One teacher’s reading comprehension instruction in an effective language arts classroom, and students’ metacognitive awareness of own reading processes

Submitted by: Camilla G Magnusson
Abstract: Keywords: adolescent literacy, reading comprehension instruction, case study, video observation

Background: Voluminous research has shown that explicit reading comprehension instruction is important for reading achievement. However, we know little about whether this instruction get internalized by the students, or what students think about the usefulness of comprehension activities and strategies, especially at the secondary level.

Research question: What are the prominent features of one teacher’s reading comprehension instruction in an effective language arts classroom, and what are students’ metacognitive awareness of their own reading processes?

Theory: The study is based on theories of reading comprehension instruction and how it ought to be integrated in natural classroom settings at the secondary level, in order to enhance students’ reading proficiency. Important elements are, among others, explicit strategies and vocabulary instruction (Kamil et al., 2008), and students’ metacognitive awareness of own reading (Baker, 2017).

Methodology and data: This is a case study of one teacher’s reading comprehension instruction in one classroom at the lower-secondary level. The classroom was selected based on students' gains on the Norwegian National Test in reading, which were significantly higher than the national average. Four consecutive language arts lessons have been videotaped at three different points in time, in grade 8, 9 and 10, a total of 12 lessons. Additionally, the students were interviewed. A content analysis of the data is being conducted.

Preliminary results: The observations show that the teacher focuses particularly on explicit vocabulary instruction, general learning strategies and strategies for reading comprehension, such as getting an overview of the text before reading, making stops when reading to reflect and asking questions about the text, and different ways to summarize.

In the interviews, the students explain what they normally do when they get a new text during lessons, which corroborates the analysis of the observations. They also reflect on how they would go about reading a new and complex text on their own, by reflecting on different strategies they have learnt. When explaining their preferred use of one method over another, they frequently mention trying to figure out the meaning of unknown words.


Baker, L. (2017). The development of metacognitive knowledge and control of comprehension: Contributors and consequences. In K. Mokhtari (Ed.), Improving reading comprehension through metacognitive reading strategies instruction. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Kamil, M. L., Borman, G. D., Dole, J., Kral, C. C., Salinger, T., & Torgesen, J. (2008). Improving adolescent literacy: Effective classroom and intervention practices: A Practice Guide (NCEE #2008-4027). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from