Effects of Text Genre and Structure on 4th- and 5th-grade Students’ High-level Comprehension in Small-group Discussions

Open Access
Li, Mengyi
Graduate Program:
Educational Psychology
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
October 16, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Bonnie J Meyer, Thesis Advisor
  • Pricilla Karen Murphy, Thesis Advisor
  • reading comprehension
  • text-based discussion
  • text genre
  • text structure
  • Quality Talk
Although there is a rich literature on the role of text genre and structure on students’ comprehension, little research has examined the role of these text features on the quality of students’ discussions about texts in small groups. As such, the present study examined the effects of text genre (i.e., narrative and informational) and structure (i.e., story, comparison, causation, problem/solution, and sequence) on 4th- and 5th-grade students’ small-group discussions, and the text-based discussions were coded for high-level comprehension discourse indicators (i.e., authentic questions, elaborated explanations, and exploratory talk). The results indicated that students evidenced more indices of high-level comprehension when discussing narrative texts than when discussing informational texts. Meanwhile, teachers tended to initiate more questions in discussions on informational texts. The deeper structure of the texts was also shown to influence the discussions. Specifically, students generated significantly more authentic questions during discussions on texts with comparison structures than for any of the other four text structures, while causation structure texts triggered more authentic questions from teachers. Overall, this study contributes to the understanding of the effects of text factors on students’ high-level comprehension as demonstrated in small-group discussions.