Academia and Life Through Literacy Term Paper

Pages: 15 (4232 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 11  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Teaching

It has been suggested that the capacity for achievement in school is linked primarily to the ability to comprehend expository text. (Dickson, et al., ¶ 49&50)


Narratology involves itself with both fictional and non-fictional narratives, though the primary focus is on fictional works. Narratology studies the structure of a story that is presented in a narrative. A narratologist desires to understand how the patterns and themes determine the makeup of a story. (Pradl 1984, ¶ 3)

Narratology also explores the comprehension value of text. Story telling has always been associated with understanding and knowledge. Narratologists contend, the words "narrative" and "story" can both be traced back to an original meaning of "to know." It is through the story that people quite literally come to know -- that is, to construct and maintain their knowledge of the world. Through a story, an individual creates meaning out of daily happenings, and this story, in turn, serves as the basis for anticipation of future events."(Pradl, ¶ 5)

International Reading and Literacy Study in Fiction and Non-fiction works

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This particular report begins with international findings but quickly narrows to focus on American students in the fourth and ninth grade. Previous studies that compared nations showed that American children did poorly in comparison to other developed nations. However the standards for literacy used in this experiment are very different from the standards used by other organizations conducting the same type of experiment, so the outcome will be different. According to the IEA the definition of literacy is "the ability to understand and use those written language forms required by society and/or valued by the individual."(Comparing the Achievement of Nations and Students, 2)

Term Paper on Academia and Life Through Literacy Assignment

This definition of literacy was applied to three separate forms of text; documentation, expository and narrative text. The study found that U.S. fourth graders comprehension of narrative text was second only to Finland's'. However, American fourth graders place third in the world in terms of comprehension of expository text.

American ninth graders are ranked equally with ninth graders from eleven other countries in comprehension of narrative text. Ninth graders placed sixteenth in the world in relation to comprehension of expository text. (Comparing the Achievement of Nations and Students, 10)

Strategies For Comprehending Fiction and Non-fiction Works

This section of the literary review will explore the differences between comprehension of fiction and non-fiction text. We will discuss strategies and interventions used to aid students in comprehending narrative and expository texts. Most of the literature that we will use to discuss this topic is from the Educational Resources Information Center Digest, also known as ERIC.

ERIC Digest Summary of comprehension of Fiction and Non-Fiction Text

This ERIC Digest summary explores the strategic processing of fiction and non- fiction text and discusses strategies to improve reading comprehension among children with learning disabilities. The summary asserts the following,

Generally speaking, narrative text (i.e., fiction) is easier to comprehend and remember than expository text (i.e., factual and informational material)."

According to the summary studies have concluded that fiction is easier to comprehend because it uses content that is more familiar to the reader than non-fiction does. In addition most people are able to use the structure of a story to comprehend the text. ERIC Digest explains, "Most research on narrative text has focused on teaching students to utilize story structure as an organizing framework for understanding critical aspects of the stories they read. Even preschool children use story structure to aid their comprehension. As they get older, children improve in their ability to use it."(Williams 2000)

ERIC Digest reports that one of the most effective ways of increasing reading comprehension among children with learning disabilities is through the use of narrative text. In one of the most successful studies ever conducted on this issue researchers found that teaching story grammar to children with learning disabilities improved reading comprehension. Story grammar is made up of the components that create a work of fiction such as the main character, the action and the outcome of the story. Teaching the children story grammar allowed them to identify story themes and think in an abstract manner. (Williams)

The summary asserts that all students, without or with learning disabilities, have a more difficult time comprehending expository or non-fiction text. This difficulty is due in part to the fact that non-fiction text usually focuses on unfamiliar text and concerns itself with more complex structures such as cause and effect and comparisons and contrasts. (Williams) The discussion of strategies to combat the complex structure of expository text among the learning disabled was a very important focus of the ERIC summary.

The Multipass strategy trains students to pass through the non-fiction text three times. ERIC describes the strategy saying,

The first pass involved students becoming familiar with main ideas and organization. The next pass included getting specific information from the text by reading questions at the end of each chapter and guessing at the answer, then reading the text to find the correct answers to the questions, and finally self-testing by answering each question with the newly acquired information." (Williams)

This strategy was made possible because teachers aided students through each step and they modeled the strategies and also gave students opportunities to practice. Other studies that have involved similar strategies have used peer tutors and have been successful. The digest asserts that this strategy of expository training can lead to better comprehension among students. (Williams)

Using Narratives to Teach Expository Subjects

It has been suggested that the use of narrative text can improve students' comprehension of expository text. An article in ERIC digest published in 1996 sought to uncover the benefits of using narrative texts, such as poetry, short stories, plays and folk tales instead of traditional textbooks, newspapers and reference books. This particular article discusses the use of narrative works to teach geography to high school students. (Hume 1996)

The article claims that there are two primary reasons why narrative works should be used when teaching high school students geography. The first rationale is that there is a natural connection of literature to geography. Supporters argue that most narratives have a setting that can be described in terms of geography. Supporters also contend that teaching geography through a narrative will allow children to appreciate the creative arts and geography more. (Hume 1996)

The second reason suggests that the study of literature improves the comprehension of geography. The article asserts that the best way for a child to learn geography is through travel and that the closest alternative to travel is narrative text. Advocates to this literature-based approach believe that students are more apt to understand geography is people and their experiences are used in the text. (Hume)

The article also discusses the idea that narrative text is usually more thought provoking and fun to read than expository text. Studies have found that students that participate in a literature-based program comprehend the information better and enjoy reading the material.(Hume)

ERIC digest warns that literary works intended to teach geography should be chosen carefully. The article recommends that the literary work that is chosen should be from a writer that has actually been to the places that are being discussed in the literature. This ensures that the depictions that are set forth in the narrative are accurate and not imaginary. One of the narratives' that is suggested in the article is "The Grapes of Wrath" which explores the geography of Oklahoma and California. Students can gain knowledge about the role of irrigation systems in the American economy and the conditions that led to the transition from small family farms to large commercial farms. (Hume)

The article in ERIC concludes that there can be several benefits that are realized when the literature-based approach is implemented. The most significant of these benefits is the increase in reading comprehension as compared with that of traditional expository textbooks. A secondary benefit is that the students actually enjoy reading and are more likely to complete reading assignments. (Hume)

Non-fiction Text Structure

The teaching of Expository text structure is a fairly new concept among teachers. However teachers are finding that this is a skill that their students need in order to comprehend the language in textbooks, newspapers and other texts based on factual information. Teachers find that this type of instruction is very important for students making the transition between elementary school and high school. Making sure that children get this instruction during this crucial time is important because prior to entrance into secondary school most students are not familiar with direct reading instruction that is prevalent in expository reading. Until middle school most students are only familiar with narrative forms of learning and instruction. (Coiro 2001)

The fact that reading expository text is unfamiliar to these students makes it difficult for them to comprehend the text, which makes it impossible for students to perform at an optimal level. The article says it… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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