Question answer relationship strategy increases reading comprehension among Kindergarten students

Authors

1 California State University, Dominguez Hills, USA

2 Elementary Teacher in California, USA

Abstract

The  Question  Answer  Relationship  (QAR)  strategy  equips  students  with  tools  to  successfully
decode and comprehend what they read. An action research project over 18 days with twenty-three kindergarteners adapted exposure to QAR’s “In the Book” and “In my Head” categories
with similar questions for each of two popular Aesop’s fables. The challenges and outcomes
are  presented  with  special  emphasis  on  teacher-preparation,  teacher-reflections,  and  a  hands-on,  day-by-day  project-implementation.  An  oral  pre-test,  after  reading  The  Tortoise  and  the
Hare,  served  as  a  baseline  assessment  for  student-comprehension  levels.  The  QAR  strategy
was then explicitly taught, with opportunities to practice the comprehension skills in small and
large groups  with parental assistance. Students overwhelmingly scored higher on the post-test
reading  comprehension  after  the  read-aloud  of  The  Jay  and  the  Peacock  with  some  receiving
perfect scores.

Keywords

Main Subjects


Introduction
 
A  complex  and  pervasive  goal  of  education
in  elementary  school  is  reading
comprehension  for  all  students  (Sporer,
Brunstein,  Kieschke,  2009)  because  reading
comprehension provides the foundation for a
substantial  amount  of  academic  learning
required  as  children  progress  through  their
K-12  schooling  (Alvermann  &  Earle,  2003;
Kirsch,  de  Jong,  LaFontaine,  McQueen,
Mendelovits  &  Monseur,  2002).  The  report
of  the  National  Reading  Panel  (2000)  states
a  major  goal  of  reading  comprehension
research,  has  been  to  identify  effective
reading  strategies  that  increase  children’s
comprehension  (National  Institute  of  Child
Health and Human Development, 2000).
 
Guthrie,  Wigfield,  Barbosa,  Perencevich,
Taboada,  Davis,  Scafiddi  &  Tonks  (2004)
posit  reading  comprehension  to  be  a
complex  process  resting  primarily  on
instructional  research  which  includes
explicit  cognitive  strategy  instruction.
Strategies  such  as  using  schema,  making
connections, visualizing, inferring  with text,
and  the  question  answer  relationships
(QAR) strategy are often associated with the
instruction  of  older  children  (Stahl,  2004);
however,  it  is  important  to  note  that  these
are  all  very  relevant  strategies  for  younger
(even  Kindergarten)  students  too  (Gregory
& Cahill, 2010). This study reports an action
project  intervention  of  an  adapted  exposure
of  QAR  comprehension  skills  development
among Kindergarten students.  
 
Review of Literature
 
Comprehension  Learning  Through  the  Use
of Explicit Strategy
 
Raphael,  Highfield & Au’s (2006)  research
notes that students lack the fundamental skill
to  apply  the  sources  for  finding  information
to  answers  in  school  settings,  “despite  the
fact  that  students  ask  and  answer  questions
from  a  very  young  age”  (Raphael,  et  al.,
2006, p. 13). The scholars designed QAR as
a  method  for  a  deliberate  and  a  common
way  of  thinking  and  talking  about  effective
sources  of  information  when  answering
questions.  QAR  strategy  incorporates
Anderson  &  Pearson’s  (1984)  schema

theory,  Brown,  Campione  &  Day’s  (1981)
metacognition,  and  Schank  &  Abelson’s
(1977)  script  theory.  The  QAR  language
conveys  the  idea  that  answers  can  be  found
in  text  sources  or  in  our  background
knowledge and experiences (“In the Book”
and “In My Head”)  (Raphael,  et  al.,  2006).
Research  shows  how  important  it  is  for
students  to  understand  the  distinction
between  these  two  primary  sources  of
information  to  improve  reading
comprehension (Taylor, 2008).
 
QAR  draws  from  the  advocacy  of
Vygotsky’s  (1986)  psycho-social
interactions where children gain incremental
cognitive  and  holistic  development  through
cooperative  learning,  small-group  centers,
and social activities with the “more capable
other
”  (Raphael,  et  al.,  2006,  p.  37)  as
opposed  to  competitive,  large-group,
teacher-dominated  learning.  These  forms  of
social learning are of great importance to the
child,  both  socially  and  academically.
Joining  thinking  and  doing  as  two
seamlessly  congruent  halves  of  the  learning
process is at the core of allowing students to
actively  participate  in  the  learning  process,
and  strengthen  their  knowledge  base  by
tapping into prior knowledge and effectively
implementing scaffolding strategies (Taylor,
Pearson,  Peterson  &  Rodriguez,  2005).  If
teachers  are  going  to  be  successful
instructors  of  comprehension,  they  must  be
involved  in  reading  with  an  awareness  of
how  the  strategies  are  successfully  used  in
actual reading (Dobler, 2009).

Comprehension Through Read-Aloud  
 
One  successful  strategy  used  in  actual
reading  is  the  “read-aloud”  approach,
especially useful for beginning learners with
rudimentary  reading  skills.  Trelease  (2006)
recommends  reading  to  young  children  for
the  very  same  reasons  we  talk  to  young
children. He says
 
“we read to young children …….to
reassure,  to  entertain,  to  bond;  to
inform  or  explain,  to  arouse
curiosity,  and  to  inspire.  But  in
reading aloud, you also condition the
child’s  brain  to  associate  reading
with  pleasure;  create  background
knowledge;  build  vocabulary;  and
provide  a  reading  model”  (Chapter
1).   
 
Reading  to  a  child  may  be  deemed  an  easy
task,  but  it  can  become  a  powerful,  yet
subtle,  learning  tool  when  placed  within  a
structured  setting  (Beck  &  McKeown,
2001),  where  comprehension  skills  are
honed  in  by  providing  children  the
opportunities  to  preview  a  text,  to  generate
words,  and  organize  thoughts  to  make  oral
responses before, during and after reading of
a text (Yopp & Yopp, 2004). Dickinson and
Tabors  (2001)  suggest  that  teachers  and
parents  should  involve  children  in  both
immediate  and  non-immediate  talk.
Immediate  talk  concentrates  on  answering
factual  details  and  labeling  pictures.  Non-immediate  talk  extends  beyond  the  text.  It
includes word meanings, making predictions
and  inferences,  and  relating  the  text  to
personal  experiences.  It  is  important  that
individual  children  have  numerous
opportunities  to  engage  in  non-immediate
talk  before  and  during  read-aloud.  A  cross-age  read-aloud  program  of  high-school
student volunteers reading to pre-K children
showed  tangible  and  noteworthy  gains  for
the  afore-mentioned  advocacies
  in promoting  textual  comprehension  and
critical thinking among  both student-readers
and their pre-K learners (Furtado, 2010).
 
Leadership  and  Action  Research
Intervention
 
 In schools, effective teacher intervention …
“has become a defining characteristic of
recent  efforts  to  professionalize  teaching
and  reform  school”  (Smylie,  1996,  p.  3).
Teacher leadership is often embedded in the
research-based  instructional  improvement
efforts  undertaken  by  teachers  to  enhance
student learning (York-Barr & Duke, 2004).
It  is  true  that  teachers  are  extremely  busy
and are constantly faced with “doing more
with  less”.  Danielson  (2006)  delineates
teacher dispositions and required models for
leadership  in  the  profession  where  teachers
just don’t do things differently but do them
better  (italics,  authors)  as  a  professional
exploration of practice. While, Fullan (1994)
advocates  that  teacher  leaders  should
develop  and  exhibit:  1)  knowledge  of
teaching  and  learning  pedagogy;  2)
collegiality;  3)  engagement  in  life-long
learning and growth; 4) awareness of change
processes within the educational context and
the  larger  community;  and,  5)  a  moral
perspective towards the profession.
 
Deciding  to  do  more;  and,  making  a
difference  are  personal  endeavors  a  teacher

can  or  may  strive  towards.  Recently,  an
elementary  public  school  in  southern
California adopted the “The Leader in Me”
program, by highlighting the seven qualities
of  highly  effective  people  (Covey,  2004)  to
be addressed and adopted by the teachers of
the  leadership  committee  for  this  new
program
Reflective  Inquiry  for  the  Action  Research
Intervention
 
Reflection  or  inquiry  is  especially  of  great
importance  for  a  teacher-leader  and  its
origin can be traced back to Dewey’s (1993)
philosophy  of  progressive  education.  He
viewed  inquiry  as  a  process  of  pragmatic
problem-solving  and  the  nurturing  of
reflective  skills  as  an  essential  ingredient  to
improve  the  practice  of  teaching  (Emerling,
2010). For the teacher, reflection strengthens
instructional  pedagogy,  ensures  that
methodology  is  grounded  in  empirical
research and personal teaching philosophies,
promotes  creativity,  builds  schemata  for
future  lessons,  and  supports  academic,
social,  and  emotional  desired  student
outcomes  (Henderson,  2009).  Schon  (1987)
recommends  teachers  to  reflect  and  think
spontaneously during classroom interactions
and  also  engage  in  recall  and  reflection  on
one’s  actions  and  thoughts  after  an
instructional process by self or with peers to
reveal  the  wisdom  embedded  in  the
experience.

Reflective  inquiry  and  its  importance  in  an
action  research  intervention  are  explicitly
considered,  and  especially  well  highlighted
by the following researchers:  
 
  Wellington (1991) states, “reflection
practice  calls  for  personal  and
professional transformation intended
to  raise  consciousness,  to  challenge
complacency,  and  to  engender  a
higher  order  of  professional
practice” (p. 5).   
  Canning (1991) states, that reflection
can  lead  the  teacher  to  explore
alternatives  that  eventually  lead  to
“Aha!”  (p.  20)  moments  associated
with  participating  in  systematic
reflection and action research.
  Schon  (1987)  describes  two  types  of
reflections  to  help  develop  a
reflective  thought  process.  They  are:
“Reflection-in-Action”,  leading  to
one’s spontaneous ways of thinking
and  acting  in  the  midst  of  the  action
and  “Reflection-on-Action,”  to
reflect after the process is completed.
  Killion  &  Todnem  (1991)  beckon
teachers  as  professionals  to  treat
reflection  as  “a  gift  we  give
ourselves, not passive thought…….
but an effort we approach with rigor,
some  purpose…  and  in  a  formal
way…to  reveal  the  wisdom
embedded in our experience” (p. 14).
 
The  teacher’s  initial  reflection  “My  initial
reaction was to think back to my years in the
BTSA
  program and recall the vast amount

of  reflection  that  was  required”  is  further
expanded in her own words.
 
Teacher’s Initial Thoughts
 
Back  then,  amongst  all  the  stress  and  chaos  of
becoming  a  new  teacher,  reflection  seemed  to  be
“one more thing to do.” … As years go by   …; I find
myself reflecting more frequently than before.  
 
As  a  fellow  colleague  pointed  out  this  evening  in
class:      “In  the  beginning,  you  are  just  taking
materials  and  strategies  that  you  can  get  and  trying
them out to see what works”.
 
Likewise,  reflection  for  the  student  makes
learning  more  meaningful,  connects  to
strengths  and  needs,  helps  develop  self-efficacy  and  esteem,  solidifies  content,  and
allows  for  students  to  find  their  academic
niche.  Time  should  be  allotted  to  allow
students  to  really  think  about  their  work,
effort,  achievements,  and  needs.  Even  at  a
young  age  such  as  Kindergarten,  students
are  capable  and  excited  to  review  special
pieces  of  work  and  verbally  describe  how
they  created  it,  and  why  they  chose  a
particular  method  to  accomplish  a  task
(Gregory & Cahill, 2010).
 
The Study
 
This  predicative  study  explicates  instruction
of  the  QAR  strategy  over  a  four  week  (18
day  intervention)  period  to  enhance
comprehension  skills  among  Kindergarten
students.  The  research  also  presents
simultaneous  teacher  reflections  that
underscore  the  critical  challenges  to
implement  theoretical  constructs  (ITC)  and

the spontaneous adjustments required during
intervention to maximize student learning.     
 
Preparing for a QAR Intervention
 
Empirical  studies  call  for  a  more  formal
preparation and support of teacher leaders to
collaborate,  create  community,  foster
ownership,  empower  self  and  others,  and
most  importantly,  learn  to  lead  by
researching  and  improving  one’s
instructional  expertise  in  the  classroom
(Fullan,  1994;  Lieberman  &  Miller,  2005).
Dick  (2007)  describes  action  research  to  be
an  extension  of  a  natural  approach  to
problem-solving entailing “review  plan
act  review…and  so  on”  (p.  150).  The
iterative  cycle  of  action  and  research  leads
teachers to  fulfill  the “dual  aims  of  action
(or  change)  and  research  (or  theory,  or
understanding)” (Dick, 2007, p. 150) “that
incorporates  questioning,  assessing,
investigating,  collaborating,  analyzing,  and
refining”  (Schoen,  2007,  p.  211)  the
problem.
 
The  teacher’s  personal  philosophy  and
reflections  exhibit  an  eagerness  to
experiment  with  an  intervention  project  like
QAR in the classroom. Several related steps
were  taken  before  the  project  began,  and
external  activities  continued  during  the
project  as  well  as  after  the  project  ended.
These  actions  helped  prepare  a  teacher’s
first attempt at a research-based intervention
in  the  classroom;  and  contribute  to  the
objective  of  enhancing  reading
comprehension  with  a  QAR  strategy.  The
explicit teacher preparatory attributes for the
study are:  
 
  The  teacher  is  a  five-year  veteran  in
elementary  schools,  and  has  two
years in the current classroom.
  The  teacher  is  enrolled  in  a  MA  in
education  capstone  course  that
teaches  and  nurtures  in-service
teachers  on  classroom  interventions
over  13  weeks  (Covey,  2004;  York-Barr & Duke, 2004).
  The  teacher  attended  instructional
sessions  for  exposure  to  the  various
stages  of  research,  data  analysis  and
a  review  of  Action  Research  Project
modules completed by prior students
in the program.  
  In  this  setting,  5  peer  teachers  chose
QAR
6
  as  their  intervention  project,
and  peer-collaboration  was
encouraged  throughout  13  week
semester (Henderson, 2009).   
  Mentoring  by  a  professional
educator,  peer-consultations,  and
weekly  reflection  journals  are  tools
used  to  “review  plan  act
review…”  (Dick,  2007,  p.150)
QAR to specific classroom needs.  
 
School Profile
 
The  elementary  school  in  southern
California  has  an  Academic  Performance
Index (API) score of 965 (scores range from
200-1000) for 2009-10; has a split-day and a
full-day Kindergarten; and, uses a Response
to  Intervention  (RTI)  program  to  target  and

assist  struggling  readers.  Twenty-three
students, (twelve boys and eleven girls) ages
five  and  six  participated  in  the  study.  There
are  eighteen  Caucasian,  two  Japanese,  one
Chinese,  one  Iranian,  and  one  Korean
student  in  the  class.  For  most  of  the  year,
students  focus  on  letter  recognition,
phonemic awareness, and decoding. Reading
comprehension  and  text  analysis  are
imbedded  in  the  daily  Language  Arts
instruction, with a focus on RTI small group
instruction  on  comprehension  skills.  This
helps  prepare  kindergarten  readers  for  the
transition  to  first  grade.  Through  the  use  of
small  group  instruction,  targeted  skills,  and
the Headsprout
 computer program, students
were  exposed  to  a  modified  QAR
intervention.  
 
Adapting the Research for Kindergarteners
 
The  purpose  of  the  study  was  to  see  how
explicit instruction of the QAR strategy over
a four week (18 day intervention) period can

enhance  reading  comprehension  among
Kindergarten  students.  It  was  crucial  to
adapt  various  QAR  lessons,  alter  time
periods,  and  modify  specific  strategies  so
that  the  content  was  both  accessible  and
appropriate for young learners.  
 
Because  many  students  cannot  read
independently  and  write  answers  to
questions,  there  are  parent  volunteers,  who
also help orally ask the questions. Students’
exact  answers  are  then  recorded  on  their
tests,  and  graded.  Over  fifty  percent  of
students’  parents  volunteer  on  a  weekly
basis  within  the  classroom.  All  students  are
proficient  in  the  English  language,  and  are
able  to  communicate  their  thoughts  and
ideas very well.  
 
The  stories  used  for  intervention  are  both
Aesop’s  fables.  The  teacher  selected  The
Tortoise  and  the  Hare  and  The  Jay  and  the
Peacock from a reading list for kindergarten
children to allow comprehension beyond the
literal  level  with  admirable  animal
characters  that  children  of  all  backgrounds
can  relate  to  (O’Sullivan,  2004).    The
selected  stories  helped  focus  on  student
characteristics  such  as:  perseverance;
completion  of  a  task,  self-image  and  accept
your  true  identity.  A  pre-  and  post-test
consisted of the same thirteen questions. Six
of the thirteen questions are “In the Book”
questions, while the remaining seven are “In
My Head” questions.

Staying  within  the  same  genre  for  testing,
and  using  the  same  questions  allows  for  the
results  of  the  pre-  and  post-tests  to  reflect
accuracy,  consistency,  and  the  ability  to
measure  the  effectiveness  of  the
intervention.  
 
DAY  1:  QAR-  A  New  Adventure  in
Reading!!!
 
Students  were  introduced  to  the  QAR
strategy through their core Language Arts  
 
story of the week, Aesop’s The Tortoise and
the Hare. The lesson began with reading the
fable  aloud  and  asking  comprehension
questions  along  the  way.  These  questions
Question answer relationship strategy   8   
lay  the  groundwork  for  a  whole  group
discussion  that  explained  how  different
types of questions can help to understand the
text  in  various  ways.  Students  engaged  in  a
discussion  which  highlighted  the  difference
between  “In  the  Book”  questions,  and  “In
My Head” questions. The class also briefly
discussed  the  story’s  elements  (characters,
setting,  problem,  solution,  etc.).  Students
were  told  that  they  would  be  called  over
either by the teacher or a parent volunteer to
answer a series of questions about the story.
 
 
End of DAY 1: Initial Assessment
 
After  the  discussion,  the  look  of  confusion
was evident on students’ faces. There was an
immediate  need  to  delve  deeper  into  the
QAR  strategy.  The  difference  between  “In
the  Book”  and  “In  My  Head”  questions
required  descriptive  examples  of  questions
from  the  fable  that  was  just  read.  As
students  thought  about  each  question,  they
began  to  understand  the  difference  between
finding  the  answer  in  the  story,  and  finding
the  answer  in  their  heads.  This  took  a  long
time and a plethora of examples, but slowly
students began to grasp the main concept.  
 
After  day  one’s  introduction  of  the  QAR
strategy,  it  became  clear  that  explicit,  step-by-step  instruction  and  descriptions  were
necessary in order to maintain student focus,
engagement,  and  excitement.  Day  2  began
by reviewing day 1’s experiences.  Students
engaged in a whole group discussion on The
Tortoise  and  the  Hare,  highlighting  key
elements  of  the  story,  and  reviewing  the
comprehension  questions  that  had  been
discussed  on  day  1.  Students  found  it  easy
responding to “In the Book” questions  such
as:  Who  are  the  main  characters?  Where
does  the  story  take  place?  Why  are  the
animals running in a race?
 
However,  when  it  came  to  “In  My  Head”
types  of  questions,  students  struggled  a  bit.
It  is  not  surprising  at  all  that  students
initially  struggle  with  these  types  of
questions, After all, implementation of QAR
has  just  started,  and  developmentally
speaking, students will need extra time to be
exposed to the skill, as well as practice it.
 
Days  2  -  5:  Realignment  of  QAR  based  on
Initial Pre-Test Results
 
Five  students  were  given  the  first  pre-test,
while  the  rest  of  the  class  worked
independently  on  a  worksheet  related  to  the
fable.  Upon  initial  review  of  the  five  pre-tests, it appeared that students continue to do
very well with the “In the Book”  questions,
and remain slightly unclear or confused with
the “In My Head” questions. Since gathering
data  and  analyzing  students’  strengths  and
needs  should  guide  instruction,  the  teacher
used the rest of the week to highlight the “In
My  Head”  questions.  Students  were  given
ample  time  to  practice  this  skill,  both  in
whole  and  small  groups  (ITC:  Schon’s
(1987)  classroom  interactions  implemented
here).
 
Students began eagerly grasping their “new”
way  of  looking  at  text.  They  began  asking
“When are we going to  learn more QAR?”
Slowly  implementing  the  strategy  was
important  so  as  to  allow  all  students  to
progress  equally  without  being
overwhelmed by any “quick” learners.

Teacher Thoughts

The scope and sequence of activities and discussions
related to QAR need to be monitored …. . Because I
am witnessing looks of confusion when discussing the
“In My Head” portion of the QAR strategy whole
group, I decided    … to supplement  … with smaller
group activities to focus on the confusing topics.
 
Days  6  -  10:  Understanding  QAR  and
Working in Groups
 
With  the  help  of  parent  volunteers,  three
groups of six students each and one group of
five  students  formed  around  the  classroom.
With  the  parent  volunteers  and  the  teacher
acting as facilitators, both “In the Book” and
“In My Head” questions were asked orally
within  each  group.  If  students  were
unsuccessful  answering  their  particular
question,  the  discussion  was  opened  up  to
the rest of the group, and students were able
to  support  each  other  and  contribute  to  the
answer.  Small  group  leaders  emerged  to
assist those that might have difficulty (Here,
the  teacher  is  implementing  social  and  peer
interactions discussed in Beck & McKeown,
2001; Trelease, 2006; Vygotsky, 1986).  
 
After  the  literature  circles  finished  their
discussions,  all  students  returned  to  the
common  rug  to  share  ideas  and  reflect  on
how  QAR  was  working  for  them  (student
reflection  is  something  this  class  does  on  a
daily  basis)

.  It  was  reassuring  to  hear

The  teacher  reflects  on  Schon’s  (1987)
recommendation  to  reflect  and  think  spontaneously
during  classroom  interactions.  The  teacher  is  fully
implementing Dick’s (2007) iterative cycle with her

actions to supplement her initial intervention-plans.
  These  students  possess  two  different  sets  of
portfolios for their work. One set is for the parents to
take  home  and  admire  their  important  work.  The
other set stays in the classroom for students to add to,
students reflect on their literature circles and
share  ideas  on  what  they  think  about  their
own learning.

 
Throughout week two, it was my priority to explicitly
explain  the  QAR  strategy,  model  how  it  works  every
day, allow students to engage in guided practice after
each mini-lesson, enable students to coach each other
in  small  groups,  independently  apply  the  strategy  to
smaller  passages  read  aloud,  as  well  as  self-assess
their  work  and  achievements  at  the  end  of  each
lesson through a meaningful class discussion.
 
These group lessons were groundbreaking in
the  sense  that  students  who  previously
struggled  with  the  comprehension  question
(either  both  types,  or  just  one),  were
beginning  to  understand  the  difference
between  the  two  types  of  questions,  and
slowly  becoming  more  comfortable
expressing  their  thoughts  and  opinions
within  their  small  group  (Raphael,  et  al.,
2006).
 
 
Week  two  was  devoted  to  teaching,  developing,  and
building upon the QAR strategy …… Students worked
in both large and small groups to practice answering
the  two  types  of  questions,  as  well  as  deciphering
which type of question was being asked …… This …   
thinking is quite abstract for many young learners, …
we spent an extended period of time honing this skill.

Days  11  –  15:  Students  Read  New  Stories
Selected by Their Own Leaders
 
These  five  days  had  students  take  the
knowledge  that  they  gained  in  their  small
literature  circles  during  days  6  –  10,  and
apply  it  to  different  stories.  Students  were
again  placed  in  groups  of  five  or  six,  and  a
group  leader  was  chosen.  The  leader  then
had  the  opportunity  to  go  to  the  classroom
library  and  choose  one  story  that  he  or  she
believed the group would enjoy (Raphael, et
al.,  2006).  Each  group  chose  a  different
story  to  focus  on  and  such  stories  included:
Biscuit,  Danny  and  the  Dinosaur,  The
Giving Tree, and Dogzilla!
 
The teacher chose the group leaders ahead of
time,  based  on  the  better  performers  in  the
pre-test,  as  well  as  students  who
demonstrated  an  understanding  of  the  two
types  of  QAR  questions  (using  ideas
generated  in  Covey,  2004;  Emerling,  2010;
Henderson,  2009).  The  small  groups  now
only  had  parent  volunteers  asking  questions
while  the  teacher  moved  across  groups
listening and observing students’ awareness
in  understanding  and  answering  with
increased  confidence  (important  attributes
for  transfer  of  skills  extensively  noted  in
Gregory  &  Cahill,  2010;  Trelease,  2006;
Yopp  &  Yopp,  2004).  More  students  were
able  to  identify  the  two  types  of  questions
with increasing accuracy. 
 
Teacher Thoughts

Although  I am extremely pleased with my students’
progress  and  deeper  understanding  of  the  QAR
strategy, I know that this is only the tip of the iceberg.
…….   I will continue to have students practice the
QAR  strategy,  and  perhaps  develop  their  own
questions  to  ask  each  other  before  administering  the
study’s post-test.
 
 
Days  16  –  18:  The  Jay  and  the  Peacock;
and the Post-Test
 
For  the  final  days,  students  continued
practicing  the  strategy  and  orally  created
their own “In the Book” or “In My Head”
questions to ask their classmates. On day 16,
the  second  fable  The  Jay  and  the  Peacock
was  read  aloud,  and  individual  testing
continued  through  day  18.  While  giving  the
post-test  orally  to  students,  and  recording
their  answers  verbatim,  many  exuded  more
confidence  and  exhibited  a  greater  level  of
understanding  the  text.  The  post-test  scores
increased,  as  well  as  their  breadth  of
knowledge  pertaining  to  comprehension
questions  and  strategies.  Whether  these
young learners realize it or not, they are now
equipped  with  a  very  powerful  tool  to  take
with them throughout their academic careers
(Alvermann  &  Earle,  2003;  Kirsch  et  al.,
2002).
 
Teacher Thoughts
At the end of our QAR journey, I began to realize that
it is not the end of a research project, but rather, the
beginning  of my students’ exposure and engagement
in  a  wide  array  of  useful  comprehension  strategies.

his  is  one  small  stepping  stone  in  the  path  of
reading. …. In the future, I hope to have students …
understand  how  strategies  work  together,  …  that
there  can  be  multiple strategies … appropriate at
different  times  in  their  reading,  and  realize  that  they
need to develop … … applying strategies to
 
Results
 
Twenty  out  of  twenty-three  students  scored
considerably  higher  on  the  post-test  than
they  did  on  the  pre-test.  The  three  students
who  did  not  score  higher  had  scores  that
remained the same on both tests. The class’s
average  score  for  the  pre-test  was  9.15,  and
climbed  post-test  to  11.02  (on  a  13  point
scale).  This  shows  a  14.39%  improvement,
but more significant is that the class reaches
84.77%  accuracy  in  scores  with  the
intervention.  Reading  comprehension  has
benefited  from  the  QAR  strategy.  What  is
noteworthy  is  that  the  mode  score  for  the
pre-test  was  9.5,  around  the  9.15  average
score.  The  mode  score  for  the  post-test  was
13,  a  perfect  score.  Seven  out  of  twenty-three  students  scored  a  perfect  13  on  the
post-test.  This  is  reflected  in  the  range
moving  from  5.50-12.50  to  8.00-13.00.
While the lowest score in the pre-test is 5.50
(42.31% of total points), the post-test low of
8.00  is  61.54%  of  total  points:  a  19.23%
improvement.

A  deeper  understanding  of  performance
improvement  is  possible  when  analyzing
separately  the  “In  the  Book”  and  “In  my
Head”  scores.  The  “In  the  Book”  post
average at a 74.67% level of achievement is
surprisingly  low  when  compared  to  a
93.43% achievement level for “In my Head”
responses  (see  below).  Very  early  in  the
intervention,  the  teacher  saw  confusion  and
difficulty in students grasping “In my Head”
queries;  even  reflecting  to  spend  more  time
in  this  category.  The  scores  reveal  that
students  were  already  aware  of  responses
appropriate  to  this  category.  The  pre-test
level  of  78.86%  achievement  is  superior  to
the  60.51%  achievement  level  for  pre-“In
the  Book”  questions.  Perhaps  spending  an
equal  amount  of  teaching  and  practice  time
would have shown a relatively equal balance
of  achievement  in  both  categories.  It  is
likely  the  teacher  predicted  that  cognitive
skills  (as  required  for  “In  the  Head”
responses) would be more difficult to grasp.
Overall, the levels reached in both categories
show  a  successful  transfer  of  QAR  in
reading  comprehension  for  these  23  young
learners.

Finally,  individual  scores  for  each  student
are  shown  in  Table  1  (Appendix).  This
provides  a  deeper  growth-description  for
each  student’s  individual  progress.  Some
students grow through the intervention while
many  stay  at  a  high  achievement  level  as
seen  with  seven  perfect  scores  and  an
average of 11.02 in the post-test.  
 
Verbatim  Responses  (Tables  2  and  3-
Appendix)
 
Six  verbatim  answers  from  six  different
students  (the  three  in  the  pre-test  are
different  from  the  three  in  the  post-test)  are
presented  after  rating  scores  as  low,  middle
and high; with Table 2 covering responses to
“In  the  Book”  and  Table  3  showing
responses to “In My Head” questions.  Both
pre-  and  post-test  responses  are  shown
beside each other to view changes in reading
comprehension  experienced  by  the  young
learners. The journals document an increase
in  word-count,  and  exhibit  a  high
performance  level  for  responding  to  these
questions.

 

All  three  examples  show  an  increase  of
word  usage  in  answers.  The  low  student  in
the  pre-test  with  25  total  words  has  another
student  jumping  to  59  total  words  in  the
post-test answers; even though both score at
the  same  50%  level.  Similar  large  increases
are  seen  at  the  medium  (post-test  use  of  78
words to a pre-test usage of 44 words, and a
smaller  increase  for  the  high  students.
Another  sign  of  increased  confidence  and
eagerness is the large quantity of words used
by  weaker  students.  In  both  tests,  the  high
students  scored  a  perfect  100%;  with  a
smaller  count  of  words.  Weaker  students
seem to believe lots of words will somehow
arrive  at  the  answer  the  teacher  is  scoring.
Similar outcomes exist in the “In my Head”
responses  shown  below,  although  this  time
the  high  student  with  a  100%  score  uses  96
words  in  the  post-test  as  compared  to  only
38  (a  153%  increase)  in  the  pre-test  with  a
93%  correct  response  level.  That  is
definitely a change from the “In the Book”
high-student  response.  While  the  middle
student  in  both  pre-  (78  words  used)  and
post-test  (116  words  used)  follows  the  “In
the  Book”  trend  of  using  lots  of  words
hoping  to  score  well.  Using  more  total
words in the post-tests for both categories of
questions  shows  an  overall  increase  in
confidence in comprehending the texts.

Discussion
 
This  Action  Research  project  allowed  the
teacher  an  opportunity  to  explore  and
implement  a  new  instructional  strategy  in
the  classroom.  Success  depended  on
knowledge  of  the  strategy,  guidance  from  a
professional  educator,  social  peer-collaborative  sessions  in  research  design,
and,  an  intervention  subject  to  reflective
revisions and adaptations to meet classroom
challenges  faced  by  students  experiencing  a
new  learning  tool.  At  the  end  of  the  four
weeks,  after  careful  planning  and  execution
of explicit lessons, students felt at ease when
completing  the  post-test,  and  they  actually
exhibited an air of confidence and pride. The
intervention benefit showed an overall 14.39
% increase in comprehensions skills.
 
Not  only  were  students  more  capable  and
successful in comprehending and responding
to  text,  but the  teacher  gained  insight  into  a
new  skill  and  teaching  method.  It  would  be
greatly  beneficial  to  teach  QAR  throughout
the  school  year  to  all  three  Kindergarten
classes  at  the  elementary  school.  QAR
learning would allow ongoing assessment of
students  on  a  regular  basis  to  monitor  their
strengths  and  needs  in  reading
comprehension.  Although  the  study  was
carried  out  systematically  with  a  clear  and
organized  goal,  there  may  arise  one
limitation  that  can  occur  with  kindergarten
learners. Due to the teacher’s excitement and
Question answer relationship strategy   04   
enthusiasm  for  the  QAR  strategy  and
implementing  an  intervention  for  the  first
time,  the  presence  of  teacher-intimidation
(as  perceived  by  5  and  6  year  olds)  may
have  been  present
.  This  may  also  have
steered  students  towards  learning  to  the
post-test  where  scores  increase.  Still,  the
high total achievement levels are a benefit of
the intervention project.
 
Final Thoughts  
 
As a five year veteran, this teacher exhibited
the  incentive  to  grow  and  lead  within  the
school,  an  intervention  with  proven
strategies  using  internal  as  well  as  external
resources.  One-on-teaching  and  numerous
practice-sessions  were  made  possible  with
the presence and support from parents. This
freed  the  teacher  to  observe  large  segments
of  the  intervention  and  also  mentor  parents
in  comprehension  skills.  Teacher
observations  and  reflective  diaries  coupled
with  peer  interaction  on  research  design,
enrolment  in  a  MA  capstone  course  and
mentorship with a professional educator also
helped in facing and overcoming challenges
any teacher may encounter when attempting
action  research  intervention.  The  study’s
improved  reading  comprehension  is  a
positive  incentive  to  continue  interventions
of  QAR  within  the  reading  curriculum  as
early as kindergarten.

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