Exploring the use of effective learning strategies to increase students' reading comprehension and test taking skills /
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This study examined the effects of providing students with explicit instruction in how to use a repertoire of reading comprehension strategies and test taking skills when reading and responding to three types of questions (direct, inferential, critical). Specifically, the study examined whether providing students with a "model" of how to read and respond to the text and to the comprehension questions improved their reading comprehension relative to providing them with implicit instruction on reading comprehension strategies and test taking skills. Students' reading comprehension and test taking performance scores were compared as a function of instructional condition. Students from 2 grade 8 classes participated in this study. The reading component of the Canadian Achievement Tests, Third Edition (CAT/3) was used to identify students' level of reading comprehension prior to the formal instructional sessions. Students received either explicit instruction, which involved modelling, or implicit instruction, which consisted of review and discussion of the strategies to be used. Comprehension was measured through the administration of formative tests after each instructional session. The formative tests consisted of reading comprehension questions pertaining to a specific form of text (narrative, informational, graphic). In addition, students completed 3 summative tests and a delayed comprehension test which consisted of the alternative version of the CAT/3 standardized reading assessment. These data served as a posttest measure to determine whether students had shown an improvement in their reading comprehension skills as a result of the program delivery. There were significant differences in students' Canadian Achievement Test performance scores prior to the onset of the study. Students in the implicit group attained significantly higher comprehension scores than did students in the explicit group. The results from the program sessions indicated no significant differences in reading comprehension between the implicit and explicit conditions, with the exception of the 6th session involving the reading and interpreting of graphic text. Students in the explicit group performed significantly better when reading and interpreting graphic text than those in the implicit group. No significant differences were evident between the two study conditions across the three summative tests. Upon completion of the study, the results from the Canadian Achievement Test indicated no significant differences in performance between the two study conditions. The findings from this study reveal the effectiveness of providing students with explicit strategy instruction when reading and responding to various forms of text. Modelling the appropriate reading comprehension strategies and test taking skills enabled students to apply the same thought processes to their own independent work. This form of instruction enabled students in the explicit group to improve in their abilities to comprehend and respond to text and therefore should be incorporated as an effective form of classroom teaching.