WWC review of this study

The effects of cooperative learning and direct instruction in reading comprehension strategies on main idea identification.

Stevens, R. J., Slavin, R. E., & Farnish, A. M. (1991). Journal of Educational Psychology, 83(1), 8–16. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ436861

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    320
     Students
    , grades
    3-4
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: June 2012

Comprehension outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Main Idea Questions

Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition® (CIRC®) vs. Business as usual

Posttest

Grades 3 and 4;
320 students

6.4

4.74

Yes

 
 
30
More Outcomes

Inference Questions

Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition® (CIRC®) vs. Business as usual

Posttest

Grades 3 and 4;
320 students

5.69

5.28

No

--
Reading achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS)

Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition® (CIRC®) vs. Business as usual

Posttest

Grades 3 and 4;
320 students

-0.07

-0.09

No

--

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • Race
    Black
    69%
    Not specified
    2%
    White
    19%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    11%
    Not Hispanic
    89%
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    Pennsylvania

Setting

This study took place in four schools in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Study sample

The study is a classroom-level randomized controlled trial. A total of 30 third- and fourth-grade classrooms in four schools were randomly assigned to one of three conditions (balanced by grade): 1. 10 classrooms with 153 students were assigned to the CIRC® (direct instruction with cooperative learning) group, 2. 10 classrooms with 166 students were assigned to the direct instruction group without cooperative learning (DI), and 3. 10 classrooms with 167 students were assigned to the business-as-usual comparison group. Both groups 1 and 2 used CIRC® materials on main idea comprehension during direct instruction, but group 2 did not use the cooperative learning component of CIRC®. Therefore, for the purposes of this report, the effects of CIRC® are estimated by comparing the CIRC® group against the business- as-usual comparison group. These results are shown in Appendices C.1 and C.2.

Intervention Group

Four days each week, the direct instruction with cooperative learning group (group 1) spent half of its reading time using CIRC® materials. Teachers taught comprehension strategies and metacomprehension skills as a part of the CIRC® curriculum. Following this instruction, students worked in teams on follow-up activities. The study reported student outcomes after four weeks of program implementation.

Comparison Group

The classrooms in the comparison group used traditional methods and curriculum materials. This included the use of a basal reading series with related workbook and follow-up worksheet activities.

Outcome descriptions

Two investigator-developed assessments were used: One measured a student’s ability to recall the main idea of a passage, and a second measured a student’s ability to make correct inferences from a reading passage. End-of-year reading achievement scores from a standardized test, the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, also were used as outcomes in this study. For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendix B.

Support for implementation

Teachers in the intervention condition received a one-day (six-hour) training in CIRC® by a certified trainer and received all of the supplemental materials necessary for the CIRC® reading program.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Stevens, R. J., Slavin, R. E., & Farnish, A. M. (1989). The effects of cooperative learning and direct instruction in reading comprehension strategies on main idea identification (Report No. 44). Baltimore, MD: Center for Research on Elementary and Middle Schools.

Reviewed: August 2010

Study sample characteristics were not reported.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Stevens, R. J., Slavin, R. E., & Farnish, A. M. (1989). The effects of cooperative learning and direct instruction in reading comprehension strategies on main idea identification (Report No. 44). Baltimore, MD: Center for Research on Elementary and Middle Schools.

Reviewed: December 2005

Study sample characteristics were not reported.
 

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