Prior knowledge, two teaching approaches for metacognition: Main idea and summarization strategies in reading

Bettina Patterson Murray, Fordham University


This study examined the effects of prior knowledge and two teaching approaches, reciprocal teaching and peer tutoring, on college students' metacognition, main idea and summarization strategies in reading. Seventy-seven college freshmen at a major city university who had failed the entrance exam in reading were provided either the reciprocal teaching or peer tutoring treatments over a three-month period in reading classes that met twice weekly for a total of 33 hours. Students were categorized as having either high or low prior knowledge levels using a median split on the Nelson Denny Reading Test. Four intact classes were randomly assigned to one of the two treatments. Teacher modeling and verbal protocols (think-alouds) were used to instruct the students in both teaching treatments. An observation instrument was used to verify the researcher's fidelity to treatment. Inter-rater reliability was established at .85. Students' responses to the Self-Regulated Learning Strategies Inventory Schedule (SRLSIS), were used to measure metacognition. Further, a teacher-generated Summary Rating Sheet was administered weekly to evaluate students' main idea and summarization strategies after the reading of selected short stories. Inter-rater reliability was established at .85. The main hypotheses dealt with the mean summary scores of reading strategies on the summary rating sheet. A series of 2 × 2 factorial analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were used to analyze the effects of both high and low prior-knowledge levels and each of the teaching approaches, as well as the interaction effects on the dependant variables, the identification of main idea, and summarization skills. No significant differences were found between teaching treatment and the use of main idea and summarization strategies. Nor were differences found in summarization and main idea by prior knowledge and learning strategy. However, significant differences [F (1, 73) = 4.68, p = .03] were found in the high prior-knowledge group of students when analyzing their score in main idea. Supplemental analyses using the Pearson correlation coefficient were used to examine the 10 categories on the Summary Rating Sheet: 1—main idea, 2—setting, 3—characters, 4—role of characters, 5—title, 6—problem, 7—resolution, 8—implied message, 9—summarization, and 10—English usage. It was found that there were relationships at levels of significance (p = .001 to p = .01) between all I 0 of the reading strategies on the Summary Rating Sheet. Univariate analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were used to examine the individual reading strategies, and there were significant results [F (1, 73) = 4.23, p = .04] to be found by the high prior-knowledge students in the strategy of identification of the problem in a narrative. As a result of the SRLSIS, 14 metacognitive learning strategies were identified. Several metacognitive strategies were used between the p = .001 and the p = .05 levels of significance by students in either of the two teaching treatments and by the high or low prior-knowledge groups. In conclusion, students' level of prior knowledge affected their use of metacognitive learning strategies and reading strategies. Because of variations among and within student groups, no one teaching approach indicated significant differences. However, distinctive differences were to be noted in students' use of metacognitive learning strategies as the result of experiencing diverse teaching approaches. Further research should continue for a greater understanding of the factors that influence student achievement in reading. Student awareness of metacognitive strategies, and the conditions which promote this awareness, may prove useful as a diagnostic tool to be used in the determination of productive approaches to literacy acquisition.

Subject Area

Literacy|Reading instruction|Cognitive therapy|Rhetoric|Composition

Recommended Citation

Murray, Bettina Patterson, "Prior knowledge, two teaching approaches for metacognition: Main idea and summarization strategies in reading" (2008). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3302116.