Signifying as a Scaffold for Literary Interpretation

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Abstract

This study investigated the efficacy of signifying, a form of social discourse in the African American community, as a scaffold for teaching skills in literary interpretation. Specifically, the hypotheses of this study were that skill in signifying and prior knowledge about social conventions, themes, and values on which the instructional texts were based would positively influence skill in interpreting fiction. Prior to instruction, two tests were administered to measure prior social knowledge and skill in signifying. Pretest and posttest essay exams were administered to test progress in literal and inferential reading categories. Rasch scale analysis was used to calibrate the tests and to estimate person measures. Six classes of average level seniors from two high schools in a large midwestern urban district participated in the project: 4 experimental classes and 2 control or no-treatment classes. The majority of students, however, scored below national norms on standardized reading tests. The experimental group achieved a statistically significant mean gain over the control group. The experimental group achieved statistically significant gain in two of the inferential reading categories. Signifying and prior social knowledge measures showed statistically significant correlations with achievement at both the pretests and posttests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-381
JournalJournal of Black Psychology
Volume21
DOIs
StatePublished - 1995

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