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Z. Tajeddin1, S. Tabatabaei1, M. Alemi2

1Allameh Tabataba'i University (IRAN)
2Sharif University of Technology (IRAN)
Concept maps are visual representations of knowledge and conceptual relationships that show the main ideas and more inclusive concepts at the top of the map and the specific ideas and more concrete ones at the bottom. Concept mapping can be used to generate ideas (brainstorming), design complex structures (long texts, hypermedia, web sites), communicate complex ideas, enhance learning by explicitly integrating new and old knowledge, and assess understanding or diagnose misunderstanding. When applied to reading instruction, they reflect linkage of concepts or facts within a passage and help students generate questions about the content and understand the relationships between concepts better. This study was set out to find out whether the concept maps accompanying the text would have any scaffolding effect on the reading comprehension and recall of propositions by EFL (English as a foreign language) learners. To this end, a Nelson test was administered to 60 senior high school students in order to ensure the homogeneity of the participants. Of the 60 students, 30 were exposed to the concept maps in the experimental group, and the other half, the control group, only read the same texts without concept maps. Both groups took a reading comprehension test composed of 4 passages with 20 questions in the multiple-choice format and a recall test in which they were asked to write down the propositions they remembered from the texts they had read. The application of the t-test revealed that the experimental group outperformed the control one in reading comprehension, indicating that the concept maps accompanying the texts had a significant effect on reading comprehension. When applied to the recall protocol, the t-test showed that concept maps enabled the experimental group to recall significantly more propositions. In line with the principle of cognitive psychology that learning takes place by the assimilation of new concepts and propositions into existing concept propositional frameworks held by the learner, the findings suggest that concept maps should be embedded into reading textbooks to facilitate the top-down interaction between the reader and the text and to enhance the recall of propositions, especially in ESP courses and non-English courses in which the acquisition of propositional information is required.