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Heading effects on fifth grade recall of expository prose without and with heading strategy awareness Hobbins, Carole I.


This study was designed to investigate whether the presence of headings in regular classroom content area reading material naturally facilitated the quantity and type of recall of expository prose by fifth grade students and whether the exposure to and use of heading strategy instructions further improved the recall of the students. One hundred thirty-one students from seven classrooms in three school districts in the lower mainland and on Vancouver Island were selected to take part in the study. Each treatment group was composed of approximately an equal number of higher, middle and lower reading comprehension ability students as determined by a Canadian standardized reading test. The treatments consisted of a control group that received no headings and no strategy instructions, an experimental group with headings present but no strategy instructions, and second experimental group that received a passage with the headings present and heading strategy instructions. All students read a four page passage from a British Columbia authorized social studies textbook and one day later, were given two posttests that involved free recall and main idea recall/formulation measures. It was found that headings and heading strategy instructions significantly aided treatment group 3 (the second experimental group) in recalling and formulating main ideas, and to some extent helped these students with overall recall. Treatment 3 did not help the students to recall subordinate (supporting ideas) or sub-subordinate ideas (details). There were no significant effects for the headings only group (headings present in text) over the control group who read the passage without headings. A similar but weaker pattern was found for each reading comprehension ability level. These results are discussed in terms of previous research. General conclusions, implications for instruction, and suggestions for further research are also made.

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