The Impact of Fostering Learner Autonomy through Implementing Cooperative Learning Strategies on Inferential Reading Comprehension Ability of Iranian EFL Learners

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 Department of English, Shahr-e-Qods Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of English, Garmsar Branch, Islamic Azad University, Semnan, Iran

Abstract

Abstract
The great shift of paradigm from teacher-centeredness to learner-centeredness has one major rationale in line with the definitions of autonomy, i.e., the capacity and willingness to act independently and in cooperation with others, so cooperation is looked upon as the manifestation of autonomy. In the present study, the researchers investigated the impact of training cooperative learning strategies in reading courses on inferential reading ability of EFL learners. The researchers used both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods to collect data. The instruments were test, questionnaire, and interview. Sixty intermediate EFL undergraduates aged between 23 and 31 were selected from the subject pool of 197 participants and randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. The treatment group (n=30) received Student Team Achievement Divisions (STADs) strategy training as one of the cooperative learning strategies. The instructional material for both groups was identical. The control group (n=30), however, experienced an individualistic approach as common in traditional reading courses. An accredited autonomy questionnaire and an inferential reading comprehension test were administered at pre-test and post-test phases during the first semester of academic year 2016-2017. The treatment group was interviewed on their experience with cooperative learning. The analysis of the numeric data through descriptive statistics and one way ANOVA along with content analysis of the qualitative data confirmed that cooperative learning strategy training had positive influence on inferential reading comprehension ability of Iranian EFL undergraduates. This study also bears the implications of the findings for language instructors, learners and policy makers.

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