Academic journal article International Journal of Education

The Effect of Explicit Reading Strategy Instruction on Reading Comprehension of Upper Primary Grade Students

Academic journal article International Journal of Education

The Effect of Explicit Reading Strategy Instruction on Reading Comprehension of Upper Primary Grade Students

Article excerpt

Abstract

This article describes a quasi-experimental study that adopted a pre-test-post-test design with a control group to examine the effect of an explicit reading strategy instruction on students' reading comprehension. Two intact eighth grade classes were randomly assigned into an experimental (n=33) and a control (n=32) condition. The experimental class was explicitly taught to use REAP reading strategy for 10 lessons, and students' reading comprehension progress during each lesson was evaluated. The control class was taught using the regular method of teaching reading for 10 lessons, and their reading comprehension progress in each lesson was assessed using open-ended item worksheets. The reading comprehension performance of the two groups was measured both before and after the experiment (separate pretest and posttests). Analyses of the pretest-posttest reading comprehension scores revealed that the experimental class significantly outperformed the control class. Analyses of students' reading comprehension progress in each of the lessons also indicated that those in the experimental condition demonstrated consistent improvement in their reading comprehension scores than those in the control condition. The findings suggest that explicit reading strategy instruction is effective in enhancing reading comprehension of upper primary grade students with limited prior experience of utilizing reading strategies.

Keywords: reading comprehension, REAP, reading strategy, primary school

1. Introduction

Reading comprehension is a foundation to students' overall academic success in school (Alvermann & Earle, 2003; Guthrie, 2004; OECD, 2009; Zywica & Gomez, 2008), and a prerequisite for successful participation in most areas of adult life (Cunningham & Stanovich, 1997; Smith, Mikulecky, Kibby & Dreher, 2000). It is emphasized that without the skills of reading comprehension and the motivation for reading to learn, students' academic progress is limited (Alvermann & Earle, 2003). Recognizing such benefits of reading, learning to read has become one of the most crucial learning processes students are involved in at primary school (Pressley, 1998). However, becoming a proficient reader is not that easy for everyone. Especially with regard to the ultimate goal of reading comprehension, many school children appear to have huge and persistent problems.

Accordingly, reading strategy instruction has become one of the most crucial learning processes students are involved in primary school (Pressley, 1998). Research shows that instruction in reading strategies contribute significantly in enhancing students' reading comprehension (Duke & Pearson, 2002; Guthrie, 2004). Mastery and use of effective reading strategies is considered as essential for an increased text comprehension (Palincsar & Brown, 1984; Pressley, 1998; Williams, 2005). However, evidence shows that reading comprehension strategies are not taught in schools as often as it should be. For instance, Duke and Pearson (2002) reported that very little comprehension instruction occurs in many classrooms, especially in primary grades, and comprehension instruction that does occur is often incomplete and ineffective. Aarnoutse and Leeuwe (1995) also revealed that the practice of teaching reading in classrooms is very traditional where teachers mostly fail to adequately explain and model effective reading strategies in the classrooms. A comprehensive study conducted in primary schools of least income countries such Ethiopia also revealed that students are not taught to employ relevant reading strategies during reading lessons (USAID, 2010).

The purpose of the present study is to examine the effect of an explicit reading strategy instruction in developing the reading comprehension of upper primary school students in Ethiopia. Attempts are made to identify characteristics of an effective reading strategy instruction that could improve reading comprehension of primary school students with limited previous experiences in utilizing reading strategies. …

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