Theses Doctoral

The effectiveness of inserted strategy questions on elementary students' comprehension of well-structured and less-structured expository text

Ordynans, Jill Goodman

The present research examined the effects of inserted strategy questions (ISQs) and structured text on fifth grade students' comprehension of expository text passages that presented the cause/effect text structure at the sentence level (least complex) and at the paragraph level (more complex). Two studies were conducted to investigate this relationship. In the first study, an independent factorial design was utilized with two between-subjects variables (ISQs and structured text). Based on the positive findings from the first study, a second study was conducted that added a within-subjects variable (cause/effect complexity). A total of 48 fifth-grade students in the first study and 95 fifth-grade students in the second study were asked to read expository text passages that presented the cause/effect structure at both the sentence level and the paragraph level. Students were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: (1) ISQs present with well-structured text; (2) ISQs absent with well-structured text; (3) ISQs present with less-structured text; or (4) ISQs absent with less-structured text.
In both studies, the effectiveness of ISQs and well-structured text was measured by performance on a written summary task. For the second study, a comprehension questions task was added. Analyses of variance (ANOVA) were carried out to analyze the data. In the first study, main effects of ISQs and structured text were found on the written summary, as was an interaction between these two factors when the cause/effect structure was presented at the more complex level. In the second study, main effects of ISQs, structured text, and cause/effect complexity were found on the written summary task, but not for the comprehension question task. While the interaction between these three factors did not reach conventional significance on the written summary task, the relationship was investigated further due to our findings from the first study.
Taken together, these results suggest that both ISQs and well-structured text improve students' comprehension of expository social studies passages; however, the effect is greatest when both factors are combined, especially when the text is more complex. Suggestions for extending this work and pedagogical implications based on these findings are discussed.


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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
March 20, 2014