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    http://isc.sagepub.com/Intervention in School and Clinic

    http://isc.sagepub.com/content/33/4/209Theonline version of this article can be found at:

    DOI: 10.1177/105345129803300403

    1998 33: 209Intervention in School and ClinicPhilip N. Swanson and Susan De La Paz

    Teaching Effective Comprehension Strategies to Students with Learning and Reading Disabilitie

    Published by:

    Hammill Institute on Disabilities



    can be found at:Intervention in School and ClinicAdditional services and information for

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    Teaching Effective Comprehension

    Strategies to Students with Learning

    and Reading Disabilities


    In this article,wesummarize several metacogni-

    tive strategies designed to improve reading



    students with learning


    reading disabilitiesanddescribe an instructional

    model showing ow to teach comprehension

    strategiestostudents. Each recommend ed strat

    egyhasbeen formally evaluated a nd foundto be

    effective for improving students reading com

    prehension. Practical suggestions are also

    provided to help teachers implement these

    strategies intheir classrooms.

    roficient readers typically execute

    one or


    metacognitive behaviors


    they read.





    they read this article, teachers may consid

    er using

    one of the

    recommended comprehen

    sion strategies


    their classrooms, leading them

    to form questions such

    as, How can I

    modify these



    better meet



    of my


    After reading, they


    also choose







    the procedures necessary7


    teaching a




    ance Schriner

    cific strategy. Moreover,


    details they cannot recall,

    some readers will look back until they locate



    mation they need


    then reread that section. These

    are examples



    of the

    strategies good readers


    to promote comprehension. Many competent readers

    ar e


    aware that these actions require metacognitive


    rather, good comprehenders engage



    strategic behaviors because they have proven, over time,



    useful (Pressley

    et al.,



    addition, profi

    cient adult readers seldom recall being explicitly taught

    how to

    comprehend text; nevertheless, they have become

    strategic readers.

    Researchers have consistently demonstrated that poor

    readers, unlike good readers,

    do not

    acquire strategic

    reading behaviors




    that poor readers


    to be

    taughthow, where,







    such procedures.


    example, Garner


    Reis (1981) noted that poor readers

    do not

    look back


    reread sections


    their texts




    good readers,

    and they fail


    monitor their comprehension. Raphael

    and Pearson (1985) found that poor readers often seem


    VOL. 33, No. 4, MARCH 1998 PP.



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  • 8/11/2019 Teaching Effective Comprehension Strategies


    to ignore or be unaware that different assignments pose

    different kinds of questions (whether, for example, ques

    tions are literal, require an integration of the text, or rely

    on prior knowledge), and they often use strategies that

    are inappropriate for task requirements. In addition,

    according to Oakhill and Patel (1991), poor readers do

    not make inferences from text and do not integrate ideas

    from different parts of the text in order to create accu

    rate representations. Even when such students are able

    to decode words correctly, they typically do not attend to

    the meaning of the passage, relate what is being read to

    their previous knowledge, or monitor their own com

    prehension (Bos & Vaughn, 1994). The refore , students

    who have difficulty comprehending text need to be

    taught explicitly how to carry out appropriate strategies

    so that their reading comprehension improves.

    Although emerging and poor readers tend not to

    read strategically, resulting in limited comprehension of

    text, researchers have criticized how classroom teachers

    usually teach reading comprehension. Durkin (1979)

    observed several general education fourth-grade class

    rooms and found less than 1% of the total time devoted

    to reading instruction was spent explicitly teaching stu

    dents to comprehend texts. She further noted that when

    instruction did occur, teachers merely monitored stu

    dents '

    comprehension by asking questions after they fin

    ished reading a passage, rather than teaching specific

    procedures to help students improve their comprehen

    sion skills. Similar findings were reported by Duffy and

    Mclntyre (1982), who observed primary-grade teachers

    in Grades 1 throug h 6.

    In response to such findings, theorists and interven

    tion researchers have developed numerous strategies

    that students can be taught directly to help them

    impro ve their reading com preh ensio n skills. To briefly

    summarize these approaches, students are shown various

    frameworks, models, or


    for understanding and

    interpreting written information. Students are also


    self regulatory

    procedures, such as self-monitoring,

    to help them become aware of and execute specific cog

    nitive behaviors aimed at helping them understand what

    they read. These procedures become metacognitive

    strategies when students intentionally recruit and use

    them to meet various task demands. These strategies

    may be thought of asscaffolds, which support and facili

    tate learners as they internalize procedures, or heuristics,

    which allow them to successfully complete comprehen

    sion tasks (Harris & Graham, 1996).

    Teachers obviously share the common goal of helping

    students with learning and reading problems to view

    reading as more than a required activity done each day in

    reading class; rather, teachers want students to see read

    ing as an activity that occurs in m any settings and fordif

    ferent purposesreading for a history class, reading a

    novel for relaxation, taking a test during a job applica

    tion, or following direction s for setting a VC R. By

    teaching students a variety of reading comprehension

    strategies and helping them learn to use them indepen-

    dendy, teachers help students to develop an arsenal of

    approaches to com prehend texts regardless of thespecif

    ic task or situation. Thus, when situations arise that

    require comp rehending new text,students will be able to

    reflect upon the battery of strategies they know and

    determine which will be appropriate for helping in a

    given situation.

    O V E R A L L A P P R O A C H

    Pressley and colleagues (1995), as well as numerous

    othe r intervention r esearchers (e.g., Co llins, 1997; Ellis,


    S. Grah am, Harris, MacArthur, & Schwartz, 1997),

    have advocated teaching students strategies in contexts

    that are relevant and appropriate for their use. Thus,

    strategies are not taught as curricular options in and of

    themselves (Deshler & Shumaker, 1986); rather, they are

    integrated as part of the regular program (Harris &

    Graham, 1992, 1996). Students learn to use strategies as

    the need arises and when a particular set of heuristics is

    appropriate for an assigned task (Pressley et al., 1995). In

    addition to this basic principle, teachers need to under

    stand bo wto teach comp rehension strategies so that stu

    dents will learn to use them autonomously. Intervention

    researchers have used different terms to describe their

    teaching mo dels; S. Graham , Harris, and colleagues (G ra

    ham, Ha rris, MacA rthur, & Schwartz, 1991 ; Harris &

    Graham, 1992, 1996) have used the term self regulated



    (SRSD), for example, whereas Ellis

    (1994) has used the phrase integrated



    tion. Instructional supports underlying these approaches

    are similar; however, when describing ho wto teach one

    or more of the strategies in this article, we have gener

    ally adopted the SRSD model (Harris & Graham, 1992,

    1996; see Figu re 1).

    Readers should keep the following general points in

    mind as they prepare to teach specific comprehension

    strategies. First, start with simple materials (i.e., easier

    reading levels) to ensure initial success; then help stu

    dents practice using a given comprehension strategy

    with more challenging text. Second, individualize

    instruction by deciding (a) what strategy is most likely to

    benefit a given group of students, (b) which type of


    regulatory procedure is relevant for each student, and

    (c) how to give specific feedback to each student to mon

    itor his or her progress in using the target strategy and

    overall success in comprehending text. Third, teachers

    should realize that it may be hard, initially, to fade

    instructional supports (such as prompting) because stu

    dents are often unsure whether they are implementing

    various components of the strategy correctly. Finally,

    students with learning and reading disabilities must be

    explicitly taught to generalize whichever metacognitive


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  • 8/11/2019 Teaching Effective Comprehension Strategies


    t ^


    Describe the target compreh ension strategy. Explicitly describe the strategy

    steps, and discusswhythe strategy should be used,whatit accomplishes, and

    whenandwherethe strategy may be used.

    2. Activate background knowledge. Review information students may have

    learned previously that is necessary for learning the target strategy.

    3. Review current performance


    Provide feedback to students regarding their

    current level of functioning and reiterate potential benefits of the strategy.

    Goals for and commitment by the students should be reached collaboratively.




    the strategy and

    self instructions.

    Demonstrate how to use the

    strategy in a meaningful context, and use relevant self-regulatory behaviors by

    thinking out-loud. Self-statements include ideas such as What should I do

    first? I am using this strategy so that I can understand what I am reading

    better../'; or I need to take my time, which show students the purpose of the

    procedures and how to manage their performance.

    5. Co llaborative practice.Provideseveralopportunities for student practice using

    the strategy and self-statements as a whole class, in small groups, or in pairs.

    Monitor students' progress in following the strategy steps. Facilitate students'

    success in using the strategies by prompting them to complete steps if they are

    omitted or by providing assistance in completing strategy steps accurately. It

    may be necessary to reexplain or model some of the more difficult aspects of

    the strategies, based on student need.

    6. Independent practice and mastery. After determining that the students know

    and understand the steps of the strategy, each student practices using the

    target strategy and self-statements without


    Continue to give guidance,

    reinforcement, and feedback. Gradually fade assistance until each student is

    capable of using the strategy without any help.



    Discuss with students throughout the week whenever situations

    arise where it is appropriate for students to apply the strategies. In addition,

    during collaborative and independent practice sessions, provide students with

    different types of


    (e.g., lookbacks are useful with narratives, exposi

    tory text such as science book chapters, and learning rules to play a game) so

    that students learn to use the strategies flex ibly.


    Figure 1.

    Self regiilated strategy development model for teaching strategies.

    V O L

    33 No 4

    M A R C H

    199B 211

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    strategy teachers expect them to use. To help students

    master and generalize use of a given strategy, teachers

    should show students how to monitor and keep track of

    their progress.

    It is also important to begin strategy instruction by

    teaching just one or two strategies at a rime. New strate

    gies are introduced only when earlier ones are well

    established. Also, as with strategy instruction in any con

    tent area, mastery takes time, and students are not likely

    to improve their performance after one or two lessons.

    The strategies described in this article may take up to

    several days of practice before students can use them

    independently. It should also be recalled that strategies

    do not need to be taught as a separate part of the cur

    riculum and that simply instructing students howto use

    strategic reading behaviors should not be a goal in and of


    Rather, they should be taught in context,whenand

    wherereading comprehension is necessary.

    Several strategies are described in this article, all of

    which have empirical support for being effective in

    improving students' reading comprehension. Although

    some of the comprehension research has been conducted

    with students not identified as having learning and read

    ing disabilities, these strategies nonetheless provide a

    range of activities appropriate for many comprehension

    skills required by students at different grade levels.

    Further, the SRSD model for teaching strategies is espe

    cially useful, given that it has been proved to be success

    ful for teaching strategies to students with and without

    learning disabilities in several academic content areas,

    including writing


    Harris, & Graham, 1993, De

    La Paz & Graham, 1997) and mathematics (Case,

    Harris, & Graham, 1992).

    S U M M A R I Z I N G

    E X P O S I T O R Y T E X T

    Beginning in upper elementary school, students must

    use their reading (i.e., decoding and comprehension)

    skills in classes such as science and social studies to learn

    new information. After reading a text, whether narrative

    or expository, students are frequently expected to recall

    main ideas and concepts from the assigned passage and

    to provide support for their decisions. To do this, they

    must process the content and determine which ideas are

    important. Researchers have found that teaching stu

    dents in regular education classrooms how to summarize

    expository text after reading has resulted in improved

    comprehension and memory of the information (e.g.,

    Bean & Steenwyk, 1984; Rinehart, Stahl, & Erickson,

    1986; Taylor & Beach, 1984). Many summarization

    strategies can be taught, including gist, rule-governed

    summaries, and hierarchical summaries.

    Gist Summaries

    RATIONALE AND DESCRIPTION. Gist summaries are

    those in which students use single sentences to summa

    rize information found in single paragraphs. Bean and

    Steenwyk (1984) found this strategy to be effective in

    increasing reading comprehension with general education

    sixth graders who read isolated expository paragraphs. A

    similar approach was used as part of a multicomponent,

    peer-mediated instructional package developed by

    Simmons, Fuchs, Fuchs, Hodge, and Mathes (1994) in

    which students with low achievement, average achieve

    ment, and learning disabilities in Grades 2 through 5

    created gist summaries of main ideas in single para


    How TO TEACH. To teach students to create a gist of

    what they are summarizing, show them how to restate

    important information using a minimum number of

    words. This can be done by starting with a single expos

    itory sentence, rather than a paragraph, and requiring

    students to retell the main idea. After students are suc

    cessful, two sentences of text are retold, in 15 words or

    fewer. This procedure is gradually expanded until stu

    dents are able to summarize an entire paragraph in 15

    words or fewer. Guidance and feedback are necessary so

    that students become skilled in retelling only the most

    important information. When reviewing students

    current performance level, goal setting may be espe

    cially useful to help motivate students (see Note). They

    can set goals (for example, to limit the number of words

    when attempting to create a summary or to include con

    tent from a specific number of sentences in one main

    idea statement), monitor their progress, and then set

    increasingly ambitious goals as they become more profi

    cient in creating gist summaries.

    Rule-Governed Summaries



    Rule-governed sum

    maries are created by following an established set of

    rules. The reader is guided through a process of elimi

    nating information that is not essential and reworking

    the remainder into a condensed format. In their 1984

    investigation on the use of gist summaries, Bean and

    Steenwyk also examined the use of rule-governed sum

    maries for single paragraphs of expository text with

    general education sixth-grade students. Their results

    indicated that rule-governed summaries were even more

    beneficial than gist summaries for the participating stu

    dents. Rinehart et al. (1986) used a similar set of rules to

    teach students at the same grade level how to summarize

    multiple paragraphs of expository text.

    The work of Bean and Steenwyk (1984) and Rinehart

    et al. (1986) suggests that the most useful rules are

    (a) delete trivial information, (b) delete important but

    redundant information, (c) compose a word to replace

    either a list or individual components of an action,

    (d) select or create a topic sentence, and (e) relate the

    important supporting information. Once the students

    are able to effectively use rules to summarize single para-


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    graphs, they are ready to learn to summarize multiple



    extended passages. Additional rules


    to (a)create summaries of each paragraph, (b)writea

    summary of the paragraph summaries,and (c) use the

    previous summarization rulesonthis synopsis.



    Because this strategy dependson a

    set of rules, students must understand and learn what

    those rules




    summarizing text. Thus,


    ing students background knowledge is important

    when teaching the rule-governed summarization strat



    other words,


    teacher must begin



    what is meant by the terms important information,

    trivialorredundant information, and topic sentences.

    The teacher must also demonstrate how to generate

    acronyms (such asHOMES to represent the namesof

    each of the Great Lakes). Students will need several

    opportunities to practice following these directions

    before they




    demonstrate competence


    creating rule-governed summaries, and they will need



    feedback during

    collaborative andinde

    pendent practice

    about their performance



    attempt tocreate their summaries. Inaddition, toillus

    trate how comprehension strategies can be combined

    into more complex instructional routines, studentscan

    be taught


    turn each summarization rule into



    tion as they complete each step (e.g., Did Idelete triv

    ial information? ), thus incorporating



    procedure (to be discussed in more detail later in this

    article)toself-monitor useofthe rule-governed summa

    rization strategy.

    Hierarchical Summaries



    basic premise

    underlying hierarchical summaries


    that good readers

    noticeandmakeuse ofth eway ideasareorganizedin text

    books to help them form a macrostructure, or mental

    organization,ofthe important information that needsto

    be remembered (Taylor, 1982). Hierarchical summaries


    use of

    text structure inherent


    most expository

    texts, using chapter, section, and subsection headings



    each chapter.

    To use

    this strategy, students


    taught toskimthe firstfewpagesofthe chapter orpas


    paying close attention to the headings. They then

    carefully read each subsectionof thepassage andcreate

    an outline

    of the

    entire passage consisting

    of an


    heading, main idea statements from each subsection,and

    supporting information and topic headings. Taylor

    and Beach (1984) taught seventh-grade students



    eral education classes to create hierarchical summaries

    when reading several pages of asocial studies text,and

    they found that this strategy effectively improved stu

    dents' comprehension ofunfamiliar material.

    How TO TEACH. Students first skim


    entire read

    ing selection, carefully noting headingsandsubheadings.



    ( -

    Step 3 Key idea for entire pa ssag e

    S t e p2

    Topic heading

    {with lines connecting

    simitar topics


    Ste p2

    Topic heading







    forthe first subsection)

    Main idea sentence

    Supporting detail sentence

    Supporting detail sentence


    Repeat Step 1

    for each subsection)

    Main idea sentence

    Supporting detail sentence

    Supporting detail sentence


    Repeat Step 1

    for each subsection)

    Main idea sentence

    Supporting detail sentence

    Supporting detail sentence



    s J

    Figure 2 . Steps to creating a hierarchical summary based on

    data from llairis




    Then theyare tocreate anoutline oftheir summaryon

    lined paper, using a specific format (seeFigure 2).This

    format requires (a)space at the top of thepagefor the

    major heading,


    capital letters spaced down



    for each subsection oftext designated by aheading,and

    (c) space provided

    in the

    left margin


    write topic head

    ingsand draw lines that connect related subsections.


    summary. After creating their skeletal outline, students

    reread each subsection of the passage. They first select

    two to three words from the subsection heading that

    reflect thetopicofthe subsection and usethese wordsto

    create a sentence that reflects the most important idea

    about that topic. Then, under


    main idea sentence,

    students writetwo orthree sentences that contain details

    about the topic and are important to remember. This

    procedure isrepeated foreach subsectionofthe passage.

    Second, after writinga main ideaand two to three sup

    porting detail sentences for each subsection, students

    generate topic headings, relating similar topics when

    ever possible. Third ,




    words, students create

    akeyideafor theentire passage that servesas themajor




    how a

    hierarchical summary might

    look, Figure 3showsa completed hierarchical summary

    for a seventh-grade social studies textbook selection on


    When first presenting this strategy to students,

    describe the strategy using graphic organizers and

    examples such





    2 and

    3. Teachers


    wish totell students that onereason whytheyarelearn

    ing thehierarchical summarization strategy isthat after


    33 No.4



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    Indiahas avaried landscapeandclimate.

    A. MuchofIndia's borderis coastline.

    The ArabianSea is to thewest.

    The Indian Oceanis to thesouth.

    To theeastis the Bayof Bengal.


    TheGanges Riveris an important Indian River.

    The Ganges beginsin theHimalayan

    Mountains, runs throughtheGanges Plain,

    and empties Into

    the Bay of



    Gangesis very importantto the religious

    lifeofmany Indians.

    C TheDeccan Plateauisimportantfor theeconomy.

    ItIslocatedin thesouth.

    The Deccan Plateauhas fertile farmland

    and forests.

    Therearerich depositsofminerals there.

    ' D. MostofIndiaiswarmor hotmostofthe year.

    The Himalayas block cold northernair

    from coming into India.


    E. Themonsoonsareessentialforwater.

    The monsoonsare seasonal winds.

    Duringthe rainy season they bring moistair

    fromtheIndian Ocean.

    People depend uponthemonsoonsforwater

    to liveandfarm with.





    of a

    hierarchical summary




    studies textbook selection



    learning this strategy, students in sixth and seventh grade

    were better able to summarize material, and that this

    skill in turn helped them remember more information

    they had read than students who didn't learn this strate

    gy. This description also suggests to students what the

    strategy accomplishes, and it suggests whenand whereit

    may be useful. Further discussion about the usefulness of

    the hierarchical summarization strategy should focus on

    tasks and situations relevant to a specific group of stu


    It is also important for teachers to plan how to

    teach students to generalize what they have learned

    with any of the summarization strategies presented in

    this section. To begin this process, teachers should pro

    vide students with a wide variety of reading materials and

    discuss different situations in which the various strate

    gies can be used to help enhance comprehension.

    C O M P R E H E N D I N G S T O R Y S T R U C T U R E

    Anthropologic studies have demonstrated that when

    people retell stories that they have read or heard, these

    retellings, across many cultures, share certain similarities

    (Gurney, Gersten, Dimino, & Carnine, 1990). Gen

    erally, narratives written in Western cultures include

    some reference to setting (telling who characters are,

    and where and when the story occurs) and an initiating

    event, or problem or goal that the main character must

    face at the beginning of the story. Subsequently, the

    character makes an attempt, or series of actions, to solve

    the problem or reach the goal. Eventually some sort of

    resolution, or end to the story, happens. Characters may

    also have reactions (internal or external) to the problem

    or resolution. Numerous researchers have used this story

    structure, often called story grammar, to help students

    organize, analyze, and remember the content of stories.

    Students are taught to recognize story structure to help

    them retell and to make inferences, characterizations,

    judgments, and predictions, as well as to determine the

    author's purpose in writing the story.

    Story Maps


    AND DESCRIPTION. Researchers


    Carnine & Kinder, 1985; Dimino, Gersten, Carnine, &

    Blake, 1990; Gurney et al., 1990; Johnson, Graham,

    & Harris, 1997; Short & Ryan, 1984) have consistently

    demonstrated the benefits of using story grammar to

    map narratives so that general and special education ele

    mentary and secondary students improve their reading

    comprehension. Story maps are graphic organizers with

    story elements used as headings on some kind of teacher-

    made worksheet. These headings are used to prompt

    students to locate key information from the story, and,

    once located, to record it on the graphic organizer.

    Support for teaching students to use story mapping as a

    comprehension strategy comes from Baumann and

    Bergeron (1993) and Idol (1987), who demonstrated that

    first-, third-, and fourth-grade students with and without

    reading problems improved their comprehension fol

    lowing its use in general education classrooms.

    HOW TO TEACH. Prior to introducing this strategy to

    students, teachers must decide which story grammar ele

    ments (and which terminology) are most important for

    their students. They must also choose either to have stu

    dents record story element information informally or to

    use a teacher-generated story map. Story elements may

    either be referred to as simple headings (e.g., charac

    ter ) or phrased as questions (e.g., Who is this story

    about? ). With respect to the SRSD model for teaching

    comprehension strategies, teachers must model how to

    locate story elements in text and write them down,

    whether on lined paper or on a story map. During the

    modeling session,teachers should include explicit


    instruction statements such as, As I read, I am finding

    and listing story elements so that I can understand what

    happens next, or, If I can find the problem in the

    beginning of this story, I will understand why the char

    acter wants to do the next series of actions, to help stu

    dents understand the purpose of and how to execute the

    strategy steps. During the independent practice and

    mastery phase of instruction, teachers should gradually

    fade out use of any graphic organizers or prompting so

    that students become independent in their use of the



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    S E L F - Q U E S T I O N I N G

    Teachers, through the use of questions, direct students

    to focus on pertinent information from readings and to

    monitor their comprehension. Alternatively, students

    can learn to ask themselves questions (which they must

    then answer) as a way to improve their own reading


    Student-Generated Questioning

    RATIONALE ANDDESCRIPTION. Intervention research

    ers (e.g., Singer & Donlan, 1982; Wong & Jones, 1982)

    demonstrated that having students generate their own

    questions to answer improves reading comprehension.

    Moreover, in a meta-analysis of 68 studies designed

    to improve reading comprehension for students with

    learning disabilities, Mastropieri, Scruggs, Bakken, and

    Whedon (1996) found that interventions including some

    type of self-questioning resulted in greater improvement

    than instructional approaches that did not include


    questioning. Student-generated questioning may take

    different forms. For example, students can develop ques

    tions about aspects of text they believe are most impor

    tant. In addition, students can ask themselves questions

    to monitor their comprehension while they read. By cre

    ating questions about a reading passage and answering

    them, students not only focus on important information,

    but also remember it better.

    HOW TO TEACH. Students need to learn that good

    questions focus directly on important elements of text.

    For example, students can be taught to follow Wong and

    Jones's (1982) strategy to make up questions about the

    main idea in reading passages. The strategy is to (a) ask

    yourself what you are studying this passage for, (b) find

    the main idea(s) in the paragraph and underline it/them,

    (c) think of a question about the main idea you have

    underlined and remember what a good question should

    be like, (d) learn the answer to your question, and

    (e) always look back at your questions and answers to see

    how each successive question and answer provide you

    with more information.

    As an alternative, when reading narratives, students

    can be taught to use Singer and Donlan's (1982) strategy,

    which incorporates self-questioning with story grammar

    elements. In this approach, students answer a general

    story grammar question for each element included in

    the story. Examples of general questions are as follows:

    (a) Who is the leading character? (b) What is the leading

    character trying to accomplish? (c) What obstacles does

    the leading character encounter? (d) Does the leading

    character reach his or her goal? (e) Why did the author

    write this story? and (f) What does the author want to

    show us about life? Using the general questions as mod

    els, students create and answer their own specific ques

    tions based on the particular story they are reading.

    Modeling and collaborative practice are necessary so

    that students learn how to create relevant questions,

    regardless of which self-questioning strategy they use.

    For example, after reading a passage, teachers not only

    create and answer a question, but also discuss why it is a

    good question.




    can use

    questions to ask themselves what they are doing, to help

    them follow the steps of a strategy, or to make sure cer

    tain steps were completed correctly. Taylor, Harris,

    Pearson, and Garcia (1995) cited the work of Gaetz in

    their text on teaching reading, in which a question-

    answering checklist was used to help average and below-

    average fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade readers answer

    questions correctly. The students were taught to ask

    themselves the following questions: (a) Did I answer all

    parts of the question? (b) Did I read the question cor

    rectly? (c) Did I say enough to answer the question so

    someone else will understand? (d) Did I get ideas from

    the text and from my memory so the answer makes

    sense? and (e) Did I answer all of the questions? If not,


    Chan (1991) devised a different type of list of ques

    tions for students with learning disabilities in Grades 5

    and 6 to ask themselves when they created summaries:


    For deleting redundant information: (a) Does this

    sentence repeat what has already been said? (b) Shall

    I leave it out? and (c) What is the paragraph mainly



    For deleting trivial information: (a) Does this sen

    tence tell us anything new or more important?

    (b) Shall I leave it out? and (c) What is the paragraph

    mainly about?

    3. For locating topic sentences: (a) What does the para

    graph seem to be about? (b) Does this sentence tell us

    anything new or more important than the main idea?

    (c) Is my guess right? (d) Which sentence gives the

    main idea? and (e) Which answer gives the main idea

    of the passage?

    4. For identifying implicit main ideas: (a) What does the

    paragraph seem to be about? (b) Does this sentence

    just tell me more about the main idea? (c) Which

    answer gives the main idea? (d) Which answer gives

    the main idea of the passage?

    How TO TEACH. Self-monitoring checklists can be

    developed for almost any comprehension activity stu

    dents complete independently. The teacher must try to

    anticipate whether students will benefit from questions

    that help them understand and execute a given strategy

    correctly or from a list of questions that will help them

    internalize a given series of strategy steps. While teach-

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    4, MARCH 1908215

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    ing students to self-monitor, teachers should review with

    students how to ask and answer questions and how to

    perform the needed actions.

    T E X T L O O K B A C K S

    A N D

    Q U E S T I O N - A N S W E R R E L A T I O N S H I P S

    Whether reading expository or narrative material, stu

    dents frequendy are asked to locate specific information

    or to answer questions about major or minor points in

    text. Lookbacks and question-answer relationships are

    two strategies to assist students with finding relevant

    information from texts.

    T e x t L o o k b a c k s

    R A T I O N A L E A N D D E S C R I P T I O N . Gar ner and her col

    leagues observed that poor readers do not spontaneously

    lookback to locate inform ation (Garn er, 1982; Gar ner,

    Hare, Alexander, Haynes, & Winograd, 1984; Garner &

    Reis, 1981). Even when told they could look back to find

    answers to questions, many students thought that it was

    illegal to do so and needed teache r confirm ation that

    this was allowed (G arne r et al., 1984). Based on this find

    ing, Garner and colleagues (Garner, 1982; Garner et al.,

    1984; Ga rne r & Reis, 1981) cond ucted a series of stud

    ies including both poor and good readers from 4th

    through 10th grade to evaluate the effects of teaching

    students lookback strategies. Not only did student per

    formance on comprehension measures improve in

    response to instruction, but also their increased perfor

    mance was maintained long after their initial lookback


    H o w TO TEACH. Teachers first show students how to

    look back in different texts to locate specific inform ation.

    It is helpful to model skimming the text to find the most

    likely section where the necessary information is located

    and then to read carefully to identify the correct answer.

    The teacher might say, for example,

    The question is asking us which mo untains separate

    FranceromSpain. I don\ remember, so Vl l

    look back


    thechapteruntil 1find it. First, Vll skim over the chap-

    ter until I


    to the


    w here I think III find the

    answer. The first



    chapter isabout




    France, so the answer


    be there. The



    tion talks about the


    and culture, so that answer

    wouldn be there. The nextsection isabout thelandscape.

    I think that the answer will be here somewh ere, so Vll

    start tolook a little morecarefully. The first part talks


    rivers, so Vm not going to worry about that. The

    next part talks about mountains. This is where the



    will be so I will read this paragraph


    Here wego it


    that in thesouthwest, the

    Pyrenees separate Francefrom Spain. So, my answ er to



    is the Pyrenees.

    As students work, the teacher should prompt them to

    look back and provide several opportunities for practice

    and feedback. Collaborat ive and independent prac

    tice should begin with short reading selections and

    progress to longer passages. Generalization may be

    encouraged by providing students with a variety of dif

    ferent types of materials to be read (such as science text

    books or driving manuals) and by eliciting suggestions

    from students regarding other opportunities during the

    day when lookbacks may be useful. Because some ques

    tions require students to reflect on their prior knowledge

    rather than locate information directly in the text, it may

    be useful to teach students about the question-answer

    relationships strategy as well.

    Q u e s t i o n - A n s w e r R e l a t i o n s h i p s


    Studen ts often rely

    excessively on either b ackgroun d k nowledg e or text infor

    mation when asked to read and answer questions

    (Raphael, 1984), despite the fact that not all answers

    come from text. In contrast, according to Pearson and

    Johnson (1978), answers for questions can be text


    (in which the answer is stated explicitly in the text), text

    implicit(in which the answ er is inferred from the text,

    using information across sentences or paragraphs), and


    implicit(in which inform ation com es from the stu

    dent's own knowledge base). Intervention researchers

    have genera ted various term s such as righ t the re,

    think and search, and on my ow n (Raphael &

    Pearson, 1985; Raphael & Wo nnaco tt, 1985) here ,

    hidden, and in my head (L. Grah am & Wo ng, 1993),

    or in the boo k and in my head (Raphae l, 1986) to

    teach average and poor readers in fourth through sixth

    grade to answer literal and inferential questions.

    HOW TO TEACH. Students are first shown how to

    identify question-answer relationships and are then

    given opportunit ies to pract ice labeling quest ions

    according to those relationships. It is important for

    teachers to stress that both the question and the answer

    must be considered to come up with the appropriate

    label. Moreover, students must be taught to integrate

    knowledge from both texts and their prior knowledge

    when answering question s. To differentiate between in

    the boo k and in my head questio ns, for example,

    teachers can ask students some questions that have

    answers in the text and other questions that rely on the

    students' own experience. As students answer questions,

    teachers should help them determine how they knew the

    answers by asking where the answer was in the story or,

    if not, how they knew the answer. After students under-


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    stand these two question -answ er relationships, instruc

    tion can be expanded to differentiate betwe en different

    types of in the book and in my head relationships

    (Raphael, 1986).

    S U M M A R Y

    The purpose of this article was to show teachers howt o

    teach students with learning and reading disabilities

    to comprehend the material they read. Researchers have

    consistently demonstrated that students with learning

    and reading problems can learn metacog nitive com pre

    hension strategies and that these strategies help students

    improve their understanding of text. Strategies reviewed

    in this article emphasize different aspects of reading

    comprehension: Some focus on the overall task, whereas

    others are more appropriate for helping students locate

    minor details. The strategies we reviewed do not address

    all (e.g., affective or evaluative) aspects of comprehen

    sion; nevertheless, we chose these strategies because

    their effectiveness has been well documented with stu

    dents with regular or special educational needs.

    Although sometimes time-consuming for teachers and

    students to learn initially, students can learn to use

    strategies independently and thus become equipped to

    com prehend what they read in a variety of tea cher-

    directed and self-selected situations. Many strategies

    may be combined (for example, students may create a

    rule-based summ ary of a passage, lookback to find

    missing information, and ask themselves questions to

    monitor their summarization). Finally, when teaching

    students to use one or more of these strategies, we rec

    ommend that teachers follow the SRSD model princi

    ples to teach strategies to students.

    A B O U T

    T H E A U T H O R S

    Philip N. Swanson, MA, is a doctoral student in special education

    at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. He worked for 10 years

    teaching children with special educational needs from preschool to

    high school. Swanson's current interests include teaching metacogni

    tive strategies to students with mild to moderate disabilities and

    teacher preparation. Susan De La Paz, PhD, is an assistant professor

    of special education at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University.

    She currently conducts intervention research in the area of writing for

    elementary and middle school students with learning disabilities.

    Address: Susan De La Paz, Department of Special Education, Pea

    body College of Vanderbilt University, Nashville, T X 37203; e-mail:

    [email protected] t.edu

    N O T E

    Bold text is used throughout this article to highlight suggestions for

    incorporating elements from the SRSD model into teaching compre

    hension strategies.


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