The effects of substituting retelling for basal reader comprehension instruction on students in a sixth grade reading program
Teachers often assume that if a student is able to pronounce the words on a page, comprehension of the text will follow automatically. This is not always the case, and teachers struggle to find ways to effectively “teach” comprehension. Educational research done in the 1980s and 1990s supported teaching strategies to help students actively increase their own reading comprehension capabilities. Retelling was one of the comprehension-fostering instructional strategies examined and recommended. Even though the benefits of retelling were well-supported, its use in classrooms either did not become established or has waned in recent years.
This experimental study was designed to examine the value and ease of use of retelling in a contemporary classroom setting. Students in two intact sixth grade reading groups, one made up of proficient readers and the other of less-proficient readers, participated in the study.
The purpose of the study was twofold. First, it endeavored to determine if replacing existing group comprehension instruction and individual comprehension workbook assignments with retelling instruction and oral and written retelling practice would significantly impact the reading comprehension achievement of middle school students, and second, it sought to discover how retelling would affect the reading comprehension achievement of students at different levels of reading capability (proficient and less-proficient).
The retelling intervention lasted for five weeks with each group of students. Pre- and post-test reading comprehension achievement data were collected using three instruments: a standardized reading test, a curriculum-based measure, and a scale evaluating the quality of written retellings. An analysis of the data revealed that retelling was indeed an effective reading comprehension strategy. While statistical significance was not reached on all measures used, effect sizes reflected the practical significance of the retelling strategy. Both proficient and less-proficient readers benefited from the retelling instruction. The effects observed are particularly important because the strategy was implemented within an existing program without additional materials, costs, or disruptions to the classroom schedule of either the students or the teachers.
Middle school students
0535: Reading instruction
0727: Curriculum development