Explicit Reading Comprehension Instruction in Elementary Classrooms: Teacher Use of Reading Comprehension Strategies

Over the past 30 or so years, education researchers have noted better strategies for helping improve students’ text comprehension. What educators have learned is that there is no one perfect strategy, but that students must use many flexible strategies for recalling information from text, determining themes, and developing high-level connections to the text. In the present study, Molly Ness conducted an observational study to identify the frequency of reading comprehension instruction in elementary classrooms. The author set out to determine which reading comprehension instructional strategies were most used by teachers in elementary classrooms.

Researchers have shown that comprehension is the most important aspect of reading, as it helps students construct meaning out of, and make personal connections to, the text. Ness provides a thorough literature review demonstrating the benefits of explicit reading comprehension. Even more specifically, when elementary-age children are provided with explicit comprehension instruction, their performance on higher-level tasks increases. Despite their many benefits, these strategies are not always taught in the elementary classroom. One reason is that comprehension instruction is often less teacher-directed, and so the teacher prompts students instead of drilling them with questions. It is often difficult for teachers to make comprehension a daily part of their instructional day.

Full article published in Journal of Research in Childhood Education,
January-March 2011, Volume 25, No. 1, pp. 98-117.

Summary written by Jan Lacina.