Guiding Questions Promote Learning of Expository Text for Less-Skilled Readers

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The current study evaluated the effectiveness of written responses to guiding questions as a tool for promoting learning and retention for readers with varying comprehension skills as indexed by the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Comprehension Test (MacGinitie, MacGinitie, Maria, Dreyer, & Hughes, 2007) and SAT Critical Reading Test scores (About the SAT, n.d.). Forty-two participants (34 females and 8 males) completed guiding questions or reviewed instructor-generated answers for the questions on alternating weeks. Learning was assessed through the use of standard classroom assessment methods. Results indicated that students of all skill levels benefitted from completing guiding questions but that this effect was mostly attributable to less-skilled readers (ηp2 = .53 and ηp2 = .42 for the reading comprehension and critical reading tests, respectively). Self-reports also indicated that although students of all skill levels found the guiding questions to be an effective tool for exam preparation, less-skilled readers reported to a greater degree that the questions aided in organizing course material, highlighting critical aspects of the text, and facilitating a deeper understanding of the material. These results suggest that guiding questions may be an effective study method across all skill levels but particularly for those who struggle the most with comprehension.

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