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Examining a Year-Long Intervention Program to Teach Expository Text Structure Within Social Studies Content to Second-Grade Students

Kao, Jenny C.

The purpose of this study was to confirm and extend previous findings on the direct instruction of expository text structure using social studies content for second-grade students. A total of 16 classrooms (N = 258) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: Text Structure (TS) Program, Content-Only (CO) Program, or No Treatment (Control) group. The TS Program consisted of five units, with each unit focusing on one text structure (sequence, compare-contrast, cause-effect, description, and problem-solution) and on one historical community (Native Americans, Colonists, Pioneers, Immigrants, modern urban residents). Students in TS learned strategies for reading and closely analyzing well-structured text: clue words, strategy questions, and graphic organizers. Other activities included trade book reading and summary writing. Students in the CO Program studied the same five historical communities, read the same trade books, closely read the same well-structured texts, and also wrote summaries, but did not explicitly learn about the text structure or its related strategies. Results from two-level hierarchical linear modeling analyses indicated that students in TS significantly outperformed the other two groups in Comprehension Written Summary measures (main idea, structure statements) in both the end-of-unit tests given immediately after each unit and in the posttest given at the very end of the year-long program. Students in TS also significantly outperformed the other two groups in some Comprehension Transfer measures (sentence completion, main idea questions and paragraph structure identification questions). Students in TS also showed some transfer to comprehending authentic text. TS outperformed the control group in structure-related comprehension questions, but did not outperform the CO group, although the overall pattern of results across the three conditions was the same as that of the other measures. Additional analyses showed some potential benefits of the program for students with initially low reading comprehension skills. Results also suggest that text structure lessons can be simultaneously taught within social studies without reducing acquisition of content knowledge, since there were no significant differences between TS and CO on content outcome measures, and both groups outperformed the control group.


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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 12, 2015