Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


STEM Education & Professional Studies

Committee Director

Ginger S. Watson

Committee Member

Angela Eckhoff

Committee Member

Tian Luo


Reciprocal teaching is an interactive instructional procedure that improves students’ text comprehension skills through instruction that utilizes scaffolds of four comprehension-fostering and comprehension-monitoring strategies: predicting, questioning, clarifying, and summarizing (Palincsar & Brown, 1984, 1986; Palincsar, Brown, & Martin, 1987). Reciprocal teaching involves student-led instruction, modeling, practice, and feedback in metacognitive self-monitoring and evaluating strategies (Brown, Campione, & Day, 1981). The purpose of this study was to determine the potential of reciprocal teaching to facilitate deeper cognitive processing and higher levels of thinking related to course texts in an online, asynchronous community college course. The strategies and peer teaching were incorporated into discussion forums for dialogue, strategy use, and peer teaching.

Studies have shown that purposefully designed interactions can lead to improved learning in distance courses. According to Borokhovski, Tamim, Bernard, Abrami, and Sokolovskaya (2012), designed interaction treatments include intentionally implemented collaborative instructional conditions for increasing student learning. In this study, reciprocal teaching provided student-student, student-teacher, and student-content interaction and supported the negotiation of meaning in a social learning atmosphere. Peer teaching resulted in generative processing through the reworking of a topic from the textbook into a lesson and questions for peers (Collins et al., 1989; King, 1991; Pressley et al., 1992; Rosenshine et al., 1996; Wood et al., 1990).

Quasi-experimental, multiple methods were employed to compare the effects of traditional discussions and reciprocal teaching discussions. A convenience sample of two sections of the same community college course was studied over 16 weeks. Outcome variables were level of thinking, understanding of course texts, online reciprocal teaching implementation, and students’ reflections on the relationship between discussions, strategies, and learning. Results indicated that reciprocal strategies promoted significantly higher levels of thinking and deeper processing of course texts compared to traditional methods. The study found that reciprocal teaching could successfully be incorporated into the online format providing a space for students to use generative learning strategies and social negotiation to actively engage in discussions about their reading (Palincsar, 1998; Wittrock, 1990).


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