Students tend to struggle understanding informational text more than narrative text. What instructional strategies for fostering informational (expository) text comprehension are backed by strong evidence of effectiveness?
One intervention strategy is teaching students to recognize expository text structures. Text structure is the organization of ideas, the relationship among the ideas, and the vocabulary used to convey meaning to the reader. The thought is that if readers can understand that authors purposely use various structures to organize text, then readers are assisted to construct an integrated mental representation of key ideas similar to the text’s organization.
In a systematic review of 21 studies, Pyle and colleagues examined the effects of expository text structure interventions on comprehension outcomes of typically achieving students, at-risk students, and students with learning disabilities in grades K–12. Supporting the findings of previous reviews, Pyle found that teaching students to recognize text structures produced large effects on reading comprehension. The effect sizes were found significantly different from zero. This meta-analysis further affirms the theory that readers use text structure knowledge to help them build a mental schema of the text. By having a basic framework of the author’s purpose and how the text is structured, readers can focus more of their energy on understanding the content.
Source: Pyle, N., Vasquez, A. C., Lignugaris/Kraft, B., Gillam, S. L., Reutzel, D. R., Olszewski, A., … & Pyle, D. (2017). Effects of expository text structure interventions on comprehension: A meta‐analysis. Reading Research Quarterly, 52(4), 469-501