ERIC Number: ED335704
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Sep
Reference Count: N/A
Synthesizing Information from Multiple Sources: A Descriptive Study of Elementary Students' Perceptions and Performance of Discourse Synthesis. Elementary Subjects Center Series No. 45.
Raphael, Taffy E.; Boyd, Fenice B.
Two studies explored the nature of fourth- and fifth-grade students' abilities to synthesize information from multiple sources of text. The studies examined the ways in which elementary students approached a synthesis activity that involved reading two well-organized and related nonfiction articles, and then drawing upon that information as they wrote reports that synthesized and expanded upon the information. In the first study, fourth- and fifth-graders from two classrooms in an urban, neighborhood school were given passages about rock climbing and caving, or about polo and field hockey. They read and then wrote reports that drew on both topics. Results supported the existence of six inhibiting strategies: (1) using associative memory or recall of information from the sources; (2) audience insensitivity, seen in the number of students not setting a context for their paper; (3) overemphasizing background knowledge (digressing from topics); (4) copying from text in strategic (verbatim or paraphrasing) or random (verbatim) patterns; (5) narrowly identifying relevant information; and (6) writing a story. In the second study, students whose syntheses exhibited similar patterns were interviewed to determine their task impressions and how they had sought to achieve their goals. Findings suggested that despite any apparent lack of success in the ability to synthesize, most students appeared to be strategic in their approach. Their difficulties arose not from an inability to synthesize but from a different conception of the purpose of the activity itself. (A figure and 4 tables of data are included; 36 references and 2 appendixes containing the coding scheme for elaboration/integration/balance as well as student interviews are attached.) (Author/PRA)
Descriptors: Cognitive Processes, Elementary School Students, Grade 4, Grade 5, Intermediate Grades, Reading Comprehension, Reading Processes, Reading Research, Reading Writing Relationship, Synthesis, Writing Processes
Center for the Learning and Teaching of Elementary Subjects, Institute for Research on Teaching, 252 Erickson Hall, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1034 ($5.75).
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Center for the Learning and Teaching of Elementary Subjects, East Lansing, MI.
Identifiers: Discourse Synthesis