Impact of close reading strategies in chemistry
Savastano, Guy David
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Many high school students have difficulty learning content by reading -- a key component of scientific literacy -- since they often lack the skills, confidence and motivation to read expository text. This study investigated the impact of close reading strategies on reading comprehension, attitude and motivation for textbook-based reading in chemistry, and the perceived utility of reading strategies for chemistry and other subjects. Students were taught three literature-based reading strategies -- a text and visuals scanning strategy, an annotation strategy, and a writing and dialogue strategy -- that addressed the pre-reading, during-reading and post-reading stages, respectively. During each three-week treatment phase, students learned a new reading strategy, and were given three reading challenges to practice the strategy. In a final treatment phase, students used all three reading strategies in concert. Data collection instruments included the Qualitative Reading Inventory (QRI) and Classroom Assessment Techniques (CAT) to assess comprehension, the Survey of Adolescent Reading Attitudes and Adolescent Motivation to Read Profile (AMRP) for attitude and motivation, a student survey for strategy usefulness, and individual interviews and a teacher reflection journal to appraise student and teacher experiences. This study found that reading comprehension improved significantly posttreatment as measured by the QRI, with an effect size in the large range. Analysis of CAT scores showed that only the post-reading stage writing and dialogue strategy resulted in a significant increase in reading quiz scores. Though student attitude towards reading the textbook was largely unaffected, both facets of motivation measured by the AMRP -- student's self-concept as a reader and student's value of reading -- increased significantly, with a small effect size. Over 90% of students agreed or felt neutral that all of the strategies helped them read the textbook more carefully and understand the chemistry textbook better, and students reported an even preference for reading strategies. A plurality of students agreed that the strategies learned in chemistry could be applied to English and social studies and 60% of students interviewed had already applied a strategy learned in chemistry to another subject. This study confirmed the value of teaching students scientific literacy skills related to reading expository text.