The purpose of this study was to compare the effectiveness of two different presentations of graphic organizers on recalling information from compare/contrast text which is a kind of expository text in intellectually disabled students. The first presentation included graphic organizers which were presented before reading whereas in the second presentation students were asked to fill the graphic organizer after reading. Five students with mild intellectual disabilities attending a special education classroom in an elementary school located in Ankara were participated in the study. An alternating treatment design was employed to assess differentiated effectiveness of the presentations of graphic organizers. The results of the study showed that four students reported that filling graphic organizers after reading was more effective on improving their ability to recall the similarities and differences of comparison concepts depicted in the compare/contrast texts. However, one student displayed more improvements on recalling the similarities in compare/contrast texts when provided with graphic organizers before reading. Yet, there were no differences between the presentations in improving the student's ability to recall the differences. Both presentations were equally effective for the student. The results of the study were discussed and suggestions for future research were provided.
Graphic Organizer, Recall, Expository Text, Students with Intellectual Disabilities, Elementary School.
Comprehending and recalling information from expository texts is a complex ability for majority of the students. Expository text contains various text structures according to the characteristics of the information provided in the text. The most commonly used structures of expository texts are the sequence, compare/contrast, description, listing, problem solving and cause-effect (Anderson & Armbruster, 1984; Meyer, Brandt, & Bluth, 1980).
Research has shown that students with intellectual disabilities experience problems in information encoding process, organizing verbal information, recalling information from the memory (Kellas, Ashcraft, & Johnson, 1973; Spitz, 1966; Wong, 1978) and retaining verbal and written information due to their limited memory capacity (Spitz, 1966). Because of such mental characteristics of the students with intellectual disabilities, the retention of information contained in the expository texts becomes more difficult for these students. Evidence has suggested that using various scaffolding and structuring tool are useful in helping students with learning problems overcome such difficulties (Bos & Anders, 1990; Bos, Anders, Filip, & Jaffe, 1989; Darch & Carnine, 1986; Gajria, Jitendra, Sood, & Sacks, 2007). Perhaps the most commonly used instructional tool is graphic organizers in structuring learning by scaffolding student learning.
Graphic organizers are developed based on the Cognitive Theory of Ausubel (1968). Ausubel argued that an individual's existing knowledge or cognitive structure, is a major variable in learning new materials, and in a content area. He hypoth- esized that new meanings are acquired only when they are related to previous learned information. If the previous learning is gained in a certain structure and is clearly organized, it can be combined with newly acquired knowledge. Ausubel introduces to use advance organizers for the development of this process. Further research was conducted on the effectiveness of Ausubel's theoretical work. On the basis of Ausubel's theory, providing prerequisite information regarding new materials by using graphic organizers which include spatial and visual arrangements depicting the structure of information was examined in the literature (Alvermann, 1981; Darch & Carnine, 1986; Darch, Carnine, & Kameenui, 1986; Hawk, 1986). Graphic organizers are defined as visual or graphic displays that show visual interrelationships of superordinate and subordinate ideas using spatial arrangements, geometric shapes, lines, and arrows to portray the content structure and demonstrate key relationships between concepts (Darch et al. …