Teaching reading comprehension: the effects of direct instruction and cognitive apprenticeship on comprehension skills and metacognition

Bernadet de Jager

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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Governments, organisations and educators agree that education should not just focus on basic skills, but also on more complex outcomes such as metacognition. Youngsters must be prepared to deal with the rapidly changing society; they need to become life-long learners. Schools must provide opportunities for active, self-directed and independent learning to prepare students for this life-long learning. Metacognition plays an important role in this lifelong learning. This study addressed the question how regular schoolteachers should structure their instruction when they want to stimulate the development of both basic skills and metacognition. For answering this question, we studied two research traditions, namely educational effectiveness and constructivism. From both traditions, one specific instructional model was chosen namely direct instruction and cognitive apprenticeship. The direct instruction model is strongly related to educational effectiveness research. There is substantial empirical evidence that teachers can be trained to implement this model in a regular classroom setting. Furthermore, the direct instruction model proved to have a positive effect on achievement in basic skills. Direct instruction can be used for subject matters that are well structured, such as technical reading, and arithmetic. The model appears to be effective for non-native pupils and pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. With respect to direct instruction, there is little evidence of the effectiveness in terms of more complex skills such as metacognition. Besides, differential effects of the model for pupils from different background are hardly studied. The cognitive apprenticeship model (Collins, Brown & Newman, 1989) is based on constructivist ideas about learning. It focuses on the active involvement of pupils in the instructional process and on the development of metacognition. This model combines effective elements of instruction-psychological models such as reciprocal teaching, procedural facilitation and modelling. Research shows positive effects on complex skills, such as metacognition. However, this model has hardly been studied in regular classroom settings. In most studies, the treatment takes place outside the regular classroom or is carried out by the researcher or a computer program. With respect to cognitive apprenticeship, it unclear whether regular teachers can use the model in their regular classrooms, and whether it is suitable for teaching more basic skills and for pupils with different background characteristics. This thesis studied the implementation of both direct instruction and cognitive apprenticeship in a regular classroom setting for the school subject of reading comprehension. The effects were studied both in terms of basic skills, i.e. reading comprehension skills, and complex skills, i.e. metacognition.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Creemers, Hubertus, Supervisor
Award date25-Apr-2002
Print ISBNs90-6690-495-X
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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