The Effects of a Paraphrasing and Text Structure Intervention on the Main Idea Generation and Reading Comprehension of Students with Reading Disabilities in Grades 4 and 5

The Effects of a Paraphrasing and Text Structure Intervention on the Main Idea Generation and Reading Comprehension of Students with Reading Disabilities in Grades 4 and 5

First Author: Elizabeth Stevens -- Georgia State University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Sharon Vaughn
Keywords: Reading disability, Reading comprehension, Intervention, Elementary, Summarization
Abstract / Summary: 

PURPOSE: Main idea generation and summarization have been identified as critical elements in improving adolescent reading comprehension (e.g., Kamil et al., 2008); however, instruction often consists of telling students to find the most important idea without showing students how to do so (Williams, 2006). In particular, students with reading disabilities have difficulty identifying main ideas and summarizing text (e.g., Jitendra et al., 2001). We examined the effects of an intervention targeting paraphrasing and text structure instruction to: (a) provide a process for teaching students to generate the most central ideas in text, (b) utilize text structure instruction as a mechanism for selecting, chunking, and supporting main idea generation that fostered consideration of the text’s hierarchical structure, and (c) support deeper understanding of content area text through conscious text processing and idea integration aligned with reading comprehension theory (Kintsch, 1988; van den Broek et al., 2005).
METHOD: Students (N=62) with reading disabilities were randomly assigned to receive the intervention (25, 40-min lessons) or business-as-usual instruction. Multiple regression analyses were used to examine the relationship between group assignment and scores on the outcome measures (i.e., GMRT-RC, researcher-developed text structure identification and main idea generation test, Strategy Use Measure).
RESULTS: Results yielded statistically significant, positive effects in favor of the intervention on measures of text structure identification (g=0.75) and main idea generation (g=0.70), but no statistically significant effect on a far-transfer measure of reading comprehension.
CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that upper elementary students with reading disabilities benefit from structured opportunities to learn and practice paraphrasing combined with text structure recognition to generate macrostructures and integrate those macrostructures across sections of