Original Research

Instructional principles used to teach critical comprehension skills to a Grade 4 learner

Suzanne Beck, Janet L. Condy
Reading & Writing | Vol 8, No 1 | a149 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v8i1.149 | © 2017 Suzanne Beck, Janet L. Condy | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 December 2016 | Published: 25 August 2017

About the author(s)

Suzanne Beck, Faculty of Education, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa
Janet L. Condy, Faculty of Education, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa


The current approach to reading comprehension instruction is not producing the desired outcomes. Provincial, national and international tests indicate that more than half of South African learners cannot read, understand and answer basic comprehension questions. This research project was informed by Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory. A case study was conducted with a ten-year old Grade 4 boy who experienced difficulty with understanding comprehension questions. A six-week intervention was designed to improve his comprehension abilities and to identify instructional principles that were appropriate for him. Interviews and observations were conducted and inductively analysed. Findings showed that the learner was well equipped to retrieve explicitly stated information but struggled with higher-order level questions such as drawing inferences or evaluating content. Certain instructional practices were more favourable than others when teaching reading strategies.


CAPS curriculum; comprehension; explicit; Grade Four; guided practice; inferences; pre-PIRLS; reading strategies


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