Comprehension Questioning: Small Group Reading Instruction for Urban Students with Learning Disabilities
Jones, Valerie R.
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It is evident from reading research that students with learning disabilities (LD) greatly benefit from teacher-student interactions during small group comprehension instruction (e.g., Berkeley, Scruggs, & Mastropieri, 2010). Given that questioning takes up the vast majority of instructional interactions between teachers and students (Chin, 2007; Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001), teachers who have mastered the art of questioning are undoubtedly in a better position to positively influence students’ reading comprehension (Brualdi, 1998). Recent research shows that teachers use questioning not only to check students’ understanding, but as scaffolds for developing reading comprehension (Frey & Fisher, 2010). Thus, the purpose of this study was to describe the questioning practices used by general education teachers during small group reading comprehension instruction where students with LD were included. Participants included five general educators who use small group reading instruction to teach 4th or 5th grade readers. This qualitative study involved audiotaping each teacher’s small group reading instruction on two separate occasions. Each small group lesson observed included at least one student with a LD and all were African American. Field notes, classroom discourse transcripts, and the stimulated recall interview were coded and systematically analyzed using constant comparative analysis (Huberman & Miles, 1994; Strauss & Corbin, 1990). Findings generated descriptive data on the frequency and forms of questions asked, and illuminated the general educator’s role in using questions to support reading comprehension for African American students with LD. Teachers asked questions at a high rate during small group reading instruction, and approximately two thirds of the questions asked focused on reading comprehension. The types of comprehension questions asked most depended on the teacher and varied considerably; however the most frequent type of comprehension question asked was literal elicitation questions with the next two most common types being inferential elicitation questions and divergent questions. When it came to supporting students’ comprehension of narrative fiction text, teachers used a variety of scaffolding strategies, including prompts, cues, models, and explanations. This study has implications for both research and practice on ways to promote small group reading comprehension instruction that is beneficial for African American students with LD.
African American students
small group instruction