Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Department name when degree awarded

Education (Curriculum & Instruction)

Committee Chair(s)

D. Ray Reutzel


D. Ray Reutzel


Janice A. Dole


Sylvia Read


Kay Camperell


Cindy D. Jones


Reading comprehension is one of the most critical academic skills to be acquired in school; therefore, the comprehension instruction provided by teachers is of utmost importance. This study examined 3 years of classroom observation data to describe the comprehension instruction provided by kindergarten through third-grade teachers who were participating in the federal Reading First reading reform initiative within 22 high-poverty Title I schools located in rural, suburban, and urban school districts in one western state. An explanatory sequential mixed-methods design was used to analyze data collected during 325 three-hour observations of classroom literacy instruction to identify both the quantity and the types of comprehension instruction provided. Comprehension instruction was divided into four categories in this study: vocabulary instruction; instruction provided before reading or listening to activate, assess, or build prior knowledge; comprehension instruction during or after reading or listening; and comprehension strategy instruction. Fifty-seven thousand six hundred sixty-three minutes of literacy instruction were observed; 13,237 minutes of this instruction were coded as comprehension instruction. Results of the study indicated that, on average, teachers allocated 23%, approximately 41 minutes, of their 3-hour literacy block to comprehension instruction. Overall, 96% of teachers provided at least one instructional event that was coded as comprehension instruction; however, there was tremendous variability in the amount of instruction provided and the implementation of instructional practices supported by research. Elements of the gradual-release-of-responsibility model were rarely observed including a relative lack of guided and iv independent practice to assist students in applying comprehension skills and strategies. Teachers relied heavily on asking students questions before, during, and after reading. Very little instruction was focused on cognitive strategies or instruction to support students’ acquisition of knowledge related to narrative or expository text structures. Positive outcomes included the implementation of small group instruction and the use of a variety of text types. Teachers in this study were required to implement a published core reading program, which may have exerted influence on the results that were obtained.




This work made publicly available electronically on August 9, 2011.

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