Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Sciences and Disorders

First Advisor

Janet Norris


Many college freshmen are unable to read expository material at a level of proficiency necessary for understanding and integrating information from their textbooks. Providing intervention that addresses these deficits and results in rapid improvements is critical if these students are going to pass their current courses and remain in college. This study examined whether an instructional approach termed Communicative Reading Strategies (CRS) would result in improvement in the ability to comprehend expository text. CRS uses interactive strategies that teach students to comprehend a text as it is read. The CRS approach was compared to a skills approach that addressed similar skills taught individually. Subjects were 8 college freshmen reading at or below a 10th grade level and enrolled in an introductory biology course. Four subjects participated in an 8 week intervention program using CRS and four in the comparison condition. Pretest-posttest results of a standardized measure of reading comprehension, and weekly probes measuring literal and inferential comprehension of the biology text were used to compare gains. Results revealed that both groups improved following intervention for comprehension of inferential questions on the standardized measure. While group differences were not statistically different, qualitative differences were accrued to the CRS group, including higher gains, a college reading level at posttest, and better performance on literal comprehension. Analysis of weekly probes revealed reliably better performance for inferential questions for the CRS condition. Not only did the CRS group perform better for inferential questions, but the improvements occurred more rapidly. After the first week of intervention, the CRS group outperformed the skills group by over 2 points. Rapid improvements are important because by mid-semester a student may have already failed a course. While both instructional approaches result in gains, CRS has the advantages of achieving a college reading level and effecting these changes faster than the skills approach.