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Theses Doctoral

The Effect of Explicit Teaching of Comprehension Strategies on Reading Comprehension in Elementary School

Atkins, James Grant

This study investigated the effect of explicit teaching of comprehension strategies on the comprehension performance of elementary school students. Two schools with similar demographics, including a significant proportion of students at risk for reading failure, participated in the study. One school utilized an explicit comprehension strategy instruction program while the other school utilized traditional comprehension programs. A quasi-experimental mixed methods design was employed; standardized and researcher-developed pretests and posttests were administered and observations were conducted over a two-year period. Analyses of covariance that treated the pretests as covariates resulted in significant differences between the schools on several measures, but the overall results did not favor either school. Significantly more instances of explicit instruction were demonstrated by teachers using the explicit program than teachers using the traditional programs. Differences in the number of instances of explicit instruction were most substantial during the student practice and feedback sections of the lessons. Correlations between teacher explicitness scores and student achievement scores and a comparison of the achievement scores of high-explicit and low-explicit teachers (regardless of the school's program) did not demonstrate a significant relationship between explicit instruction and student performance. However, teachers using the explicit program for their second year demonstrated more explicit instruction than teachers using the program for their first year. Students in the second-year teachers' classrooms demonstrated superior performance on a passage comprehension assessment compared to students in the first-year teachers' classrooms. Also, a comparison of the students who had been exposed to the explicit program for two consecutive years and the students who had been exposed to the traditional program for two consecutive years found that second-grade students exposed to the explicit program outperformed their counterparts on most assessments. These results did not indicate an overall relationship between teacher explicitness and student performance. The results do indicate, however, that an explicit comprehension program can result in more explicit instruction in the classroom and that instances of explicit instruction increase when teachers have more experience teaching such a program. Moreover, there is evidence that among experienced teachers, there is a positive relationship between teacher explicitness and student performance.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Cognitive Studies in Education
Thesis Advisors
Williams, Joanna P.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 30, 2013
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