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Title:The Role of Discussion Questions in Children's Story Comprehension
Author(s):Fielding, Linda Gephart
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Reading
Abstract:The purpose of this research was to study the role of teacher-posed discussion questions with a dual focus on important and implied text ideas in children's comprehension of discussed and independently-read stories. It represents the first attempt to consider concurrently both importance and explicitness in making decisions about the content of teacher-led story discussions.
Experimenter-redesigned discussion questions that emphasized making the important inferences necessary for understanding the story's central event sequence formed the basis of the treatment for each of four experimental groups. Discussion questions for a control group came from the basal series teachers' manual from which each story was taken. Finer differences in the questions for each experimental group were designed to determine the relative effects of prediction and review questions and of justifying and not justifying answers, and to learn whether the relative effect of justifying answers was mediated by whether questions required prediction or review of story ideas.
Comprehension of 106 third-grade children randomly assigned to the five groups was measured with free and probed story recalls before, three times during, and immediately after a three-week instructional study. In the mixed hierarchical analysis, the variable of primary interest was the treatment group contrast.
Results indicated that children whose story discussions emphasized predicting, justifying and confirming or refuting predictions had better story memory than all other groups, and significantly better story memory than the group that predicted only. This mediating effect of answer justification was not observed, however, for review discussion questions. The results also suggested, less strongly, that the experimental story map-based discussion questions were superior to basal reader questions that did not focus systematically on important information nor on inference-making.
Because story discussions based around teacher-posed questions are a common form of classroom comprehension instruction, these results have important classroom implications. Future inquiry might profitably focus on the participation structures fostered by different kinds of discussion questions, the kinds of discussion questions that promote thinking about higher-level thematic content, and the effects of using more complex trade book stories instead of the simpler versions of stories in basal readers.
Issue Date:1988
Description:156 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1988.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8823124
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1988

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