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Summarizing Expository Texts

Westby, Carol PhD; Culatta, Barbara PhD; Lawrence, Barbara PhD; Hall-Kenyon, Kendra PhD

doi: 10.1097/TLD.0b013e3181ff5a88
Original Article

Purpose: This article reviews the literature on students’ developing skills in summarizing expository texts and describes strategies for evaluating students’ expository summaries. Evaluation outcomes are presented for a professional development project aimed at helping teachers develop new techniques for teaching summarization.

Methods: Strategies for evaluating expository summaries were applied in a professional development project in which teachers learned to teach fourth- and fifth-grade students to identify the macrostructures of short expository texts. Outcomes were measured by comparing results for students in experimental classrooms whose teachers received instruction in text macrostructure with results for students in control classrooms.

Results: Students in the treatment condition produced significantly higher microstructure and macrostructure scores than students in the control group. Differences were greater between treatment and control groups than between fourth- and fifth-grade groups.

Conclusions: This study provided preliminary evidence that treatment involving identification of expository text structures and use of graphic organizers to highlight the organization promoted greater growth in summarization skills than age-related development for fourth- and fifth-grade students.

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Bilingual Multicultural Services, Albuquerque, New Mexico (Dr Westby), and Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah (Drs Culatta and Hall-Kenyon). Dr Lawrence is Evaluation Consultant.

Corresponding Author: Carol Westby, PhD, 1808 Princeton NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106 (

This research was conducted as part of a US Office of Education grant (Project ARC: Achievement in Reading and Content Learning, Award # U215K050517) Gratitude is also expressed to Karel Simms, Project Director, and Nancy Livingston, Consultant.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins