Actualidades Investigativas en Educación ISSN electrónico: 1409-4703

Graphic organizers as a teaching strategy for improved comprehension of argumentative texts in English

Palabras clave

reading comprehension
visual representation

Cómo citar

Vargas Vásquez, J. M., & Zúñiga Coudin, R. (2018). Graphic organizers as a teaching strategy for improved comprehension of argumentative texts in English. Actualidades Investigativas En Educación, 18(2).


The University of Costa Rica seeks to prepare students for understanding academic texts in English by requiring reading comprehension courses in numerous degree programs. In this context, this paper aimed to assess the effectiveness of graphic organizers as a strategy to promote reading comprehension by focusing on the identification of rhetorical functions in argumentative texts. The paper followed an explanatory-sequential design within a mixed-methods approach with a group of 20 students at the Western Branch of UCR. To apply the strategy, three argumentative texts and their corresponding graphic organizers were used. The data consisted of performance scores and of answers to questionnaires. After the cycle of applications, the results showed a gradual improvement in the identification of rhetorical functions, particularly of arguments and counterarguments. Support for the author’s arguments, rebuttals to counterarguments, and the author’s overall claim were slightly more difficult to identify. The participants found graphic organizers helpful to better understand the parts of an argument in a text and its overall organization. At the same time, they found that the lack of explicit discourse markers and of familiarity with the content made understanding the connections between rhetorical functions difficult in spite of the help provided by the organizers. The study concluded that repeated implementation of graphic organizers has a positive impact on reading comprehension by helping students to read more strategically. However, accompanying strategies such as summarizing and discriminating main ideas from supporting details are necessary to complement the work with graphic organizers and improve their effectiveness.


An, Shuying. (2013). Schema Theory in Reading. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 3(1), 130-134.

Barrantes, Daniela. (2015). Effectiveness of the Use of Graphic Organizers and Summaries: A Case Study of Adult EFL Students in a Reading Comprehension Course. Revista de Lenguas Modernas, (22), 267-295.

Coburn, Daniel. (2003). Using graphic organizers. Science Scope, 27(1), 46-48.

Creswell, John. (2014). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Egan, Margaret. (1999). Reflections on effective use of graphic organizers. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 42(8), 641-645.

Ghaemi, Farid, and Fakhraee, Laleh (2011). Connectionist models: Implications in second Language acquisition. BRAIN. Broad Research in Artificial Intelligence and Neuroscience, 2(3), 45-51.

Gill, Sharon. (2008). The comprehension matrix: A tool for designing comprehension instruction. The Reading Teacher, 62(2), 106-113.

Larson, Meredith, Britt, M. Anne, and Larson, Aaron. (2004). Disfluencies in comprehending argumentative texts. Reading Psychology, 25(3), 205-224.

Merkley, Donna, & Jefferies, Debra. (2000). Guidelines for implementing a graphic organizer. The Reading Teacher, 54(4), 350-357.

Moreira, Yamileth. (2016). Teaching English reading strategies to students of other majors at the University of Costa Rica. Revista de Lenguas Modernas, (24), 275-293.

Newell, George., Beach, Richard, Smith, Jamie., and VanDerHeide, Jennifer. (2011). Teaching and learning argumentative reading and writing: A review of research. Reading Research Quarterly, 46(3), 273-304.

Nuttall, Christine. (2000). Teaching reading skills in a foreign language. Thailand: Macmillan Education.

Praveen, Sam, & Premalatha, Rajan. (2013). Using graphic organizers to improve reading comprehension skills for the middle school ESL students. English Language Teaching. 6(2), 155-170.

Reznitskaya, Alina, Anderson, Richard, and Kuo, Lit-Jen. (2007). Teaching and learning argumentation. The Elementary School Journal, 107(5), 449-472.

Saville-Troike, Muriel. (2006). Introduction to second language acquisition. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Solé, Maira. (2007). Consideraciones didácticas para la aplicación de estrategias de lectura. Actualidades Investigativas en Educación, 7(3), 1-15. DOI 10.15517/aie.v7i3.9280

Weida, Stacy, and Stolley, Karl. (2017). Organizing your argument. Retrieved from

Zúñiga, Juan. (2015). El apoyo al estudio independiente en un curso de comprensión de lectura con "Hot Potatoes". Revista de Lenguas Modernas, (22), 317-334.


Creative Commons License

Esta obra está bajo una licencia internacional Creative Commons Atribución-NoComercial-SinDerivadas 4.0.

Derechos de autor 2018 Actualidades Investigativas en Educación


Los datos de descargas todavía no están disponibles.


Cargando métricas ...