Melissa Forney, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change
When it comes to content area material, much of what students read and learn is predicated on information they have read before and are supposed to remember. Teachers often use silent reading and round robin reading as preferred reading methods to help students learn content area material. The objective of this study was to test reader’s theater against round robin reading and silent reading to determine if reader’s theater is a viable method of helping students understand and retain information.
Three fourth-grade classes read three different stories and plays using three different reading treatments: silent reading, round robin reading, and reader’s theater reading. Students took post-tests for understanding and retention and participated in a post-study survey along with their teachers. Reader’s theater in one class was found to have superior scores for understanding and retention compared to silent reading, but in another class it was found to have inferior scores compared to round robin reading for both understanding and retention. In other instances, reader’s theater was at least equivalent to silent reading and round robin reading when mean test scores were examined. This study, therefore, would suggest that reader’s theater may be superior to, equivalent to, or inferior to traditional reading approaches with regard to helping students understand and retain content knowledge.
There were some confounding factors in the findings that raised questions about variances in classroom teachers, subject matter, and student ability.
Key Words: reader’s theater, silent reading, round robin reading, understanding, retention, reading treatment, group reading, benefits of reader’s theater, content knowledge