Embedding Explicit Instruction of Transfer to Improve At-Risk Students’ Reading Comprehension in Informational Texts
Patton III, Samuel Allen
The capacity to read nonfiction text with understanding is of obvious and vital importance, yet many students struggle to do so. This randomized control trial extends previous research by contrasting the efficacy of a standard, or Comp, tutoring program with a second Comp tutoring program that included strategies for transferring learning to new contexts (Comp+Transfer). Participants were 189 students in 97 classrooms in 20 elementary schools and middle schools in a large Southeastern school district who were identified on screening measures as weak in reading comprehension. To evaluate the programs’ efficacy, and to explore the added value of the transfer instruction, commercially-available and experimenter-created measures of reading comprehension, including those of near-, mid-, and far-transfer, were employed. Data were analyzed using cross-classified multilevel models for each outcome. Students in both programs significantly improved their understanding of near-transfer informational passages. 4th-grade (but not 5th-grade) students in the Comp+Transfer condition improved performance on mid-transfer passages. These findings highlight the potential value of teaching for transfer when students’ previous experience is lacking and the importance of measuring program efficacy at varying levels of transfer.