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A Knowledge-Based Framework for Unifying Content-Area Reading Comprehension and Reading Comprehension Strategies Michael Vitale, East Carolina University Nancy Romance, Florida Atlantic University Conference on Reading Comprehension Strategies: Theories, Interventions, and Technologies

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slide1
A Knowledge-Based Framework for Unifying Content-Area Reading Comprehension and Reading Comprehension Strategies

Michael Vitale, East Carolina University

Nancy Romance, Florida Atlantic University

Conference on Reading Comprehension Strategies: Theories, Interventions, and Technologies

University of Memphis, Memphis, TN

May 20-22, 2005

presentation overview
Presentation Overview
  • Expertise-oriented view of comprehension (with emphasis on role of knowledge)
  • Reading comprehension as special case of comprehension
  • Reading comprehension strategies- Functions and standards
  • Engineering applications of a multi-part reading comprehension strategy that is knowledge-focused
  • Preliminary research findings, work in progress, implications
slide3

A Brief Research History…

  • Context: Applied school settings in grades 3-5
  • Experimental Treatment: Replacement of Reading/Language Arts instruction with daily 2-hour science instruction (Science IDEAS)…
    • Focus on teaching/learning science concepts
    • Use of concepts to be learned as a framework for reading/writing as well as for hands-on activities and projects
    • Use of propositional concept mapping as a tool for teacher/student organization of conceptual knowledge
slide9

Interpreting the Research Findings

  • Perspectives (re: Science IDEAS Findings)
    • Easy to explain- Learning more science
    • Not easy to explain- Becoming more proficient in reading comprehension
  • Note:
    • No explicit instruction in “reading comprehension” per se
    • No explicit instruction in “reading comprehension strategies”
  • Question: Why/How was Science IDEAS able to engender greater reading comprehension than traditional reading/language arts instruction?
slide10

Experts, Expertise, and Meaningful Learning

  • Emphasis in expertise literature
    • Experts differ from novices re: organization and accessibility of (domain-specific) knowledge
    • Experts apply knowledge with automaticity (i.e., without “thinking.” )
  • Emphasis in meaningful learning literature
    • Prior knowledge is the primary determinant of meaningful learning
    • Focus on building core conceptual knowledge (big ideas) is the most efficient way to engender meaningful learning (so new learning is assimilated into what is known)
slide11

Implications for School Learning

  • Curricular structure in subject/content areas should reflect the conceptual organization of in-field experts
  • Design of instruction should be “knowledge-based”
    • Knowledge to be learned should be explicated (and reflect the logical structure of the discipline)
    • All instructional elements/actions (including assessment) should be explicitly related to the knowledge that is to be learned
  • Teachers can use their own expertise as a guide for instruction (assuming their prior mastery of content)
    • Re: student learning tasks
    • Re: student assessment
    • Re: student use of strategies for learning
slide12

Comprehension as Meaningful Learning

  • In-depth meaningful learning implies performance characteristics exhibited by experts (i.e., performance mastery under specific conditions across the scope of a domain)
  • In school learning settings, the requirements for meaningful learning and comprehension are equivalent
    • Both involve instructional experiences that require cumulative understanding (i.e., something to be learned)
    • Both are maximally efficient when what is to be learned can be assimilated into prior knowledge
    • Both require reorganization of prior knowledge when new learning cannot be assimilated
    • Both may involve combinations of “trial-and-error,” “effective instruction/teaching,” or “self-instructional strategies”
slide13

Comprehension and Reading Comprehension

  • Reading comprehension (of academic content) as a special case of general comprehension
    • Highly dependent on prior knowledge (re: organization/access)
    • Requires performance-based inference to conclude comprehension has occurred
    • May involve combinations of “trial-and-error,” “effective instruction/teaching,” or “self-instructional strategies”
  • Status of research: re: Content area reading comprehension (Rand Report, 2002)
    • Recognized as unsolved problem
    • Use of strategies to improve content area reading comprehension in applied settings have been unsuccessful
slide14

Elements of the Reading Comprehension Problemin Applied School Settings: Grades 3-4-5

  • Context of instruction does not support comprehension as meaningful cumulative learning
    • Narrative stories (“literature”) in the reading curriculum do not require meaningful learning
    • Content area texts (e.g., science) typically are incoherent, fragmented, and/or non-conceptual
  • Reading “skills” and “comprehension strategies” emphasized by schools are problematic, re: confusing comprehension “causes” with comprehension “effects”
    • “Skill” demonstrations require comprehension
    • Majority of comprehension “strategies” require prior comprehension to use or are “unfocused”
slide15

Knowledge-Focused / Multi-Part Reading Comprehension Strategy

  • Explicit focus on access and organization of the knowledge required for comprehension
  • Consists of complementary set of sub-strategies:
    • Text-analysis sub-strategy
    • Concept mapping sub-strategy
    • Summarization/writing sub-strategy
    • Supporting knowledge fluency development activity
  • Sub-strategies (and multiple strategy use) have consensus research base
  • Sub-strategies are “expertise-based” and engineered for application by teachers
overview text analysis sub strategy
Overview: Text-Analysis Sub-Strategy
  • Teacher Planning Process:
    • Read passage for understanding
    • Re-read and generate “knowledge notes,” i.e., read sentence or set of sentences ---> think about what knowledge made the text passage understandable (also flag key ideas)
    • Link “knowledge notes” (via post-its) to passage location, then transform into questions answered by the knowledge notes
  • Result of Teacher Planning Process:
    • Teacher has meaningful set of questions for guiding student use of prior knowledge for comprehension
    • Questions are based on individual “teacher expertise” in reading with understanding
text analysis sub strategy continued
Text-Analysis Sub-Strategy (continued)
  • Teacher Implementation Process:
    • Have student read passage section aloud
    • During reading, ask knowledge-link questions
    • Guide summary of passage section
    • Repeat process with new student
  • Notes on Implementation Process…
    • Teacher models, guides, accepts student-initiated knowledge link questions as evolving process
      • Across repeated re-readings of same passage
      • Across readings of new passages
    • Teacher knowledge questions emphasize linking what is being read to what has been read previously
    • Passage summaries are cumulative
  • Goal: For students to learn to use prior knowledge for reading comprehension
concept mapping sub strategy
Concept Mapping Sub-Strategy
  • Teacher Planning Process:
    • Read passage for understanding
    • Identify key ideas/examples and write on post-it notes
    • Organize ideas/examples in hierarchical structure (via post-it notes arrangement) with bigger ideas on top, sub-ideas below, and examples on bottom
    • Generate links for connecting concepts so each concept-link-concept unit is simple sentence
  • Result of Teacher Planning Process:
    • Teacher has coherent organizational structure representing the core knowledge in text passage
    • Structure can be used in a variety of ways (e.g., planning instruction/assessment), but emphasis here is for students to learn how to concept map
concept mapping sub strategy continued
Concept Mapping Sub-Strategy (continued)
  • Teacher Implementation Process:
    • Have students read passage and identify key ideas/examples, write on post-it notes
    • Have students identify core ideas, subordinate ideas, examples, arranging post-it notes in real-time to form hierarchical structure
    • Have students identify links that form concept-link-concept units into simple sentences
    • Have students read the map as if it were prose (editing as necessary)
  • Notes on Implementation Process…
    • Teacher models, guides, accepts student-initiated participation as appropriate (evolution process)
  • Goal: For students to learn to organize/represent knowledge learned to enhance accessibility
summarization writing sub strategy
Summarization / Writing Sub-Strategy
  • Teacher Planning Process (None: Side-effect of concept mapping):
  • Teacher Implementation Process:
    • Have students use organizational structure of propositional concept map as a guide for written summary of passage
    • Edit (or elaborate) written summary as appropriate
  • Goal: For students to learn to develop and then access an organizational knowledge structure as a basis for writing applications
slide22

Operational Elements of Multi-Part ReadingComprehension Strategy

  • Sub-strategies are used with reading passages in complementary fashion
  • Combined focus is to provide processes whose application as reading occurs enhances understanding of the knowledge to be gained re:
    • Accessing prior knowledge
    • Representing new knowledge to be learned
    • Generating expressions (oral, written) that summarize understanding of knowledge in a coherent fashion
  • Applied across cumulative, meaningful learning environments, the potential result is the integration of new and existing knowledge
  • The engineering design allows the sub-strategies to be learned and applied by students (and teachers) as a form of expertise
slide23

Some Research-Oriented Perspectives

  • IF < students are not involved in cumulative meaningful learning within discipline > THEN < comprehension cannot occur (i.e., no knowledge to be learned) >
  • AND
  • IF < students are not involved in cumulative meaningful learning across disciplines (or ranges of different topics) >
  • THEN < unlikely to develop “proficiency” in comprehension that is transferable (i.e., no broad experience in comprehension to be transferred) >
slide27

Controlled Pilot Study Findings (2005)

  • Instruments
    • FCAT Reading Comprehension, Science (covariates)
    • ITBS Reading Comprehension, Science (outcomes)
  • Results (8-week intervention)
    • Content-oriented environment (Science IDEAS) resulted in significantly higher achievement in both science and reading
    • Effect of multi-part reading comprehension strategy was significant, but only in the content-oriented environment (Science IDEAS), not in traditional reading/language arts (narrative) environment (i.e., significant interaction)
  • Preliminary Implications for Reading Comprehension Strategy Research…
slide28

Work-in-Progress: Present 3-Year IES Study

  • Longitudinal extension of Controlled Pilot Study
  • Grade 3-4-5 (with follow-up in grades 6-7)
  • Instruments
    • FCAT/ITBS Reading Comprehension, Science
    • High- vs. low- inference understanding of high- vs. low- cohesion passages
    • Cumulative “learning through reading” transfer task in US History involving high vs. low review support
    • Student-reported use of reading comprehension strategy elements
    • Teacher-reported proficiency of student content area reading proficiency (grades 7-8, years 2-3)
    • Student attitude/self-confidence re: Reading (and Science)
slide29

Issues in Reading Comprehension Strategy Research Design

  • Ecological validity of reading comprehension strategy research
  • Use of model-oriented (vs. variable-oriented) research in applied school settings (Slavin, 1990, 2002)
  • Emphasis on demonstration of replicability of research findings vs. singular emphasis on intra-study design
  • Explication of curricular knowledge as central methodological condition in any learning research that addresses meaningful learning within applied school settings
slide30
A Knowledge-Based Framework for Unifying Content-Area Reading Comprehension and Reading Comprehension Strategies

Michael Vitale, East Carolina University

vitalem@mail.ecu.edu

Nancy Romance, Florida Atlantic University

romance@fau.edu

Conference on Reading Comprehension Strategies: Theories, Interventions, and Technologies

University of Memphis, Memphis, TN

May 20-22, 2005