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The Textmapping Project
A resource for teachers improving reading comprehension skills instruction

A Call for Research

Bullet point Reading Comprehension Skills Instruction has been identified by government and academic sources as a research priority [note 1].

Bullet point We are encouraging researchers to study Textmapping as an enabling technology for classroom instruction in reading comprehension and writing skills, study skills, and text-based course content.

Bullet point. Red arrow pointing to the right. The Textmapping approach is comprised of two elements:

  1. a display-environment (scrolls [])
  2. a set of intensive marking techniques (mapping []), married to other spatial teaching/learning techniques [note 2]

Bullet point. Red arrow pointing to the right. Textmapping fits nicely under the category of graphic organizers, which includes such well-known techniques as Semantic Mapping, Concept Mapping, and Story Mapping [note 3]. There are, however, three key differences between Textmapping and other graphic organizers.

  1. Textmapping is practiced directly on the text []
  2. Textmapping is a true pre-reading technique. [] It is not necessary to read a text in order to begin mapping it.
  3. Textmapping is a true mapping technique. The other graphic organizers are actually diagramming techniques. [see note 4]

For more about the differences between Textmapping and other graphic organizers, see the FAQ entry on Graphic Organizers.

Bullet point. Red arrow pointing to the right. Textmapping taps deeply into students' visual, spatial, tactile, and kinaesthetic learning abilities. It has been used with mainstream, ESL, and special needs students at all levels, from elementary through college, and may have applications for deaf learners as well.

Bullet point. Red arrow pointing to the right. Textmapping's display environment (scrolls []) and intensive marking techniques (mapping []) can be used to support a wide variety of instructional techniques (for example, Think Aloud, Metacognitive/Questioning, Reciprocal Teaching, SAIL and the like) and key instructional components (for example, explicit description, modeling, collaboration, guided practice, and independent use) [note 5]

Bullet point. Red arrow pointing to the right. Feedback from educators [] has been positive.

Bullet point. Red arrow pointing to the right. For more about Textmapping, read the overview [].

Relation to Existing Research

Bullet point Researchers have long known that students who are aware of textual cues and text structure demonstrate significantly better comprehension [note 6]. This is especially true in the case of students with learning disabilities [note 7].

Bullet point. Red arrow pointing to the right. We have had some success using Textmapping to teach students how to recognize and use text structure. This is an avenue of inquiry that we would like to see pursued by researchers.

Bullet point The research also shows that active, intensive marking (such as highlighting, underlining, and margin notes) and graphic/visual organization techniques (such as Semantic Mapping) are very effective for improving comprehension and recall [see note 2 and note 3].

Bullet point. Red arrow pointing to the right. Textmapping offers significant opportunities for teaching and practicing active marking.

Bullet point. Red arrow pointing to the right. It opens new opportunities to take advantage of visual, spatial, tactile, and kinaesthetic learning abilities - i.e., that it expands upon the opportunities first opened by spatial strategies such as Semantic Mapping.

Additional Comments

Bullet point The benefits [] page on this site provides a clear and concise explanation of the instructional benefits of Textmapping. You might find this list helpful when it comes to formulating your research questions.

Bullet point We believe that research is important, and that more research is needed. If there is any way that we can be of help to you, please contact us at .

Bullet point Please let us know any time you publish an article about Textmapping. You can email us at . We'll put a link to it on our published research page [].


Note 1:
See: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement (2002). Notice of Final Priority.

Also see: RAND Reading Study Group, Reading for Understanding: Towards an R&D Program in Reading Comprehension. The RAND Corporation (Draft 2001).

Also see: Manzo, Kathleen Kennedy, Panel Urges Study of Reading Comprehension. (Feb. 7, 2001) Edweek.

Note 2:
See: Holley, Charles D., & Dansereau, Donald F.; (1984) Spatial Learning Strategies: Techniques, Applications, and Related Issues. Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-352620-5. This book is now out of print, but available in many libraries, as well as on line through used book sellers.

Note 3:
Hall, Tracey, and Strangman, Nicole; (2002) Graphic Organizers.

Note 4:
There are two relevant points to be made concerning the distinction between Textmapping, which is a true mapping technique, and other visual organizers such as Semantic Mapping, which are actually diagramming techniques:

  1. Semantic Mapping was originally described accurately by it's developers as a diagramming technique [see Chapter 9, "Mapping: Representing Informative Text Diagrammatically" in Holley and Dansereau, cited in note 2, above], but most people only remember that the technique is called Semantic Mapping. Semantic Mapping was so successful that it inspired a string of variations on the theme (e.g., Concept Mapping, Knowledge Mapping, Mind Mapping, and Story Mapping), all of which were labeled "mapping" techniques despite the fact that they are actually diagramming techniques.

    Bullet point. Red arrow pointing to the right. What this means to teachers is outlined in the seven key instructional benefits [] of Textmapping. In particular, see the fourth benefit [].
  2. Maps and diagrams are closely related. The definitions of the two overlap, and it is not always possible to offer a definitive answer to the question of whether something is a map or a diagram. Nonetheless, there is general agreement among geographers and cartographers that maps are distinguished from diagrams in at least one important respect: Maps are representions of physical or conceptual space. The key word here is "space". Maps are about shapes, dimensions, configuration, and spatial context.

    Bullet point. Red arrow pointing to the right. What this means to teachers is outlined in the seven key instructional benefits [] of Textmapping. In particular, see the second benefit [], fourth benefit [], and fifth benefit [].

    Bullet point. Red arrow pointing to the right. For a sampling of definitions of the term "map", see Bartleby, California State University, and the University of Texas. Also, for an excellent book on how maps and mapping are changing the way we work with information, see Hall, Stephen S., (1992) Mapping the Next Millennium: How Computer-Driven Cartography is Revolutionizing the Face of Science. Random House. ISBN 0-679-74175-5.

Note 5:
For more on these techniques and components, see: Duke, Neil K., and Pearson, P. David; (2002) Effective Practices for Developing Reading Comprehension, in Alan E. Farstrup & S. Jay Samuels (Eds.), What Research Has to Say About Reading Instruction, 3rd. Editon, Newark, DE, International Reading Association.

Note 6:
For example, see: Dickson, Shirley V., Simmons, Deborah C., and Kameenui, Edward J., Text Organization and Its Relation to Reading Comprehension: A Synthesis of the Research.

Note 7:
For example, see: Gersten, Russell, and Baker, Scott, Reading Comprehension Instruction for Students with Learning Disabilities.

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