Investigating reading comprehension strategies and learning styles with eight year old children
This study describes the design, implementation and evaluation of a class reading intervention programme comprising of a non-fiction and a fiction component. In order to attempt to heighten the quality of teaching and learning in the area of reading comprehension, an innovative approach was used to design the programme. This approach combined the principles of comprehension strategy instruction (Richek et al., 2002; Robb, 2000), whole language learning theory techniques (Goodman, 1976; Smith, 1978 and Cambourne, 1988) and Honey and Mumford's (1986,1992) learning style theory. The investigation was conducted from September 2002 to early April 2003 in a primary school in the West of Scotland. A case study approach that involved the use of both qualitative and quantitative data was employed. Although all children in the class and those in a neighbouring class were exposed to the programme only a selected group of 6 boys and 6 girls represented the case. The principal aim of this enquiry was to provide an illuminative account of the case study children's responses to the programme in relation to strategy choice and learning style(s). The individual and corporate nature of the learning process was of much interest. A variety of research instruments was employed to collect the data (one-to-one conversations with children, participative observations, group interviews and a questionnaire), with a time series evaluation technique also being used to enhance the credibility of the findings. The qualitative data was analysed using a form of content analysis that gave consideration to both deductive (predetermined categories) and inductive (emergent categories) research techniques. The quantitative data was analysed numerically. In accordance with the findings of the comprehension element of this study (i. e. the strategies employed), the individual nature of the learning process was reflected. However, in accordance with the findings of the learning style(s) element of this study, a more collective preference for activities consistent with the activist style of learning was shown. The implications of these findings in relation to teaching and learning are acknowledged and addressed. As the findings associated with the case study approach are considered to be 'qualitative estimates' or as Bassey (1999) states 'fuzzy generalisations', the purpose of this small scale study was not to initiate an 'educational overhaul' at either a national or local authority level. The findings of this study are instead concerned with both enhancing the current 'cumulative body' of research on reading comprehension strategies and learning styles and inspiring further research in these two fields.