Document Type



Successful acquisition of literacy depends on adequate development of decoding skills as well as broader, meaning-related knowledge and skills for text comprehension. Children from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds are often challenged in both domains, relative to peers who are not economically disadvantaged. The efficacy of code-focused instructional programs for at-risk preliterate children is well supported, but less evidence is available regarding interventions to improve broader language and comprehension skills. This preliminary study tested the feasibility of a new intervention, "structured narrative retell instruction" (SNRI), and explored its potential to enhance meaning-related knowledge and skills, including vocabulary, listening comprehension, and narrative skills, in pre-literate, low SES children. SNRI used authentic children's books to model comprehension processes, explicitly teach story grammar, and implicitly target microstructural aspects of narratives. Participants included 9 children with a mean age of 60 months, who were randomly assigned to SNRI or to code-focused literacy instruction (CFLI). Each group received 12, 40-min instructional sessions over 6 weeks. Pre- and post-tests were administered to assess vocabulary, listening comprehension, narrative macrostructure and narrative microstructure, as well as alphabet knowledge, phonological awareness, and concepts of print. The feasibility of SNRI was demonstrated by completion of the designed study, moderately high treatment fidelity, and qualitative feedback from interventionists. The SNRI group also made significant gains on 4 of the 7 meaning-related measures (p < 0.10). In comparison, the CFLI group made significant gains on 2 of 7 meaning-related measures. We conclude that SNRI is feasible and shows potential for improving language skills related to comprehension and that further research investigating its efficacy is warranted.

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APA Citation

Adlof, S., McLeod, A., & Leftwich, B. (2014). Structured narrative retell instruction for young children from low socioeconomic backgrounds: a preliminary study of feasibility. Frontiers In Psychology, 5.