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The Effects of Modeling on the Summarization Skills of Community College Students

Luann R Larsen, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Community college students often struggle with writing tasks, and the skills used in summary writing are especially challenging for many of them (see Brown & Day, 1983; Day, 1980, 1986; Friend, 2001; Perin, 2002). Modeling has been demonstrated to be an effective tool for teaching a variety of writing skills to elementary and secondary pupils (see Graham & Harris, 1985, 1993; MacArthur, Phillipakos & Ianetta, 2014; Schunk & Swartz, 1993; Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 1999, 2002), but has not been used extensively as a method of teaching writing skills to community college students. In this investigation, 49 developmental and college-ready writers enrolled at a Midwestern community college received instruction on identifying the main ideas in source texts and paraphrasing them in summaries. All students completed a pre-test summary. Some students (N=24) practiced writing summaries after witnessing a model performing summary writing and others (N=25) practiced writing summaries with verbal feedback but no modeling of the writing process. Following instruction, all participants summarized a passage independently. It was hypothesized that the modeling intervention would increase students’ ability to identify and include the main points from a text in their final summaries more than the practice-based intervention. Students who received the modeling instruction significantly improved their inclusion of main points over those who practiced summary writing. It also was hypothesized that those exposed to a modeling intervention would show greater ability than those in the practice condition to paraphrase the source text when writing their final summaries, but this hypothesis was not supported. Finally, it was hypothesized that both interventions would improve summary writing skills for the composition level writers more than for the developmental writers. This outcome occurred only in the inclusion of main ideas, where students in the composition courses included significantly more main ideas in their summaries than did students in the developmental courses.

Subject Area

Community college education|Cognitive psychology|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Larsen, Luann R, "The Effects of Modeling on the Summarization Skills of Community College Students" (2018). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI13419874.