Metalinguistic approach, african american, science literacy, adverbial clauses, reading comprehension


Scientific literacy has been at the forefront of science education reform for the past 20 years, particularly for students from culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) backgrounds (Lee et. al., 2005; Pearson, Moje & Greenleaf, 2010). The ability to extract meaning from text is an important skill. Yet many students struggle with effectively comprehending what they read, particularly in content areas of science, math and history. According to the National Assessment Educational Progress (NAEP, 2013) report, adolescents are not acquiring advanced literacy skills needed to succeed in the workplace and academic setting. Literacy experts have called for the use of disciplinary literacy approaches to engage learners with the content in ways that mirror what scientists, historians and mathematicians do to gain understanding in their disciplines (Moje, 2006; Shanahan & Shanahan, 2008). Although disciplinary literacy instruction is promising, there is limited empirical research on the effectiveness of discipline-specific literacy approaches. The present study examined the effects of a metalinguistic approach on the comprehension of science text among African American 5 and 6th grade students. The focus of the instructional protocol was to explicitly teach adverbial clauses and assist students to unpack adverbial clauses through the use of a graphic organizer. The process of unpacking complex sentences aimed to facilitate comprehension of science text by engaging the participants in analysis and discussion of the meaning obtained from the adverbial clauses. This study employed an experimental single-case multiple-probe across participants design. Visual Analysis (VA) and the Improvement Rate Difference (IRD) were used to analyze the data. The results of VA and IRD indicated that all participants demonstrated progress between baseline and treatment phases. Overall, the results of the investigation suggest that it is possible for 5th and 6th grade African American students to benefit from instruction that closely analyzes language. Clinical implications and future research directions are discussed.


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Graduation Date





Rosa-Lugo, Linda


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Education and Human Performance

Degree Program

Education; Communication Sciences and Disorders Track








Release Date

August 2019

Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education and Human Performance; Education and Human Performance -- Dissertations, Academic