The effects of strategy instruction on the comprehension performance of at-risk students

The study examined the effects of two interventions on improving student reading comprehension. The first intervention was strategy instruction. In this condition, students were taught how to strategically use their knowledge of text structure including making predictions, identification of main characters, identifying the central problem of a story, and identifying the resolution to a problem. Students were taught to note key words and were asked to make story maps for each passage that they read. The intervention lasted for five weeks. The second intervention used was story content instruction, in which story maps and prepared scripts (about key vocabulary, concepts, and related ideas) were used. Students in the comparison group used a basal reading program. The study included 67 students (39 fifth-graders and 28 sixth-graders) from high-average, average, low-average, and Chapter 1 classes in an elementary school in a large U.S. city. All students were considered at risk. Forty-five percent were minority, 67% were from low socioeconomic status families (as measured by eligibility for free or reduced cost lunch), and slightly over half of the students' scores were in the lowest quartile on the reading portion of the Stanford Achievement Test. Study data was collected at immediate comprehension post-test (following instruction), immediate comprehension post-test (independent), delayed comprehension post-test (following instruction), and delayed comprehension post-test (independent). The strategy instruction group scored significantly higher than the story content group or the basal control group on the immediate post-tests. Overall, students also performed better on the delayed post-test than the immediate post-test. The strategy instruction group performed better on the independent tests than the other two groups, and the story content group improved significantly from immediate to delayed post-test. The story content group scored significantly better on the delayed post-tests than the basal control group.

Dole, J. A., Brown, K. J., & Trathen, W.
Reading Research Quarterly, 31(1), 62-88.
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Cost Range: 
Content Area: 
Grade Level: 
middle school
IDEA Disability Category: 
major-other health impairment
specific learning disability
Instructional Support: 
opportunities to learn concepts
practice and reinforcement activities