ED7201T - Action Research Project

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The Comprehension Conundrum:
Vocabulary Pre-Exposure and its Effects on
Reading Comprehension
Eric C. Powell
ED 7201T
CUNY Brooklyn College, Fall 2011
[1]
Table of Contents
Abstract………………………………………………………………3
Introduction………………………………………………………….4
-
Statement of the Problem………………………………….4
-
Review of Related Literature………………………………4
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Statement of the Hypothesis………………………………8
Method……………………………………………………………….9
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Participants………………………………………………..9
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Instruments………………………………………………..9
-
Experimental Design………………………………………9
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Procedure………………………………………………….9
Results…………………………………………………………………
Discussion…………………………………………………………….
Implications…………………………………………………………...
References……………………………………………………………10
Appendices……………………………………………………………
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Appendix A……………………………….………………...
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Appendix B…………………………………………………
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Appendix C…………………………………………………
- Appendix D………………………………………………...
[2]
Abstract
[3]
Introduction
I have been fortunate enough to work with developing readers in the capacity of
reading and writing tutor for almost four years now. The students I have worked with have
ranged in level from kindergarten to young adults, and have included every age in between.
Reading instruction usually begins with phonemic awareness before proceeding to
comprehension. A student is first taught to decode words phonetically in order to be able to
read the words on the page, with reading comprehension – the student’s understanding of
what is being read – left as a secondary concern.
As a Childhood Education student at CUNY Brooklyn College, I have had the
opportunity to work in a Brooklyn elementary school in the capacity of student teacher. The
students I worked with had – with the exception of the ELL students – their phonemic
awareness in place and were thus working on their reading comprehension skills. The
students were taught to approach reading comprehension through various strategies, but a
gap still existed between their phonemic awareness and their comprehension levels when
encountering a text.
Statement of the Problem
During my time as both a reading and writing tutor and a fifth grade student teacher,
I have come to notice a disparity between student phonemic awareness and reading
comprehension levels. Students who regularly display a positive grasp of phonic decoding
skills are not always able to comprehend and explain what they have just read. Based on
these observations I am interested in investigating techniques which purport to increase
student comprehension levels. The current model for reading comprehension instruction is
the reading workshop – a model in which there is one particular gap: vocabulary
reinforcement.
Review of Related Literature
The current practice for promoting and teaching reading comprehension is called the
reading workshop. The reading workshop, developed by Nancie Atwell, supplants the
traditional basal reader with the students’ independent choice of reading materials, allows for
reading time during class, and asks that the students record reflections about their reading in
[4]
a reading journal as well as share those thoughts with the class (Swift, 1993). The reading
workshop model has been used to develop in students a sense of purpose in reading,
increase the students’ sense of their own reading competence, and broaden the students’
knowledge base of reading strategies which enhance comprehension (Kletzien & Hushion,
1992). Reading workshop has also been used to increase student motivation to read as well
as student reading speeds (Lausé, 2004). Students themselves have noted in studies an
increase in their reading comprehension due to reading workshop (Stewart, Paradis, Ross, &
Lewis, 1996).
Reading workshop is a complete reorganization of reading instruction which has
been deemed necessary in order to “rekindle a sense of joy and ownership” in the students’
views of reading (Reutzel & Cooter, 1991, p. 548). One aspect of this reorganization involves
transference of control regarding student reading material – a transference which may at first
give some teachers pause (Roessing, 2007). The control over student reading material shifts
from teacher to student. It has been observed that in this reorganization the reading
workshop is an outgrowth of Vygotsky’s theories regarding social interaction as a
component of learning (Meyer, 2010). Through the reading workshop, the students are
encouraged to communicate their ideas with their classmates while the teacher is utilized to
model the various strategies for the students (Uttero, 1988). Reciprocal instruction (peer
teaching of strategies) has been shown to greatly improve reading comprehension levels
(Lysynchuk, Pressley, & Vye, 1990). Both of these aspects of the reading workshop can be
seen as containing social interaction and are thus able to be seen as outgrowths of Vygotsky.
The process of becoming a reader with comprehension abilities is an ongoing one,
and this process will not begin to occur unless the student becomes engaged with
meaningful texts from the start (Scharer, Pinnell, & Fountas, 2005). In order to create
engaged readers, the teacher of the reading workshop must be prepared to experiment with
different strategies and the students must be able to see those various strategies being
utilized. One method which enables the students to observe the comprehension strategies of
his/her classmates is through a shared reading of a common text. Through joint reading of a
shared text, students are able to understand the reading strategies employed by their
classmates (Ash, 1990).
Methods outside of the reading workshop have been shown in increase reading
comprehension as well. Oral reading of well-organized stories has been shown to increase
[5]
comprehension in low performing readers (Hinchley, & Levy, 1988). Exposure to reading
strategies prior to classroom instruction has shown lasting results among fifth grade students
(Van Keer & Verhaeghe, 2005). Students with learning disabilities often must be taught to
re-read passages which at first confused them, as they often do not realized that
comprehension must be actively monitored (Gersten, Fuchs, Williams, & Baker, 2001).
Reading workshop models have been shown to increase reading levels as well as levels of
involvement among students with learning disabilities, without showing an effect on reading
comprehension levels (Oberlin & Shugarman, 1989).
Another method which has been evaluated in terms of its usefulness in promoting
reading comprehension is the use of technology in the classroom. Web-conferencing has
been utilized successfully to connect struggling readers with literacy coaches to reinforce
classroom lessons and to deliver specialized instruction to struggling readers (Amendum,
Vernon-Feagans, & Ginsberg, 2011). Mindful of the emergence of technology in the
classroom, a modified version of the reading workshop has even been designed in which
electronic books and electronic reading journals are utilized (Larson, 2008).
A correlation has also been shown between the amount of time a literacy coach
spends with a teacher relating to student reading gains in which a direct relation was shown
between increased time with a literacy coach (for the teacher) and increased reading
comprehension gains (for the students) (Elish-Piper & L’Allier, 2011). Taken together with
findings relating student gains to contact with literacy coaches, it can be seen that
involvement with a literacy coach is a beneficial methodology to employ for student gains in
reading comprehension.
Studies have also been done in which programs similar to the reading workshop are
tested without showing positive results towards reading comprehension. One such study
utilized a methodology called The Schoolwide Enrichment Model in Reading Framework
(SEM‐R), which employs many of the hallmarks of the reading workshop (independent
reading, student choice of reading material, exposure to books in the students’ field of
interest), in conjunction with daily direct instruction. While student gains were shown in oral
reading fluency and student outlooks towards reading, there were no significant gains in
reading comprehension (Reis, McCoach, Coyne, Schreiber, Eckert, & Gubbins, 2007). This
seems to indicate that there are other mitigating factors in play which cannot be accounted
[6]
for in methodology. In this case, the authors of the study suggested that perhaps if the study
had continued longer that higher gains in comprehension would have been shown.
A factor which has been shown to be of importance is individual teacher practices.
Teachers who place an emphasis on higher-order thinking in their classroom have been
shown to promote greater reading comprehension gains in their students than teachers who
do not (Taylor, Pearson, Peterson, & Rodriguez, 2003).
Other studies have looked at individual components of reading instruction and their
effects on reading comprehension levels. One such study looked at the effectiveness of
picture walks, KWL charts, and directed reading-thinking activity in reading instruction and
found that of the three strategies, directed reading-thinking activity yielded the biggest
reading comprehension gains (Dougherty Stahl, 2008). Hearkening back to Vygotsky, the
directed reading-thinking activity strategy views reading as a “problem-solving process best
accomplished in a social context” (p. 364).
Another strategy that has been studied is the implementation of guided reading.
Guided reading has been shown to be a successful strategy with gains at the reading
comprehension level, yet some teachers do not implement it into their classroom. Teachers
who did implement guided reading were likely to have younger students and were also likely
to have received instruction on how to teach using the method (Ferguson & Wilson, 2009).
Modified versions of guided reading have been shown to be effective in working with
populations of deaf students (Schaffer & Schirmer, 2010).
A factor to be considered is the method(s) of assessment. Some researchers have
begun to look at how we measure reading comprehension in the face of our changing
cultural student body make-up. Bilinguals, for example, are being exposed to new methods
of comprehension assessment. One such method is the Diagnostic Assessment of Reading
Comprehension (DARC), which is designed to assess comprehension processes over
decoding and English-language demands (August, Francis, Hsu, & Snow, 2006). This
method has been shown to give a more accurate portrayal of ELL comprehension processes
than other assessment methods.
Ideas revolving around the concept of a reading workshop for the classroom are not
new, however. Years before Atwell it was posited that a reading workshop which would
show positive gains in reading comprehension was possible, with specific focus on the very
[7]
young reader and even pre-readers. Utilizing vocabulary development with young students it
was demonstrated that reading comprehension gains were possibly achieved in this manner.
Statement of Hypothesis
Exposure to vocabulary as a pre-reading strategy during one 45 minute period twice
a week for four weeks will increase reading comprehension among ten 5th graders at PS X in
Brooklyn, NY.
[8]
Method
Participants
Ten fifth grade students from P.S. X, an elementary school in Brooklyn, New York.
Instruments
1. Surveys: Pre- and post-instructional surveys to assess student perceptions of reading
comprehension levels.
2. Assessments: Pre- and post-instructional assessments to measure student reading
comprehension achievements.
Experimental Design
Procedure
Results
Discussion
Implications
[9]
References
Amendum, S.J., Vernon-Feagans, L., & Ginsberg, M.C. (2011). The effectiveness of a
technologically facilitated classroom-based early reading intervention. The Elementary
School Journal, Vol. 112, (1), 107-131. doi: 10.1086/660684.
http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/660684
Ash, B. H. (1990). Reading assigned literature in a reading workshop. English Journal, Vol. 79,
77-79. http://www.jstor.org/journals/00138274.html
August, D., Francis, D.J., Hsu, H.A., & Snow, C.E. (2006). Assessing reading
comprehension in bilinguals. The Elementary School Journal, Vol. 107, (2), 221-238.
http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/510656
Dougherty Stahl, K. (2008). The effects of three instructional methods on the reading
comprehension and content acquisition of novice readers. Journal of Literacy Research,
Vol. 40, (3), 359-393.
Elish-Piper, L., & L’Allier, S.K. (2011). Examining the relationship between literacy coaching
and student reading gains in grades K–3. The Elementary School Journal, Vol. 112, (1),
83-106. doi: 10.1086/660685. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/660685
Ferguson, J., & Wilson, J. (2009). Guided reading: it’s for primary teachers. College Reading
Association Yearbook, Issue 30, 293-306.
Gersten, R., Fuchs, L.S., Williams, J.P. & Baker, S. (2001). Teaching reading comprehension
strategies to students with learning disabilities: a review of research. Review of
Educational Research, Vol. 71, (2), 279-320. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3516086
Hinchley, J., & Levy, B.A. (1988). Developmental and individual differences in reading
comprehension. Cognition and Instruction, Vol. 5, (1), 3-47.
http://www.jstor.org/stable/3233608
Kletzien, S.B., & Hushion, B.C. (1992). Reading workshop: reading, writing, thinking. Journal
of Reading, Vol. 35, (6), 444-451. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40007556
Larson, L.C. (2008). Electronic reading workshop: beyond books with new literacies and
instructional technologies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, Vol. 52, (2), 121-131.
http://www.jstor.org/stable/20111749
Lausé, J. (2004). Using reading workshop to inspire lifelong readers. The English Journal, Vol.
93, (5), 24-30. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4128931
[10]
Lysynchuk, L.M., Pressley, M., & Vye, N.J. (1990). Reciprocal teaching improves
standardized reading-comprehension performance in poor comprehenders. The
Elementary School Journal, Vol. 90, (5), 469-484. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1001797
Maney, E.S. (1954). The reading workshop: building pre-reading comprehension skills part 1:
vocabulary development. The Reading Teacher, Vol. 7, (3), 183-186.
http://www.jstor.org/stable/20196764
Meyer, K.E. (2010). A collaborative approach to reading workshop in the middle years. The
Reading Teacher, Vol. 63, (6), 501-507. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25615840
Oberlin, K.J., & Shugarman, S.L. (1989) Implementing the reading workshop with middle
school ld readers. Journal of Reading, Vol. 32, (8), 682-687.
http://www.jstor.org/stable/40030025
Reis, S.M., McCoach, D.B., Coyne, M., Schreiber, F.J., Eckert, R.D., & Gubbins, E.J. (2007).
Using planned enrichment strategies with direct instruction to improve reading
fluency, comprehension, and attitude toward reading: an evidence‐based study. The
Elementary School Journal, Vol. 108, (1), 3-23.
http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/522383
Reutzel, D.R., & Cooter, Jr., R.B. (1991). Organizing for effective instruction: the reading
workshop. The Reading Teacher, Vol. 44, (8), 548-554.
http://www.jstor.org/stable/20200734
Roessing, L. (2007). Losing the fear of sharing control: starting a reading workshop. Middle
School Journal, Vol. 38, (3), 44-51.
Schaffer, L.M., & Schirmer, B.R. (2010). The guided reading approach: a practical method to
address diverse needs in the classroom. Odyssey: New Directions in Deaf Education, Vol.
11, (1), 40-43.
Scharer, P., Pinnell, G., Lyons, C., & Fountas, I. (2005). Becoming an engaged reader.
Educational Leadership, Vol. 63, (2), 24-29.
Stewart, R.A., Paradis, E.E., Ross, B.D., & Lewis, M.J. (1996). Student voices: what works in
literature-based developmental reading. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, Vol. 39,
(6), 468-478. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40014036
Swift, K. (1993). Try reading workshop in your classroom. The Reading Teacher, Vol. 46, (5),
366-371. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20201090
Taylor, B.M., Pearson, P.D., Peterson, D.S., & Rodriguez, M.C. (2003). Reading growth in
high-poverty classrooms: the influence of teacher practices that encourage cognitive
engagement in literacy learning. The Elementary School Journal, Vol. 104, (1), 3-28.
http://www.jstor.org/stable/3203047
[11]
Uttero, D.A. (1988). Activating comprehension through cooperative learning. The Reading
Teacher, Vol. 41, (4), 390-395. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20199801
Van Keer, H., & Verhaeghe, J.P. (2005). Effects of explicit reading strategies instruction and
peer tutoring on second and fifth graders' reading comprehension and self-efficacy
perceptions. The Journal of Experimental Education, Vol. 73, (4), 291-329.
http://www.jstor.org/stable/20157404
[12]
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