Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2021

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Successful reading comprehension in a second language (L2) involves the interaction of multiple factors during the complex process of reading. For some time, researchers have been exploring factors associated with the process of reading as well as the specific interventions and strategies that may facilitate comprehension (Bernhardt, 2010; Brantmeier, 2005; Koda, 2005; Grabe, 2009). Based on three empirical studies, this dissertation explores the potential use of text adjuncts, which are text-related comprehension questions designed for L2 readers to consider and answer during the reading process, to facilitate L2 reading comprehension. The impact of different assessment tasks used to measure comprehension is also specifically examined given the test-method effect for L2 readers (Brantmeier, 2005; Lim, 2019; Wolf, 1993). The first study explores the effects of different types of text adjuncts (What, Why and Example Generation) on L2 English reading comprehension among seventy-eight Chinese university students, controlling for first language (L1) reading ability. The second study examines the effect of a combination of text adjuncts (What and Why) on L2 English reading comprehension among fifty-four Chinese university students, controlling for L1 reading ability, L2 language knowledge and background knowledge. This study also includes L2 readers’ perception of text adjuncts through qualitative analysis. The third study examines the effect of a combination of text adjuncts (What and Why) on L2 Chinese reading comprehension among thirty-seven L2 Chinese learners at college level, controlling for L1 reading ability and L2 language knowledge. In the three studies, the following assessment tasks were used to measure L2 reading comprehension: free written recall, short-answer questions, sentence completion and multiple-choice questions. Across the studies, text adjuncts were found to facilitate L2 reading comprehension measured by short-answer questions and sentence completion task, both of which are open-ended comprehension questions requiring readers to coherently construct a response given certain retrieval cues. Text adjuncts, however, did not facilitate comprehension measured by free written recall or multiple-choice questions. Based on the findings, this dissertation discusses the complexity of L2 reading comprehension, the potential underlying influence of text adjuncts and the cognitive complexity of different comprehension assessment tasks. Corresponding pedagogical implications for a comprehensive L2 reading curriculum are presented.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Cindy C. Brantmeier

Committee Members

Odis O. Johnson, Michael M. Strube, Joe J. Barcroft, John J. Baugh,