A classroom-based investigation of reciprocal teaching at the grade seven level
Cowan, Anne E.
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This study assessed the effectiveness of a reciprocal teaching program as a method of teaching reading comprehension, using narrative text material in a t.ypical grade seven classroom. In order to determine the effectiveness of the reciprocal teaching program, this method was compared to two other reading instruction approaches that, unlike rcciprocal teaching, did not include social interaction components. Two intact grade scven classes, and a grade seven teacher, participated in this study. Students were appropriately assigned to three treatment groups by reading achievement level as determined from a norm-referenced test. Training proceeded for a five week intervention period during regularly scheduled English periods. Throughout the program curriculum-based tests were administered. These tests were designed to assess comprehension in two distinct ways; namely, character analysis components as they relate to narrative text, and strategy use components as they contribute to student understanding of narrative and expository text. Pre, post, and maintenance tests were administered to measure overall training effects. Moreover, during intervention, training probes were administered in the last period of each week to evaluate treatment group performance. AU curriculum-based tests were coded and comparisons of pre, post, maintenance tests and training probes were presented in graph form. Results showed that the reciprocal group achieved some improvement in reading comprehension scores in the strategy use component of the tests. No improvements were observed for the character analysis components of the curriculum-based tests and the norm-referenced tests. At pre and post intervention, interviews requiring students to respond to questions that addressed metacomprehension awareness of study strategies were administered. The intelviews were coded and comparisons were made between the two intelVicws. No significant improvements were observed regarding student awareness of ten identified study strategies . This study indicated that reciprocal teaching is a viable approach that can be utilized to help students acquire more effective comprehension strategies. However, the maximum utility of the technique when administered to a population of grade seven students performing at average to above average levels of reading achievement has yet to be determined. In order to explore this issue, the refinement of training materials and curriculum-based measurements need to be explored. As well, this study revealed that reciprocal teaching placed heavier demands on the classroom teacher when compared to other reading instruction methods. This may suggest that innovative and intensive teacher training techniques are required before it is feasible to use this method in the classroom.