Students helping students: Scaffolded cross-age tutoring in reading comprehension strategies for students with learning disabilities who use English as a second language

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Reading and Learning Disabilities

First Committee Member

Sharon Vaughn - Committee Chair


The purpose of this research was to investigate the effectiveness of scaffolded reading comprehension strategy instruction and cross-age tutoring for improving the content area reading comprehension of middle school students with learning disabilities (LD) who use English as a second language (ESL).Twenty-six seventh and eighth grade ESL students with LD participated in 15 days of teacher-facilitated scaffolded comprehension strategy instruction. Students were then randomly divided into two groups of 13 students each. The students in one group tutored sixth grade ESL students with LD in comprehension strategies for 12 days. The remaining 13 students continued to apply comprehension strategies while working in small groups.Outcome measures included the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Comprehension Test, Comprehension Passage Tests, and a strategy interview, administered as pre- and posttests. A repeated measures analysis was applied to examine between and within group effects. The overall difference between groups in reading comprehension gain was not statistically significant. However, within group analyses showed that subjects' overall reading comprehension did improve significantly.Comprehension Passage Tests' results were plotted on individual graphs to allow for the examination of individual differences in rates of growth in comprehension. Overall means rose steadily throughout the intervention until the follow-up phase; however, scores varied greatly both across and within subjects.Qualitative data analysis procedures were applied to examine characteristics that differentiated students who showed more or less growth in comprehension. A greater range of students was able to benefit from strategy instruction than predicted. ESL students with LD who began the study with comprehension levels substantially higher than their decoding abilities as well as ESL students with LD who initially were adequate decoders but poor comprehenders showed significant improvement. Implications for classroom practice are presented.


Education, Bilingual and Multicultural; Education, Special; Education, Reading

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