Yanjie Li


Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2023

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Aiming to promote L2 learners’ academic success at the university level by cultivating strategic readers, this dissertation reported the findings of three original studies. With intermediate-advanced level Chinese EFL learners, the first two studies investigated working memory capacity (WMC) and reader interest as well as how these variables were associated with L2 reading strategy use during reading. Building on the findings of the first two studies, the third study, an intervention study, implemented five types of higher-order adjunct questions (AQs), which asked the participants to carry out five corresponding reading strategies during reading. This study examined whether answering these strategic AQs facilitated L2 reading comprehension and strategy use.An automated Operation Span Task was utilized to measure WMC (Unsworth et al., 2005) and Brantmeier’s (2006) source of interest questionnaire (SI) and perceived interest questionnaire (PI) were adapted to measure reader interest. For the assessment of reading strategy use, the first study employed verbal reports, including think-aloud protocols (Ericsson & Simon, 1993) and stimulated recall in the format of semi-structured interviews (Gass & Mackey, 2013). The second and third studies utilized a reading strategy survey adapted from Mokhtari & Sheorey’s (2002) survey of reading strategies (SORS) that had previously been adapted for foreign languages (e.g., Malcolm, 2009). Additionally, in each study, participants were required to read two academic texts and complete three comprehension tasks: free recall (FR), sentence completion (SC), and multiple-choice questions (MC). The analysis of both quantitative data (e.g., Pearson correlations, independent sample t-tests, paired sample t-tests, regressions) and qualitative data (e.g., the participants’ answers related to their perception of using strategic AQs) was used in the dissertation. Some of the major findings include (1) L2 readers of smaller WMC favored bottom-up strategies that target the decoding process (e.g., word-level understanding), whereas those with a larger WMC tended to not only use more types of and a greater variety of reading strategies, but also employed more top-down strategies that felicitate readers’ holistic comprehension of the texts (e.g., summarizing); (2) reading strategy use was significantly associated with L2 reading comprehension, but at this stage of acquisition, reader interest did not make any meaningful contribution; (3) The task of answering strategic AQs may negatively impact readers’ performance on FR, but its potentially beneficial impact was confirmed by the participants’ performance on SC and MC tasks when the quality of their answers to the AQs was considered as well as by participants’ positive reflection on answering strategic AQs while reading.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Cindy Brantmeier

Committee Members

Mark Hogrebe, Michael Strube, Mitchell Sommers, Rowhea Elmesky,

Available for download on Saturday, April 12, 2025