Promoting reading comprehension and critical-analytic thinking: A comparison of three approaches with fourth and fifth graders

Mengyi Li, P. Karen Murphy, Jianan Wang, Linda H. Mason, Carla M. Firetto, Liwei Wei, Kyung Sun Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Comprehending and critically analyzing complex, content-rich text is an essential requirement of academic excellence as well as a life-long skill for students. Unfortunately, students often struggle to comprehend print and digital media, and subsequently, they are unable to complete essential tasks, such as identifying information, making inferences, examining arguments, or vetting sources. In the present study, we compared the effectiveness of three reading interventions (i.e., Quality Talk (QT), Think before reading, think While reading, think After reading (TWA), and TWA/QT Hybrid) in promoting fourth- and fifth-grade students' reading comprehension and critical-analytic thinking. Specifically, teachers in each intervention delivered the respective instructional mini-lessons in their language arts classes and conducted weekly text-based discussions. The results suggested that the Hybrid and QT interventions were effective at promoting high-level comprehension among fourth- and fifth-grade students. Evidence supported that students participating in the Hybrid and QT interventions engaged in more critical-analytic thinking during text-based discussions than those who received the TWA intervention, as evidenced by statistically significantly greater numbers of student-generated authentic questions and elaborated explanations. The Hybrid and QT interventions were also found to effectively boost students' oral reading fluency in both grades across two phases. Moreover, fifth-grade students who participated in the Hybrid intervention outperformed their peers from the TWA group on the post-discussion reading comprehension assessments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-115
Number of pages15
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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