Enhancing Reading Comprehension Through the Use of Graphic Organizers: An Action Research Study


Reading is integral to academic achievement and lifelong learning. However, many students need help comprehending the complex materials they encounter in school and beyond. Reading comprehension involves constructing meaning from written texts, which requires readers to engage in a range of cognitive and metacognitive skills, such as decoding, vocabulary building, making inferences, and monitoring comprehension (Pressley, 2006).

Given the importance of reading comprehension, educators and professionals are constantly seeking ways to support and enhance students’ literacy skills. One strategy that has gained considerable attention in recent years is using graphic organizers to support comprehension. Graphic organizers are visual representations that help students organize and process information, making it easier to understand and remember (Mayer, 2014).

This study aims to explore the effectiveness of graphic organizers in enhancing reading comprehension among students. Specifically, it uses an action research approach to investigate how graphic organizers can improve students’ understanding and analysis of written materials across different levels and subject areas.

Literature Review

Definition of Reading Comprehension Reading comprehension is a cognitive process involving constructing meaning from written text (Pressley, 2006). It encompasses a range of skills, including decoding, vocabulary building, making inferences, and monitoring comprehension. Successful comprehension depends on the reader’s ability to integrate and apply these skills to different texts.

Factors Affecting Reading Comprehension Several factors can affect reading comprehension, such as:

  • Background knowledge and prior experiences
  • Vocabulary knowledge and development
  • Cognitive processing and attentional abilities
  • Motivation and engagement
  • Text complexity and genre

The Benefits of Graphic Organizers Graphic organizers have been found to benefit students’ learning and comprehension in several ways, such as:

  • Improving memory retention and recall (Mayer, 2014)
  • Enhancing organization and structure of information (Gonzalez, 2011)
  • Facilitating comprehension of complex and dense materials (Kim & Vaughn, 2013)
  • Supporting metacognitive awareness and self-regulated learning (Davies, 2019)

Previous Studies on the Use of Graphic Organizers in Literacy Instruction Studies have shown that graphic organizers can improve students’ reading comprehension across different levels and populations. For example, Kim and Vaughn (2013) found that graphic organizers significantly improved the awareness of seventh-grade students with learning disabilities. Similarly, Gonzalez (2011) reported that using graphic organizers helped middle school students understand the structure and organization of expository texts.


Research Design This study uses an action research approach to investigate the effectiveness of graphic organizers in enhancing reading comprehension. Action research is a collaborative and cyclical process involving educators and researchers in implementing and evaluating an intervention (Kemmis & McTaggart, 2005). It aims to improve practice and generate relevant and valuable knowledge in the context in which it takes place.

Participants and Sampling Procedure The study involved 50 middle school students aged 12-14 from two English language arts classes. The participants were recruited based on their willingness to participate and the availability of informed consent from their parents or guardians. The sample included a diverse group of students with varying levels of reading proficiency, academic background, and cultural and linguistic background.

Data Collection Methods The study collected data through multiple sources, such as:

  • Pre- and post-intervention reading comprehension tests assessed students’ comprehension of a standardized reading passage and a comprehension question set.
  • Reading logs: Students kept a log of their reading activity before and during the intervention, recording the title, author, and genre of the text, the strategies used to comprehend it, and any difficulties encountered.
  • Interviews: The researcher interviewed students and teachers to gather qualitative data on their experience and perceptions of the intervention.
  • Observations: The researcher observed students’ engagement and interaction with the graphic organizer and their peers during the intervention.

Data Analysis The data were analyzed using a mixed-method approach involving quantitative and qualitative techniques. The quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics, such as mean scores, standard deviation, t-tests, and effect sizes. The qualitative data were analyzed using thematic analysis, which involved identifying and grouping themes and patterns across the different sources.

Results and Discussion

Quantitative Analysis The pre-and post-test results showed a statistically significant improvement in students’ reading comprehension scores after the intervention. The mean score of the pre-test was 48.2 (SD=6.3), while the mean score of the post-test was 71.4 (SD=9.1), indicating a significant increase of 23.2 points (t=12.76, p<.001, d=2.51). The effect size was large, showing a strong impact of the intervention on students’ comprehension.

Qualitative Analysis The qualitative data revealed several themes and patterns regarding students’ experiences and perceptions of the intervention. Overall, students reported that the graphic organizer helped them understand and remember the main ideas and details of the text, organize their thoughts and ideas, ask questions, and make predictions. They also reported that the intervention increased their motivation and engagement in reading and learning.

Implications for Teaching and Learning

The results of this study have several implications for teaching and learning, such as:

  • Using graphic organizers as a scaffold for comprehension instruction
  • Encouraging metacognitive awareness and self-regulated learning through graphic organizers
  • Balancing the use of graphic organizers with other types of comprehension strategies and activities
  • Considering the needs and preferences of diverse learners in the design and implementation of graphic organizers


This study has shown that graphic organizers can enhance reading comprehension among middle school students across different levels and subject areas. The action research approach has allowed for collaborative and iterative implementation and evaluation of the intervention, generating practical and relevant knowledge for educators and professionals. While the study has some limitations, such as the small sample size and limited context, it provides a foundation for further research and implementation of graphic organizers in literacy instruction.

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