Dialogic Pedagogy and Reading Comprehension: Examining the Effect of Dialogic Support on Reading Comprehension for Adolescents

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Virginia Tech


The reading comprehension scores of students in secondary education have been stagnant since the collection of national statistics on reading comprehension began (National Assessment on Educational Progress [NAEP], 2015, 2017, 2019). This study explored the effect of providing dialogic and thematic support on reading comprehension and intertextuality. The theories of dialogic pedagogy (Fecho, 2011; Stewart, 2019) and cognitive flexibility in reading (Spiro et al., 1987), along with the construction-integration model of reading comprehension (Kinstch, 2004) formed the foundation for this study. The study focused on the reading comprehension and ability to make connections across texts of 184 participants enrolled in 9th or 10th grade English classes in a high school in the Appalachian region of the southeastern United States. Methods included an experimental study which required participants to participate in two rounds of testing: the Nelson Denny Reading Test to provide reading levels and the Thematically Connected Dialogic Pedagogy (TCDP) testing which introduced dialogic and thematic support for reading comprehension and intertextuality. For the TCDP testing, participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: Thematically Connected Texts (TC), Thematically Connected Texts with Dialogic Support (TCDS), or a Control. Results from testing were analyzed to compare performance on outcome measures for reading comprehension and ability to make connections between texts. These comparisons suggest that the interventions do not affect either outcome measure significantly, though the data highlight the need for a nuanced approach to reading intervention and the development of adolescents' ability to use textual evidence. The findings drawn from the data point to implications for English educators, teacher educators, and administrators in the areas of assisting adolescents in making meaning from texts at a level that facilitates applying that knowledge in effective ways in order for them to fully participate in social, civic, and economic matters.



English Language Arts, dialogic pedagogy, reading comprehension, intertextuality