On 21 August at 11.00, in Zoom room, Triinu Kärbla will defence her doctoral thesis „Assessment of text comprehension and teaching comprehension strategies in Estonian basic school“.
Professor Krista Uibu (PhD; University of Tartu), Research Fellow Mairi Männamaa (PhD; University of Tartu)
Professor Marja-Kristiina Lerkkanen (PhD; University of Jyväskylä, Finland)
Text comprehension enables to convey knowledge in school setting and in every-day life. Text comprehension involves a full range of interactively working processes and components to understand texts at various levels. To have an overview of students’ proficiency in these processes, the text comprehension can be transferred to the three levels: literal, inferential and evaluative. The processes at inferential and evaluative levels rely on various comprehension strategies that should be explicitly taught in reading lessons. In this doctoral study the comprehension levels among the text comprehension tasks in the national standard-determining tests were examined, and an intervention program for teaching comprehension strategies was developed. It appeared that national assessments tended to include too many literal-level tasks and few tasks at evaluative comprehension level. Also, distribution of tasks at different comprehension levels was fluctuating among the tests for the same grade in different years. Multidimensional nature of text comprehension was considered in developing intervention program. The results showed that explicit teaching of text comprehension strategies enhanced students’ vocabulary and text comprehension at literal, inferential and evaluative levels. However, the students who attended the regular reading classes without focused attention on teaching of comprehension strategies increased only their literal text comprehension. This doctoral study highlights the need for improving the compilation of national assessments that consider the theories of text comprehension. Further, the results confirm the importance of teaching explicitly various comprehension strategies in order to improve students’ text comprehension. For that reason, the strategy teaching should be a valued component in curriculum and reading lessons, and teachers should be provided the knowledge of how to purposefully teach text comprehension strategies in reading lessons.