We examined the influence of teachers’ use of instructional time on students’ learning within the context of a randomized controlled trial investigating the effects of a content-area reading comprehension intervention. Participants were 8th grade social studies teachers who had their classes randomly assigned to either Promoting Acceleration of Comprehension and Content through Text (PACT) or business-as-usual (BAU). In both conditions, the same social studies content was the focus of instruction. Thirty-five 8th grade teachers (18 female, 17 male) audio-record instruction in both PACT and BAU classes for the duration of the 6–8 week intervention. Instruction was coded on five dimensions: interactive instruction, teacher silence, noninstructional activities, video usage, and neutral class time. Social studies knowledge acquisition was measured amongst 2786 8th grade students. Findings indicated that teachers spent more time engaged in interactive instruction when delivering content-area instruction in PACT classrooms as compared to BAU classrooms. Further, instructional behaviors were significantly related to changes in content knowledge acquisition in the BAU classes. In the treatment condition, teachers’ instructional behaviors were not significantly related to changes in content acquisition, except for noninstructional activities and non-content related video, which both had negative effects. Our findings suggest that while interactive instructional time remains important, the instructional methods utilized during this time are equally (if not more) impactful on student achievement.
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This research was supported in part by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305F100013 to The University of Texas at Austin as part of the Reading for Understanding Research Initiative. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.
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Toste, J.R., Vaughn, S., Martinez, L.R. et al. Content-area reading comprehension and teachers’ use of instructional time: effects on middle school students’ social studies knowledge. Read Writ 32, 1705–1722 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-018-9925-7
- Content-area reading
- Middle school
- Instructional time
- Social studies