Universidad de Chile (CHILE)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN18 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Pages: 5001-5007
ISBN: 978-84-09-02709-5
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2018.1234
Conference name: 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2018
Location: Palma, Spain
Reading comprehension has become fundamental not only to academic learning in higher education but also to professional success and lifelong learning (Dreyer & Nel, 2003; Boud & Falchikov, 2006). The importance of reading comprehension is twofold: on one hand, higher education students are typically required to read under pressure a great variety of difficult texts so acquiring reading skills is central to their academic success (Doolittle et al., 2006). On the other hand, reading comprehension must enhance in the students the development of professional thinkers as opposed to technicians who follow procedures (Cortright et al., 2005; Block & Duffy, 2008).

Although reading is an activity that permeates the academic life of higher education students, their reading comprehension of the texts is somewhat disappointing. Many students don´t have the required skills and strategies to deeply comprehend the complex readings assigned to them, but instructors often assume they do. When approaching reading many students frequently use strategies that work well for knowledge reproduction but that are not good enough to meet academic standards in higher education settings (Doolittle et al., 2006). In this scenario, instructors can play a fundamental role by providing students a set of strategies and activities to improve their reading comprehension skills (Dreyer & Nel, 2003).

One strategy used by instructors to improve reading comprehension is the identification of key words in a text, together with the discussion and justification of them, carried out collaboratively by a small group of students. It is expected that, given an educational detonating factor associated with the reading of a text and the use of key words as a strategy to support reading comprehension, students collaboratively generate better levels of comprehension, and therefore better levels of learning around the educational detonating factor.

In this study, we used a computer-based system to facilitate the identification of key words, their discussion and justification in a collaborative way with the purpose of improving the students' performance on reading tests, which was compared with the same educational strategy without the support of any computer-based learning system.

To assess the hypothesis that the use of a computer-based system to facilitate collaborative learning had an impact on students’ performance in reading assessments, a quasi-experimental design was conducted. The quasi-experiment considered two different groups of students: the experimental group, that approached readings in a collaborative manner and the control group that did it in a traditional way.

300 students from the Information Systems and Management Control program at the Business School of the University of Chile were exposed to the experiment, half included in the experimental group and half in the control group. The same readings were given to the experimental and control groups and the same reading tests were taken by both groups. The results suggest that the introduction of the computer-based system to facilitate collaborative learning improve students’ performance on reading tests.
Collaborative learning, reading comprehension, academic performance.