This study, which reports on previously unpublished data gathered in connection with a summer literacy-science program, Summer Explorers (Bruning & Schweiger, 1997), examined the role and timing of observation on informational text recall by elementary school students. Students (N= 206) in Grades 3-5 observed and read about the Madagascar Giant Hissing Cockroach (MHC). Three conditions were employed: (1) students first observing live MHCs, then reading facts about them; (2) students first reading facts about MHCs and then observing them; and (3) students only reading facts about MHCs. Students in the observation conditions recalled more facts than those in the no observation condition, with Grade 4 and 5 students benefitting more from the observation experience than Grade 3 students. Grade 3 students showed heightened levels of interest but not improved recall in the observation conditions, findings consistent with potential developmental differences in metacognitive awareness for instructional activities.
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