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Reading and Writing

, Volume 31, Issue 9, pp 2115–2145 | Cite as

Identifying and discriminating expository text structures: An experiment with 4th and 5th grade struggling readers

  • Michael HebertEmail author
  • Janet J. Bohaty
  • J. Ron Nelson
  • Matthew C. Lambert
Article

Abstract

Students who struggle with reading have particular trouble with expository text. Instruction in text structures has been shown to be effective for improving expository reading comprehension. However, few studies have been conducted specifically with upper elementary aged struggling readers. To address these issues, we developed a new intervention, Structures, to improve the expository text comprehension of 4th and 5th grade struggling readers. In this study, we conducted a randomized control trial to assess the promise, usability, and feasibility of one component of the intervention designed to teach students to identify and discriminate the five text structures. Forty-five 4th and 5th grade struggling readers were randomly assigned to intervention or business-as-usual conditions. Students in the Structures condition were taught to identify and discriminate among the five text structures used by authors of expository text: description, sequence, cause/effect, compare/contrast, and problem/solution. At post-test, experimental students (n = 24) statistically significantly outperformed control students (n = 21) on a structures identification measure (d = 0.94). No other statistically significant differences were found. However, a practically (but not statistically) significant effect size was found on an oral retell measure (d = 0.29). Results also indicate the materials were usable for teachers and it was feasible to implement the intervention in a school setting. The implications and future directions of the development of remaining components in the Structures intervention are discussed.

Keywords

Text structures Expository text Informational text Reading Fourth grade Fifth grade 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education, through award R324B130005 to the University of Nebraska. We specifically thank Konstantin Blume, Kelsey Moreland, Jadee White, Julia Roehling, and Hallie Sharkey for assistance with the development of materials, data collection, and scoring. We also extend thanks to the teachers and students who participated in this project. Statements do not reflect the position or policy of the university, schools, or persons, and no official endorsement should be inferred.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders, Barkley Memorial CenterUniversity of Nebraska—LincolnLincolnUSA
  2. 2.342 Barkley Memorial CenterUniversity of Nebraska—LincolnLincolnUSA
  3. 3.247B Barkley Memorial CenterUniversity of Nebraska—LincolnLincolnUSA
  4. 4.273 Barkley Memorial CenterUniversity of Nebraska—LincolnLincolnUSA

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