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Relationship between metacognitive strategy instruction and reading comprehension in at-risk fourth grade students

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Tamara W Diebold
Abstract:
In spite of efforts to achieve the reading proficiency requirements mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, students' inability to comprehend text and meet grade level standards on state and national assessments continues to be problematic. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of explicit direct instruction of metacognitive strategies using thinking maps. Research questions compared the comprehension achievement of at-risk 4th grade students who received the metacognitive strategy instruction coupled with traditional READ 180 instruction with those who solely received traditional READ 180 instruction. Control and intervention groups were also compared by gender and race. The foundation of the study was based on the constructivist learning theory proposed by Vygotsky. A quasi-experimental, pretest/posttest control group design was used to compare the achievement of 58 students organized into 4 READ 180 program classes from 3 elementary schools in the study district. Data were collected and analyzed using ANOVAs, with intervention/control group, race, and gender as independent variables to compare students' reading comprehension scores on the Scholastic Reading Inventory. The findings revealed no significant differences between the control and intervention groups. The findings did indicate that male students tended to have greater improvements in SRI scores than females. Although the findings did not support the implementation of Thinking Maps to improve comprehension for at-risk 4th grade students, they supported recommendations for further research and professional development. Implications for social change include improved reading proficiency for all students.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

List of Tables iv

SECTION 1: INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY ........................................................... 1 Focus…………………………………………………………………………………… Error! Bookmark not defined. Definition of the Problem ............................................................................................... 4 Nature of the Study ......................................................................................................... 5 Research Questions ......................................................................................................... 6 Purpose and Significance of the Study ........................................................................... 7 Theoretical Framework ................................................................................................... 9 Operational Definitions ................................................................................................. 10 Assumptions and Limitations ....................................................................................... 12 Scope and Delimitations ............................................................................................... 13 Significance of the Study .............................................................................................. 13 Summary ....................................................................................................................... 14

SECTION 2: THE LITERATURE REVIEW................................................................... 15 Introduction ................................................................................................................... 15 Theoretical Philosophy ................................................................................................. 17 Reading Comprehension and Instruction ...................................................................... 20 Metacognitive Strategies ............................................................................................... 25 Nonlinguistic Strategies ................................................................................................ 27 Thinking Maps .............................................................................................................. 29 Thinking Maps Research .............................................................................................. 31 READ 180 ..................................................................................................................... 37 Gender Equity ............................................................................................................... 40 Achievement Gap.......................................................................................................... 43 Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 46

SECTION 3: THE METHODOLOGY ............................................................................. 50 Introduction ................................................................................................................... 50 Research Design and Approach .................................................................................... 50 Setting and Sample ....................................................................................................... 52 Control Group ............................................................................................................... 52 Intervention Group ........................................................................................................ 52 Instrumentation and Materials ...................................................................................... 57 Reliability and Validity ................................................................................................. 58 Threats to Internal and External Validity ...................................................................... 58 Role of the Researchers ................................................................................................ 58 Data Collection and Analysis........................................................................................ 59 Participants’ Rights and Ethical Considerations ........................................................... 61 Summary ....................................................................................................................... 61

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SECTION 4: RESULTS ................................................................................................... 63 Introduction ................................................................................................................... 63 Intervention Details ....................................................................................................... 63 Research Findings ......................................................................................................... 65 Summary of Findings .................................................................................................... 69 Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 70

SECTION 5: Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations ......................................... 71 Summary of Findings .................................................................................................... 75 Academic Affect ........................................................................................................... 75 Study Placement in the Research .................................................................................. 76 Implications for Social Change ..................................................................................... 77 Recommendations for Action and Further Study ......................................................... 78 Summary ....................................................................................................................... 80 REFERENCES ................................................................................................................. 81

APPENDIX A: PERMISSION TO USE TABLE ............................................................ 94 CURRICULUM VITAE ................................................................................................... 95

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List of Tables

Table 1 Student Achievement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

Table 2 Comparison and Sample Sizes of Study Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . 54

Table 3 Intervention and Control Group Participants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55

Table 4 Research Question 1 Analysis of Hypothesis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67

Table 5 Research Question 2 Analysis of Hypothesis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68

Table 6 Research Question 3 Analysis of Hypothesis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70

SECTION 1: INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY

Focus of the Study The proficiency requirements mandated by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 require all students to meet grade level standards by the 2013-2014 school year. In spite of efforts to achieve this goal, students’ inability to comprehend text and meet grade level standards on state and national assessments continues to be problematic (National Center for Education Statistics, 2007). Comprehension is not likely to improve and schools could continue to fall short of achieving proficiency as outlined by NCLB until a determination is made concerning where comprehension is breaking down and what strategies can be employed to assist children in reading and comprehending on grade level (Dewitz and Dewitz, 2003). The results of the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards (PASS), the standardized test taken by all third, fourth, and fifth grade students, revealed that in spite of efforts over the last 5 years to improve reading scores, 15.2% of fourth grade students in the district did not meet grade level standards in English Language Arts for the 2008- 2009 school year (U.S. Department of Education, 2009). The problem is that although progress is being made, a percentage of the population still fails to meet grade level standards (U.S. Department of Education, 2009). Because of the continued inability to achieve the desired gains in reading test scores, the district implemented a program called READ 180 to meet the needs of the at-risk population. In order to qualify for the READ 180 program, students must fail to meet grade level standards on the PASS and be

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ineligible for special education services. Students enrolled in the program are considered at-risk. READ 180 is a reading intervention program designed to meet the needs of struggling readers. The components of the program include instructional software, high- interest literature, and explicit direct instruction of reading skills (Scholastic READ 180, 2008). Class size is limited to 18 students (Scholastic READ 180, 2008). The 90 minute READ 180 block begins with 20 minutes of whole group explicit direct instruction of reading skills (Scholastic READ 180, 2008). Students then begin rotating in small groups (Scholastic READ 180, 2008). Next, they spend 20 minutes using instructional software, 20 minutes reading high-interest literature in the reading center, and 20 minutes receiving small group instruction on the reading skill introduced in the whole group setting (Scholastic READ 180, 2008). During the final 10 minutes of the block, students return to the whole group where the teacher actively closes the lesson. The READ 180 program addresses the five essential elements of an effective reading program as outlined by NCLB: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension (U.S. Department of Education, 2008). Researchers have supported the practices of the READ 180 program. Practices include utilizing adaptive technology, building mental models; teaching comprehension using gradual- release and differentiating instruction; utilizing narrow reading; teaching academic vocabulary; teaching questioning strategies; and explicit comprehension instruction. Creating nonlinguistic representations positively affects achievement (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2002). Jensen (1996) and Yeager (2004) conducted brain research that supported the use of nonlinguistic representation strategies. Yeager (2004) stated,

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“The brain is a pattern seeker and is dominantly visual” (p. 23). Therefore, the use of nonlinguistic representations help the reader see patterns in text and make sense of what is being read. The findings of studies conducted to determine the effects of using nonlinguistic representations, also known as graphic organizers, are contradictory. Some researchers claimed that using graphic organizers resulted in improved student achievement (Chang, Chen, & Sung, 2002; Dunston, 1992; Ermis, 2008; Hawk, 1986; Moore & Readence, 1984). Other researchers claimed the opposite and there was no benefit (Griffin, Malone, & Kameenui, 1995; Simmons, Griffin, & Kameenui, 1989). Due to the contradictory results, further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of nonlinguistic representations on reading comprehension. Thinking Maps are a set of eight nonlinguistic tools based on cognitive processes, which help students focus on the specifics of the thinking required to comprehend text (Hyerle, 2004). These nonlinguistic tools allow students to make the abstract concrete by helping them create patterns, which the brain then recognizes and makes sense of to aid in learning. The intended use of the Thinking Maps program is for the maps to be taught to students so that they become a common language that they use when they are reading (Hyerle, 2004). The Thinking Maps provide a visual tool designed to help students read and comprehend text. Studies conducted to determine the effectiveness of graphic organizers have contradictory results (Chang, Chen, & Sung, 2002; Dunston, 1992; Ermis, 2008; Hawk, 1986; Moore & Readence, 1984). Other researchers claimed the opposite and there was no benefit (Griffin, Malone, & Kameenui, 1995; Simmons, Griffin, & Kameenui, 1989). The READ 180 program failed to ensure all at-risk students met grade level standards

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(U.S. Department of Education, 2009). The purpose of this study was to determine whether the explicit direct instruction of Thinking Maps would impact achievement in reading comprehension for fourth grade READ 180 students as measured by the Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI). A more detailed discussion of the review of literature is in section 2.

Definition of the Problem The problematic conditions that led to this study are that in spite of efforts to improve reading comprehension achievement of fourth grade at-risk students, 15.2% of the fourth graders in the district still fail to meet grade level standards (U.S. Department of Education, 2009). In addition, female fourth grade at-risk students continue to score higher than their male peers, and white students score higher than their minority peers. In order to make Adequate Yearly Progress, 100% of students in all subgroups must meet or exceed grade level standards by the year 2013-2014. This required percentage is an increase of approximately 40% since the 2009-2010 school year. As the sanctions of the NCLB Act of 2001 become increasingly difficult to satisfy, schools have been forced to seek ways to ensure that all students are able to meet grade level standards in mathematics and reading (U.S. Department of Education, 2001). If this level of achievement is not realized, the legislation calls for the identification of schools that are “failing to meet achievement goals and to label them as schools in need of improvement” (Brimley & Garfield, 2008, p. 209). I examined the impact of the explicit direct instruction of Thinking Maps on the reading comprehension achievement of fourth grade READ 180 students. I compared

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reading comprehension achievement between the intervention and control groups, as well as reading achievement of fourth grade READ 180 male and female students who received explicit direct instruction of Thinking Maps and those who did not. Differences in reading comprehension achievement with regard to race were also considered. There were three independent variables. The first independent variable was explicit direct instruction of Thinking Maps. The second independent variable was gender, and the third independent variable was race. The dependent variable was the SRI scores.

Nature of the Study A quasi-experimental quantitative study was conducted to determine if the explicit direct instruction of metacognitive strategies using Thinking Maps affected the reading comprehension achievement of fourth grade READ 180 students. An experimental study is a “research situation in which at least one independent variable, called the experimental variable, is deliberately manipulated or varied by the researcher” (Wiersma & Jurs, 2005, p. 99). I compared the reading achievement between READ 180 students who had explicit direct instruction on the use of Thinking Maps and those who did not. Participants’ reading comprehension achievement was measured prior to the initiation of the intervention and approximately 4 weeks later using the SRI test. Wiersma and Jurs (2005) asserted that quasi-experimental research is done with “an experimental variable with intact groups, or at least with groups that have not been found through random selection or random assignment; single subjects, not randomly selected, may also be involved” (p. 491).

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The study was conducted in three elementary schools in a growing district in the southeast region of South Carolina. The three schools that were used, A, B, and C, each had enrollments of approximately 1,000 students. All of the schools that participated in the study served grades K-5. A one-way ANOVA was run to address the difference in SRI gains between the intervention and control groups, as this is a test of main effect. A two-way ANOVA was then conducted to determine if the difference in means on the SRI test score gains between the two groups vary as a function of race. Finally, a two-way ANOVA was conducted to evaluate the effect of the Thinking Maps intervention and gender on SRI test score improvement.

Research Questions Question 1 Is there a significant relationship between the use of Thinking Maps and reading comprehension scores, as measured by the SRI, for all READ 180 students? Null Hypothesis 1 There is no significant relationship between the use of Thinking Maps and reading comprehension scores, as measured by the SRI, for all READ 180 students. Alternative Hypothesis 1 There is a significant relationship between the use of Thinking Maps and reading comprehension scores, as measured by the SRI, for all READ 180 students. Question 2 Is there a significant relationship between the use of Thinking Maps and reading comprehension scores, as measured by the SRI, when examined by student race?

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Null Hypothesis 2 There is no significant relationship between the use of Thinking Maps and reading comprehension scores, as measured by the SRI, when examined by student race. Alternative Hypothesis 2 There is a significant relationship between the use of Thinking Maps and reading comprehension scores, as measured by the SRI, when examined by student race. Question 3 Is there a significant relationship between the use of Thinking Maps and reading comprehension scores, as measured by the SRI, when examined by student gender? Null Hypothesis 3 There is no significant relationship between the use of Thinking Maps and reading comprehension scores, as measured by the SRI, when examined by student gender. Alternative Hypothesis 3 There is a significant relationship between the use of Thinking Maps and reading comprehension scores, as measured by the SRI, when examined by student gender.

Purpose and Significance of the Study The challenges faced by educators to meet the requirements of NCLB (2001), coupled with the reality that not all students are able to comprehend text and meet grade level standards, has led to research aimed at improving reading instruction to improve comprehension. Graphic organizers have been the focus of a number of researchers. The findings of these studies have proven contradictory (Chang, Chen, & Sung, 2002; Ermis, 2008; Griffin & Tulbert, 1995; Rice, 1994). Some of these discrepancies are due to

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inconsistent study designs and lack of constants in the research (Griffin & Tulbert, 1995; Rice, 1994). Griffin and Tulbert suggested that future research efforts be conducted using a specific set of graphic organizers and uniform instruction. Limiting the number of independent variables and using a control group were also suggested as a means for achieving less contradictory results. Specific studies conducted to determine the impact of graphic organizers on the learner based on ability have been contradictory. Even though researchers assumed that the use of graphic organizers would be most beneficial to low-ability students, this was not always the case (Boothby & Alvermann, 1984; Luiten, Wilbur, & Ackerson, 1980). Because of the conflicting results of studies examining reading ability, Griffin and Tulbert (1995) suggested that additional studies that involve poor readers should be conducted. In addition to studies involving the poor reader, Nesbit and Adescope (2006) contended that additional studies involving elementary students were needed. A meta- analysis of graphic organizer research involving 55 studies revealed that only three involved elementary students (Dunston, 1992). I examined the impact of Thinking Maps instruction on the reading comprehension of students enrolled in the READ 180 program, a reading intervention program designed to meet the needs of struggling readers. The Thinking Maps provide consistency with regard to the graphic organizers utilized, and the READ 180 program provides a curriculum that promotes uniform instruction (Scholastic READ 180, 2008). The findings of the study will add to the existing literature relative to the use of graphic organizers and their influence in improving the reading comprehension of the at-risk learner at the elementary level.

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In order to be successful in society, children must be able to read and comprehend text. The reasons some children are not successful in comprehending what they read are not completely understood (Griffin & Tulbert, 1995). Many factors contribute to this problem (Dewitz & Dewitz, 2003). The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not explicit direct instruction of Thinking Maps coupled with READ 180 instruction significantly affects achievement in reading comprehension for a fourth grade READ 180 population. Theoretical Framework The concept of constructivism originated during the time of Socrates, who used questioning to help students see the weakness in their thinking (Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning, 2006). The constructivist learning theory of today was greatly influenced by Vygotsky (Cannella & Reff, 1994). Vygotsky proposed that people learn by creating new knowledge based on what they already know, prior knowledge, and the activities in which they are engaged (Cannella & Reff, 1994). Students in the constructivist classroom actively participate in the learning. They are encouraged to think about their learning and to question, “Constructivism transforms the student from passive recipient of information to an active participant in the learning process” (Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning, 2006). The constructivist learning theory recognized the effectiveness of metacognitive strategies and supported the use of those strategies to teach comprehension (Brooks & Brooks, 1999; Eilers & Pinkley, 2006). Once cognitive strategies have been employed, metacognitive strategies come into play. “They often occur when cognitions fail, such as recognizing that one did not understand what one just read” (Livingston, 1997, para. 2).

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Using metacognitive strategies effectively involves higher order thinking. This higher order thinking allows students to control their cognitive processes, which is referred to as executive control (Livingston, 1997). As a result, students would be able to employ cognitive strategies to comprehend text, recognize when those strategies were not working, and be able to make adjustments. Researchers have supported reading instruction that emphasizes the flexible use of strategies rather than a set of skills that students need to master in order to comprehend text (Allen & Hancock, 2008; Carbo, 2008; Pearson, Roehler, Dale, & Duffy, 1992). Research has also supported the effectiveness of explicitly teaching strategies through modeling and requiring students to interact with text to improve comprehension (Kucan & Beck, 1997; Salinger & Fleischman, 2005). Thinking Maps require students to interact with text and could serve as a set of strategies for students to use when comprehension breaks down (Hyerle, 2004). Operational Definitions Adequate yearly progress (AYP): Under NCLB, public schools must meet academic standards in academic achievement and must meet proficiency with AYP in reading and mathematics (Brimley & Garfield, 2008, p. 209) At-risk students: Those who score below Basic on PASS and who do not qualify for special education services in the area of reading. All at-risk students were enrolled in the READ 180 program. Brace Map: A Thinking Map used for setting, analysis, and technical writing (Hyerle, 2004).

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Bridge Map: A Thinking Map used with analogies, similes, and metaphors (Hyerle, 2004). Bubble Map: A Thinking Map used for descriptive writing and analyzing character (Hyerle, 2004). Circle Map: A Thinking Map used for brainstorming and vocabulary study (Hyerle, 2004). Double Bubble Map: A Thinking Map used for comparing and contrasting (Hyerle, 2004). Explicit Direct Instruction: Entails beginning each lesson by accessing prior knowledge followed by explicit identification and modeling of the skill or strategy being taught by the teacher. A period of guided and independent practice that includes checking for understanding, and active closure (Dorchester, 2007). Flow Map: A Thinking Map used for analyzing plot and sequencing (Hyerle, 2004). Lexile Level: A measure of a child's reading ability and comprehension, represented by a scale score that corresponds to a grade level (Scholastic READ 180, 2008). Metacognitive Skill: Thinking about thinking, which includes “developing a plan of action, maintaining that plan in the mind over a period of time, and reflecting on and evaluating the plan upon its completion” (Hyerle, 2000a, p. 48). Multi-Flow Map: A Thinking Map used for cause and effect (Hyerle, 2004). No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB): The NCLB Act is a federal law with the purpose of improving the performance of elementary and secondary schools by

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increasing the standards of accountability, requiring every state to “test students in grades 3 through 8 annually in reading and mathematics” (Brimley & Garfield, 2008, p. 209). The NCLB Act also requires states to have highly qualified teachers (Brimley & Garfield, p. 209). READ 180: A reading intervention program designed to meet the needs of struggling readers (Scholastic READ 180, 2008). Thinking Maps: Eight maps based on cognitive processes, defining context,

classifying and grouping, describing, comparing and contrasting, analyzing cause and

effect, creating analogies, identifying part to whole relationships, and sequencing and

ordering, which help students to comprehend text (Hyerle, 2004).

Tree Map: A Thinking Map used for main idea and research writing (Hyerle, 2004). Assumptions and Limitations All READ 180 teachers are trained and are instructing according to the program outlined by Scholastic. Participating READ 180 teachers selected to implement Thinking Maps provided explicit direct instruction of Thinking Maps, according to the training they received (Scholastic READ 180, 2008). The difference in teaching styles may have contributed to gains or lack of gains in reading comprehension (Asubel, 1967). The convenience sampling procedure used in the study decreases the generalizability of the findings. In order to improve the generalizability, three schools were involved in the study. The Thinking Maps program is intended to be a year long endeavor. The data were collected after 4 weeks of treatment rather than at the end of the year, which could have affected the findings.

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Scope and Delimitations Fourth grade students enrolled in the READ 180 program participated in the study. All students, involved in the study received instruction according to the READ 180 program. They were assessed using the SRI. One group of students (control group) received reading instruction according to the READ 180 program. The second group (intervention group) received READ 180 instruction as well as metacognitive strategy instruction in the use of Thinking Maps. The study was confined to fourth grade at-risk students enrolled in the READ 180 program in a suburban school district. A quasi-experimental quantitative study employing a nonequivalent pretest and posttest control group design was used.

Significance of Study The purpose of this study was to determine whether there is a significant relationship between the use of Thinking Maps and reading comprehension scores, as measured by the SRI, for all READ 180 students. The findings could be instrumental in helping the district determine whether implementing Thinking Maps would be worthwhile. If the explicit direct instruction of this metacognitive strategy positively influenced achievement in reading comprehension for the at-risk population, then perhaps it would improve the comprehension achievement of all students, which in turn could positively influence achievement in other content areas. The data provide information that could be used to enable the district to meet proficiency standards outlined by NCLB. The findings contribute to the body of knowledge that addresses the reading comprehension dilemma so that we could use this

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information to continue making strides toward improving reading instruction that will enable students to be functioning, productive members of society. The findings of the study will answer the question of whether the explicit direct instruction of metacognitive strategies using Thinking Maps will affect the reading comprehension achievement of READ 180 students. Summary In section 2, the literature pertaining to research efforts and strategies to improve reading comprehension instruction, as well as metacognition and nonlinguistic approaches is reviewed. In section 3, I explain the methodology used to conduct the study, the study design, threats to internal validity, data collection and analysis methods, as well as a description of the intervention and control. Finally, in sections 4 and 5, I outline the results of the study and the conclusion, discussion, and recommendations based on those findings.

SECTION 2: LITERATURE REVIEW Introduction

The purpose of the study was to determine if the use of Thinking Maps would improve reading comprehension for the fourth grade at-risk reader. Section 2 includes a review of the literature, with focus being on constructivism, comprehension, and differences in reading comprehension achievement with regard to gender and race. The strategies employed for the research necessary for the review include database searches using the Walden University Library, as well as other local university libraries; articles and chapters from the researcher’s personal library; and staff development materials offered by David Hyerle and Scholastic. The Walden Online Library was used to search for dissertations that contained relevant information such as reading comprehension, Thinking Maps, and elementary level research. My personal libraries as well as the Literacy Interventionist’s library were explored for information regarding reading instructional strategies and the use of graphic organizers. The review includes articles, books, and applicable websites. The review of the literature included current articles secured by using ProQuest, ERIC, EBSCO, and various education research databases. Key words included brain research, reading comprehension instruction, research efforts, reading strategies, metacognition, constructivist learning theory, nonlinguistic approaches, Thinking Maps, READ 180, gender equity, and achievement gap. I first examined the theoretical framework upon which the study was based and the research efforts of the last 25 years with regard to reading comprehension and instruction. This is followed by an overview or reading strategies employed by proficient

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readers. Next, is a discussion of reading comprehension instruction, which includes metacognition, constructivist learning theory, nonlinguistic approaches, Thinking Maps, and READ 180. This section closes with an overview of research methodology, which will be discussed in section 3. Reading instruction and its effectiveness is the subject of much debate. “Although people have read, and have taught other people to read for over 5, 000 years, serious scientific research on the reading process has been conducted only during the last 100 years” (Orasanu & Penney, 1986, p. 1). Much of the research and instructional practice followed a traditional approach that entails teaching the letters, combining the letters into words, and then the words into sentences (Durkin, 1979). It was then assumed that comprehension automatically happened (Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2002). In the past, when students encountered comprehension difficulties, the solution was more practice in decoding (Durkin, 1979). Additional decoding instruction did not improve the comprehension of all struggling readers (Pearson, Roehlert, Dole, & Duff, 1992). The National Institute of Education, created in 1972, was tasked with developing an action plan for future reading research that would meet the needs of all readers. The group recommended that research efforts be focused on improving reading instruction at the elementary level, which mainly involved teaching decoding and improving comprehension in general. The Institute suggested, “We must understand better the higher mental processes that control the intentional acts of reading” (Orsanu, 1986, p. xi). Prior to this time, research efforts had focused primarily on decoding (Baker & Brown, 1984). Although the importance of decoding was not negated, a shift in thinking

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occurred (Pearson, Roehlert, Dole, & Duff, 1992). Reading became a more active process that focused on meaning at that time. As a result of this shift, a better understanding of the complexity of the process of comprehension evolved. “This new understanding has led to a different view of comprehension and an accompanying shift in our views about how to teach it” (Pearson, Roehlert, Dole, & Duff, 1992, p. 148). Instead of a scope and sequence of skills that students need to master in order to comprehend text, the preferred approach to teaching reading has changed to include the continual engagement of students in the use of flexible strategies so that they are better able to make decisions about which strategies to use based on the text and task presented. Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, and Wilkinson (1985), members of the Commission on Reading, identified two areas of concern with regard to reading. The first was the reading process. The second was the teaching techniques, tools, and testing involved in reading instruction. Theoretical Philosophy The constructivist learning theory recognizes the effectiveness of metacognitive strategies. Vygotsky (1994), a constructivist philosopher, is credited with the development of the zone of proximal development sociocultural theory, which proposes that learning occurs through social interaction with peers and adults (Lightbrown & Spada, 2006) Constructivism, supports the use of metacognitive strategies to teach comprehension (Brooks & Brooks, 1999). Constructivists posit that people learn by creating new knowledge based on what they already know, prior knowledge, and the activities in which they engage (Cannella & Reff, 1994). Students in the constructivist

Full document contains 106 pages
Abstract: In spite of efforts to achieve the reading proficiency requirements mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, students' inability to comprehend text and meet grade level standards on state and national assessments continues to be problematic. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of explicit direct instruction of metacognitive strategies using thinking maps. Research questions compared the comprehension achievement of at-risk 4th grade students who received the metacognitive strategy instruction coupled with traditional READ 180 instruction with those who solely received traditional READ 180 instruction. Control and intervention groups were also compared by gender and race. The foundation of the study was based on the constructivist learning theory proposed by Vygotsky. A quasi-experimental, pretest/posttest control group design was used to compare the achievement of 58 students organized into 4 READ 180 program classes from 3 elementary schools in the study district. Data were collected and analyzed using ANOVAs, with intervention/control group, race, and gender as independent variables to compare students' reading comprehension scores on the Scholastic Reading Inventory. The findings revealed no significant differences between the control and intervention groups. The findings did indicate that male students tended to have greater improvements in SRI scores than females. Although the findings did not support the implementation of Thinking Maps to improve comprehension for at-risk 4th grade students, they supported recommendations for further research and professional development. Implications for social change include improved reading proficiency for all students.