Relations Between Instruction in Text Organization and Diverse Learners (page 2)
Diverse learners have benefited from explicit, task-specific instruction on how to recognize and use the physical structure (e.g., topic sentences, headings, signal words) (Seidenberg, 1989), as well as narrative- (Gurney et al., 1990; Newby, Caldwell, & Recht, 1989) and expository-text structures (Seidenberg, 1989). Instruction in narrative-text structure appeared to provide students with a framework for recalling the important ideas in stories but not the details. Therefore, students with LD may require instructional focus on the goals, motives, thoughts, and feelings of characters in stories (Montague, Maddux, & Dereshiwsky, 1991).
Diverse learners may benefit from instruction in strategies, and when and how to apply them (Seidenberg, 1989). In particular, instruction in strategies for identifying main ideas may be useful for these learners. For students with dyslexia, studies have examined whether to teach using their strengths or remediating their weaknesses (Newby, Caldwell, & Recht, 1989). Newby and colleagues (1989) examined teaching story grammar to five 8- to 10-year-old students using instruction based on their strengths. Two students were identified as having difficulties with the sequential phonetic processes of written text (i.e., dysphonetic or auditory-linguistic dyslexia). Three students were identified as having difficulties processing words as wholes (i.e., dyseidetic or visual-spatial dyslexia). Instruction resulted in recall of a greater percentage of important ideas than in baseline. One of the two dysphonetic students and all of the three dyseidetic students showed clear increases. While this study pointed to the effectiveness of intervention by subtype, more research is required to draw clear conclusions. Newby and colleagues (1989) suggested that the study did not provide enough information to indicate if instruction based on the strengths of dyslexic subtypes was effective, or if training in story grammar in general was just as effective.
In summary, well-presented and structured text results in better comprehension of main ideas and relations between ideas than poorly presented or structured text. Students who are aware of or have had instruction in the physical presentation of text or text structure demonstrate more global comprehension than students who lack awareness or have not had instruction. Although students who are aware of text structure recall more than students who are not aware of text structure, there is often no difference between these students for local (i.e., details) comprehension.
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