Articles About Reading Informational Text

This section highlights several articles that discuss reading informational texts. We have provided a summary of each article so that visitors to our wiki can determine if the article will be useful for their purposes. Many of these articles feature new strategies that have not been covered in detail in the other sections of our wiki. We hope this will help teachers expand the number of strategies they can use to help students read informational texts.


1. Use of “why” questions

Smith, B. L., Holliday, W. G. and Austin, H. W. (2010). Student understanding of science textbooks using a question-based reading strategy. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47 (4), 363-379.

This article is divided into two main parts and provides all of us with another reading strategy for the informational text. The first section discusses the importance of teaching students to read scientific texts and describes the previous research that has been done in this area. According to the authors, many students are entering university without understanding how to read informational texts. Although the article then focuses on strategic education for college students, it logically follows that this education could start in high school so that students are properly prepared for success before entering college. The authors then explain how giving students “why” questions to answer as they read the text will help them retain the information they have read. When students answer the “why” questions, they should think about the text, analyze it, and apply it. This process helps them retain the information presented in the readings.

The second section of this article describes the process and results of a study conducted by the authors. The authors used biology textbooks for college students and a series of “why” questions. The students were randomly assigned to two groups. Group one reads the text without the list of “why” questions. Group two answered the list of “why” questions as they read the text. The results showed that the students in group two retained much more information contained in the text. Additionally, students who were more knowledgeable about the subject before reading the article performed better when they received the “why” questions to answer. These latest data show that learners with more background knowledge benefit from “why” questions because they are able to make more connections and thus understand the text on a deeper level.

2. Basic knowledge and vocabulary

Fisher, D., Grant, M., and Frey, N. (2009). Scientific literacy is> strategies. The Clearing House, 82 (4), 183-186.

This article explains that science literacy requires more than just strategic education. Although teaching strategy is a vital part of helping students learn to read and write science texts, teachers should also make sure they include vocabulary instruction in their lessons. Students will be able to understand the text only if they have a large scientific vocabulary. Also, teachers need to build on students’ previous knowledge so that they are prepared to read informative texts. Understanding the text often depends on the reader’s previous knowledge. In order for students to benefit the most from teaching strategy, teachers must also provide them with strong vocabulary and basic knowledge.

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