Textbook reading strategies in the middle school science classroom

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Montana State University - Bozeman, Graduate School


The majority of middle school students have not been specifically taught strategies to read textbooks. My goals were: to determine whether learning a textbook reading strategy would improve the students' understanding of the content, to measure any shift in attitudes towards reading textbooks after being taught specific strategies, and to evaluate any effect that teaching these strategies might have on my teaching. Many of my middle school science students struggled to locate information within their textbook during coursework. This impacted their reading assignments, which were rarely read, and homework assignments, which had low scores. The Common Core Standards mandate that technical writing and reading of informational text be incorporated into science curriculum. Two textbook reading strategies, THIEVES (Manz, 2002) and PLAN (Radcliffe, Caverly, Hand, & Frank, 2008), have been used successfully with middle school students. Over the course of four units, teaching of the reading strategies was alternated with using no reading strategy. The quantitative data that were collected included; test scores, quiz scores, homework scores, and final class grades. The qualitative data that were collected included; student surveys before and after learning the reading strategies, student interviews, and my own journaling. This study's findings were that quiz and test scores remained relatively consistent throughout the investigation, but homework scores did show an improvement during the final unit that used the PLAN reading strategy. Final academic grades remained the same for some of the students, while most students' grades improved or declined. Survey results indicated that students shifted from extreme feelings about reading textbooks, i.e. that they either loved or hated reading them, to having more neutral feelings about reading textbooks. The majority of the students preferred the PLAN reading strategy because they felt that it made them more familiar with the content and that their final product in their science notebooks had value to them, as it aided them in studying for tests. I also preferred PLAN due to the ease of teaching the strategy, the writing component that is built into the reading strategy, and the creative final product from the students.




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