Impact of DR-TA and Questioning

on Comprehension and Reading Attitude of 1st Grade Students

The Research Question: How Does the Use of Questioning During a Directed Reading-Thinking Activity Impact Comprehension and Reading Attitude of First Grade Students?

The Reason Behind this Topic

A major requirement of my MAEd-READ degree was an Action Research Project. After much reflection, both on my teaching practice and my current classroom environment, I decided to focus on comprehension. I found that research supported the use of explicit instruction in the area of comprehension. Further reading of articles, both research-based and practitioner-based, led me to specifically want to explore how the use of questioning within a DR-TA framework would impact comprehension and reading attitude of first grade students. My goal during this project was to determine whether students would become more critical thinkers of text and if attitude displayed toward reading would become more positive as a result.

The Abstract

This action research study was to determine how questioning during a Directed Reading-Thinking Activity would impact comprehension and reading attitude of first grade students. This quasi-experimental pre/posttest design study included 38 students from two first grade classes. Basal reader selections were used. The intervention group used questioning along a continuum while the comparison group used traditional basal reader questions. Two separate independent t tests, using the mean gain scores from the pre/post data and the pre/post Reading Attitudes Survey, failed to establish statistical significance (p=0.06). However a large effect size was documented for comprehension (0.8).

The Nuts and Bolts

The Who: 38 First Grade Students participated in the study

The What: Comprehension and Reading Attitude

The Where: Two first grade classrooms in a traditional Title 1 K-5 elementary school in eastern North Carolina

The Why: To see if the use of questioning in a DR-TA framework would increase comprehension and reading attitudes of first grade students over traditional instruction using basal readers

The When: Intervention occurred over a 6 week time frame (January 19th through February 27th, 2015). Two additional weeks (January 7th-16th and March 2nd-6th) were utilized to gather pre and post data.

The How: The researcher (intervention class) provided questioning along a Comprehension Continuum designed by Harvey and Daniels within a DR-TA framework (created by Stauffer in 1969) using basal reader selections during whole group comprehension.

Pretest- Middle of the Year (MOY) TRC scores in Reading 3D (Wireless Generation) and Elementary Reading Attitudes Survey (McKenna and Kear, 1990).

Posttest- Progress Monitoring (6 week mark) TRC scores in Reading 3D and Elementary Reading Attitudes Survey (McKenna and Kear, 1990)

Researcher Log- used to record observations and reflections of intervention on student outcome.

The Intervention

The intervention occurred for 20 minutes of the 90 minute literacy block, three times a week for six weeks. The intervention took place during the comprehension component of whole group literacy. Each week there were three different text selections from the basal reading series: Monday, a read-aloud; Tuesday, main selection for the week; Thursday, a connecting piece.

  • Before Reading: Students would make predictions about the text from hearing and seeing the title. Responses were recorded on chart paper to be referred to throughout the lesson.
  • During Reading: Predictions made before reading text would be confirmed or revised. The teacher/researcher would stop at predetermined points throughout the text to ask questions about the text, using the question starters in the Comprehension Continuum created by Harvey & Daniels (cited in Harvey & Goudvis, 2013). The Gradual Release of Responsibility Model provided the necessary scaffolding for students.
  • After Reading: The teacher/researcher would revisit the predictions made at the beginning of the text with the students and discuss accuracy of predictions. The teacher/researcher would also ask students how this text connected to another text, their own life, or to something in the world as well as why they thought the author wrote this text.

The Results

Two sets of results were gathered from the study.

  • Did questioning using the Comprehension Continuum impact student comprehension? Results did not indicate that the intervention group (students who received the questioning within the Comprehension Continuum) performed higher than the students in the comparison group (students who only received the basal reader questioning). However a large effect size was determined for reading comprehension.

  • Did the intervention impact student attitude toward reading? Results indicated an overall negative reaction to the intervention; however, the observations recorded within the researcher log were inconsistent with the data results on student attitude toward reading.
Big image

The Implications

The implications of this study are far-reaching, especially as they relate to student outcome. This was perhaps the most true for below grade level readers. The researcher log provided evidence that not only did the number of responses from these students increase, but so did the quality of the responses given. This is corroborated by research that supports the use of questioning as a way to ensure students are provided opportunities to learn how to become deeper, more critical thinkers about text. In fact, Haggard (1988) indicated that questioning is the dividing line between the DR-TA and traditional instruction. Embedding the use of questioning in an environment that scaffolds the support, such as the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model, provides the learner with opportunities to be successful with more critical responses to text.

The Conclusions

While the results were not statistically significant, the following did occur as a result of the study:

-high effect size on the intervention group

-increased quality of student responses

-increased responses from below grade level readers

-growing awareness of predictions and their importance to text

Future Directions for Research

Due to the fact that this action research was designed with the needs of my class in mind, the possibility exists that the results cannot be generalized to other settings. However the following are presented as possible changes to the study:

-increase the amount of time for the study

-change the study to the beginning to mid point of the year

-use of trade books instead of basal reader selections

Resources for Educators and Parents


Video on the DR-TA

Article on DR-TA and Questioning (requires a JSTOR account)

Justification for the Use of Questioning

Article on Comprehension


Comprehension Continuum- question starters handout used in intervention


Link to a Lesson Plan

This is a website geared to self-questioning. It contains a presentation for educators (and parents too) on how to present the self-questioning strategy to students.

Another great website... It originated in Australia but incorporates different comprehension strategies that can be utilized here as well!

This website contains a video of questioning in action for families to use at home. While this is geared toward the summer break, it can be used at any point of the year.

One more website... Contains self-questioning strategies that are geared to students with learning disabilities but could actually be applied to ALL students. Includes "fix-up" strategies for students to use during the reading process.


Haggard, M. R. (1988). Developing critical thinking with the directed reading-thinking

activity. The Reading Teacher, 41(6), 526-533

Harvey, S. & Goudvis, A. (2013). Comprehension at the core. The Reading Teacher, 66(6), 432-439. Retrieved from: doi: 10.1002/TRTR.1145

Stauffer, R.G. (1969). Directing reading maturity as a cognitive process. New York: Harper & Row