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Most approaches to developing critical thinking are rooted in philosophy. The philosophical perspectives of thinking are based on reason in order to guide behavior with formal logic according to Aristotle and Plato and formal logic. The formal logic approach has appeared since the 1950s and after that in the materials developed by Lipman (1985) and Ennis (1985; 1987).
On the other hand, in the early 1990s, Marzano (1991) declared that critical thinking is now using psychological approaches as well as philosophical ones. The psychological approaches consider the human mind as a working mechanism that can be studied from cognitive psychological perspectives that include metacognition, componential (summarizing, comparing, analyzing, questioning and developing visuals) and heuristics (problem solving and decision-making).
Dispositional approach is also another approach, introduced by Marzano (1991), as habits of mind, cognitive mental sets for specific situations. The socially-based approaches adjoin the philosophical and psychological approaches represented by Heath (1991). A social approach includes learning to think critically in collaborative learning situations.
Thanks to these diverse approaches, critical thinking has become broader. Benesch (1993), one of the postmodernist advocators, gives us a different definition of critical thinking. She believes that critical thinking is a process of questioning the status quo and of challenging existing knowledge and the social order. She sees it as a probe for social, political and historical sources of conventional knowledge and an orientation to alter learning and society. According to Benesch and her followers, critical thinking is a democratic learning process which encourages learners to participate actively and raise issues of concern in their daily lives. Thus, the learners can link their own experience to the language, politics, and the history of the new culture.
In spite of the effectiveness and efficiency of critical thinking and encouraging teaching critical thinking in classrooms, educators, test makers, and experts are concerned about learners' poor critical thinking. The fact is that the learners always do not use good thinking skills or they add unwarranted assumption into their reasoning and have problems to find alternative solutions and think creatively.
Another problem is the authoritative power over learners by publisher and authors. In order to counteract this power, Heath (1991) points out that students must have certain assumptions before they can demonstrate critical thinking, and acquire their own empowerment through critical thinking.
Aside from all the approaches with different definitions in which there is much overlap and discussions of the problems in order to find solutions to enhance the learners' critical thinking, efforts on developing this skill have not always been successful. Students' critical thinking skills improve as students progress but performance generally remains under expected level (Tsui, 1998).
2.2.1 Bloom's Taxonomy
In 1956, Bloom introduced the taxonomy of educational objectives in a form of classification of the aims of the educational process to assist instructors in the evaluation of their course material and testing outcomes. A particularly useful feature of Bloom's taxonomy is the hierarchal arrangement of cognitive abilities that provides a straightforward method for teachers to design instructional objectives and activities that relate directly to desired learning outcomes. The cognitive domain of Bloom's taxonomy included six major sections from lower order thinking skills (LOTS) to higher order thinking skills (LOTS): knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
Bloom defined 'knowledge' as "those behaviors and test situations which emphasize the remembering, either by recognition or recall, of ideas, material, or phenomena" (p.62). In addition, 'comprehension' is defined as "students' abilities to understand what is being communicated and analyze its content" (p.89). In this regard, Bloom considered comprehension as three forms of behavior: translation, interpretation, and extrapolation. The next category is 'applying' that shows how a learner can apply what has been learned to new situations. In Bloom's point of view, "analysis emphasizes the breakdown of the material into its constituent parts and detection of the relationships of the parts and of the way they are organized" (p.144). The most creative behavior in this taxonomy, 'synthesis', was defined as the "putting together of elements and parts so as to form a whole" (p.162). Moreover, the last step, 'evaluation', was regarded as "making of judgments about the value of ideas, works, and solutions" (p.185).
Originally, Bloom's taxonomy was based on the behaviorist theory and groups educational activities into three main categories that affect the process of learning in different ways: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor (Krathwohl, Bloom & Bertram, 1973). The six categories under the 'cognitive aspect' were explained from the least complex to the most complex skill in the preceding paragraph. The 'affective domain' is the way individuals deal with the growth in feelings or emotional skills, including five categories of receiving, responding, valuing, organizing, and internalizing. And the last one is 'psychomotor domain' which focuses on the area of physical movement, coordination, and use of motor skills containing six levels of perception, set, guided response, mechanism, complex overt response and adaptation.
Although Bloom's original taxonomy was a revolutionary model which presented systematic categorizations of cognitive skills, Anderson and Krathworthl (2001) revised it to focus on the active, on-going process of learning in order to help teachers understand and implement a standards-based curriculum. In addition, other researchers developed it according to the objectives that instructors, skilled specialists, and supervisors need to evaluate the learners' learning and performance in a given course. Anderson and Krathworthl (2001) reevaluated the original version and the revised taxonomy included remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluation and creating. In other words, the revised taxonomy duplicates the six categories of the original one with the knowledge category labeled as 'remember', the comprehension category termed 'understand' and synthesis was changed into 'create'. They are arranged in a hierarchical structure, but not as rigidly as in the original taxonomy. (Krathwohl, 2002, p. 218)
Since Bloom provided the tool that helps researchers to determine the learners' learned preferred behavior patterns after taking a course, Bloom's taxonomy has long been applied by educators, instructional designers in order to tailor and achieve the objectives, lesson, and assessments (Joyce & Weil, 1996). Moreover, the cognitive taxonomy has received much attention because of its applicability in secondary and postsecondary education (Chyung, 2003). Therefore, the researchers have also used Bloom's taxonomy as an assessment tool to evaluate student performance in traditional courses versus online simulations (Boyd & Murphrey, 2002).
Based on the results of Garrison, Anderson, and Archer's research in 2001 which using Bloom's six levels of cognitive processing, they noted that over 80% of learners' discussion posts (online) reflected lower levels of thinking. Similarly, Gilbert and Dabbagh (2005) reported that approximately 75-80% of their students' online postings were at the lower levels of Bloom's taxonomy.
.In 2006, John DiMarco examined the Bloom's taxonomy and Peschl's modes of knowing for classification of learning objects on the PBS.org/teacher source Website. By qualitative content analysis, he found that learning objects at PBS.org/teacher source were instructionally designed on achieving objectives that were lower in the cognitive domain based on the research of Bloom and his editorial group and the subsequent instantiations of the 1956 work in 2002 by Krathwol and in 2005 by Krumme.
Hamad Odhabi, in 2007, conducted a qualitative research in order to consider the impact of laptops on students' learning using Bloom's learning taxonomy. It concluded that students agree that learning with laptops would improve students' learning in the cognitive (knowledge) and psychomotor (practice) domains.
Hasan S¸eker and Sevki Ko¨mu¨r in 2008 were done a study which aimed at investigating the relationship between critical thinking skills and in-class questioning behaviors of English Language Teaching (ELT) students at the Faculty of Education at Mugla University. The findings of this study revealed that the students in the higher score group experienced thinking processes more intensively than the lower score group.
Recently, Churches (2008) updated the revised Bloom's taxonomy to modify behaviors and actions that implemented with digital learning. In Bloom's digital taxonomy, collaboration has been added as an factor that supports the learning process. In other words, he presented the Bloom's Digital Taxonomy with a set of rubrics that each of these leads the usage of a digital learning technology in order to achieve Bloom's learning levels.
In 2010, Alyson Simpson conducted a classroom-based research to investigate the premise that an information and communication technology (ICT) project where children read books and then use email communication to exchange responses with other learners will support critical thinking. Improvements in critical thinking were measured using linguistic analysis. Although there were gains in critical thinking, there was little student engagement with technology and the discussion problematised the integration of technology in the classroom through a repositioning of collaboration in a blended learning context known as book raps.
Ertmer, Sadaf and J. Ertmer in 2011 examined the relationships among question types and levels and students' subsequent responses/interactions in online discussion forums and the results of their research supported the hypothesis that questions at the higher levels of Bloom's taxonomy facilitate higher levels of students' responses.
A study was done by El-Ghalayini in 2011, which presented a systematic design process for developing blended courses for undergraduate higher education. The instructional design process for e-learning was on the basis of instructional design theories and utilized three taxonomies: Bloom Taxonomy, Redeker Taxonomy and Guerra scale. It was found out that all the different design methodologies try to provide a set of activities or guidelines that address all or part of these decision making process to ensure the quality and/or the cost of the final product. The meta-cognitive criteria is less likely to be achieved by undergraduate learners.
Birjandi and Alizadeh were developed a survey in 2013 to investigate the extent to which the books employed for Teaching English as Foreign Language include critical thinking skills. a seventy two-item critical thinking checklist based on Likert-scale and consisting of twelve skills; namely, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation, deduction, induction, balanced-thinking, multiple perspective-taking, creative thinking, building community of thinkers, and knowledge. However, the target skills on the checklist were mainly based on Bloom's taxonomy. The paper discussed the lack of critical thinking in the classroom and materials and proposes some ways to include more critical thinking skills in the materials.
2.1.2. California Critical Thinking Skills Test
An appropriate assessment program will contribute to learner growth and development, resulting in increased competence, self knowledge, self esteem, and confidence (Allen, et al., 1985).
Before 1880s, there were many debates on definitions of critical thinking as there were authors on the subject. In 1987, in order to delineate a clear consensus definition of critical thinking, the Committee on Pre-College Philosophy of the American Philosophical Society (APS) began investigating into the establishing of critical thinking definition and its assessment. A facilitator conducted an anonymous, two-year intercommunication between 46 critical thinking experts in the fields of philosophy, psychology, and education. They were from different parts of the world, across the United States and Canada. They could achieve the first consensus definition, and this research has been called the Delphi Report (Facione, 1990).
On the other hand, critical thinking skills are crucial for each human and society as well, therefore, establishing a proper test to assess critical thinking is a significant task (Ennis, 1993). There are many tests available and there are also many ways to assess critical thinking skills, such as: standardized tests, locally developed tests, portfolios, essays, and competence/ performance assessment. In Ennis' view (1993), almost all of standardized critical thinking skills tests are with a format of multiple choices which are preferable for institutions in terms of cost, efficiency; and time. However, he noted that more researches and development in this area are needed.
Before the Delphi Project, based on different theoretical constructs, there were only three tests available for assessing critical thinking skills at the college level (Facione and Facione, 1994). California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) developed in 1990 by Peter Facione, used the Delphi definition of critical thinking as its conceptual framework (Facione & Facione, 1994). An objectively scored standardized instrument that assesses the cognitive skills dimension of critical thinking. It is a 45- minute multiple choice test with 34 items. There are an overall critical thinking score and five sub-scores can gain from CCTST, and can be used for post-test only or pretest-posttest designs (California Academic Press, 1996b, 1996c).
Technical studies have been completed on construct, content, and concurrent validity, item discrimination and difficulty, and reliability (P. A. Facione, 1991).
Facione and Facione, (1994) implied that increasing the length of the CCTST to increase reliability would affect its ability to be given during a typical class period. It would also likely cause increased mental fatigue due to the difficulty of the questions and result in decreased reliability estimates. Hence, no reliabilities are given for the subscale scores (Jacobs, 1995). In addition, it is worthy to note (CCTST) does not make distinction unfairly between gender, ethnicity, level of critical thinking confidence, and major (P. A. Facione, 1991). The alpha reliability is estimated at .71 (Jacobs, 1995).
From one hand, the test manual declares that the two forms (A and B) are statistically equivalent and the same for practical purposes (California Academic Press, 1996c). On the other hand, Jacobs (1995) indicated that a study of 1,383 students at a large university found no significant difference on the unchanged items and a significant difference in means for Form A and B, with form B being more difficult than form A and it shows how critical thinking is highly contextually sensitive.
Construct validity is supported in validation studies by small but significant gains in pretest-posttest scores in experimental groups after a critical thinking course was taken. Controls did not make the same gains (Facione & Facione, 1994).
These gains were only between 0.04 and 1.45 in mean scores, but they were statistically significant for the large samples used (McMorris, 1995). This may explain why significant changes are not seen in many of the smaller scale studies.
However, more psychometric research is required to permit widespread use of CCTST in order to investigate the areas where the test is strong or weak.
Raykovich (2000) conducted a study to determine whether the California Critical Thinking skills test discriminate between first semester students' and forth semester students' critical thinking. Results of this study indicated that significant gains in the CCTST total score were observed in the case group.
Stein et al. (2003) were done a survey in Tennessee Technological University to explore methods of assessing critical thinking skills as part of a performance funding initiative since 2000. American College Test (ACT) and the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) were utilized as the assessment tools. The initial test demonstrated good face validity and high criterion validity when correlated with scores on both (ACT) and (CCTST).
In Iran, Khalili and Hossein Zadeh (2003) investigated the reliability, validity and norm of CCTST Form B. on 405 BSN nursing students of Nursing Faculties located in Tehran. The findings showed that the questions of test is sufficiently reliable as a research tool, and all subscales measure a single construct, Critical Thinking, and are able to distinguish the persons with different levels of critical thinking.
Husband (2006) employed the CCTST assessment tool on a computer
information technology unit of instruction to investigate the effectiveness of critical thinking teaching methodologies. The study concluded that the mean scores from the post-test were not significantly higher than the pre-test mean scores.
In 2008, Yang and Chou investigated the relationship between critical thinking skills and dispositions and the effectiveness of different levels of online instructional strategy. Findings presented that the enhancement in critical thinking skills reinforced critical thinking dispositions, but the improvement in critical thinking dispositions did not increase the level of critical thinking skills.
Cotter and Tally in 2009 examined the effectiveness of the critical thinking exercises on critical thinking skills. It was revealed that the critical thinking assignments did not have a positive effect on either formal operational thought or critical thinking skills.
Dehghani et al. (2011) conducted a descriptive-correlation study aimed to consider the relationship between students' self-efficacy and critical thinking in Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran. The results revealed a significantly positive relationship between students' self-efficacy and critical thinking.
2.2 Ex Reading and Critical Thinking
Many researchers have emphasized the importance of including extensive reading in foreign language curricula (Day & Bamford, 1998; Grabe, 1995; Krashen, 1982)
Extensive reading is an approach to second language (L2) reading instruction and aims to make covering large amounts of reading material enjoyable for learners, as Day & Bamford, (1998) believe; reading gain without reading pain. It also needs to note that upon examination of Bamford's (2000) annotated bibliography on ER, one quickly discovers that a good number of ER programs use simplified books or graded readers as the basic reading material (Day and Bamford, 1988).
A number of experimental and quasi-experimental studies have been conducted to examine the effectiveness of ER and to provide support for the use of ER in second language (ESL) and EFL settings. ER studies have shown that their participants improved in areas such as reading comprehension, expanding vocabulary knowledge, and enhancing writing skills and Many English as a foreign language (EFL) researchers (e.g., Camiciottoli, 2001; Day & Bamford, 1998; Krashen, 1982; Mason & Krashen, 1997; Robb & Susser, 1989; Yamashita, 2004) have suggested ER as a good strategy to improve reading proficiency, and a large number of studies (e.g., Elley & Mangubhai, 1981; Greenberg, Rodrigo, Berry, Brinck & Joseph, 2006; Hafiz & Tudor, 1990; Lai, 1993) have confirmed its effectiveness in building linguistic competence (e.g., reading ability, vocabulary, writing and spelling skills). Numerous classroom activities using graded readers have also been described (e.g., Bamford & Day, 2004; Nakanishi, 2005).
On the other hand, In order to learn English successfully, EFL learners not only need to acquire the four macro skills writing, but also need to develop critical analytical skills.
Traditionally, among the four macro skills, the educational emphasis has predominantly been on the acquisition of productive skills. The importance of receptive skills, and the development of critical skills, has most often been neglected in the context of EFL settings; accordingly, there has been less space to develop critical thinking among learners.
Reading is a medium that a teacher use to foster learners' critical thinking and lots of the textbooks include assignments and activities purported to tap into critical thinking skills.
Distinguishing among four types of reading, it can be said that extensive reading (ER) is one of the most beneficial, since it promotes the development of critical thinking.
This means critical thinking is an important skill ESL students need to develop from extensive reading materials which are books of their pleasure to become analytical and conscious people about the environment that surrounds them. Learners need to think about the materials they read and use their own conceptualizations and learners can learn to agree or disagree with the texts they have read in order to express their points of view.
Previous studies on the effects of extensive reading (text-based and online materials) had adopted various research designs, but few provide implication for the effect of extensive reading on critical thinking skills. The focus of the present study is on the relationship between ER and critical thinking.
With the advent of technology and its consequent impact on stylistics literary studies, the quality of teaching and learning in language classrooms has been enhanced. An attempt has been made to integrate computers, the Internet and computer-aided program as tools in language classrooms to facilitate the teaching and learning.
The most important goal of modern pedagogy is to help learners go beyond the lower order cognitive skills to the higher order thinking ones, including application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation (Bloom et al.,1956). These skills are necessary for learners to analyze, evaluate, synthesize, use critical insight, be creative, work collaboratively, solve problems, and direct their own learning (Romiszowski, 1996). In order to obtain mastery of these skills, teachers need to provide learning environments that are learner-centered, authentic, problem-based and collaborative.
With increasing number of research, the beneficial effects of (online) computer-assisted programs on language learning have emerged. They have intended to support the pedagogical concerns in the classrooms.
Among the modern teaching aids, concordancers characterized as computer-based programs became available in the 1980s and a number of studies have been conducted to provide empirical evidence to the effectiveness of corpora concordancing in language classrooms (Hadley, 2000; Ilse, 1991; Lee & Liou, 2003; Someya, 2000; St. John, 2001) and important developments began in the 1990s, starting with publications advocating the use of corpora and concordances in language teaching (Tribble & Jones, 1990). Concordancers provide a list of frequency occurrences in a pre-selected corpus and involve displaying the defined items within the current context. They search for occurrences of a given word, part of a word, combination of words, a punctuation mark, affix, or a phrase or structure within a given text corpus to show its immediate context (Granger, 1998; Biber, Conrad & Reppen, 1998).
Through this, learners can develop their ability to observe, to speculate and to identify patterns in the target language (Johns, 1988). In addition, the output of concordancer searches and presents learners with authentic, actual choices that language users make and allows them to explore and discover ordinary patterns of word or sentence usage in various styles. Therefore, the capability of contextual inference can be substantially enhanced by providing multiple contexts for a given word with the aid of a computer system (Cobb, 1997, 1999).
As a result, concordances have been used for a range of purposes. By using concordancers, the learners can explore features of target language independently, including rules of grammar, the usage in different context, and lexical attributes. This, consequently, leads to data-driven learning (DDL) (e.g. Johns, 1994). By this pedagogical approach, learners are research workers, who discover and analyze rules and patterns embedded in the data rather than implementing rule application exercises or following a spoon feeding approach.
Prior studies have shown that a DDL approach creates a learner-centered learning atmosphere in which learners are involved in exploratory concordance-based tasks to expand their language experience (Biber, Conrad, & Reppen, 1998). Furthermore, they can discover the underlying language patterns on their own, and thus they become active participants in the learning process (Brown, 2001; Johns, 1997; Sun, 1999). Therefore, the data-driven approach using concordance software stimulates the learners' analytical capacities, improves their explicit knowledge of target language, advances critical language awareness, and supports the development of learner autonomy.
Moreover, learners themselves also show positive reactions to DDL and using concordancer due to their growing consciousness of descriptive rather than prescriptive language (Chambers, 2005; Yeh, Liou, & Li, 2007). Accordingly, equipped with Language Awareness (Hawkins, 1987, Wolff, 1992), Consciousness-raising (Sharwood-Smith, 1981, Rutherford, 1987) and Critical Thinking (Astleitner, 2002; Facione, 2007; Paul, 1995) through concordancer, learners change static information from the vast amount of different available linguistic features into dynamic output to formulate the language rules in their own performance.
Several studies have been carried out to evaluate the potential of using concordancer and explore approaches to integrate concordancing tools into language learning and teaching (Chen, 2000; Cobb, 1997; Conrad, 1999; Flowerdew, 1993; Turnbull & Burston, 1998). Besides, several studies were conducted to investigate the efficacy of concordances in EFL classroom (Sripicharn, 2003; Boulton, 2008).
In Todd's (2001) study, a class of college students consulted a web-based corpus to help with their self-corrections of lexical errors. The results showed that these students were able to induce valid patterns from their self-selected concordances and to make valid self-corrections of their errors.
Gabel, in 2001, conducted a research in which focused on another possibility of applying concordancers, namely a comparative study aiming at insights into the learners' interlanguage (IL) and examined the over-indulgence and under-representation of linguistic features in the language use of advanced German EFL students. It was concluded that learners benefited because they tried to bridge the gap between their own performance and that of native speakers.
In addition, in Malaysia, the study carried out by Daud and Husin (2004) indicated the potential of a literary text, Othello, and a concordancer in developing and enhancing critical thinking ability and the findings revealed that there is a significant difference between the experimental and control groups in their critical thinking ability.
In 2003, Sun conducted a study that endeavored to implement reading program , Extensive Reading Online (ERO), featuring specific needs for EFL learners in Taiwan. He utilized concordancer, stage-by-stage reading strategy training, and text annotation functions. As the results, students held a positive attitude toward the reading system. Again, in the same year, Sun worked on a case study by three Taiwanese college students which conducted the learning process in the concordancer setting. During undertaking a proofreading activity, a web-based concordancer assisted the participants. Four factors evolved the results and learners' learning process: (1) prior knowledge, (2) cognitive skills, (3) teacher intervention and (4) concordancer skills.
Concordancer is also beneficial in the acquisition of vocabulary (Cobb, 1997; Zahar et al.,2001). In addition, the second language vocabulary knowledge includes chunks, such as collocations or idioms (Nation, 2001). Much of the research on concordancers has focused on grammar and collocation learning. It is believed that collocational knowledge is difficult to acquire for language learners (church et.al., 1991 ) and it's especially effective for sentence generation (Smadja & Mckeown,1990). Sun and Wang (2003), with a class of eleventh grade students in Taiwan, examined the effect of concordancing on learning grammatical collocations and they found the inductive group significantly outperformed deductive group in the proofreading task. Similarly, Lee and Liou (2003) probed into the effect of students as corpus researchers by assessing and comparing the lexical performance of students and the results showed that concordancer searching was beneficial to students who employed inductive learning strategies. In the field of collocation, in 2005, Chan and Liou carried out a study to explore the impact of using five web-based practice units on English verb-noun collocations with the aid of a web-based Chinese-English bilingual concordancer. Results indicated that learners improved significantly after the online practice at once but regressed later. Moreover the online instructional units with utilizing the concordancer were acceptable to most learners.
In the context of ESL learners, Horst et al. (2005) blended the use of a concordance, a dictionary, a cloze-builder, a hypertext, and a database with interactive self-quizzing features in several academic English courses and evaluated the effects of the tools and activities on 150 students. The findings evidenced the learning gains provided support for vocabulary learning. Webb and Kagimoto (2011), examined the effects of three factors (the number of collocates per node word, the position of the node word, synonymy) on learning collocations. The results revealed that more collocations were learned as the number of collocates per node word increased, the position of the node word did not affect learning, and synonymy had a negative effect on learning.
Additionally, few studies have addressed issues concerning the enhancement of learners' writing skills. In this regard, Yeh, Liou and Li (2007) carried out another research under the title of online synonym materials and concordancing for EFL college writing. They addressed overused adjectives by non-native speaking learners by aid of a bilingual collocation concordancer, TANGO. The findings showed that, not only they improved in the immediate posttest, but also students' word knowledge for synonym use was retained as measured two months later in the delayed posttest. Moreover, in the post-instruction writing task, students avoided using general adjectives, tried to apply more specific items to improve their overall writing quality. Sun (2007) also examined the effects that the learner variables had on participants' perception of the online Scholarly Writing Template (SWT). The results of the study showed that the template had different effects on students' scholarly writing processes and use of strategy. Indeed, students held a positive attitude towards the scholarly writing template.
Besides, concordancers allow language learners to engage in learning more actively and to search for linguistic patterns by directly exploring computerized corpora and concordancers, in other words, concordancers can be used as the key tools in the data-driven learning (DDL) approach. By computer-based DDL approach, learners can search the corpora with the help of a concordancer. In Iran, Tabriz, Jafarpour and Koosha (2007) studied concordancing materials presented through data-driven learning approach and the findings showed that the data-driven approach is highly effective in the teaching and learning collocation of prepositions.
Another study in Taiwan explored the DDL approach using concordance compiling software in teaching of J. K. Rowling's uses of the preposition in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by Lee (2009) which expressed data-driven learning is helpful for students both in preparing for their exams and also for their general English acquisition.
In 2011, Chen undertook a research to determine if the new tool, WebCollocate, which is based on a large part of speech-tagged Gutenberg corpus could promote the DDL approach and facilitate the searching of collocations. The results indicated that the students who used the WebCollocate tool found more proper English collocates.
And Thanh (2010), in Netherland, designed a survey to examine the effect of concordancing and scaffolding in developing learners' knowledge of lexical collocations. This study revealed that scaffolding did not make a significant difference in terms of the students' ability to identify (mis)collocations but concordancing produced significant effects on the subjects' overall performance in lexical collocation.
Further, in the field of translation, bilingual concordancers are one the most widely used computer-assisted translation tools amongst translators. Bourdaillet et al. (2011) studied the improvement of the commercial bilingual concordancer, TransSearch, in order to embed a word alignment feature. The results gained using a large translation memory comprising of 8.3 million sentence pairs were verified by human evaluation.
Most of the above-mentioned studies have been done with different ESL or EFL learners at different levels of proficiency. Holec (1990) and Hadley (2002) claimed that concordancing might be relevant to advanced learners only as those of lower levels do not have enough linguistic resources and analytical skills to cope with authentic data. In this regard, this study aims to introduce learners who are at the same level of proficiency and in a homogenous class as intermediate level. Otherwise, concerns regarding difficulties in comprehending and extracting information from language examples will be prevalent in language classrooms (Sun, 2003).
On the other hand, the studies show that concordancing-based treatments could be beneficial for English learning. Although, other studies have examined the effects of concordancing on various aspects of language learning. Yet few previous studies have examined the impact of concordancing on the learning of reading skill. Therefore, it may be beneficial to design concordance-based materials with the aim of developing learners' reading skills through concordance-based extensive reading.
Using different authentic stories instead of working on one literary text will encourage learners to be involved with different characters and genres and will possibly make a more optimum use of concordancer searches. In other words, learning can be driven by authentic language data (Johns 1991a, Johns 1991b).
Since a few studies have been carried out to address the proficiency of reading skill by aid of computer-based program, concordancer, the present study seeks to explore the impact of computer-assisted extensive reading instruction on EFL learners' reading comprehension.