Reading and comprehending content area texts require learners to effectively select and encode with hierarchically strategic memory structures in order to combine new information with prior knowledge. Unfortunately, evidence from state and national tests shows that children fail to successfully navigate the reading comprehension challenges they face. Schools have struggled to find approaches that can help children succeed in this important task. Typical instruction in classrooms across the country has focused on procedural application of strategies or content-focused approaches that encourage rich discussions. Both approaches have achieved success but have limitations-related transparency and specificity of scaffolds and guidance for the teacher and learner in today’s diverse and complex classroom settings. The text structure strategy combines content and strategy to provide pragmatic, transparent, and scaffolded instruction addressing these challenges. A web-based intelligent tutoring system for the text structure strategy, named ITSS, was designed and developed to provide consistent and high-quality instruction to learners in Grades 4 and 5 about how to read, select main ideas, encode strategic memory structures, make inferences, and monitor comprehension during reading. In this article, we synthesize results from two recent large-scale randomized controlled studies to showcase how the ITSS supports selection and encoding of students’ strategic memory structures and how prior knowledge affects the memory structures. We provide greater depth of information about such processing than examined and reported in extant literature about overall increases in reading comprehension resulting from students using ITSS.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Computer Science Applications