Academic Commons

Theses Doctoral

Effects of Teaching Text Structure in Science Text Reading: A Study Among Chinese Middle School Students

Cheng, Rong

The purpose of this study was to determine whether teaching students about the structure of a text would be associated with improved reading comprehension. Science texts were used with the intention of adding to what is known about content-area reading comprehension. To investigate the effects of teaching science text structure, a reading comprehension program called Comprehending Science Texts with Structure (CSTS) was developed and tested using an true experimental design. Importantly, the study was conducted in China with Mandarin-speaking students, with whom there has been a great shortage of reading research. The CSTS program is a 15-lesson reading comprehension program designed to teach middle school students how to comprehend science texts by using three text structure strategies, namely asking generic questions (GQs), using graphic organizers (GOs), and summary writing (SW). A total of 88 sixth grade students participated in this study and were randomly assigned to either the CSTS intervention group or the content-only control group. After the completion of the CSTS program, students’ text structure knowledge and reading comprehension were measured using researcher-designed measures of the comprehension of both science and generic text. The generic text was used in order to investigate near-transfer effects. Far transfer was measured post-intervention through the use of two standardized reading tests, one taken from a state assessment and the other from the PISA reading test. Results from multivariate analyses of covariance indicated that, overall, students in the treatment group significantly outperformed their counterparts in the control group after controlling for pretest reading skill and science knowledge. Specifically, students who received the CSTS intervention showed significant acquisition of science texts structure knowledge and also significantly outperformed the controls in the comprehension of science texts. The results also demonstrated the near-transfer effects of the CSTS from science texts to generic texts; here, students in the treatment group significantly gained generic text structure knowledge and also significantly outperformed the controls in the comprehension of generic texts significant. A far-transfer effect, however, was not found, as the two groups did not show a statistically significant difference in performance on the post-test standardized reading comprehension tests.


  • thumnail for Cheng_columbia_0054D_15283.pdf Cheng_columbia_0054D_15283.pdf application/pdf 1.4 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Cognitive Studies in Education
Thesis Advisors
Perin, Dolores
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 5, 2019