THE EFFECTS OF A PRIMING ACTIVITY ON THE READING COMPREHENSION OF A SCIENCE PASSAGE OF LOW PRIOR KNOWLEDGE SUBJECTS.
AuthorLloyd, Carol Vern
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractInvestigates the effects of a priming activity on the reading comprehension of a science topic for subjects with low prior knowledge about that topic and/or for subjects with misconceptions about the topic. The priming activity taught concepts that science experts identified as being prerequisite to understanding the reading passage. Theoretically, this study emanates from schema theory. That is, readers' comprehension is believed to be affected by inadequate or inappropriate background knowledge. 140 eighth grade science students were administered a 32 item researcher-developed multiple choice test to assess prior knowledge of the topic, photosynthesis. Of these, 99 were identified as having low prior knowledge of the topic and were thus selected as subjects for the study. The quality of their prior knowledge was also assessed by this instrument; the distractors to many of the items were misconceptions about the topic. Procedures included the pretest, a videotaped priming activity, an intervening task, a 920-word silent reading passage, and a posttest. The target priming activity and passage were about photosynthesis. A placebo priming activity and passage were about heredity. Subjects were randomly assigned into one of four treatment conditions: (1) target priming activity + target passage, (2) target priming activity + placebo passage, (3) placebo priming activity + target passage, or (4) placebo priming activity + placebo passage. The dependent variable was a 32 item multiple choice test (identical to the pretest) about photosynthesis. Three question types were included: (1) textually explicit, (2) textually implicit, and (3) scriptally implicit items. The data were analyzed using a hierarchical regression model. Separate analyses were performed with the total and component parts of the posttest as the dependent variable: total posttest score, textually explicit score, textually implicit score, and scriptally implicit score. Another descriptive analysis was performed on the questions containing misconception data. Results indicate that a lesson which teaches prerequisite concepts does not significantly affect the reading comprehension of students with low prior knowledge. Of the three question types, the priming activity had a significant effect on scriptally implicit questions. There was no effect due to priming activity on textually explicit or textually implicit questions. A problem with test items precluded any results about misconceptions.