The impact of story grammar instruction and text difficulty on students’ skill in summarizing narratives
Previous research on teaching summarizing skill has focused on summarizing strategies that are appropriate for expository texts rather than narrative text. Findings of these studies showed an advantage for older over younger students but did not control for text difficulty, so age effects may have been confounded by text difficulty. The present study tested an intervention designed to improve summarizing of narrative texts, taking into account the factor of text difficulty. Thirty fourth-grade participants (mean age = 9.7 years) were pretested for reading and summarizing skill. Participants receiving the summarizing treatment (N = 15) were taught to write summaries of narrative texts based on story grammar components. Participants receiving the writing control treatment (N = 15) were taught to write about connections between their lives and the text. Results showed that the story grammar intervention improved the quality of narrative summaries and that better summaries came from easier text than harder text. The present study reveals a shortcoming of previous summarizing studies that attributed superior performance to age without considering text difficulty. Findings show the effectiveness of teaching fourth graders to apply story grammar components to improve their skill in summarizing narrative text.
Keywords: text summarizing instruction, text summarization skill, story grammar instruction, text difficulty and summarization
Published online: 19 October 2020
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