Features of instructional talk predictive of reading comprehension

Catherine J. Michener, C. Patrick Proctor, Rebecca D. Silverman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Increasingly, reading research has begun to address how students’ linguistic environments may explain their reading achievement. In this exploratory analysis, we investigated how the rates of specific instructional talk moves predicted student reading comprehension achievement. Transcripts from third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade classrooms (teacher n = 31; student n = 236), were coded for nine talk moves established in the literature as involved in literacy and learning outcomes. Two-level hierarchical linear modeling was used to identify sources of linguistic comprehension, a necessary component of student reading comprehension. Controlling for students’ decoding and fluency, semantic-syntactic knowledge, and initial reading comprehension, we found two talk moves significantly predicted reading comprehension. Teacher explanations [γ07(20.89); p ≤ 0.05] and simple follow-up moves [γ06(10.44); p ≤ 0.05] provided students with explicit instruction and exposure to academic language and the positive reinforcement to encourage student attention to the learning tasks and thus potentially more language exposure. In this sample, these moves provide further support for the simple view of reading (Hoover & Gough, 1990) that suggests that fostering student linguistic comprehension is pedagogically important for student reading at these levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)725-756
Number of pages32
JournalReading and Writing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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