Evidence based practice for adolescent reading comprehension instruction : a guide for SLPs in an expanded school role




Mussmann, Jacob Ryan

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Following a brief description of the adolescent reading comprehension problem in the U.S., this paper presents five evidence based practices (EBP) sufficient to begin addressing the problem on a large scale. The five intervention practices are as follows: 1) explicit vocabulary instruction, 2) explicit comprehension strategy instruction, 3) extended discussion opportunities, 4) motivation and engagement promotion, and 5) intensive and individualized intervention. The first four are recommended for all students within the context of general content courses such as science and history. The fifth should be a supplemental practice for students who persistently fail to exhibit comprehension improvements from the first four. Research suggests that a combination of these practices can result in improved reading comprehension for both students with typical development (TD) and those with a learning disorder (LD). Unfortunately, the research is limited in that the optimal sequence, intensity, subcomponents, and weighting of these practices has yet to be determined. Furthermore, much of the literature, particularly with respect recommendations 2-4, includes few studies with norm-referenced reading comprehension outcome measures. Consequently, it is difficult to make any strong conclusions with respect to long-term maintenance or generalization effects. Also, the abundance of researcher-developed outcomes often inflates effect sizes and limits the ability to make valid between-study comparisons in meta-analyses. Future research efforts should focus on building upon the 5 EBP foundation and filling in the considerable literature gaps within this foundation. Meanwhile, SLPs in their expanded secondary school role should use their language expertise to evaluate students’ literacy strengths and weaknesses in order to create individualized reading profiles that will help determine which combination of the 5 EBPs will be most efficacious.


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