The Impact of Instruction in Text Structure on Listening Comprehension in Preschool Age Students

Open Access
Bochna, Cynthia R.
Graduate Program:
Educational Psychology
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 23, 2006
Committee Members:
  • Robert James Stevens, Committee Chair
  • Peggy Noel Van Meter, Committee Member
  • Rayne Audrey Sperling, Committee Member
  • John Daniel Marshall, Committee Member
  • text structure
  • listening comprehension
  • emergent literacy
  • reading
  • Head Start
Emergent literacy concerns the experiences children have with language prior to learning to read and write conventionally. These oral and written language experiences encourage the development of strategies and behaviors that encourage and facilitate the child’s later reading ability. While much attention has been given to the development of vocabulary and phonological awareness knowledge in the young learner, less has been paid to the growth of comprehension skills, particularly in the area of non-fiction, or expository, text. This study investigates the impact of comprehension instruction on disadvantaged preschool children’s understanding of expository children’s books. Forty-five children enrolled in year round Head Start services in Central Pennsylvania were split into ten small groups and read ten non-fiction books over a six week period. Approximately half of the children were taught to summarize content and identify topic during shared book reading sessions, while the remaining children were read the books without explicit strategy instruction. Results indicate that children as young as three can be taught to identify the topic in a novel expository text. Limitations of the study and directions for future research are also discussed.