Instruction of metacognitive strategies enhances reading comprehension and vocabulary achievement of third-grade students.
According to a study conducted by Regina Boulware-Gooden, Carreker, Thornhill, and Joshi in their article entitled,” Instruction of metacognitive strategies enhances reading comprehension and vocabulary achievement of third-grade students, ”, there was a finding that instruction of metacognitive strategies not only improved the vocabulary of third grade students but also their comprehension. The study came to the finding that explicit teaching that made use of metacognitive strategies significantly led to improvement in both comprehensions as well as vocabulary development of third grade students. The crux of the study is that students were encouraged to think loud while reading. It is the case that the study only confirmed the existing research findings on the subject to the effect that teaching using metacognitive strategies is crucial to enhancing vocabulary development, as well as comprehension among learners. This is surely the case since oral language development must be distinguished from comprehension and the development of vocabulary.
The study conducted aimed at examining the relationship that exists between the explicit teaching by employing metacognitive strategies and the improvement in learning among third grade students, if any. The study aimed at presenting a study to show the gains that accrued to third grade students in terms of reading comprehension and vocabulary count through the aid of metacognitive strategies. One of the objectives of the study was to determine the effectiveness of direct instruction of multiple metacognitive strategies in assisting the comprehension of text among students. The investigative study also sought to determine the effect of these metacognitive strategies on the vocabulary of the students.
The study employed a set of questions with respect to the two schools namely: one of which was an intervention school and another that was merely a comparison school. The study conducted a lesson on the two schools with a view to noting any differences between the two schools amongst students. The lessons as given in the study were in five major parts. The first part was the introduction where the teacher captured the attention of the students by either asking a question or cracking a joke. The teacher then stated the object of the lesson and asked the students a series of questions so as to activate the knowledge of the students on the topic. The students then wrote their answers in a few words. The next part was the introduction of vocabulary words while the next involved the reading of the story. Before reading the story, the students reviewed the answers they had given to the first question with the teacher reminding them to think aloud while reading. The next part encompassed the teacher asking the students to make a summary of the passage by highlighting the main ideas, the supporting ideas and other details as evident in the passage. The final part of the study was the asking of questions by the teacher and the answering by students in oral form. Students also gave answers to questions from the Middle Level Curriculum, which involved the identification of the main idea, the drawing of conclusions, the finding of supporting details and their clarification as well as defining the vocabulary.
Methods and Procedures
The study employed a testing methodology where it subjected students in both schools to 30 minutes instruction on reading comprehension on a daily basis for a total of 25 days. The passages of reading were drawn from commercially viable readings and included the Six-Way Paragraph and the Middle Level Curriculum. In particular, the study made use of the Middle Level based on its richer content and readability that was suitable for students. The lessons were supplemented with direct instruction of the metacognitive strategies.
Tools of Analysis
The study made use of both pre and post setting battery which encompassed multiple instrument measures that were meant to measure the academic level of students both before the intervention as well as after the intervention. The two tests used to test the progress of the students in reading comprehension and vocabulary included the 2000 Gray Silent Reading Test as well as a criterion vocabulary test. The students were pretested using the Word Attack and the Spelling Tests of the 2001 Woodcock Johnson III (WJIII) Test of Achievement. The tests were meant to ensure that the groups were of a decoding ability that could be compared.
The article reports that students who made use of metacognitive strategies portrayed improvement statistically, compared to those that did not employ the same strategies. In fact, the group that had intervention or treatment registered a 20 percent gain in reading comprehension and a 40 percent gain in vocabulary. Also, it was the finding of the study that students who used metacognitive strategies held on a follow-up vocabulary testing even three months after the study.
In offering a critical review or assessment of the study conducted, we examine the key aspects of the study. It is the finding of the study that notable gains were made in terms of reading comprehension, as well as vocabulary in the third grade students, even long after the study. The comprehension strategies that were used by the students enabled them to think about their thinking. This is because upon reading a passage in every lesson, they were actively engaged as opposed to the conventional passive mode of learning. Indeed the students were well aware of what they read beforehand and thereby asked themselves questions as they read. Further, the students summarized whatever information that they had from the reading of the passages. With regard to the vocabulary of students, the students did not merely memorize the definition of the words, but rather connected new words to ideas and words that they already knew. It appears that the metacognitive strategies appear to have actively engaged the students in the reading process. It is the case that this active engagement increased the understanding of new words or vocabulary as well as their reading comprehension. The, the study simply availed further evidence to give support to metacognitive instruction.
In particular, students who got the intervention and whose instruction in vocabulary required the generation of synonyms, antonyms and other words registered an increase in their vocabulary count at 40 percent in contrast to those who simply wrote the vocabulary word and then used it in a sentence. It is our view that the construction of these synonyms and antonyms creates a deeper understanding of a word that in turn heightens the ability to recall the meaning of the word. We are of the further view that the use of the vocabulary webs as in this instance created a representation that was more visual of the meaning of both the word and the concept. Examining the conduct of the study, it is evident that both groups that were involved in the study namely the two groups read a similar expository text and answered the same questions. Nonetheless, it is the case that students in the intervention school incorporated more of the metacognitive strategies as compared to those that were in the comparison school. Particularly, students in the intervention school were encouraged to think aloud while reading and make exclamations such as ‘Aha, Wow, Oops, Yes’. The import of this strategy in our respectful submission is to enable the active engagement of the students. Further, we find that upon reading the passage as given by the teacher, students were instructed to identify the main idea, as well as supporting details and other related ideas. In relation to this, it is instructive that the elements were imprinted on the overhead projector in the shape of a card pyramid. We argue that the construction of the pyramid provided a visual representation of the expository passage and helped to lay emphasis on the key elements of this passage so that the more students read it, the more they would become aware of what to think while reading.
I now examine the other key aspects of the study which I feel was an instance of a metacognitive strategy that worked for the benefit of the students. The teacher impressed on the students to write a summary paragraph, which meant that they had to capture the essence of the reading that they had made. This is again the case because such an endeavor meant that they had to review the full information in the text. Owing to the fact that the students could only make use of only a limited number of words in their paragraphs, they had to make a careful evaluation of the information, this was necessary so as to distinguish the important bits of information and that which was unnecessary. This situation obtains because they had to organize their thoughts in as few words as possible.
In conclusion, we are of the view that the study brought out salient issues in education in enabling greater understanding of reading comprehension among students. We agree with the study in its findings in that metacognitive instruction is necessary to enhancing reading comprehension as well as boosting the level of vocabulary, as opposed to teaching, absent of these strategies.
Boulware-Gooden, Regina , et al. "Instruction of metacognitive strategies enhances reading comprehension and vocabulary achievement of third-grade students." The Reading Teacher (2007): 70-77.