Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal 10: 471–498, 1998.
1998 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Text comprehension strategy instruction with poor readers
KEES P. VAN DEN BOS
, SASKIA BRAND-GRUWEL
COR A.J. AARNOUTSE
Department of Special Education, University of Groningen, The Netherlands;
of Educational Psychology, University of Tilburg, The Netherlands;
Educational Sciences, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Abstract. The goal of this study was to investigate the effects of teaching text comprehension
strategies to children with decoding and reading comprehension problems and with a poor or
normal listening ability. Two experiments are reported. Four text comprehension strategies,
viz., question generation, summarizing, clariﬁcation, and predicting were taught through direct
instruction and reciprocal teaching. In both experiments, effects were measured according
to a pretest – posttest – retention test – control group design. Dependent variables were
experimenter-developed strategic reading and listening tests, and standardized reading and
listening comprehension tests. In the ﬁrst experiment the subjects were 9 to 11-year-old poor
readers from special schools for children with learning disabilities. In this experiment, the
intervention program’s texts and strategy instructions were presented in listening settings only.
The subjects in the second experiment were 10-year-old children from regular elementary
schools and 9 to 11-year-old children from special schools. They were also poor readers but
their decoding performance was not as poor as in the subjects in experiment 1. In experiment
2, the intervention program involved text presentations in alternating reading and listening
lessons. Although in general, normal listeners performed better on all comprehension tests
than poor listeners, there were no differential program effects for the two listening levels.
Clear effects of both programs were found on strategic reading and listening tests administered
directly after the interventions. In the ﬁrst experiment, maintenance test performance showed
prolonged program beneﬁts, whereas in the second experiment these maintenance effects were
blurred by unexpected gains of the control groups of students, especially from regular schools.
Finally, apart from some local successes, neither of the two experiments offeredstable evidence
of transfer of comprehension strategy training to standardized general listening and reading
Keywords: Component theory of reading, Poor reading ability, Regular and special elementary
education, Reading and listening comprehension, Reciprocal teaching, Direct instruction
This research concerns an intervention study of teaching text and language
comprehension strategies to poor readers. The central questions are: ﬁrst,
which reading components can be distinguished so that poor reading perfor-
mance can be speciﬁed and poor readers more economically instructed?
Secondly, given modern reading comprehension theory which highlights the
importance of teaching cognitive procedures and strategies, how can strategy