The Contribution of Mental Imagery to Performance in Specific Targeted Comprehension Skills
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AuthorDoore, Barbara Yarrington
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AbstractThis study was designed to examine the effect mental imagery had on comprehension on poetry, prose and content area reading, and to develop one strategy to teach mental imagery. Fifty-three sixth graders from a rural, middle public school in Western New York Stat participated in a mental imagery treatment program. The program was designed to determine if mental imagery was effective in significantly increasing the comprehension scores of the participants. The pre-treatment and post-treatment comprehension tests consisted of questions which tested the five targeted areas: (1) detail, (2) finding the main idea, (3) comparison/contrast, (4) sequence, and (5) recall. To best determine the students’ comprehension of the test, a short answer format was utilized. The treatment consistent of six hours of instruction to be spread over six weeks divided up into 15 to 20 minute daily sessions. The treatment sessions followed an alternating pattern of researcher reading one day and students silently reading similar material the next day to take into consideration the different learning styles of the students. Reading material was selected from fiction, poems, and content area textbooks. After each time period where drawing took place, the students discussed similarities and differences in the drawings. Appropriate statistical measures (independent and dependent t tests) were used to determine the contribution of mental imagery to performance in specific targeted comprehension skills. A further informal analysis was made through the entire treatment as the researcher looked at the students’ daily drawings to determine if the individual drawings were accurate representative pictures of that day’s text. Three of the four null hypotheses were retained. There was no statistical significant difference in the posttest means. The results were inconclusive as far as recommending a mental imagery treatment over a traditional reading program. There was no statistical significant difference, therefore, no educational performance. Further research is needed: to develop tests to determine the ability to use mental imagery, to determine the necessary length of a mental imagery treatment, to discover for whom the imagery works best, and under what environmental conditions imagery activities are best received.