Promoting reading comprehension

Sheri Berkeley and colleagues reported the results of a meta-analysis of research on reading comprehension interventions for students with Learning Disabilities in a forthcoming issue of Remedial and Special Education. Although their results echo findings from earlier meta-analyses and narrative reviews, they were able to add refinements to educators’ understanding of ways to promote students’ understanding of what they read. They propose that the common element in successful interventions was “teach[ing] students to attend more carefully or to think more systematically about text as it was being read.”

Meta-analysis procedures were employed to synthesize findings of research for improving reading comprehension of students with learning disabilities published in the decade following previous meta-analytic investigations. Forty studies, published between 1995 and 2006, were identified and coded. Nearly 2,000 students served as participants. Interventions were classified as fundamental reading skills instruction, text enhancements, and questioning/strategy instruction—including those that incorporated peer-mediated instruction and self-regulation. Mean weighted effect sizes were obtained for criterion-referenced measures: .69 for treatment effects, .69 for maintenance effects, and .75 for generalization effects. For norm-referenced tests, the mean effect size was .52 for treatment effects. These outcomes were somewhat lower than but generally consistent with those of previous meta-analyses in their conclusion that reading comprehension interventions have generally been very effective. Higher outcomes were noted for interventions that were implemented by researchers. Implications for practice and further research are discussed.

Berkeley, S., Scruggs, T. E., & Mastropieri, M. A. (in press). Reading comprehension instruction for students with learning disabilities, 1995–2006: A meta-analysis. Remedial and Special Education. DOI: 10.1177/0741932509355988

Link to the abstract of Reading comprehension instruction for students with learning disabilities.

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