WWC review of this study

Reciprocal teaching of reading comprehension in a New Zealand high school.

Westera, J., & Moore, D. W. (1995). Psychology in the Schools, 32(3), 225–232. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ517409

  • Quasi-Experimental Design
    , grade

Reviewed: September 2010

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Comprehension outcomes—Substantively important negative effects found
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Progressive Achievement Test: Comprehension subtest

Reciprocal Teaching vs. Business as usual


Grade 8;
25 students





Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • International
  • Race
    Pacific Islander


The study took place in one New Zealand high school.

Study sample

The authors selected 46 students to participate in the study. Thirty-five of these students came from five classes taught by four teachers who volunteered to implement recip-rocal teaching as part of the study. The remaining 11 students (from the two remaining classrooms) comprised the comparison group. Treatment group teachers implemented the program to different degrees. Teachers that provided 12–16 sessions of reciprocal teaching were classified as part of the extended-duration program group (20 students in three classes), and teachers that provided 6–8 sessions of reciprocal teaching were classified as part of the short-duration program group (15 students in two classes).The study participants were students with adequate decoding skills but poor comprehension skills (on average, more than two age-equivalent years behind). About half of the participants were Maori or Pacific Islanders. This review focused on comparisons of the 15 students in the reciprocal teaching short-duration group and the 10 students in the comparison group.

Intervention Group

The students in the short-duration intervention group received six to eight reciprocal teaching intervention sessions over a five-week period (as opposed to the 15–20 sessions recommended by Palincsar). The teachers conducted the 30-minute reciprocal teaching sessions while an in-class assistant supervised the rest of the class. In classes with more than one reciprocal teaching group, the in-class assistant also taught a reciprocal teaching group. According to the authors, high interest and culturally relevant books and expository and narrative articles at the 11–13-year-old age-equivalent reading level were used in the reciprocal teaching sessions.

Comparison Group

The comparison group was exposed to business-as-usual instructional methods.

Outcome descriptions

For both the pretest and posttest, students took the comprehension subtest of the Progressive Achievement Test (PAT). The pretest was form A, and the posttest was form B. For a more detailed description of this outcome measure, see Appendix A2.

Support for implementation

The four participating teachers and two support staff received approximately three hours of reciprocal teaching training, which included an introduction to assessing students’ reading levels and their understanding of class texts, as well as a discussion of scaffolding and ideal classroom interactions between a more-expert person and a less-expert person in a learning situation. The teachers were introduced to the rationale behind reciprocal teaching. They also observed, rehearsed, and were given feedback on the four comprehension-fostering strategies and the instructional process that together constitute reciprocal teaching.


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