Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development

First Advisor

Dr. Arthur Smith


This study explored the effects on comprehension of content material taught through poetry as opposed to teaching through prose form. Subjects involved were twenty-two African American students in a fourth grade classroom within a large city school district in Western

New York. The researcher placed students into two heterogeneous groupings based on the comprehension levels from the May, 1996 Degrees of Reading Power test administered in that district.

All students involved in the study received instruction through both formats (poetry and prose) over a four day period. Students in both groups were taught content through poetry one day and received instruction through prose form on another. Both groups were asked to complete a journal writing sample for each of the two styles. Rubrics created by the researcher and subsequent raters were used to assess writing samples. Groups were kept to a limit of eleven participants to insure appropriate time to reflect, reread material or to ask questions before they completed their writing tasks assigned. Two different topics were taught to avoid unfair bias due to prior knowledge of the subject matter.

A two tailed t test was used to determine the effect on comprehension that the varying formats may have had. The results revealed no statistically significant difference between the groups. The findings neither support or disclaim the use of poetry versus prose in regard to the teaching of content and fostering comprehension of text.