Use of Text Maps to Improve the Reading Comprehension Skills among Students in High School with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

By Stone, Rebecca H.; Boon, Richard T. et al. | Behavioral Disorders, February 1, 2008 | Go to article overview

Use of Text Maps to Improve the Reading Comprehension Skills among Students in High School with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders


Stone, Rebecca H., Boon, Richard T., Fore, Cecil, Bender, William N., Spencer, Vicky G., Behavioral Disorders


* In the education of students, from elementary school to high school, very few skills are equal in importance to the ability to read and comprehend what is read. This ability is one that is generalized from the reading lessons into every academic subject. Reading and understanding what is read is a foundational skill for academic success for all students, which is why this area in particular has received such a broad national legislative effort (e.g., the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002). Research shows that many students with emotional and/or behavioral disorders (EBD) often have reading skill deficits (Babyak, Koorland, & Mathes, 2000; Vaughn, Levy, Coleman, & Bos, 2002) and function 1 or more years below grade level in reading, math, writing, and spelling (Spencer, Scruggs, & Mastorpieri, 2003). Epstein, Kinder, & Barsuck (1989) reported that students with EBD have more difficulty in reading and mathematics instruction than other students of the same age, and these students were more likely to fail courses than were students without disabilities (Wagner, Blackorby & Hebbeler, 1993).

Unfortunately, the focus of attention on students with EBD has been on behavior management, with a minimal focus on reading, math, or content-based instruction (Levy & Chard, 2001). Coleman and Vaughn (2000) reported that only seven studies were identified that examined reading interventions and students with EBD, and only one of those compared the effects of several different instructional methods. Clearly, it is time to refocus our energies if we want to increase the reading skills of students with EBD.

Although research on reading skills among students with EBD is scant, other research has shown that students with various other disabilities often benefit from explicit strategy instruction and practice that promotes reading comprehension (for reviews, see Cersten, Fuchs, Williams, & Baker, 2001; Mastropieri, Scruggs, Bakken, & Whedon, 1996; Talbott, Lloyd, & Tankersley, 1994). As part of the No Child Left Behind Act, six key comprehension strategies were recommended to address these deficits, including (a) monitoring comprehension, (b) using graphic and semantic organizers, (c) answering questions, (d) generating questions, (e) recognizing story structure (and other text structures), and (d) summarizing. For example, one reading comprehension strategy that has been conducted repeatedly in various types of classrooms, with various ages and many different ability levels, is the use of story mapping (which sometimes may be referred to as instruction on "story components," "story grammar elements," or "text mapping"). This is due to the fact that the story-mapping strategy incorporates all of No Child Left Behind's suggested comprehension strategies. Story mapping "identifies critical elements of the story form as an aid to story recall" (Vallecorsa & deBettencourt, 1997). These critical elements include the following: (a) activation of prior knowledge (Levin & Pressley, 1981), (b) generation of questions during reading (Beck & McKeown, 1991), (c) the generation of mental pictures or images during reading to represent meanings in the text (Cambrell & Bales, 1986), and (d) summarization techniques (B. M. Taylor, 1982).

Multiple studies have shown the efficacy of the use of story-mapping/text-mapping procedures as a method of teaching reading to elementary and middle school students with specific learning disabilities (Boulineau, Fore, Hagan-Burke, & Burke, 2004; Gardill & Jitendra, 1999; Idol, 1987; Idol & Croll, 1987; Li, 2007; Onachukwu, Boon, Fore, & Bender, 2007; L. K. Taylor, Alber, & Walker, 2002; Vallecorsa & deBettencourt, 1997). For example, Vallecorsa and deBettencourt (1997) used an ABC design with multiple baselines across behaviors (e.g., reading and writing) for three seventh-grade students with learning disabilities in middle school. The purpose of the study was to determine the effects of story mapping on students' understanding of text structure and the resulting scores made by these students in story-retelling and storywriting performance. …

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