Date of Award

1998

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Education

School

School of Education

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Judith Rivailand

Abstract

As students progress through our education system they are increasingly asked to independently comprehend and compose informational material to show evidence of their ability to use and learn from texts. One skill which facilitates students' abilities to learn from texts is summarizing. Research into summarizing suggests it is a complex skill needing explicit and systematic instruction. However, materials to which teachers turn to for advice on strategies and instruction do not always reflect the findings of research. This being the case, this study set out to investigate what teachers understood about the nature of summarizing and the extent to which instruction was being provided in summarizing. With the need for increased independent learning from texts in secondary school settings, this study also aimed to investigate the difference between upper primary and lower secondary teachers' understandings and knowledge about the nature and provision of instruction in summarizing. A descriptive/analytical study was conducted with eleven teachers from Western Australian primary and secondary schools. Teachers were asked to individually plan and administer an 'ideal' lesson involving summarizing. Following the administration of the 'ideal' lesson, teachers were interviewed and responses transcribed. Data from the teacher's lesson plan, interview and students' marked summaries were triangulated to present case scenarios. The case scenarios were analysed to describe the nature and provision of instruction in summarizing. The study found that teachers' instructions and activities implied an awareness of the use of selection, condensing and transforming skills, however teachers did not deliberately and consciously make these skills explicit to their students. Teachers' knowledge about the nature of summarizing and subsequently their provision of instruction were directly influenced by their purposes for asking students to summarise. In addition, four teaching orientations emerged which describe a developmental trend in which systematic instruction and opportunities to practise summarizing appear to decrease as students progress through the education system. This developmental trend is manifested in upper primary teachers tending to have an integrated process and task orientation to summarizing whilst secondary teachers demonstrated content and assessment orientations.

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