Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of instruction in cause/effect text structure at both the macrostructure level or the microstructure level on fifth- and sixth-grade readers' recall of main ideas from scrambled and normal passages. Instruction at the macrostructure level was in how to construct a graphic organizer, that is, a selection of only key ideas from a passage arranged hierarchically and connected by lines that show how the ideas are related. Instruction at the microstructure level was in how to combine causally related sentences using the sentence connective because. Instruction was presented with six tutorial computer programs written by the researcher, three for the macrostructure instruction and three for the microstructure instruction. Three dependent measures were a graphic organizer task, a sentence connectives task, and a free recall task using normal and scrambled cause/effect passages. A treatment group receiving macrostructure instruction outperformed both a treatment group that received microstructure instruction and a control group on the graphic organizer task. No group outperformed any other group on the sentence connectives task. Both treatment groups were found to be aware of cause/effect text structure before treatment as shown by poorer recall of main ideas from scrambled passages than from normal passages. However, only the macrostructure treatment group showed a statistically significant improvement from pre- to posttest in main idea recall of scrambled passages. The computer-assisted instruction in graphic organizer construction written for this study appears to be one way to help structure-aware readers to impose structure on passages in which structure has been disrupted or is not easy to find, and thus to help them to use a structure strategy for comprehension and recall.