Impact of Interactive Read-Alouds

on Sixth Grade Comprehension and Interest

Research Question

How do the comprehension and motivation of sixth grade students who participate in interactive read-alouds integrated with three effective strategies compare to those who experience traditional read-aloud instruction?

Selecting a Topic

The Action Research Project is a requirement of the MAEd-READ degree at East Carolina University. Comprehension is a focus for all educators, and as a reading teacher I strive to implement effective practices to boost literacy. I found research that revealed how interactive read alouds served as a benefit among middle school students. Various articles let me to focus on implementing three specific strategies that expert teachers have shown success in boosting both reading interest and comprehension. My goal during this project was to determine whether students receiving structured, interactive read alouds would show deeper comprehension and joy in reading.

The Abstract

This teacher action research study investigates the questions: "How do the comprehension and motivation of sixth grade students who participate in interactive read-alouds integrated with three effective strategies compare to those who experience traditional read-aloud instruction? In this quasi-experimental pre/post test comparison group design, the intervention was structured, interactive read-aloud implementing three specific practices. Data collected and analyzed from this study includes: reading comprehension assessment, reading attitude survey, and a researcher log.
"Do's" and "Don'ts" of Effective Interactive Read Alouds
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The Fundamentals

Participants: 35 Sixth Grade Students

Impact: Reading Comprehension and Interest

Setting: Two sixth grade classrooms in a Title 1 K-8 school in Pitt County of North Carolina

Quest: To see if the implementing specific read aloud strategies would increase comprehension and reading attitudes of sixth grade students over traditional read aloud

Time: Pre and post data collections and the intervention occurred over a 6 week time frame (January 11th through March 4th, 2016).

Method: The researcher (intervention class) provided a structured interactive read aloud environment by implementing three common components for effective read aloud: clear purpose established before reading, use of animation and expression, and pausing to discuss text (Fisher, Flood, Lapp, & Frey, 2004).

  • Pretest- Reading Comprehension Passage from Read Works and Elementary Reading Attitudes Survey (McKenna and Kear, 1990).
  • Posttest- Reading Comprehension Passage from Read Works and Elementary Reading Attitudes Survey (McKenna and Kear, 1990)
  • Researcher Log- used to record observations and reflections of intervention

The Intervention

The intervention occurred daily for twenty minutes. Before beginning the read-aloud, the teacher established a clear purpose for reading the text (Fisher, Flood, Lapp, & Frey, 2004; Richardson, 2010). Then, this purpose was shared with the students in order to establish focus on comprehension skills. During the read aloud, the teacher read with animation and enthusiasm. This component is supported through research observations noting the effect of teachers reading aloud with enthusiasm (Fisher, Flood, Lapp, Frey, 2004; Albright & Ariail, 2005). The final expert component delivered through this study was strategic book discussions that occured before, during, and after the read-aloud. The teacher previewed the reading material prior to the read-aloud and had sticky notes prepared on the pages of the book/text with questions on them (Fisher, Flood, Lapp, & Frey, 2004).

A balance of questions were prepared by the teacher in order to support students making connections to the text. Discussions held during the read-aloud allowed students the opportunity to share reactions, thoughts, predictions, concerns, and etc. associated to the text read. As the teacher paused to allow conversation about the text the students deepened comprehension through making connections and staying engaged (Fisher, Flood, Lapp, & Frey, 2004).

The Results

Growth between comprehension on the pre and post tests was not substantially different between the intervention and comparison groups. However, both groups did show improvement on the assessment. On the other hand, the reading interest survey showed a substantial difference in growth between the two groups.

The intervention group showed a great deal of interest in reading both recreationally and academically after the intervention. Also, based on the observations made in the researcher log, the researcher's explicit support to model reading aloud and discussion enabled students to learn to make connections when reading.

The Implications

The validity of the reading comprehension pre/post test is a concern in this research. By this I mean, the text assessed overall comprehension and not a specific strategy. Another limitation is that students that did not make a change could not show gains. Therefore, if students scored the same, or even a perfect score, on the pre and post test then no measure of growth can be accounted. Some students scored 100% on pre and post; so this was not an effective tool to measure comprehension gains b/c they were maxed out.

The Conclusions

The reading comprehension results were not statistically significant based on the pre and post test. However, the following results support the impact of the intervention:

  • growth in reading attitudes
  • obtained a higher reading comprehension score based on the pre/post test assessment
  • engagment in thoughtful discussions before, during, and after reading aloud
  • teacher utilize effective components in order to successfully integrate read-alouds

Future Plans for this Study

Student-Led Interactive Read Alouds

  • create an environment in which students implement an interactive read aloud to others
  • students could start by preparing a read aloud for a small group, reading buddy, or another audience
  • student modeling and implementing the interactive read aloud strategies: establish purpose for reading, read with animation, use prepared questions to guide discussion and thinking while reading.

Resources for Interactive Read Alouds

Article on Interactive Read Aloud Components

Article on Read Alouds

Suggested Read Aloud Titles

Engaged Interactive Read Alouds

Read Aloud Discussion Questions


Albright, L. K., & Ariail, M. (2005). Tapping the potential of teacher read-alouds in middle schools. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 48(7), 582-591. Retrieved from

Fisher, D., Flood, J., Lapp, D., & Frey, N. (2004). Interactive read-slouds: Is there a common set of implementation practices? The Reading Teacher, 58(1), 8-17. doi:doi:10.1598/RT.58.1.1

Hurst, S., & Griffity, P. (2015). Examinging the effect of teacher read-aloud on adolescent attitudes and learning. Middle Grades Research Journal, 10(1), 31-47. Retrieved from