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• A study of discourse organisation and reading

comprehension
Over the past twenty years , Isabel Beck and her colleagues have
been examining how text structures influence reading
comprehension.
Beck, McKeown, Sinatra and Loxterman (1991) explores these issues
by examining fourth- and fifth- grade history texts covering the
American pre-Revolutionary War era (1756-75). They revised a text
on the causes of the war using select discourse-organisation
principles: adding explanations, making connections obvious, linking
events and people more directly, and making sure that given
information generally preceded new information in each sentence.
Then they gave the original version and the revised version to two
groups of students. They asked students to answer comprehension
questions and do a free-recall measure of the events.
The results of this study showed that students understood the revised
text significantly better than the original version, recalling
significantly more information and scoring significantly higher on
comprehension questions.
Then, Beck and her colleagues realised that their revision principles,
would probably not become consistent features of future student
textbooks; thus, students would still experience difficulties with
textbook comprehension. So through and instructional approach
called `Questioning the Author´, they taught students to interact with
texts and question text information and writer purpose critically. In
this way, students learned to deal with difficulties that they
encountered while trying to understand information texts.