried to be brought forward. Test of Silent Contextual Reading Fluency (TOSCRF) that had been used in the researches such as (29, 30, 31), was used as measurement tool and the levels of silent reading fluencies of the participants were determined. In this research, the levels of silent reading fluency of the participants were found as poor. The reasons for this situation should be researched deeply. To increase the reliability of the results, silent reading fluency should be measured with different measurement tools and the correlation between them should be examined.Additionally, complex studies may be conducted to study the relation between silent reading fluency and oral reading fluency. The effect of silent reading fluency on comprehension also seems another question to be th th studied in the field. Furthermore, the study group of this research consists of 4 and 5 grade students. Similar studies for different grades may also be conducted. 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  • 6. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL of ACADEMIC RESEARCH Vol. 5. No. 4. July, 2013 36. L.T. Good and J.M. Findley. Sex role expectations and achivement. In J.B.Dusek, V.C.Hall ve W.T. Meyer (ed)., Teacher expectancies. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.(1985). 37. B. Ozturk, G. Koc. Ogretmen beklentileri ve ogrenci uzerindeki etkileri. Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Yonetimi. 359-395. (2001). 38. S. Taylor and T. Rasinski. Moving toward fluency in silent reading. In S. Taylor (ed.), Exploring Silent Reading Fluency: It's Nature and Development. 63-78.IL: Charles C. Thomas. Springfield. (2011). 39. D.R. Reutzel, P.C. Fawson and J.A. Smith. Reconsidering silent sustained reading: An exploratory study of scaffolded silent reading. The Journal of Educational Research. 102: 37-50. (2008). 480 | PART B. SOCIAL SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES
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