Improving standardized reading comprehension: The role of question-answering

Year: 2005

Author: Brown, Gail, Marsh, Herb, Craven, Rhonda, Cassar, Mary

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This presentation provides empirical evidence that effective instruction in question-answering leads to statistically significant improvements in reading comprehension, when compared to regular classroom reading instruction. The presentation reports both the features of intervention materials and the differences in reading instruction between a treatment and control group that contributed to differences in posttest treatment group performance. The study involved a quasi-experimental, pretest-posttest design that targeted students enrolled in regular Year 5 classrooms across three schools. There were no statistically significant pretest differences between the treatment groups. Classroom teachers implemented the intervention with their classes over a ten week period. Comparisons were made between students who completed their regular classroom reading program and students who completed the intervention. Statistical analyses used multilevel modelling to ensure that adjustments were made for potential differences at the treatment group level and at the class level. Posttest comparisons on both a standardised reading comprehension measure and researcher-devised question-answering measures significantly favoured the intervention group. This presentation outlines the theoretical foundation and methodology for effective classroom instruction in question-answering. The potential future applications of this instructional technology to a range of complex cognitive skills are discussed.