The effects of organizational cues on the reading comprehension of educable mentally retarded children
This study investigated the effects of organizational cues on the reading comprehension of educable mentally retarded (EMR) child ren. The investigation focussed on Semmel's (1967) theoretical framework on language behavior of EMR children. It was proposed that difficulties of EMR children on tasks of recall and comprehension may be related to the use of inefficient verbal organizational strategies.
Two experiments were designed in order to investigate the problem. The first experiment was concerned with the effects of externally manipulated organizational cues in the form of clausal chunking patterns on the recall and comprehension performance of 32 EMR subjects. The second experiment examined the results of an instructional intervention which taught EMR children to independently attend to and discriminate relevant organizational cues in the form of the smaller phrasal chunking patterns and its effect on performance in reading comprehension.
The results of the first experiment were based on a comparison between two groups of EMR children with similar reading ages, IQ and chronological ages who received 3 experimental passages under one of two cueing conditions: cued and uncued. Subjects were required to read the passages, and answer comprehensive quest ions. The main effects were considered as well as transfer effects when the experiment was repeated with the same subjects who received 3 more experimental passages under the opposite treatment conditions. The results indicated that under cued conditions EMR subjects recalled significantly more relevant information, in the form of free recall responses, total responses to comprehension questions, and total responses to intrasentence and intersentence based questions. Furthermore, as practice increased under cued conditions so did correct responses to these measures. When cueing conditions were reversed, transfer of a chunking strategy was observed when the group under cued condition received uncued conditions, for this group maintained the increased performance under uncued conditions. Support for the effects of externally manipulated cues was provided when the results of the group receiving uncued treatment in the first phase and cued treatment in the second phase of the experiment were analyzed. This group displayed a trend towards increased performance on all measures under cued conditions especially when practice under cued conditions increased.
In the second experiment, an applied-behavior analysis design was employed to compare the effects of an instructional intervention across multiple outcome behavior and between subjects. The results of this experiment indicated that EHR children could be taught to independently attend to and discriminate relevant organizational cues. Furthermore the results suggested that the instructional intervention facilitated an improvement in reading comprehension, for as each phase of the instructional intervention was mastered, answers to comprehension questions increased. It was cautioned that the effects may have also been related to practice i-n answering. comprehension questions. However it was noted that baseline of the control subjects did not increase as practice increased. The increase took place only following intervention. It was predicted that future replications of the experiment which controlled for practice effects would result in a clearer relationship between the training in the use of hierarchical strategies and improved performance in reading comprehension. It was concluded that the organizational cueing technique proposed in the investigation provides a viable means of improving the organization; recall and literal comprehension of EHR children. Implications of the findings for educational practice in grouping and training strategies for teaching reading comprehension to EHR children were discussed.