A metacognitive approach to teaching reading comprehension in the primary school classroom
The following thesis considers the relevance of motacognitive theory to the development of children's reading comprehension. It does so by evaluating the effects of a metacomprehension training programme on children's reading comprehension. In so doing the thesis draws together the three strands of theory, teaching practice, and educational policy (i. e., 5-14 English Language Guidelines, SOED, 1991) within the context of a Scottish primary school classroom. A pilot study was designed to investigate whether or not children were currently being taught metacomprehension strategies. The pilot study therefore, looked at children's metacomprehension development using two different teaching media: one where a novel was used as the vehicle for improving children's reading comprehension and another where a mainstream reading scheme was used for the same purpose. No differences were found between the two teaching conditions and it was inferred that children were not currently being taught metacomprehension strategies. As a consequence of the results from the pilot study, the main research programme was designed to address two main research questions: 1. Can children be taught metacomprehension strategies by teachers? 2. Are there greater benefits for poor, as compared with good, readers? To investigate these questions a four stage research programme was undertaken comprising: I. the development of a metacomprehension teaching programme (Mr. Homunculus the Reading Detective). II. the instruction of teachers in metacomprehension theory, and in Mr. Homunculus the Reading Detective Ill. the application of the intervention programme by teachers to a group of Primary 5 children (mean age 9yrs 6mths), using a randomised controlled pre/post test design. IV. the evolution and refinement of appropriate metacomprehension measures Results were encouraging, suggesting that children could be taught to self-monitor and to regulate their reading behaviour. What was not clear was whether or not the children had improved their inferential comprehension as a result. A model of metacomprehension development based on the data obtained from the study was presented. Further elucidation of metacomprehension development, the specific effects of such development on reading comprehension for readers of different ages and reading ability, and better measures which tap the process, rather than the product of metacomprehension, were considered as worthy of further research.