This study was performed to investigate the degree to which three different types of instructional procedure affected Thai EFL students’ main idea comprehension. In particular, it aimed to explore the combined effect of lexical cohesion and metacognitive strategy training on the improvement of students’ main idea performance. The participants of the study consisted of sixty undergraduate students at Kasetsart University in Thailand.
The students were randomly assigned to one of three teaching conditions over a 15-hour period. Treatments involved the use of lexical cohesion and metacognitive strategy training, metacognitive strategy training alone, and traditional skill-based instruction as a control.
The study included both quantitative and qualitative approaches. The main idea comprehension test was used to assess students’ performance on main idea comprehension. Think-aloud protocols and strategy interviews were employed to examine the strategy use during main idea processing. Post-intervention questionnaires were also applied in order to investigate the students’ attitudes towards the instructional procedures.
The research outcomes, on the whole, indicated that students receiving instructional treatment which incorporated lexical cohesion and metacognitive strategies outperformed participants in the other two groups on the main idea comprehension post-test although the results were not statistically significant. The findings suggested that the students’ enhancement in main idea comprehension was related to their integrative application of bottom-up, top-down, and metacognitive strategic processes. Both quantitative and qualitative results also revealed that the use of lexical relations played a significant role in helping EFL students establish mental representations of English reading passages.