THE EFFECTS OF DISCIPLINARY LITERACY INSTRUCTION ON READING COMPREHENSION AND HISTORICAL KNOWLEDGE
Walker, Caroline Y.
De La Paz, Susan
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This study examined the effects of three Tier 2 summer reading interventions on struggling readers who were about to enter the sixth grade. Students were assigned to one of three reading conditions: The first condition provided students with a disciplinary reading strategy utilizing primary and secondary documents on the history of China (N = 35); the second condition provided a generic comprehension strategy utilizing the same history of China materials (N = 30); the third, business as usual comparison condition, provided students with multiple, ad hoc comprehension strategies and varied texts (N = 45). The study sought to test whether a history-specific reading strategy would lead to greater comprehension gains than a generic comprehension strategy and whether both interventions, based in history content, would lead to greater content learning outcomes than ad hoc strategies and unconnected texts. Results indicate that in comparison to students in the business as usual comparison condition, students in both the disciplinary and generic strategy conditions showed greater growth on a researcher-created content measure of history. Students in these two conditions also showed more growth than peers in the comparison condition on a researcher-developed disciplinary comprehension measure. Contrary to the author's expectations, students in the two treatment conditions performed similarly on the disciplinary comprehension measure. This finding may have been due to problems with fidelity of implementation, the similarity of the two interventions, or the greater familiarity students and staff had with the generic comprehension strategy. Students in all three interventions showed growth on a standardized reading comprehension measure, the Gates-MacGinitie. In addition, regardless of condition, students did not show growth on a measure of reading motivation. Students who were diagnosed with reading disabilities performed similarly to peers who were struggling readers but not identified as having a disability on all measures. These results, which differ from those with older middle school students, suggest a need for future research on the relative effectiveness of both discipline-specific and generic reading comprehension strategies on comprehending and learning history content.