Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Teacher Education


This study examined whether explicit instruction in reading strategies and groupwork skills improved secondary student achievement in reading comprehension. The sample included both whole school and single class results from a middle school in which more than 80% of the teachers had implemented the reading comprehension program. The followng three instructional practices were utilized to explicitly teach students reading comprehension strategies: On and Under the Surface Reading, Reciprocal Teaching and Complex Instruction. Students were taught to categorize reading strategies as On-the-Surface (e.g., identifying the facts of the text, summarizing or paraphrasing) or Under-the-Surface (e.g., inferring, speculating, hypothesizing, connecting). After students learned that reading could be categorized as On-the-Surface, Under-the-Surface or both, this schema was integrated into the Reciprocal Teaching dialogue developed by Palinscar and Brown (1984). In addition to On and Under the Surface reading and Reciprocal Teaching, Complex Instruction (Cohen, 1986) was utilized to teach students effective groupwork skills. These three instructional practices were studied for their effectiveness on whole-school student schievement, as well as their effect on a single classroom of English Language Learners. Whole school results on both standardized and authentic assessments indicate that student achievement in reading comprehension was improved by explicit comprehension instruction. Additionally, the single class of English Language Learners showed significant improvement on the authentic assessment and in student work samples. That a structured middle school reading comprehension program was effective has implications for reading program design in other secondary programs.


Thesis (M.A.) Institute for Advanced Studies in Education

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