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Preliminary data on a test of ability to identify the main ideas of paragraphs in expository material Small, Terry 1984

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PRELIMINARY D A T A ON A TEST OF ABILITY TO IDENTIFY THE MAIN IDEAS OF PARAGRAPHS IN EXPOSITORY MATERIAL by TERRY S M A L L B.Ed., The University of British Columbia, 1975 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of Language Education We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA October 1984 © Terry Smal l , 1984 In p resent ing this thes i s in part ia l f u l f i l m e n t of the requ i rement s f o r an advanced degree at the The Un i ve r s i t y of B r i t i sh C o l u m b i a , I agree that the L ibrary shal l make it f r e e l y ava i l ab le f o r re ference and s tudy. I further agree that p e r m i s s i o n fo r ex tens i ve c o p y i n g of th i s the s i s f o r s cho l a r l y purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by his or her rep re senta t i ve s . It is under s tood that c o p y i n g or pub l i c a t i on of this thes i s f o r f i nanc i a l gain shal l not be a l l o w e d w i thout my wr i t t en p e r m i s s i o n . Department of Language Educat ion The Un i ve r s i t y of B r i t i sh C o l u m b i a 2075 W e s b r o o k P lace Vancouver , Canada V6T 1W5 Date: Oc tobe r 1984 ABSTRACT The s tudy w a s des i gned to c o l l e c t data on the f i rs t and s e c o n d dra f ts o f a test o f ab i l i t y to recogn i ze the main ideas in paragraphs of e x p o s i t o r y m a t e r i a l . The s tudy requ i red t w o major s t e p s . The f i rs t s tep w a s to des ign and conduc t a p re l im ina ry s tudy . In the p re l im ina ry s tudy t w e n t y - s e v e n grade s ix and s e v e n s tudents w e r e a d m i n i s t e r e d a M a i n Ideas in Paragraphs Tes t on three l e v e l s , (grades 3 / 4 , 4 / 5 and 5 /6 ) c o n s i s t i n g of four t a s k s ; C h o o s e the Bes t T i t l e , C h o o s e the Bes t Q u e s t i o n , W r i t e the Q u e s t i o n and Wr i t e the M a i n Idea. In the s e c o n d s t e p , the ma in s tudy , the M a i n Ideas in Paragraphs Tes t w a s a d m i n i s t e r e d to 230 fou r th , f i f th and seven th grade s tudents in the s c h o o l s . S c o r e s c o l l e c t e d in the s tudy w i l l be used as the data base f o r further r e v i s i o n of the tes t . ii J< Table of Contents A B S T R A C T ii L I S T O F C H A R T S i ' i L I S T O F T A B L E S i v A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S v I. T h e P r o b l e m 1 A . S t a t e m e n t o f t h e P r o b l e m 1 B. R a t i o n a l e f o r T h e S t u d y 1 C. D e s i g n o f t h e S t u d y 2 1. P r e l i m i n a r y S t u d y 2 2. M a i n S t u d y 3 D. D e f i n i t i o n o f T e r m s .,...3 E. L i m i t a t i o n s o f t h e S t u d y 4 F. S i g n i f i c a n c e o f t he S t u d y 4 G . O r g a n i z a t i o n o f t h e T h e s i s 4 II. R e v i e w o f t h e R e l a t e d L i t e r a t u r e 5 A . T h e I m p o r t a n c e o f T e a c h i n g R e a d i n g In t he C o n t e n t A r e a s 5 1. S u m m a r y 8 B. M a i n I dea s o f P a r a g r a p h s a n d R e a d i n g in t h e C o n t e n t A r e a s 8 1. I m p o r t a n c e o f T e a c h i n g M a i n I d e a s in P a r a g r a p h s 8 2. S t u d i e s in R e a d i n g f o r M a i n I d e a s in P a r a g r a p h s 11 3. S u m m a r y 15 III. D e s i g n o f t h e S t u d y 16 A . M a t e r i a l s 16 B. P r o c e d u r e s 17 1. P r e l i m i n a r y S t u d y 17 2. T h e M a i n S t u d y 18 •i i i 3. Summary 23 IV. Results, Discussion, and Recommendations 24 A . Ana lys is of Data 24 B. Discussion 29 C. Recommendations For Future Research 29 D. Summary 29 APPENDIX A 30 A . Sample Test Booklet 30 B. Set A - C h o o s e the Best Title 31 C. Set B-Wfi ich Question Does the Paragraph Answer? 33 D. Set C-Wri te the Question 35 E. Set D-Write the Main Idea 36 APPENDIX B - S A M P L E TEXT BOOKLET 37 A . Subjective Answer Key 37 APPENDIX C - A N S W E R BOOKLET 38 APPENDIX D-TEACHER'S GUIDE 41 BIBLIOGRAPHY •. 48 i v LIST OF TABLES I P o p u l a t i o n of the S tudy 19 II Interrater Re l i ab i l i t y f o r S c o r i n g Gene ra t i ve R e s p o n s e s 21 III M e a n S c o r e s on M a i n Ideas in P a r a g r a p h s - G r a d e Four 24 IV M e a n S c o r e s on M a i n Ideas in P a r a g r a p h s - G r a d e F ive 25 V M e a n S c o r e s on M a i n Ideas in P a r a g r a p h s ^ G r a d e S i x 26 VI M e a n S c o r e s on M a i n Ideas in P a r a g r a p h s - G r a d e S e v e n 27 LIST OF CHARTS S m a l l A d a p t a t i o n of the O t t o , Bar re t t , and Koenke (1969) S c a l e vi I. THE PROBLEM A . STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM The p rob lem of the s tudy w a s to c o l l e c t data on the f i rs t and s e c o n d dra f ts on a test o f h o w to recogn ize the ma in ideas in paragraphs of e x p o s i t o r y ma te r i a l . B. RATIONALE FOR THE STUDY For many yea rs read ing m e t h o d o l o g i s t s have s u g g e s t e d that f r o m grade four upwards ch i ld ren need to learn to read their t e x t b o o k s (Sho res , 1943; M c K e e , 1948; S p a c h e , 1958; Herber , 1970; H e n n i c k s , 1980; S t o r e y , 1983). A m o n g the s k i l l s c o n s i d e r e d to be impor tan t in read ing in the content areas is the ab i l i t y to f i nd main ideas in paragraphs . Read ing theo r i s t s agree that the ab i l i t y to unders tand the ma in idea of a paragraph is f undamen ta l to read ing con ten t mater ia l s u c c e s s f u l l y (Sho res , 1960; F e r g u s o n , 1969; S h e p h e r d , 1969; Herber , 1970; S p a c h e and S p a c h e 1973; M c E l w e e , 1974; Roeh le r , 1974; A x e l r o d , 1975; A l e x a n d e r , 1976; D ishner and R e a d e n c e , 1977; D o n l a n , 1980; B a u m a n , 1981; A v e r m a n n , 1982). It is b e l i e v e d , in f ac t , that a s tudent w i l l be unable to mas te r higher l eve l s of c o m p r e h e n s i o n in the conten t areas unti l he / she can f i nd main i deas . In an a t tempt to a s s i s t teachers to teach ma in ideas pub l i shers p r o v i d e p rac t i ce mate r ia l s in f i nd ing main ideas (Sch i ck , S c h m i d t and S c h u m o e h e r , 1969; Dur re l l , Furbush and R o s s , 1975; L i d d l e , 1977; M e r r i l l , 1977; A n d e r s o n , S t o n e and D o l a n , 1978; B o n i n g , 1978; B o n i n g , 1980). In sp i te of the ag reement that there is a ' need for s tudents to unders tand the ma in idea of a paragraph and the fac t that c o m m e r c i a l 1 2 mater ia ls are ava i l ab le fo r s tuden ts to p rac t i ce f i nd ing the ma in i dea , no one has s tud ied the evo lu t i on of the ab i l i t y in ch i ld ren at the appropr ia te ages w h o may or may not have r e c e i v e d s p e c i f i c i ns t ruc t ion in f i nd ing M a i n Ideas of Paragraphs . M a n y ques t i ons shou ld be a n s w e r e d : Do ch i ld ren begin to d e v e l o p th is sk i l l natura l ly at about the grade four leve l and improve it ove r the yea rs in the s c h o o l se t t i ng or d o e s th is sk i l l require care fu l ins t ruc t ion? D o e s task t ype in f l uence the s tuden ts ' ab i l i t y to iden t i f y the main idea of paragraphs? Such q u e s t i o n s can on ly be a n s w e r e d if a va l i d and re l iab le test is ava i lab le fo r use as a test ins t rument . C . DESIGN OF THE STUDY The s tudy requi red two major s t e p s : 1. PRELIMINARY STUDY The f i rs t s tep w a s to prepare a test that w o u l d measure s tuden ts ' ab i l i t y to f i nd M a i n Ideas in Paragraphs . The three s o u r c e s used we re ins t ruc t iona l mate r ia l s a l ready wr i t ten and b a s e d on M c K e e ' s (1948) p r o p o s e d l eve l s o f d i f f i c u l t y : Main Ideas in Paragraphs 3 /4 (Cat te rson and M a c N i e i l - 1 2 0 paragraphs) ; Getting the Main Ideas of Paragraphs 4 / 5 (Cat te rson and Hoi l a n d - 1 2 0 Paragraphs) and Main Ideas 5/6 (Cat te rson and H o l t b y - 3 0 Paragraphs) . F o r t y - e i g h t r a n d o m l y s e l e c t e d paragraphs we re packaged in three l e v e l s ; A , B, and C . Resu l ts f r o m app ly ing the Fry Readab i l i t y Fo rmu la ind ica ted these grade l e v e l s : leve l A - grade 3, leve l B - grade 5, and leve l C - grade 6. In add i t i on to the tes t , a teacher ' s gu ide , b a s e d on the Canadian Tests of Basic Skills f o r m a t , w a s w r i t t en as a guide fo r adm in i s te r i ng the t e s t s . A s tudent answer book le t and an answer key fo r teachers 3 w e r e a l s o d e v e l o p e d . The researcher ' s o w n grade s i x / s e v e n c l a s s at an e l emen ta r y s c h o o l in suburban Vancouve r w a s used in the p re l im ina ry s tudy . T w e l v e grade seven s tudents and f i f t e e n grade s ix s tudents w e r e g i ven the M a i n Ideas in Paragraphs T e s t . R e v i s i o n s we re made to the test on the b a s i s o f the resu l ts o b t a i n e d . 2. MAIN STUDY The r e v i s e d test w a s a d m i n i s t e r e d to 230 s tudents in t w o e lemen ta r y s c h o o l s in suburban V a n c o u v e r . The t w o s c h o o l s s e l e c t e d fo r the s tudy we re on an ava i l ab i l i t y b a s i s and were t y p i c a l o f suburban Vancouve r s c h o o l s as s ta ted by a sen io r s c h o o l d is t r i c t adm in i s t ra to r . Read ing s c o r e s fo r al l s tuden ts in the s tudy w e r e de r i ved f r o m the Nelson Reading Skills Test f o r p o s s i b l e use and further a n a l y s i s . D. DEFINITION OF TERMS O n l y one de f i n i t i on w a s requi red fo r the s t u d y . For the pu rpose of th is s tudy a ma in idea is de f i ned in A D i c t i o n a r y of Read ing and Re la ted  T e r m s , the o f f i c i a l Internat ional Read ing A s s o c i a t i o n p u b l i c a t i o n , as f o l l o w s : 1. The cent ra l thought , m e a n i n g , or g is t o f a p a s s a g e . 2. The ch ie f t op i c of a p a s s a g e e x p r e s s e d or i m p l i e d in a w o r d or a phrase . (Harr is and H o d g e s , 1981). 4 E . LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY The limitations of the study are: 1 . The sample used in the prelininary study was not randomly selected. 2. The two schools used in the second study were not randomly selected. F. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY This study is seen as having significance in that it will provide a data base for use in revising a projected test of main ideas in paragraphs. G. ORGANIZATION OF THE THESIS The thesis is organized into four chapters. Chapter one presents the problem. Chapter two reviews the related literature. Chapter three describes the design of the study and presents the data; and finally, Chapter four summarizes the study and states the conclusions. II. REVIEW OF THE RELATED LITERATURE The r e v i e w of l i terature is d i s c u s s e d under the f o l l o w i n g head ings : The Impor tance of Teach ing Read ing in the Content A r e a s ; The Impor tance of Teach ing M a i n Ideas of Pa rag raphs ; and S tud ies Re la ted to M a i n Ideas in Pa rag raphs . A . THE IMPORTANCE OF TEACHING READING IN THE CONTENT AREAS Teach ing read ing in the content areas is impor tan t . A s ear ly as 1943 it w a s be ing sa id that eve ry teacher , r ega rd less of what h e / s h e taught, w a s a teacher of read ing (Sho res , 1943). M c K e e (1948) agreed that there w a s a need to teach s tudents h o w to read their t e x t b o o k s . La ter , S p a c h e (1958) wa rned that it is impor tant to teach content area read ing s k i l l s . He po in ted out that a s tudent 's g o o d genera l reading ab i l i t y is not a guaranteee that he / she w i l l read w e l l in the conten t a reas . He s t r e s s e d the idea that the t rans fe r is not au tomat i c because content areas d i f f e r t o o w i d e l y in v o c a b u l a r i e s , fac t r e l a t i onsh ips , r e a s o n i n g , t ypes and backg round i n f o r m a t i o n . Spache c o n c l u d e d that c o m p e t e n c e in these areas c o m e s o n l y af ter sk i l l f u l t each ing . S o m e t w e n t y yea rs later Ear le (1969) e x p r e s s e d the s a m e idea when he sa id that a student bene f i t s m o s t when conten t and the read ing p r o c e s s are taught toge ther . A t a l m o s t the s a m e t ime N i l es (1969) w a s sugges t i ng a need to s t r e s s the impor tance of teach ing read ing in the content areas w h e n she rem inded us that conten t area t eache rs , be ing s p e c i a l i s t s , o f ten neg lec t th is impor tant a rea . S t i l l later , Herber(1970) a d v o c a t e d the s t rong need to teach read ing in the conten t a reas . Earp (1973) i ns i s ted that teachers of al l t y p e s must recogn ize and accept the idea that read ing ins t ruc t ion goes on al l day . In the same year 5 6 Spache and Spache (1973) no ted that the n e c e s s i t y to teach con ten t area reading b e c o m e s even more v i ta l w h e n one rea l i zes the s h o r t c o m i n g s of the educa t iona l s y s t e m and the d i f f i c u l t i e s ch i ld ren have in th is a rea . They c l a imed that part o f the p rob lem that s tuden ts f ace is that they learn to read us ing basa l readers and basa l r eade rs , con ta in ing m o s t l y narra t ive ma te r i a l , do not adequate ly prepare a s tudent to read in the con ten t a reas . M c E l w e e (1974) ma in ta ined that many s tudents not on l y cannot read the a s s i g n e d t ex tbooks but have s e r i o u s d i f f i c u l t y w i t h c o m m e r c i a l , supp lemen ta ry , and teacher prepared m a t e r i a l s , the re fo re mak ing the teach ing of content area read ing ve ry impor tan t . A d d r e s s i n g th is c o n c e r n , C a t t e r s o n (1974), s u g g e s t e d the impor tance of he lp ing s tudents unders tand the s p e c i f i c pat terns of w r i t i ng that occu r in content a reas . Upr i chard (1976) appeared to agree w i t h Ca t t e r son ' s idea w h e n he s ta ted that the ma themat i ca l d e v e l o p m e n t of ch i ld ren co r re la tes h igh ly w i th their ab i l i t y to read m a t h e m a t i c s . The re la t i onsh ip b e t w e e n a learner 's ma themat i ca l d e v e l o p m e n t and h i s /he r ab i l i t y to read m a t h e m a t i c s is such , he s a i d , that it is n e c e s s a r y fo r s u c c e s s f u l ma thema t i c s teachers a l s o to be teachers of read ing m a t h e m a t i c s . Luns t rum (1978) b e l i e v e d that a genera l fa i lu re to teach read ing in the content areas is the major r eason w h y many s tudents enter ing un ive rs i t y do not read w e l l . He no ted (p. 2) that as a s tudent l eaves his reading or Eng l i sh c l a s s and m o v e s into the content areas much of h i s /he r s u c c e s s depends upon h is /he r ab i l i t y to read the mater ia l p r o v i d e d in these c l a s s e s . S ta r t i ng in about the four th g rade , he po in ted out , the s tudent f a c e s conten t t e x t b o o k s and the s tudent is expec ted not on l y to mas te r the mater ia ls but a l so to learn the t y p e s of unique th ink ing that per ta in to 7 each area . Kurl ik (1980) concur red w i t h the o p i n i o n that if the s tudent is to have s u c c e s s in this area then h e / s h e must be taught h o w to read in the content a reas . Further ev idence of the impor tance of learn ing to read in the content areas is p r o v i d e d by Henr ichs and S i s s o n (1980) w h o cha l l enged the t rad i t iona l p rac t i se of teach ing read ing on l y as a separa te sub jec t . In their I V - C Pro jec t they found that s tuden ts o f ten c a r e l e s s l y s k i m m e d the m a t h e m a t i c s tex tbook w i th l i t t le unders tand ing o f the m a t e r i a l . Th is n e c e s s i t a t e s , they s a y , that s tuden ts be taught that read ing rate must depend on the type and pu rpose o f read ing . They c o n c l u d e d that the teach ing o f read ing is essen t ia l in al l sub jec ts and g rades . A n exam ina t i on of the l i terature in content area read ing by O 'Ma ra (1981) u n d e r s c o r e d the f i nd ings of Henr ichs and S i s s o n . She f o u n d that content read ing is more c o m p l e x than read ing Eng l i sh p r o s e because it con ta ins t echn i ca l v o c a b u l a r y , s y m b o l s , and a higher dens i t y o f i n f o r m a t i o n . In the s a m e year G a s k i n s (1981) suppo r t ed O ' M a r a and c l a i m e d that even the read ing and s tudy sk i l l s taught us ing the n o n f i c t i o n a l mater ia l that is in basa l readers d o e s not "do the j ob . " In her o p i n i o n there is l i t t le t rans fe r of these s k i l l s to the content area t e x t b o o k s . F i n a l l y , S t o r e y (1982) has w a r n e d that , as s tuden ts m o v e through the s y s t e m , read ing that is ex t raneous to the read ing or Eng l i sh c l a s s b e c o m e s f requent and impor tan t . He sa id the ea r l y , e m p h a s i s on sk i l l aqu i s i t i on sh i f t s to i n f o r m a t i o n gather ing , thereby m a k i n g read ing in the conten t areas that much more impor tan t . 8 '. SUMMARY It s e e m s c lear that the l i terature suppor t s the impor tance of teach ing read ing in the content a reas . A number of au thor i t ies have s ta ted that not on l y is read ing in the content areas impor tant fo r s u c c e s s in acqu i r ing con ten t i n f o rma t i on but that it must be ac t i ve l y taught. B. MAIN IDEAS OF PARAGRAPHS AND READING IN THE CONTENT AREAS If it is agreed that conten t area read ing shou ld be taught , teachers need to i n f o rm t h e m s e l v e s about the s u b s k i l l s requ i red . A l t h o u g h the l ist of s u b s k i l l s requ i red fo r con ten t area read ing is lengthy , one of the m o s t c o m m o n l y c i t ed is the ab i l i t y to ob ta in ma in ideas o f paragraphs . M a n y w r i t e r s c o n s i d e r it c r i t i ca l and pub l i shers have p roduced mate r ia l s re la ted to it. 1. IMPORTANCE OF TEACHING MAIN IDEAS IN PARAGRAPHS There is e v i d e n c e that educa to rs ove r a pe r iod of yea rs have . a d d r e s s e d the impo r tance of teach ing ma in ideas in paragraphs. Thornd ike (1934), fo r e x a m p l e , s ta ted that a s tudent 's unders tand ing of ma in ideas in paragraphs cannot be taken fo r g ran ted . He e m p h a s i z e d that a s tudent ' s unders tand ing of al l the w o r d s in a paragraph d o e s not guarantee that he / she unders tands the ma in idea of a paragraph. Such an unders tand ing , he thought , depends upon s p e c i a l i z e d ab i l i t i es w h i c h must be taught. . S o m e t ime later , M c K e e (1948) agreed that a student needs to unders tand the re l a t i onsh ips a m o n g s e n t e n c e s in a paragraph and the ma in idea con ta ined there in . The super io r reader , he s a i d , s e e m s to 9 de te rm ine the ma in idea of a paragraph a l m o s t u n c o n s c i o u s l y . H o w e v e r , he a d d e d , m o s t s tudents are not sk i l l f u l at f i nd ing main ideas in paragraphs . M c K e e encouraged the s y s t e m a t i c ins t ruc t ion of ma in ideas in paragraphs and s u g g e s t e d beg inn ing in e l emen ta r y s c h o o l (p 92). Be t ts (1954) suppo r ted M c K e e ' s o p i n i o n s ta t ing that s tudents need teacher gu idance in learn ing to unders tand the main ideas of paragraphs . A t about the s a m e t i m e , Durre l l (1956) w a s po in t ing out that the o rgan iza t i on of ideas is taught through va r i ous s teps wh ich inc lude the teach ing of ma in ideas in paragraphs . S i n c e content mater ia l appears to have inherent d i f f i c u l t i e s it appears that there is a need f o r actual t each ing to occur . Th is w a s s u g g e s t e d by R o b i n s o n (1960). He s u g g e s t e d that s tuden ts , be fo re they w i l l be ab le to f i nd ma in ideas read i l y , w i l l need a great deal o f a s s i s t a n c e . A r n s d o r f (1963) po in ted out that the high readab i l i t y leve l o f content area t e x t b o o k s is an impor tant r eason to teach s tudents h o w to f i nd ma in ideas in pa ragraphs . A major p r o b l e m in this a rea , he s a i d , is that many conten t area t e x t b o o k s are o f t en wr i t ten at a leve l wh i ch is c o n s i d e r e d higher than the grade leve l fo r wh i ch they are a s s i g n e d . In 1969 Fe rguson agreed and po in ted out that this p rob lem is e s p e c i a l l y ev iden t in s o c i a l s tud ies mater ia l w h i c h is c l o s e l y s t ruc tured and d e n s e l y packed w i t h ideas and c o n c e p t s . He be l i eved that the teach ing of ma in ideas in paragraphs is e s s e n t i a l fo r s u c c e s s in content area read ing . 10 The f o l l o w i n g year Herber (1970) i n s i s t e d that desp i t e the impor tance of f i nd ing the ma in idea w h e n read ing content area mate r ia l it s e e m e d that many s tuden ts , to the de t r iment of their c o m p r e h e n s i o n we re unable to do this task . Hence it is n e c e s s a r y to teach the sk i l l o f s ta t ing ma in ideas to ensure that s tuden ts w i l l be ab le to c o m p r e h e n d content mater ia l at higher l e v e l s . A r n s d o r f ' s (1963) conce rn w i th readab i l i t y w a s a l so advanced by C a m p b e l l (1972), Janz (1972), and J o h n s o n and Va rd ian (1973) w h o al l e c h o e d the need to teach ma in ideas in paragraphs as a means of h e l p i n g . s tudents deal w i th d i f f i cu l t con ten t area ma te r i a l s . A t about the s a m e t ime,- Spache and S p a c h e (1973) concu r red that the teach ing of ma in ideas in paragraphs shou ld not be n e g l e c t e d . A x e l f o r d (1975) and A l e x a n d e r (1976) both have suppor ted S p a c h e and S p a c h e ' s s ta tement and both have s t r e s s e d the impor tance of learn ing to read fo r ma in ideas of paragraphs in content a reas . A c c o r d i n g to D ishner and Readence (1977) be ing ab le iden t i f y the ma in idea is the m o s t fundamenta l o f al l con ten t area read ing s k i l l s . They thought that if s tudents are not taught th is s k i l l , then other r ead ing / s tudy sk i l l s such as r e c o g n i z i n g o r g a n i z a t i o n s , s u m m a r i z i n g , and ou t l in ing are w e a k e n e d . In agreement w i th D ishner and Readence are Lunst rum and T a y l o r (1978) w h o s ta ted that in order fo r s tuden ts to read content mater ia l s u c c e s s f u l l y they must be able to br ing i n f o r m a t i o n together into s o m e f o r m of s u m m a r y or main idea , Don lan (1980) agreed that be ing ab le to d i s t i ngu ish the ma in idea of a paragraph o f content mater ia l is o f ten what separa tes g o o d readers f r o m i n e f f e c t i v e readers . 11 F i n a l l y , Kameenui and Carn ine (1982) have w a r n e d that content area t e x t b o o k s are o f ten wr i t ten at a high readab i l i t y leve l mak ing them d i f f i cu l t fo r s tudents to read fo r main ideas in paragraphs . 2. STUDIES IN READING FOR MAIN IDEAS IN PARAGRAPHS In sp i te of the s ta ted impor tance of read ing fo r main ideas in paragraphs and the re la ted pub l i shed ma te r i a l s , l i t t le is k n o w n about s t u d e n t s ' ab i l i t y to read fo r ma in ideas in pa ragraphs . A l i terature r e v i e w s h o w s that f e w s tud ies have been conduc ted to de te rm ine the extent to wh i ch s tudents are ab le to f i nd the ma in ideas in paragraphs. O t t o , Barret t and Koenke (1969) conduc ted a s tudy to seek d e s c r i p t i v e data regard ing c h i l d r e n s ' ma in idea s t a t e m e n t s . They tes ted 200 s e c o n d graders and 200 f i f th graders f r o m four M a d i s o n , W i s c o n s i n s c h o o l s . There we re equal n u m b e r s , o f b o y s and g i r l s in the s tudy . Each student w a s t es ted i nd i v i dua l l y and asked to read and s tate the ma in idea of three paragraphs w r i t t en at the f i rs t grade l e v e l . The exper imen te rs found that s e c o n d grade sub jec ts d id not s c o r e as w e l l as f i f th grade sub jec ts on the task o f de r i v i ng a l i teral ma in idea s ta temen t . H o w e v e r , they n o t i c e d that many of these s e c o n d grade sub jec ts we re capab le of r espond ing w i t h s t a t e m e n t s wh i ch app rox ima ted the ma in idea (ie. t i t le) . O t t o , Barrett and Koenke c o n c l u d e d that fur ther research is needed to de termine if f i f th g rade rs , w h o appear to be ab le to f o rmu la te ma in idea s ta temen ts o f s i m p l e paragraphs , can do the s a m e w i t h more c o m p l e x ma te r i a l . They s ta ted that such research might c o n c l u d e that f o r m a l ma in idea ins t ruc t ion shou ld be p o s t p o n e d unti l the later e lementa ry y e a r s . 12 Later , W i l l i a m s and S t e v e n s (1972) a t t emp ted to de te rm ine the e f f e c t o f paragraph s t ructure on a pup i l ' s ab i l i t y to s u m m a r i z e the ma in idea and f i nd the t op i c sen tence of a paragraph. The s tudy u t i l i zed a popu la t i on of 382 e lemen ta ry pup i ls g rades three to s ix and 531 s e c o n d a r y pup i ls in g rades s e v e n to ten . The expe r imen te rs i nves t i ga ted the e f f ec t o f the p l acemen t of the t o p i c sen tence at the beg inn ing , m i d d l e , or end o f a paragraph on the p u p i l s ' ab i l i t y to under l ine the t op i c sen tence and to w r i t e a t i t le f o r each paragraph s u m m a r i z i n g its ma in i dea . The paragraphs fo r the e lemen ta ry and s e c o n d a r y pup i ls w e r e wr i t t en at the four th and s ix th grade l eve l s r e s p e c t i v e l y . W i l l i a m s and S t e v e n s f o u n d that the c r i t e r i on t asks were much eas ie r fo r e lemen ta ry s tuden ts when the t op i c sen tence w a s at the beg inn ing of the paragraphs than when it w a s in the other t w o p o s i t i o n s . On the other hand , paragraphs in w h i c h the t op i c sen tence w a s nei ther f i rs t nor last appeared to cause the m o s t d i f f i c u l t y f o r s e c o n d a r y s tuden ts . Further re la ted research w a s conduc ted by Van B l a r i c o m and Wh i te (1976) w h o c o n d u c t e d t w o expe r imen ts . The f i rs t exper iment w a s d e s i g n e d to detect any d i f f e r e n c e s be tween s e l e c t i n g a main idea s ta temen t and genera t ing a ma in idea s t a t e m e n t ; the purpose of the s e c o n d exper iment w a s to de te rm ine whether the ex i s tence of t o p i c s e n t e n c e s in paragraphs had an e f f e c t on s e l e c t i n g or generat ing ma in idea r e s p o n s e s . The exper imen te rs used 100 f i f th g raders f r o m a s e m i - r u r a l s c h o o l fo r the f i rs t exper imen t and they used 120 f i f th graders f r o m t w o pub l ic s c h o o l s f o r the s e c o n d exper imen t . 13 Van B l a r i c o m and Wh i te d i s c o v e r e d s i gn i f i can t d i f f e r e n c e s be tween teh con t ro l and exper imen ta l groups in the f i rs t expe r imen t . They no ted that l ess than f i f t y percent of the s tudents w h o we re s u c c e s s f u l in se l ec t i ng the co r rec t ma in idea f r o m a m o n g four o p t i o n s w e r e a l so s u c c e s s f u l in genera t ing a main idea r e s p o n s e w i t h c o m p a r a b l e s u c c e s s . A l s o , in the s e c o n d exper iment the s c o r e s on both dependent measu res (se lec t ion and genera t ion) w e r e greater fo r paragraphs con ta in ing t o p i c s e n t e n c e s . The researchers c o n c l u d e d that the resu l ts o f these expe r imen ts ind icate that se l ec t i ng and genera t ing ma in ideas* are d i f fe ren t t asks and that ma in idea c o m p r e h e n s i o n is a f f e c t e d by paragraph o rgan i za t i on . They be l i eve that these c o n c l u s i o n s have se r i ous i m p l i c a t i o n s fo r t es t i ng . Three y e a r s later Van B l a r i c o m (1979) conduc ted another s tudy to tes t the a s s u m p t i o n that main idea c o m p r e h e n s i o n is not a s ing le task , but that it is a f f e c t e d by cer ta in f a c t o r s inherent in the nature of the requ i red task . She iden t i f i ed t w o f a c t o r s in her s t u d y : p a s s a g e o rgan iza t i on and type of ma in idea paragraph q u e s t i o n s a s k e d . The s tudy ques t i oned whether passage o rgan iza t i on and ques t i on t ype a f fec t p e r f o r m a n c e on a main idea task . The s tudy u t i l i zed s i x t y pup i ls in grades three and four . The f i rs t fac to r Van B l a r i c o m s tud ied w a s the e f f e c t o f ques t i on t ype on ma in idea p e r f o r m a n c e . She s e l e c t e d three ques t i on t y p e s of apparent i nc reas ing s o p h i s t i c a t i o n : the t o p i c , the t i t l e , and the ma in idea s ta temen t . The pup i l s w e r e asked to read t w e n t y paragraphs and to attenpt the three tasks for each paragraph. 14 The second factor studied how the presence of a topic sentence in a paragraph affects main idea comprehension. The pupils were asked to read twenty paragraphs, of which ten had topic sentences and ten did not. Three main idea questions followed each paragraph. Van Blaricom found that there were degrees of sophistication of main idea comprehension questions and that pupil performance varied with the required task. She also reconfirmed that the presence of topic sentence in a paragraph affects main idea comprehension. The experimenters concluded, firstly, that an instructional sequence for main idea comprehension should be used in schools. Secondly, there is a need to consider paragraph organization when asking for main idea comprehension and differentiate instruction accordingly. In a more recent study Bauman (1981) attempted to find out how skillful students are at finding main ideas in paragraphs. A total of 83 third graders and 89 sixth graders were used in this study in their own classrooms. The students read unaltered expository prose from classroom textbooks and main idea comprehension was assessed. The results indicated that students tended not to comprehend the main idea of a paragraph. They did have some success at stating the main idea of one or two sentences but they experienced difficulty with larger thought units. Bauman concluded that educators should continue to teach students how to comprehend main ideas, especially in content area reading materials. 15 Ii. SUMMARY Educators over the years have discussed the importance of teaching main ideas in paragraphs. It is also a skill which must be taught. However, in spite of the fact that a great many authors have stated that finding the main idea of a paragraph is an important content area reading s k i l l , there has been little research done to determine the sequence in which students acquire this s k i l l . III. DESIGN OF THE STUDY This chapter presents a description of the materials used in the studies and the procedures employed in collecting data on a test of the ability of intermediate pupils in recognizing the main ideas in paragraphs of expository material. A. MATERIALS The study required the administration of a Main Ideas in Paragraphs test. Three existing main ideas in paragraphs instructional packages: Main Ideas in Paragraphs 3/4 (Catterson and McNeill), Getting the Main Ideas in Paragraphs 4/5 (Catterson and Hoiland), and Main Ideas 5/6 (Catterson and Holtby), were examined. Each package level consisted of four criterion tasks: A) Choose the Best Title; B) Choose the Best Question; C) Write the Question; and D) Write the Main Idea Statement (two objective tasks and two generative tasks in which answers had to be created). From these three sets of existing paragraphs and results from the preliminary study, sixty paragraphs were randomly selected for the total test be used in this study. Each test consisted of twenty paragraphs, five paragraphs for each criterion task. The criterion tasks were: A) Choose the Best Title, B) Which Question Does the Paragraph Answer?, C) Write the Question, and D) Write the Main Idea (see samples, Appendix A). When the Fry Readability Scale was applied to the paragraphs in each of the three level packages, the paragraphs were found to be on grade levels 3, 5 and 6, respectively. In addition to the test, an answer key for each criterion task at each level was also developed (Appendix B). Student answer booklets were designed (Appendix C) and a teacher's guide based on the format of the 16 17 Canadian Test of Basic Skills was written for teachers (Appendix D). B. PROCEDURES The procedures of the study involved two major phases: a 1. PRELIMINARY STUDY a. Population A total of twenty-seven students, fifteen sixth graders and twelve seventh graders, in a suburban Vancouver elementary school were administered the Main Ideas in Paragraphs- Test consisting of forty eight paragraphs, sixteen in each of three levels, four for each criterion task. b. Test Administration The preliminary study took place in May 1983. The three test packages were administered during three sittings. Test booklets were scored by the researcher. c. Analysis of Data and Results The results of the preliminary study were analyzed using a LERTAP PROGRAM at the University of British Columbia Computing Center. Based on the analysis of the data collected it was found that: 1. A number of the test items were not performing acceptably. 2. The grade seven students scored significantly higher on the test than the sixth graders. 3. Those students who were perceived as being better readers by the teacher scored higher on the test than those students who were perceived by the teacher as being poor readers. 18 4. The Hoyt Estimate of Reliability for each individual set of paragraphs was not high. However, the reliability for the entire test was found to be 0.86. 5. The range of scores was 16 to 44, with the mean being about 34. d. Discussion As a result of the findings obtained from the preliminary study it was concluded: 1. Scoring inconsistencies in the subjectively scored parts of the test demanded a scoring protocol. 2. Some revisions of paragraphs were required. 3. In-service training for administrators of the test is needed to ensure maximum student performance. 2. THE MAIN STUDY a. Materials Based on the findings of the preliminary study several changes were made for the major study. These changes were: 1. A number of paragraphs in the Main Ideas in Paragraphs test were altered or deleted by one of the original authors (Catterson). Also, one paragraph and corresponding task were added to each section to bring the total number of paragraphs in the Main Ideas in Paragraphs test to sixty, twenty at each level. 2. Reading scores for each student in the study were obtained from the Nelson Reading Skills Test (1977). 19 An eight point scale, adapted from the Otto, Barrett and Koenke (1969) twelve point scale, was developed for marking the two generative main idea responses (Chart 1). CHART I - Small Adaptation of the Otto, Barrett, and Koenke (1969) Scale for Numerical Ordering Otto, Barrett and Koenke (1969) Scale Small Adaptation of Scale Value Otto, Barrett, and Koenke (1969) Value No response Irrelevant or incorrect material One element p a r t i a l l y given One element too generally or s p e c i f i c a l l y stated, plus irrelevant or incorrect data One. element too generally or s p e c i f i c a l l y stated Two elements too generally or s p e c i f i c a l l y stated, plus irrelevant or incorrect data 0 No response 0/8 1 Irrelevant or incorrect 1/8 material 2 One element p a r t i a l l y 2/8 given - a key word but too global 3 One element too generally or 3/8 s p e c i f i c a l l y stated, plus irrelevant material or incorrect data 4 One element too generally or 4/8 s p e c i f i c a l l y stated, but no irrelevant or incorrect data 5 Two elements too generally or 5/8 s p e c i f i c a l l y stated, plus irrelevant or incorrect data Two elements too generally or s p e c i f i c a l l y stated One element correctly-stated plus irrelevant or Incorrect data Two elementa too generally or 6/8 s p e c i f i c a l l y stated, but no irrelevant or incorrect data One or two elements corr e c t l y 7/8 stated, plus some minor irrelevant or incorrect data One element correctly stated One element correctly stated plus one element too generally or s p e c i f i c a l l y stated plus irrelevant or incorrect data One or two elements stated correctly 8/8 One element correctly stated plus one element too generally or s p e c i f i c a l l y stated Two elements correctly stated, olus irrelevant or incorrect data 10 11 20 b. Population and Procedures The Main Ideas in Paragraphs test was administered to 220 intermediate students in eight classes from two schools in suburban Vancouver (Table 1). TABLE I - Population of the Study School One School Two Grade Number Grade Number 4 32 4 26 5 19 5 35 6 26 6 - 27 7 33 7 32 TOTALS 110 120 21 The two schools selected for the study are typical of suburban Vancouver elementary schools as stated by senior staff administration. c. Test Ad mi ni strati on Teachers, involved in the testing were provided in-service sessions during which testing procedures were outlined. During the first week in May, 1984 all students were administered each of the three levels of the Main Ideas of Paragraphs test. Three sessions were used for testing. The test answer booklets were collected and marked by the researchers. The eight point scale based on the Otto, Barrett and Koenke (1969) scale for numeric order was used for distributing marks to responses. To ensure reliability in scoring responses, a reliability measure for the scoring of the generative responses was derived by randomly selecting ten answer booklets which were evaluated by two independent markers. The results from these two independent evaluations were measured for reliability with researchers' results using the Statistical  Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) at the University of British Columbia Computing Center. The Pearson Reliability Coefficients are presented in Table 2. TABLE 2 - Interrater Reliability for Scoring Generative Responses on Main Ideas in Paragraphs Level Raters 1/2 1/3 2/3 1/2 1/3 2/3 1/2 1/3 2/3 Reliability Coefficient .961 .961 .997 .997 .997 .997 .994 .994 .999 23 d. Analysis of Data The data were analysed using the LERTAP PROGRAM at the University of British Columbia Computing Center. This analysis provided the statistics necessary for answering the questions of the study. 3. SUMMARY This chapter presented a description of the design of the study. A discussion was presented on the selection of the Main Ideas of Paragraphs test and construction of related materials such as the teacher's guide, answer key and a student's answer booklet which were used in the major study. In addition reference was made to the subjective marking scale used for scoring responses. Procedures used in both the preliminary study and main study were described. IV. RESULTS, DISCUSSION, AND RECOMMENDATIONS The purpose of the study was to collect data on the first and second drafts of a test of ability to recognize the main ideas in paragraphs of expository material. This chapter presents, the results of the data gathered followed by a discussion of their relationship to the questions of the study. A. ANALYSIS OF DATA The results obtained from student performance on the Main Ideas in Paragraphs Test are summarized by grade in tables three to six. The tables are the result of a statistical analysis of the data using the LERTAP PROGRAM at the University of British Columbia Computing Centre. Table 3 shows the results of the data collection in Grade Four. 24 25 TABLE 3 - Mean Scores and Standard Deviations on Main Ideas in Paragraphs Grade Four (n = 57) Test Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD Set A - Choose 22.74 9.42 27.79 10.70 15.16 10.33 the Best T i t l e Set B - Choose 25.26 9.04 25.54 10.74 21.61 11.31 the Best Question Set C - Write ;,8.50 7.20 23.05 15.25 16.95 14.55 the Question Set D - Write 18.75 12.20 13.70 11.00 11.30 11/70 the Main Idea i Table 4 shows the results of the data collection in Grade Five. 26 TABLE 4 - Mean Scores and Standard Deviations on Main Ideas in Paragraphs -Grade Five (n = 50) Test Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD Set A - Choose 25.12 10.60 26.56 11.01 17.92 9.77 the Best T i t l e Set B - Choose 27.52 11.45 26.08 10.94 25.44 11.04 the Best Question Set C - Write 9.40 7.95 18.80 16.70 15.10 13.10 the Question Set D - Write 18.30 12.65 14.60 13.10 8.40 8.75 the Main Idea Table 5 shows the results of the data collection in Grade 6. 27 TABLE 5 - Mean Scores and Standard Deviations on Main Ideas in Paragraphs Grade Six (n = 50) Test Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD Set A - Choose 27.84 9.73 29.28 9.23 21.12 12.28 the Best Title Set B - Choose 27.68 9.86 29.29 9.91 22.88 10.72 the Best Question • Set C - Write 15.10 10.75 24.80 15.40 19.60 12.95 the Question Set D - Write 16.30 11.90 15.40 13.45 16.20 11.65 the Main Idea Table 6 shows the results of the data collection In Grade Seven. 28 TABLE 6 - Mean Scores and Standard Deviations on Main Ideas i n Paragraph -Grade Seven (n = 63) Test Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD Set A - Choose 28.83 7.94 31.24 9.71 22.86 10.74 the Best T i t l e Set B - Choose 29.97 9.31 29.97 10.16 27.94 8.84 the Best Question Set C - Write 13.35 8.51 30.80 11.50 21.50 12.45 the Question Set D - Write 22.05 12.00 20.30 13.55 16.50 10.90 the Main Idea 29 B. DISCUSSION The data gathered forms a second stage in the development of the projected test. Use of these data should provide a basis for further development. C. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH Several recommendations for further research can be made based on the findings of the study. Recommendations are: 1. It is recommended that in research involving student performance on main idea tasks students be given some pretest practice with main ideas. This would reduce the "testing effect". 2. It is also recommended that the effect of paragraph structure on selecting and generating main idea responses be explored further. 3. Once a valid and reliable test is developed, further study is recommended to determine the effects of direct sequential teaching of main ideas in paragraphs to intermediate and secondary students. D. SUMMARY The purpose of this study was to collect preliminary data on a test of ability to identify the the main ideas in paragraphs of expository material. 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Toronto; Houghton Miff l i n Co., 1977. Henrichs, M. and Sisson, T. Mathematics and the Reading Process: A Practical Application of Theory. Mathematics Teacher. 1980, v73, 253-257. Herber, H. Teaching Reading in Content Areas. Englewood C l i f f s , N.J.: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1978. Janz, M.L. and Smith, E.H. The Student's Reading Ability and the Readability of Secondary School Subjects. Elementary English 1972, v49, 622-624. Kameenui, E.J. and Carnine, D.W. An Investigation of Fourth-Graders' comprehension of Pronoun Constructions in Ecologically Valid Texts. Reading Research Quarterly. .1982, v17, 556-580. King, E.M. (Ed.) Canadian Tests of Basic Skills. Toronto, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1974. Krulik, S. To Read Or Not To Read, That is the Question. Mathematics  Teacher, 1980, v73, 253-257. Lai, C. Statistical Package for the Social Sciences. UBC Version 9.00 (under M.T.S.). The University of British Columbia Computing Center, June 1983. Liddle, W. Reading for Concepts (2nd Ed.). Toronto; McGraw-Hill, Ltd., 1977. Lunstrum, J.P. Building Motivation Through the Use of Controversy. Journal  of Reading. 1981, v24, 686-691. McKee, P. Teaching of Reading in the Elementary School. Cambridge, Mass.: Houghton, Mi f f l i n , 1948. Merrill, C.E. Merrill Reading Skilltext Series. Columbus, Ohio; Merrill Pub. Co., 1977. O'Mara, D.A. The Process of Reading Mathematics. Journal of Reading. 1981, v25, 22-30. Otto, W., Barrett, T., and Koenke, K. Assessment of Children's Statements of the Main Idea in Reading, in J. Allen Figurel (Ed.), Reading and Realism. Newark Delaware: International Reading Association, 1969, 692-697. Robinson, A. A Cluster of Skills; Especially for Junior High School. The  Reading Teacher. 1961, v15, 25-28. Schick, G., Shmidt, B. and Shumacher, M. Design for Good Reading - A  Reading Skills Program. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1969. Shores, J.H. Skills Related to the Ability to Read History and Science. The  Journal of Educational Research. 1943, v36, 584-593. Shores, J.H. Reading of Science for Two Separate Purposes as Perceived by Sixth Grade Students and Able Adult Readers. Elementary English. 1960, v37, 461-468. Spache, G.D. Types and Purposes of Reading in Various Curriculum Fields. The Reading Teacher. 1958, v11, 158-164. Spache, G.D. and Spache, E.B. Reading in the Elementary School. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, Inc., 1973. Thorndike, E. Improving the Ability to Read: Ability to Manage Larger Units. Teachers College Record, Oct., 1934. Uprichard, A.E. in Earle, R.A. Teaching Reading in Mathematics. Newark, Del.: International Reading Association, 1976. Van Blaricom, G. The Effect of Passage Organization on Main Idea Comprehension at Three Response Levels, in Pennock, C. (Ed.), Reading  Comprehension at Four Linguistic Levels. Newark, Del.: International Reading Association, 1979. Van Blaricom, G. and White, Testing Comprehension of the Central Thought: Selecting Versus Generating Main Idea, in Miller, W.D. and McNich, G.H. (Eds.), Reflections and Investigations on Reading-Twenty Fifth Yearbook  of the National Conference. 1976, 317-323. Williams, M. and Stevens, V. Understanding Paragraph Structure. Journal of  Reading, 1972, v15, 513-516. APPENDIX A A. SAMPLE TEST BOOKLET Comprehension of Factual Prose Main Ideas in Paragraphs 33 34 LEVEL ONE Set A B. SET A-CHOOSE THE BEST TITLE Example: The teeth are an outgrowth of the skin. They are hard, white and shiny. Their work is to cut, tear, and grind the food. Men and many animals have two sets of teeth. The first set is called the baby, or milk teeth, or the temporary teeth. The other is the permanent set. 1. Facts about teeth 2. Care of the teeth 3. Baby teeth Tomatoes are a kind of fruit. They may be eaten raw or cooked. A long time ago people thought they were not good to eat. They were grown because they were pretty. Then they were called "love apples". They were very small. Now they are large and smooth. 1. Facts about fruits 2. Facts about tomatoes 3. Tomatoes as food 2) When you are having batting practice, do not bat too long at a time. Each time hit only two or three balls. Then stop and think about your mistakes. Hitting too long without stopping may get you into bad habits. You may get into the bad habit of hitting at balls which are not directly over the plate. 1. Hints on batting practice 35 2. Bad habits in batting 3. Avoid mistakes in batting LEVEL ONE Set B C. SET B-WH/CH QUEST ION DOES THE PARAGRAPH ANSWER? Example: Bears have warm coats, but they do not like to be out in cold weather. As soon as winter comes, they find a cave where they go to sleep. If they do not find a den, they dig one in the earth with their claws. They lie down in it and cover themselves with leaves. The days come and go; the wind blows; the snow fa l l s ; but the bears do not care. 1. What are the bear's living habits? 2. What do bears do in wintertime? 3. Are the coats of bears' warm? 1) The best way to get rid of flies is to keep everything clean. Flies live in filth and lay their eggs in it. If there is no filth about, such as garbage, there will be nothing for the flies to live on, and no eggs to hatch. People in the country must keep their own places clean, but people in the city have the help of garbage trucks. 1. Where do flies lay their eggs? 2. Why should we get rid of flies? 3. What is the best way to get rid of flies? 2) A spider can run along the thin threads of his web. A fly will try to do this, too. Then what a surprise! The fly finds that the web is sticky. Once in, the fly cannot get away. Then the spider hurries out. Quickly he winds more stickly thread about the fly. Soon the fly cannot move at all. 37: So you see, the spider uses his web to catch food. 1. How does a spider catch a fly? 2. How does the spider's web feel? 3. What are the uses of a spider's web? 38 LEVEL ONE Set C D. SET C-WR/TE THE QUEST/ON Example: People often call the cowbird a lazy bird. It does not build its own nest. It does not sit on its eggs to hatch them. It does not look after it sown babies. It lays each egg in another bird's nest. The other bird does not know that one egg is not her own. She sits on all the eggs until they hatch. 1) Because we cannot live without salt, we are always looking for it. Most of the salt we use comes from salt mines under the ground. In some countries, people get salt from the sea. We get salt from wells, too. A salt well is much like a water well. The salt is brought to the top in pipes. 2) The big island of Borneo is an interesting land. Oil pure enough to use in machines comes bubbling from the ground. Flowers that measure three feet across grow there. Animals of all sizes, from huge elephants to deer no bigger than a rabbit, are found in its dense forests. 3) A parachute is made of silk or of nylon, which is strong yet light in weight. It is made up of twenty-four parts, each shaped like a triangle. They are sewn together with the points of the triangles at the top. The sections do not exactly meet. A small hole is left at the top to permit air to escape. This keeps the parachute steady as it drops. 39 LEVEL ONE Set D E. SET D-WR/TE THE MAIN IDEA Example: The spider family is a big one. There are spiders everywhere except on high mountains and in extremeiy cold places where there are no insects to eat. Some spiders are bigger than a man's hand. Others are no bigger than a pin head. Some can kill you with their bite. Others are harmless. 1) . In the mill are many machines. First, a machine cut the logs into tiny pieces. After the pieces were soaked in water, another machine beat them until it finally was pressed out between hot rollers. What had once been a tree was now a sheet of paper! 2) Before there were electric lights, a man walked through the streets of the town all night long. He watched to see that all was well, so people called him "The Watch". He carried a lantern to light his way through the dark streets. Every hour he called out the time and the weather. For example, at nine o'clock on a starry night, people might hear him cry "Nine o'clock and all is clear!" 3) Oysters that contain pearls are usually different in appearance from other oysters. If you see a beautiful, perfectly shaped oyster, you will know it is only good for its meat. Pearl oysters are badly shaped and the shells do not fit together well. Indeed, the uglier the oyster is, the more certain you can be that there might be a pearl in it. APPENDIX B-SAMPLE TEXT BOOKLET A. SUBJECTIVE ANSWER KEY Level One: Set C: 1. Where can we get salt from? Where do people get salt from? 2. Why is the island of Borneo an interesting land? 3. How is a parachute made? Set D 1. Making of paper. How (a sheet of) paper is made. 2. Work of the watchman. What the watchman did. How the watchman made the town light. 3. Picking an oyster with a pearl in it. 40 APPENDIX C-ANSWER ' BOOKLET ANSWER BOOKLET Comprehension of Factual Prose Main Ideas in Paragraphs Name: ;  Grade: ' School; Date; Nelson: Vocab- Comp. - Total -. ALL ANSWERS ARE TO BE RECORDED IN THIS BOOKLET 4i 42 LEVEL ONE Set A Choose the Best Title Example: 1 2 3 1. 1 2 3 2. 1 2 3 3. 1 2 3 4. 1 2 3 5. 1 2 3 Set B What Question Does the Paragraph Answer? Example: 1 2 3 1. 1 2 3 2. 1 2 3 3. 1 2 3 4. 1 2 3 5. 1 2 3 Set C Write the Question Example: How are Cowbird eggs hatched? 1) ? 2) ? 3) ? 4) ? 5) ? Set D Write the Main Idea Example: What Makes our seasons. 1) ? 2) 3) 4) 5) APPENDIX D-TEACHER'S GUIDE Comprehension of Factual Prose Main Idea of Paragraphs 44 45 Teacher's Guide I) Nature and Purpose of the Test This test provides a measurement of the skill of comprehending the main idea of a paragraph using factual prose. The measurement of this skill could be an important factor in assisting the teacher develop a science or social studies program which meets the needs of his/her students. The test results should not be used to replace teacher judgement, but rather to supplement it. It is suggested that results be used as an additional measure that will augment other information the teacher has about the student to meet his/her learning needs. II) Description of the Test Battery The test battery consists of three separate tests covering a range from grade three to grade six. Each test contains twenty individual paragraphs. The tests for each grade level consists of four subtests: a) Choose the Best Title; b) What Question is Answered?; c) Create the Question; and d) State the Main Idea. These subtests provide measurements of skills in different areas related to understanding main ideas in paragraphs. A l l of the tests are contained in a single booklet. Each pupil taking the test begins with the first test and works through as much of the test as he/she is capable of completing. separated answer sheets are provided to be used with the tests for recording purposes. It is not intended that this test be taken during one sitting. Several sittings may be needed at the teacher's discretion. III) Preparations for Testing The procedures being stated in this guide are being duplicated in other classes. By closely following the same outlined procedures the teacher will ensure the validity of the test scores of his/her class. If directions to the pupils vary, some may receive too little assistance and others too much. Therefore, it is extremely important to follow the directions exactly as they are stated. Students should know why they are taking the tests and the intended use of the results. In addition, they should be stimulated to earnest effort if the test scores are to be valid. IV) Directions for Administering the Tests A. Step One: After all of the students have been seated say, speaking slowly and distinctly: "WE ARE NOW GOING TO TAKE THE MAIN IDEAS IN PARAGRAPHS TEST. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU DO YOUR BEST ON THESE TESTS. OTHERWISE THEY WILL NOT GIVE A TRUE PICTURE OF WHAT YOU KNOW." B. Step Two: Distribute the test booklets and answer sheets. When this has been done, say: "ON THE FRONT OF YOUR ANSWER BOOKLET ARE SOME BLANKS THAT WE WILL FILL IN. WRITE YOUR FULL NAME IN THE BLANK AFTER THE WORD NAME. ALSO WRITE YOUR GRADE, YOUR SCHOOL AND THE DATE IN THE BLANKS." C. Step Three When the students have finished filling in the blanks, say: "THE TEST BOOKLET WILL BE USED BY OTHER PUPILS IN OTHER CLASSES. YOU ARE TO MARK ALL YOUR ANSWERS ON THE ANSWER SHEET. YOUR ANSWER SHEET WILL HELP YOU KEEP THE RIGHT PLACE. IT HAS ANSWER SPACES FOR ALL OF THE QUESTIONS YOU ARE TO ANSWER." D. Step Four Have the students turn the page and locate Test 1, Set 1 on both test and answer booklet. Then say: "WE ARE NOW READY TO TAKE TEST 1, SET 1. TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND HOW TO ANSWER THE TEST EXERCISES AN EXAMPLE, IS GIVEN AT THE THE BEGINNING OF THE SET. READ THE PARAGRAPH UNDER THE WORD EXAMPLE. (PAUSE) WHAT IS THE BEST TITLE TO DESCRIBE WHAT THIS PARAGRAPH IS MOSTLY ABOUT? (PAUSE) YES # 1 , "FACTS ABOUT TEETH" IS CORRECT. NOTICE ON YOUR ANSWER SHEET, BESIDE THE WORD EXAMPLE THAT THE NUMBER ONE HAS BEEN CIRCLED TO SHOW THAT THE FIRST ANSWER IS CORRECT. YOU ARE NOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST TITLE FOR PARAGRAPHS 1, 2, and 3. BE SURE TO RECORD YOUR ANSWERS ON THE ANSWER SHEET. IF YOU FINISH BEFORE THE OTHERS, READ A BOOK QUIETLY. YOU MAY BEGIN. IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION RAISE YOUR HAND." E. Step Five: After the students have begun work on the test, check to make sure that each one is working in the right section of the test and recording answers in the appropriate manner. The students should be given a reasonable amount of time to finish. F. Step Six: Say: "WE ARE NOW READY TO TAKE TEST 1, SET 2. FIND YOUR PLACE IN YOUR TEST AND ANSWER BOOKLETS. REMEMBER YOU ARE TO MAKE NO MARKS IN THE TEST BOOKLET. TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND HOW TO ANSWER THE TEST EXERCISES, AN EXAMPLE IS GIVEN AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SET. READ THE PARAGRAPH UNDER THE WORD EXAMPLE. (PAUSE) WHICH QUESTION DOES THE PARAGRAPH BEST ANSWER? (PAUSE) YES #2. IS CORRECT. NOTICE ON YOUR ANSWER SHEET BESIDE THE WORD EXAMPLE, THAT THE NUMBER TWO HAS BEEN CIRCLED TO SHOW THAT THE SECOND ANSWER IS CORRECT. YOU ARE TO CHOOSE THE QUESTION THAT IS BEST ANSWERED BY PARAGRAPHS 1, 2, or 3. BE SURE TO RECORD YOUR ANSWERS ON THE RIGHT PART OF THE ANSWER SHEET. YOU MAY BEGIN. IF YOU HAVE QUESTION RAISE YOUR HAND." Step Seven: Say: "YOU ARE NOW READY TO TAKE TEST 1, SET 3. FIND YOUR PLACE IN THE TEST BOOKLET AND YOUR ANSWER BOOKLET. READ THE PARAGRAPH UNDER EXAMPLE SILENTLY. (PAUSE). CAN YOU THINK OF A QUESTION THAT ALL OF THIS PARAGRAPH ANSWERS? YES, "HOW ARE COWBIRDS HATCHED?" WOULD BE A CORRECT ANSWER. NOTICE ON YOUR ANSWER SHEET, BESIDE THE WORD EXAMPLE THAT THE QUESTION HAS BEEN WRITTEN ON THE LINE. YOUR ARE TO WRITE A QUESTION THAT IS ANSWERED BY EACH OF 1, 2, and 3. REMEMBER THAT THE QUESTION YOU WRITE SHOULD BE ABOUT WHAT THE WHOLE PARAGRAPH IS 49 ABOUT AND NOT JUST A SMALL PART OF THE PARAGRAPH. IF YOU FINISH BEFORE THE OTHERS READ A BOOK QUIETLY. YOU MAY BEGIN. IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION, RAISE YOUR HAND AND I WILL HELP YOU AFTER THE OTHERS HAVE BEGUN." Circulate around the classroom to make sure that each student is working on the right section of the test. H. Step Eight: Say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irculate around the classroom to make sure that each . student is working on the right section of the test. I. Step Nine: Steps four to eight are repeated for Test 2 and again for Test 3. You must, of course, make changes regarding the examples when the instructions are read. The needed information is in the answer and test booklets. J. Step Ten; 50 Before returning the materials please f i l l in each student's reading number on the front of each answer booklet. Each student should be assigned a number from one to five which corresponds to this scale; 1) excellent reader, 2) good reader, 3) average reader, 4) fair reader, or 5) poor reader. THANK YOU FOR YOUR COOPERATION. 

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