The effects of three instructional methods on the reading comprehension and content acquisition of novice readers
Stahl, Katherine A
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This study was designed to explore the effects of three instructional methods, the Directed Reading–Thinking Activity (Stauffer, 1969), KWL (Ogle, 1986), and picture walks (Clay, 1991; Fountas & Pinnell, 1996) on the reading comprehension and science content acquisition of novice readers. The participants were 31 second-graders with an instructional reading level that was approaching grade level. Each of 4 groups received each treatment. A replicated Latin Square, within subjects repeated measures design was employed that examined 4 Treatments: 3 intervention groups (DRTA, KWL, PW) and a Control group. The replicated Latin Square increased the validity of the design by increasing the number of groups and minimizing the chance for differential crossover. The primary analysis evaluated Treatment effects by conducting one-way repeated measures analyses of variance (ANOVA) on all measures using the group as the unit of analysis. A series of repeated measures pairwise and complex contrasts were used to address three research questions. Results indicated that the picture walk and DRTA yielded statistically significant effects on fluency as measured by a timed maze task. Analysis of Cued Recall indicated that the DRTA yielded statistically significant effects in reading comprehension and science content acquisition. KWL was motivational, but did not yield significant effects on measures of comprehension or content acquisition. There were no statistically significant differences for Treatment effects on measures of vocabulary and free recall. A secondary analysis, ANOVA for Text effects, indicated that the children possessed more knowledge about life science topics (spiders, insects) than physical science (water changing form). Student interviews provided evidence that the participants possessed declarative, procedural, and conditional knowledge of the strategic processes that are the foundation for the three interventions, activation of prior knowledge and prediction. However, the likelihood of the participants putting that knowledge to effective use seemed to be dependent upon the amount of teacher scaffolding provided by the instructional procedure. The components of DRTA, generating and justifying predictions, verifying predictions after reading, engaging students in a social context around a text, seemed to provide the necessary caffolding for facilitating the reading comprehension and science content cquisition in novice readers.