Sentence disambiguation using syntactic awareness as a reading comprehension strategy for high school students
Rozen, Susan Dara
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This study investigated the concept of syntactic awareness as a reading strategy for complex sentence comprehension and the relationship between instruction in syntactic awareness and improved reading comprehension among mainstream high school students. When given the insight that sentences are important and when given simple rules to map syntactic structures onto thematic roles, with discussion and practice in simplification and restructuring of complex sentences, 91h and lth grade students demonstrated that they could significantly improve their reading comprehension abilities. The results support the concept that many high school students default to simple reading heuristics which work well on canonical sentence types, but which can fail with complex content-area texts. Sixty-three eleventh grade and forty-seven ninth grade mainstream students participated in a study in which one group of ninth and one group of eleventh graders, the experimental groups, were given a sentence comprehension strategy to help them when confronted with text that they block on, in many cases typical texts that are part of the high school curriculum. The control groups were given regular instruction in reading comprehension skills and strategies. Eleventh grade students who were enrolled in a SAT Preparation elective class were pre-tested and post-tested using both Real SAT tests from The College Board and the Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test (SDRT). A third group, the maturation group, was pre-tested and post-tested using the SDRT to control for normal academic growth. Ninth grade students who were enrolled in a reading elective course were pre-tested and post-tested using the SDRT. For the Eleventh Grade Experiment results were significant at the .01 level for the SDRT and at the .01 level for the SAT. The difference between the maturation group and the intervention group was significant at the .01 level but was not significant between the control and maturation group. The Ninth Grade Experiment results were significant at the .05 level for the SDRT.
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