Inviting Students to Talk About Expository Texts: A Comparison of Two Discourse Environments and Their Effects on Comprehension

Kucan, Linda; Beck, Isabel L.
April 2003
Reading Research & Instruction;Spring2003, Vol. 42 Issue 3, p1
Academic Journal
The purpose of this study was to investigate three questions related to talk and text comprehension. First, does the context in which students talk about text during reading affect their comprehension? Second, does talking about texts with peers influence the quality of students' talk? Third, do experiences talking about text influence individual thinking about text? To address these questions, the present study engaged students in pretest, intervention, and posttest sessions that involved reading and talking about expository texts. In the pretest, students thought aloud during reading. During the intervention, two discourse environments were set up: one for individuals and another for small groups. In both environments, students responded to prompts about the texts as they read them. In the posttest, students again thought aloud during reading. In all sessions, after reading, students were asked to recall and answer questions about what they had read. All student talk was recorded and subsequently transcribed. The intervention transcripts were analyzed for the kind of discourse that developed in the individual and group discourse environments. The pretest/posttest transcripts were analyzed to trace possible influences of the intervention discourse on the internal discourse, or thinking, of students. Student recall and question-response scores were analyzed as indications of students' comprehension. Although no condition-related differences for after-reading recall and question-response scores were found, all students improved from pretest to posttest. Condition-related differences were found in the kind of talk in which students engaged as they read the intervention texts. These differences in talk reappeared in the posttest transcripts. These results are discussed, and implications for research and for education are explored.


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