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Explicit instruction on rhetorical patterns and student-constructed graphic organizers: The impact on sixth-grade students' comprehension of social studies text

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Deborah Beth Scott
Abstract:
Using a pretest, posttest two group design, this study investigated the effect of explicit instruction on rhetorical patterns and using those patterns to represent the content graphically on sixth-grade students. ability to comprehend social studies text. Students in 13 classes from four middle schools in Pennsylvania received either explicit instruction in identifying rhetorical patterns found in social studies textbooks and representing that text graphically or routine social studies instruction. Routine social studies instruction was identified as the instructional activities documented during observations conducted six weeks prior to the intervention. When the intervention began, intervention group students learned to identify rhetorical patterns, construct graphic organizers using the rhetorical patterns, and write summaries of textbook content. Comparison group students continued with routine social studies instruction. All students were assessed with (a) pre- and posttests in which they constructed graphic organizers and wrote summaries using social studies passages and (b) comprehension quizzes during on-going instruction. Randomly selected students from each group engaged in think-aloud tasks at the end of the study. The pre- and posttests results indicated a statistically significant interaction between time and group for both graphic organizer construction (with a very large effect size) and summary writing (with a moderate effect size). Intervention group students outperformed students in the routine social studies group in both constructing graphic organizers based on rhetorical patterns and writing complete summaries. For the comprehension quizzes, students receiving routine social studies instruction outperformed students in the intervention group when answering multiple-choice and essay questions requiring recall of content. Think-aloud responses demonstrated that students in the intervention group were able to graphically represent social studies textbook content using rhetorical patterns as well as transfer that knowledge to a textbook from a different domain while students in the comparison group recognized there was a structure to the content of the text but did not accurately represent that content graphically according to the appropriate rhetorical pattern. Observational data showed intervention students were more engaged with graphic organizers and work samples demonstrated they were able to identify key information in the text and represent it in graphic form.

TAB LE OF CONTENTS

List of Tables………………………………………………………………………...

ix

List of Figures………………………………………………………………………..

x

Chapter 1: Statement of the Problem………………………………………………...

1

Introduction………………………………………………………………….

1

Rationale…………………………………………………………………….

3

Problems with Textbooks………………………………………………

3

Genre……………………………………………………………………

5

Using Rhetorical Patterns to Identify Text Organizatio n………………

7

Graphic Organizers and Text Organization…………………………….

8

Research Using Rhetorical Patterns and Graphic Organizers………….

12

Purpose and Significance…………………………………………………..

14

The Research Study………………………………………………………...

15

Research Questions…………………………………………………………

17

Definitions………………………………………………………………….

18

Summary……………………………………………………………………

21

Chapter 2: Review of Literature……………………………………………………..

24

Overview…………………………………………………………………….

24

Text Structure and Comprehension…………………………………………

25

Research on the Relationship of Text Structure and Comprehension….

25

Summary………………………………………………………………..

35

Chambliss and Calfee Rhetorical Pattern Approach………………………...

35

Description of Rhetorical Pattern Approach to Text Structure Analysis.

36

Rationale for Using Rhetorical Pattern Approach……………………...

37

Summary………………………………………………………………..

38

Student - Constructed Graphic Organizers…………………………………...

39

Generative Processes of Comprehension

Theory………………………

39

Rationale for Use of Graphic Organizers………………………………

46

Focus on Central Ideas…………………………………………..

46

Identification of Relationships Between Ideas……… …………..

47

Efficient Retrieval of Information……………………………….

49

Potentially Benefits Students of Varying Abilities………………

52

Rationale for Student - Constructed Graphic Orga nizers………………..

56

Student Engagement…………………………………………….

56

Demonstrate Student Knowledge and Understanding of Content.

58

Summary………………………………………………………………..

61

Instructional Framework…………………………………………………….

61

Theoretical Foundation…………………………………………………

62

Impact of Positivism……………………………………………..

62

Theories of Constructivi sm and Social - Cultural Constructivism..

62

Components of Instruction……………………………………………..

65

v

Explicit Instruction………………………………………………

65

Scaffolding……………………………………………………….

68

Cooperative/Collaborative Learning……………………………..

70

Summary……………………………………………………………….

73

Transfer……………………………………………………………………...

74

Summary…………………………………………………………………….

78

Chapter 3: Methodology……………………………………………………………..

81

Introduction………………………………………………………………….

81

Design……………………………………………………………………….

82

Setting and Participants……………………………………………………..

83

Description of Schools………………………………………………….

83

Students…………………………………………………………………

85

Teachers………………………………………………………………...

86

Materials……………………………………………………………………..

88

Descr iption of the Textbook……………………………………………

89

Inter - rater Reliability for Text Analysis………………………………..

92

Measures…………………………………………………………………….

93

Pretest…………………………………………………………………..

93

Posttest………………………………………………………………….

94

Comprehension Quizzes………………………………………………..

94

Think - Aloud Tasks……………………………………………………..

95

Observations…………………………………………………………………

96

Before the Intervention…………………………………………………

96

During the Intervention…………………………………………………

97

Procedures…………………………………………………………………...

98

Intervention Groups…………………………………………………….

98

Introductory Lesson.……………………………………………..

98

Rhetorical Pattern Lessons……………………………………….

99

Time Allotment for Text Subsections……………………………

102

Compariso n Groups…………………………………………………….

105

Preliminary Lessons……………………………………………...

105

Content Instruction………………………………………………

105

Training for Intervention Teachers………………………………………….

106

Introduction to the Study……………………………………………….

108

Instructional Training…………………………………………………..

108

Rhetorical Pattern Introductory Lesson…………………………

108

Cons tructing Graphic Organizers Using Rhetorical Patterns…...

109

Written Summaries……………………………………………...

114

Scaffolding Instruction………………………………………….

118

What Will I t Look Like…………………………………………

120

Procedural Information…………………………………………………

121

Data Analysis………………………………………………………………..

12 3

Pretests and Posttests…………………………………………………...

122

Graphic Organizers……………………………………………..

123

Written Summaries…………………………………………….

124

vi

Comprehension Quizzes………………………………………………..

126

Think - Aloud Tasks……………………………………………………..

127

Observations……………………………………………………………

127

Summary…………………………………………………………………….

130

.

Chapter 4 Results: Focus on Teachers………………………………………………

132

Introduction………………………………………………………………….

132

Observatio nal Data Collection Procedures………………………………….

132

Description of Routine Social Studies Instruction…………………………..

134

Mr. Mason………………………………………………………………

136

Description of Classroom and App roach to Classroom

Management…………………………………………………..

136

Reflections on Observations………………………………….

137

Use of the Textbook…………………………………..

137

Use of Graphic Organizers……………………………

140

Conclusions……………………………………………

142

Mrs. Varsho……………………………………………………………

143

Description of Classroom and Approach to Classroom

Management…………………………………………………..

143

Reflections on Observations………………………………….

144

Use of the Textbook…………………………………...

144

Use of Graphic Organizers……………………………

148

Conclusions……………………………………………

150

Mrs. Bystrom…………………………… …………………………….

151

Description of Classroom and Approach to Classroom

Management…………………………………………………..

151

Reflections on Observations………………………………….

151

Use of the Textbook…………………………………...

152

Use of Graphic Organizers……………………………

155

Conclusions……………………………………………

158

Mrs. Hanna……………………………………………………………

158

Description of Classroom and Approach to Classroom

Management…………………………………………………..

159

Refle ctions on Observations………………………………….

160

Use of the Textbook…………………………………...

160

Use of Graphic Organizers……………………………

162

Conclusions……………………………………………

164

Conclusions: Routine Social Studies Instruction……………………...

164

Four Teachers‟ Approaches to Social Studies Instruction…...

165

Four Teachers‟ Approaches to Textbook Use……………….

166

Four Teachers‟ Approaches to Graphic Organizer Use……...

168

Teacher Assignment to Comparison or Intervention Groups..

169

Observations of Intervention and Comparison Group Teachers During the

Intervention………………………………………………………………….

170

Comparison Groups…………………………………………………...

170

Mrs. Vars ho………………………………………………….

171

vii

Use of the Textbook…………………………………...

173

Use of Graphic Organizers……………………………

174

Mr. Mason…………………… ………………………………

177

Use of the Textbook…………………………………...

178

Use of Graphic Organizers……………………………

179

Intervention Groups…………………………………………………...

183

Mrs. Hanna…………………………………………………...

183

Use of the Textbook…………………………………...

184

Use of Graphic Organizers……………………………

185

Conclusions……………………………………………

191

Mrs. Bystrom………………………………………………...

191

Use of the Textbook…………………………………..

192

Use of Graphic Organizers……………………………

193

Conclusions……………………………………………

198

Summary…………………………………………………………………….

198

Chapter 5 Results: Focus on Students……………………………… ………………..

202

Introduction………………………………………………………………….

202

Treatment Fidelity…………………………………………………………...

203

Treatment Fidelity Checklist…………………………………………

203

Instructional Record Sheets……………… …………………………….

203

Observations……………………………………………………………

204

Email Communication………………………………………………….

205

The Effects of Explicit Instruction on Rhetorical Patterns on Student

Comprehension

of Social Studies Textbooks………………………………

205

Analysis of Student - Constructed Graphic Organizer Data……………

205

Analysis of Written Summary Data……………………………………

226

Analysis of Comprehension Qui z Data………………………………..

243

Analysis of Think - Aloud Data…………………………………………

245

Evidence of Transfer…………………………………………

246

Student Thinking Processes………………………………….

248

Trends Identified by Analyzing Think - Aloud Graphic

Organizers……………………………………………………

252

Summary…………………………………………………………………….

260

Chapter 6: Discussion…………………………………………… …………………..

262

Introduction………………………………………………………………….

262

Examining the Effects of Instruction on Rhetorical Patterns on Student

Comprehension of Social Studies Textbooks……………………………….

264

Studen t Comprehension of Social Studies Text and Graphic Organizer

Construction…………………………………………………………….

264

Student Comprehension of Social Studies Text and Written

Summaries…………………………………………………………….

266

Student Comprehension of Social Studies Text and Comprehension

Quizzes………………………………………………………………….

267

Student Comprehension of Textbooks as Evidenced by Think - Aloud

viii

Responses……………………………………………………………….

269

Three Important Conclusions Related to Rhetorical Pattern/Graphic

Organizer Intervention………………………………………………….

271

Summary……………………………………………… ………………..

273

Strengths and Limitations…………………………………………………...

273

Directions for Future Research……………………………………………...

276

Implications for Educators…………………………………………………..

278

Conclusion……………………………………………… …………………..

280

Appendix A Chambliss and Calfee Rhetorical Pattern Approach to Text

Structure Analysis…………………………………………...

281

Appendix B Description of Pilot Study…………………………………...

282

Appendix C Pretest and Posttest Forms A and B…………………………

284

Appendix D Comprehension Quizzes…………………………………….

288

Appendix E Observation Protocol Chart………………………………….

300

Appendix F Treatment Fidelity Checklist………………………………...

301

Appendix G Rhetorical Patterns Introductory Lesson…………………….

302

Appendix H Handout from Rhetorical Patterns Introductory

Lesson…….

306

Appendix I Graphic Representati on of Rhetorical Patterns Posters……...

307

Appendix J Example Rhetorical Pattern Graphic Organizers from

Chapter on Canada and Eastern Europe…………………….

314

Appendix K Scaffolded Instr uction - Rhetorical Pattern Chart……………

319

Appendix L Sample Lesson Plans Given to Teachers at In - service

Training……………………………………………………...

321

Appendix M Codes for Social Studies Instruct ion Observations………….

327

Appendix N Instructional Record Sheet…………………………………..

332

References………………………………………………………………………

334

ix

LIST OF TABLES

1. Descriptive Data for Four Middle Schools

84

2. Descriptive Data on Sixth - Grade Students

85

3. Chapter, Lessons, and Subsections from World Regions

Textbook with

Text Structure

90

4. Instructional Time Allotment for each Textbook Subse ction

104

5. Graphic Organizer Scoring Rubric

124

6. Written Summary Scoring Rubric

125

7. Comprehension Quizzes Essay Scoring Rubric

126

8. Overview of Research Questions, Me asures, and Data Analysis

128

9. Means and Standard Deviations for Pretest and Posttest Student - Constructed

Graphic Organizers

209

10. ANOVA Table for Graphic Organizers

210

11. Freq uency Data for Scores on the Written Summary Pretest by School

228

12. Means and Standard Deviations for Pretest and Posttest Written Summaries 230

13. ANOVA Table for Written Summaries

231

14. T - Test Analysis of Comp rehension Quizzes Comparing Means by Quiz and

Question Type

244

15. T - Test Analysis of Comprehension Quizzes Comparing Means by

Question Type

245

16. Number and Percentage of Students who Used and Named the Topical Net

Pattern in Think - Alouds

247

17. Code Response Numbers and Percentages for Think - Aloud s by Group

249

x

LIST OF FIGURES

1.

Gradual Release of Responsibility Phases

94

100

2.

Dissertation Study Training Agenda

107

3.

Model Summary of Subsection “Building a Nation”

116

4.

Summary Characteristics Chart

117

5.

Det ails Graphic Organizer from Learning - Focused Strategies Notebook

13 5

6.

Organizational Graphic Organizer from Learning - Focused Strategies Notebook

13 5

7.

Study Guide for Chapter Four, Lesson One on Canada

138

8.

Physical Web Displaye d on Mr. Mason‟s Whiteboard

1 41

9.

Immigrant Frayer graphic Organizer

145

10.

Let Freedom Ring! Graphic Organizer

146

11.

Canada‟s Economy Graphic Organizer

147

12.

Why does the U.S. represent freedom? Graphic Organizer

148

13.

Social Studie s Study Guide

149

14.

Governments and Economics Guided Notes from Chapter Two, Lesson Three

153

15.

North America Packet Information Page

154

16.

North America Packet Question Page

155

17.

History of Cotton Sweatshirt Graphic O rganizer

156

18.

Democracy Graphic Organizer

156

19.

Anticipatory Guide

157

20.

Three Branches of Government Folded Graphic Organizer

162

21.

Physical Regions of Canada Folded Graphic Organizer

163

22.

“A Blend of People” Cause a nd Effect Graphic Organizer

172

23.

Graphic Organizers Copied Off the Board

173

24.

Mexico: Landforms and Climate and Vegetation Graphic Organizers

174

25.

A Day in the Life of…Graphic Organizer

175

26.

Mexico‟s History Graphic Organizer

176

27.

Mexico‟s Economy Graphic Organizer

177

28.

South America Graphic Organizer

179

29.

Notes Students Added to Back of South America Graphic Organizer Shown in Figure 27

180

30.

Timeline Graphic Organizer

181

31.

Venn Diagram Comparing Simón Bolívar and Jose de San Martí n

182

32.

Early Civilizations Graphic Organizer

183

33.

Example 1 - Matrix Graphic Organizer Constructed Cooperatively in Mrs. Hanna‟s Class

186

34.

Example 2 - Matrix Graphic Organizer Constructed Cooperatively in Mrs. Hanna‟s Class

188

35.

Exam ple 1 - Topical Net Graphic Organizer Constructed Independently in Mrs. Hanna‟s Class

189

36.

Example 2 - Topical Net Graphic Organizer Constructed

xi

Independently in Mrs. Hanna‟s Class

ively in Mrs. Bystrom‟s Class

Cooperatively in Mrs. Bystrom‟s Class

Mrs. Bystrom‟s Class

Independently in Mrs. Bystrom‟s Class

Independently in Mrs. Bystrom‟s Class

Bystrom‟s Cl

1

CHAPTER 1

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Introductio n

In

many secondary classrooms, teachers use textbooks as the source of content they want their students to learn. Students may be asked to use the text when reading passages, answering questions, defining vocabulary or studying for tests. Unfortunately, reading t extbooks can presen t immense challenges for students .

Textbooks contain large

amounts of information that may be

new to students and t he lengthy passages found in textbooks can be overwhelming .

Adding to this challenge

for students is that textbo oks consist of expository text . In elementary school ,

students typically read stories or narrative text

more frequently than expository

text

and, as a result , are more comf ortable reading narrative

than expository text (Gersten, Fuchs, Williams, & Baker, 2001) . They understand the elements found in narrative text and the typical sequence of how those elements are used. However, a s students move into the middle school

grades, they are expected to read

more expository text and, frequently

the expository text they are reading is found in textbooks.

When students read new content in a textbook, they encounter content with which they most likely are not familiar or have little background to support their understanding. Also, students may not be familiar with how information in textbooks is organized.

When content and org anization are both new to a reader, the student may find comprehension of that text challenging (Carrell, 1987) . However, w hen students learn how the content is org anized

their comprehension may be enhanced.

2

Research has shown that

when students have

knowledge of how narrative text is organized that knowledge facilitates their comprehension (Dole & Brown, 1996; Idol, 1987; Reu tzel, 1986) . Research has also shown that st udents‟ comprehension improves when they receive instruction on how expository text is organized

(Dymock, 2005; Meyer & Poon, 2001; Newman, 2007; Russell, 2005; Taylor, 19 80) .

For example, t he third -

and ninth - grade student s in Newman‟s

(2007)

and Russell‟ s

(2005)

studies showed improved

comprehension of expository text after instruction in text structure

t hat involved learning to identify rhetorical patterns

in texts

(described below in the

Using Rhetorical Patterns to Identify Text Structure

section )

and using

those patterns to construct

their own graphic organizers .

However, the students in Newman‟s and R ussell‟s studies were reading expository text found in trade books rather than textbooks. Furthermore, t he instruction was conducted in small groups rather than with an e ntire classroom of students .

Their studies

involved third -

and ninth - grade students ,

r espectively ,

rather than sixth - grade

students . Having just entered middle school, sixth - grade students begin a transition from general studies

to domain - focused study where teachers use textbooks more intensively. Therefore, sixth - grade students may be at a strategic point in their education where they may particularly benefit

from rhetorical pattern instruction that facilitates their ability to navigate and comprehend textbook content .

My study focused on helping middle school students in social studies cl asses comprehend the expository text found in

their

text books by providing instruction on how

the content in

such

text are

structured . Specifically, t he purpose of this

study was to examine the effect of providing sixth - grade students

with explicit instruc tion in

3

identifying rhetorical patterns

and using

those patterns to represent the content

graphically

on their ability to comprehend social studies text.

Rationale

Problem s

with Textbooks

Textbooks frequently are the source of facts and information stud ents are expected to learn in particular domains (Issitt, 2004) . In classrooms across the country, 75 - 90% of the material covered and activities completed come from textbooks (Chambliss & Calfee, 1998; Jones, 2001) . Textbooks today are visually appealing including photographs, diagrams, maps, sidebars, and activities in addition to containing large amounts of information (Budiansky, 2001; Jones, 2001) .

Yet students may have difficulty reading the text as well as determining what information on which to focus . Textbooks in the United States tend to mention vast numbers of topics with little description or explanation making principles and main ideas difficult to recognize (Budiansky, 2001) . Ravitch (2004) , who r eviewed high school history textbooks, stated that in the publishers ‟

effort to include as many facts, dates, and events as possible, there is no space left to examine the importance of an event or why an event should be re membered.

After interviewing bilingual students about using the Nuffield Co - ordinated Sciences biology textbook, Kearsey and Turner (1999)

identified four features of textbooks that caused students difficulty when attempting to read and understand them. First, students were intimidated by authors ‟

use of an authoritarian tone in their writing. Secon d, students found the change from common language used in an anecdote to scientific language confusing. Third, students were confused about the way ideas within a

4

section were organized. Finally, students found it difficult to comprehend ordinary words use d in a scientific context. Even though these difficulties were noted by bilingual students, students wit h Engli sh as their first language may

have similar problems when reading textbooks.

According to Project 2061, a group facilitating educational reform as part of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, research indicating how students will best understand new content is not reflected in textbook development (Jones, 2001) . Additionally, as sumptions made about the prior knowledge students bring to the textbook are not always accurate (Kearsey & Turner, 1999) . The fact that many textbooks are written by consultants and not authors may also contribute to the formation of text that is not very comprehensible for students. (Chambliss & Calfee, 1998) . Con sequently, students may be faced with

reading large amounts of text that may not be well written,

be presented i n the best way for learning ,

or build on their background.

These difficult ies within the textbook combined with a student‟s lack of familiarity bo th with the content and the organization used to present it

can make comprehension of textbook material challenging.

Teachers

may

need to provide additional information for students

to successfully navigate textbooks . For

many

teachers this

information

might include providing

backgr ound information, defining vocabulary

words , and/or

making predictions based on previewing

the text .

Such an

approach focus es

on giving students content i nformation that may facilitate their comprehension of the textbook . A

“ genre - centered approach ”

(Swales, 1990, p. 82)

to understanding textbooks ,

however, could potentially assist student compreh ension

by teaching students to recognize the author‟s purpose and the

5

tools the author used

to accomplish that purpose.

In th e

next section , I

define genre and explain how

students who understand generic elements

of a t ext may be better able to comprehend the content found there than students who do not understand these elements .

Genre

Bakhtin (1986)

described language as taking form in utterances which occur in every realm of human activity. These utterances can be both oral and written; a single word or an entire composition. The theme, composition, and style of the utterance are linked to the situation or act ivity in which it occurs. While the utterance itself is completely individual, within a certain domain or discipline there are “relatively stable types” of utterances (Bakhtin, 1986, p. 60) . These utterances are called speech genres.

Swales (1990)

described these utterances as communicative events w hich have a specific purpose. The purpose for the communication provides an overall rationale for the genre and that rationale puts limitations on what is considered acceptable form and content for that genre. While examples of what is considered acceptabl e within a certain genre may vary, there is a similarity in form, structure, and style that is recognized and acknowledged by members of the community for whom the communication is intended . This group of people regularly communicating using accepted forms

and structures are called a discourse community. Those that are part of the discourse community recognize and understand the se

types and forms of com munication. Genre, therefore, refers to

“relatively stable types” (Bakhtin, 1986, p. 60)

of utterances with form, structure, and style that result from repeated interaction in both oral an d written forms by the discourse community in order to accomplish the purposes of that group (Swales, 1990) .

6

Textbooks are a type of communicative event or

genre .

The form, structure, and st yle may vary somewhat between textbooks but generally textbooks consist of chapters with lengthy passages addressin g topics related to the domain.

The textbook usually begins with an in depth table of contents and may have a glossary and an index at the end. T he passages in tex tbooks often use similar structural

patterns

to present the content in the text.

T eachers may spend time familiarizing their students with

t he more obvious features of textbooks such as table of contents, chapter layouts ,

or glossaries . I t is less likel y ,

however, that they provide

instruction that helps students

understand the text as a

genre. One important element in

understanding

the textbook as a genre

is knowing how ideas may

be structured or organized .

The organizational structure of a text provide s a kind of map to help students navigate the ideas and concepts contained there

(Swales, 1990) .

By helping students understand how the content in textbooks may be organized, t eachers

can

potentially make

new con tent

more accessible

because students

will only have to deal with new ideas rather than both new

ideas

and unfamiliar

structures .

As Swales contended (1990) , genre is a communicative event betwe en au thor and reader. The

author

has a purpose for communicating with the reader and

uses rhetorical tools to accomplish his/her purpose. One of the tools used by an author

is specific structure s

to organize their message. Chambliss and Calfee (1998)

have identified specific organizat ional structures

or

rhetorical patterns as tools authors use to accomplish their purpose. Authors of textbooks may use these rhetorical patter ns to organize the content they wish to communicate. I contend that providing students with instruction in rhetorical patterns has t he potential to facilitate students‟

comprehensi on of

7

the lengthy passages in textbooks they are asked to read . In the next section, I explain Chambliss and Calfee‟s model

of identifying text structure

using rhetorical patterns.

Using Rhetorical Patterns to Identify Text Organization

Chambliss and Calfee‟s

approach to identifying text structure is based on genre or the idea th at text is written for a purpose and th e

purpose creates a connection between the author and the reader

(Chambliss & Calfee, 1998; Swales, 1990) .

There are common features found in

texts of a specific genre that are understood by those who communicate using that genre. Some of those common features are based in rhetoric.

Many think of rhetoric as the exaggeration, flowery language ,

and/or hyperbole that can be used in persuasive wri ting or speaking. Rhetoric also refers to the tools and strategies authors use when writing text. These tools involve word choice and usage as well as the arrangement of ideas.

By analyzing freshman composition books, Chambliss and Calfee found that

writ ers,

in addition to having a functional structure that alerts the reader

to the overall structure of text, also need to structure the content

to effectively communicate the purpose of the text (Calfee & Chambliss, 1987; 1998) .

According to Chambliss and Calfee (1998) , authors write to inform, argue ,

and/or explain . Based on these three purposes, they identified a group of patterns

or structures

consistently presented in composition books that writers of expository text use to arrange ideas, concepts, and information .

Chambliss and Calfee call these identifiable structures rhetorical patterns.

One

advantage of using a rhetori cally - based approach

to identifying text structure

is that the reader is examining the text with the author‟s purpose in mind. By analyzing the author‟s pur pose

and identifying the rhetorical pattern he/she uses , the reader is part

8

of the communicative event between the autho r and the reader which may facilitate understanding of the author‟s message.

A second advantage of using a rhetorically - based approach to identifying text structure

is that, rather than being based on content, the rhetorical patterns are a generic

rhetoric al

tool used by authors to structure text and therefore, may be applied to other expository texts as well.

A third advantage of the rhetorically - based approach to identifying text structure

is that Chambliss and Calfee (1998)

illustrated the rhetorical

patterns in graphic form. Students who

learn the

rhetorical pattern s

found

in expository text can

also

display

how content in the text is organized

in graphic organizer form . In the next section, I examine the potential of using graphic organizers in conjunction with rhetorical patterns as a means to facilitate student comprehension of textbooks.

Graph ic Organizers and Text Organization

G raphic organizers are spatial displa ys of key ideas from textbooks or domain content arranged to communicate conceptual hierarchy as well as relationships and connections between ideas, facts, and concepts (Dunston, 1992; Kim, Vaughn, Wanzek, & Wei, 20 04; Moore & Readence, 1984) . Graphic organizers can be used to present information found linearly in textbooks and displ ay it in two - dimensional form. In graphic organizers, k ey ideas and supporting details are identified and can be clustered or “chunked”

to facilitate recall in units rather than as facts in isolation.

The concept of presenting content in a visual format has been appealing to educators. The appeal stems from the idea that main ideas and concepts arranged graphically to show relationship t o each other should facilitate student comprehension of content. The Learning - Focused Schools Model ,

(Thompson & Thompson, 2005)

9

developed to improve instructional

practices in schools with low socioeconomic and high minority populations ,

states that graphic organizers are an integral teaching strategy that should be used to facilitate acquisition of new content.

While graphic organizers are an educational tool tha t appears to have great promise, research examining graphic organizers has produced inconsistent results. One possible reason for the inconsistency is the many variables considered in the research. For example, the development of graphic organizers began w ith the advanced organizer which involved presenting content to students prior to reading in order to build connections between the new content and the students‟ prior knowledge (Ausubel, 1960) .

When Moore and Readence (1984)

reviewed graphic organizer research however, they found that studies using graphic displays of content after reading text had a higher effect size than tho se used prior to reading. This statistic taken alone might indicate that graphic organizers used after reading are more effective than those used prior to reading. However, in addition to this treatment time variable, Moore and Readance, contended that the

way graphic organizers are used must be taken into account when studying their effectiveness. In the studies reviewed by Moore and Readence, graphic organizers were used in many different ways including students looking at teacher - created graphic organize rs, students filling in words or phrases on graphic organizers, or students grouping words on cards. Each of these activities could potentially produce a variation in results. Other variables examined in graphic organizer research are the use of graphic or ganizers with readers of varying abilities and degrees of prior knowledge (DiCecco & Gleason, 2002; Horton, Lovitt, & Bergerud, 1990; Lambiotte & Dansereau, 1992) , the effect of instruction in summarizing combined w ith use of graphic organizers or

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knowledge maps (Rewey, Dansereau, & Peel, 1991) , expert - generated versus student - generated graphic organizers (McCagg & Dansereau, 1991) , and comparing the effectiveness of outlining with graphic organizers (Bean, Singer, Sorter, & Frazee, 1986; Robinson & Kiewra, 1 995) .

When one considers the broad range of issues examined in graphic organizer research, it is not surprising that such research has produced varying results. While much of the research on graphic organizers has pr ovided valuable information on

Full document contains 367 pages
Abstract: Using a pretest, posttest two group design, this study investigated the effect of explicit instruction on rhetorical patterns and using those patterns to represent the content graphically on sixth-grade students. ability to comprehend social studies text. Students in 13 classes from four middle schools in Pennsylvania received either explicit instruction in identifying rhetorical patterns found in social studies textbooks and representing that text graphically or routine social studies instruction. Routine social studies instruction was identified as the instructional activities documented during observations conducted six weeks prior to the intervention. When the intervention began, intervention group students learned to identify rhetorical patterns, construct graphic organizers using the rhetorical patterns, and write summaries of textbook content. Comparison group students continued with routine social studies instruction. All students were assessed with (a) pre- and posttests in which they constructed graphic organizers and wrote summaries using social studies passages and (b) comprehension quizzes during on-going instruction. Randomly selected students from each group engaged in think-aloud tasks at the end of the study. The pre- and posttests results indicated a statistically significant interaction between time and group for both graphic organizer construction (with a very large effect size) and summary writing (with a moderate effect size). Intervention group students outperformed students in the routine social studies group in both constructing graphic organizers based on rhetorical patterns and writing complete summaries. For the comprehension quizzes, students receiving routine social studies instruction outperformed students in the intervention group when answering multiple-choice and essay questions requiring recall of content. Think-aloud responses demonstrated that students in the intervention group were able to graphically represent social studies textbook content using rhetorical patterns as well as transfer that knowledge to a textbook from a different domain while students in the comparison group recognized there was a structure to the content of the text but did not accurately represent that content graphically according to the appropriate rhetorical pattern. Observational data showed intervention students were more engaged with graphic organizers and work samples demonstrated they were able to identify key information in the text and represent it in graphic form.