Strategy-based reading instruction in secondary schools: Findings from classroom observations and teachers’ surveys

Submitted by: Anke Schmitz
Abstract: To foster higher-level reading processes in secondary schools, intervention studies provide evidence that the incorporation of self-regulated reading is a powerful approach (Dignath & Büttner, 2008). Self-regulated reading is based on using different strategies (Boekaerts, 1999) when dealing with expository texts: cognitive strategies of organization, elaboration or memorization; metacognitive strategies to plan, monitor and evaluate the reading process; resource management strategies to guide motivational, emotional and affective processes of reading comprehension (ibid).
As many students have severe difficulties with comprehending expository texts and usually don’t learn strategy use autonomously, teachers should provide rich opportunities for students to acquire self-regulated reading. Hereby, they should instruct strategies in an explicit way while clarifying when, what for and how to use strategies (Duke & Pearson, 2002; Hattie, 2009). Furthermore, all types of strategies have to be mutually instructed to promote comprehension (Dignath & Büttner, 2008).
As it is widely unknown, how teachers instruct reading strategies in German classes, the study analyzes teachers’ instructional routines in 5th grade by classroom observations and corresponding teacher questionnaires.
The criteria for the classroom observations (N = 42 classes and teachers) and teachers’ questionnaires (N = 135) are based on the model of self-regulated learning of Boekaerts (1999), and are adapted to reading comprehension. The dimensions of both instruments referred to the types and frequency of cognitive strategies, the way of strategy instruction, and the types and frequency of metacognitive strategies. Besides that, it was analyzed how the teachers supported the activation of resource management strategies (e.g. motivation, support, time management).
Descriptive results from classroom observations reveal that there is a low variance in strategy instruction, for instance teachers refer to prototypical cognitive strategies (e.g. underlining), they seldom instruct metacognitive strategies and mostly explain strategic reading in an implicit way. These findings contradict teachers’ own perspectives expressed in the questionnaire.
Despite the differences which are getting evident in the two studies, it can be discussed how the conjunction between research on self-regulated reading and school practice could be strengthened.

Boekaerts, M. (1999). Self-regulated learning: where we are today. International Journal of Educational Research, 31, 445-457.
Dignath, C. & Büttner, G. (2008). Components of fostering self-regulated learning among students. A meta-analysis on intervention studies at primary and secondary school level. Metacognition and Learning, 3, 231-264.
Duke, N. K. & Pearson, P. D. (2002). Effective practices for developing reading comprehension. In A. E. Farstrup & S. Jay Samuels (Eds.), What research has to say about reading instruction (pp. 205-242). Newark, NJ: International Reading Association.
Hattie, J. A. C. (2009): Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London: Routledge.