Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor's Name

Nancy Marshall

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Paulette Johnson

Third Advisor's Name

Stephen Fain

Fourth Advisor's Name

Lynn Berk

Date of Defense



The purpose of this research was to examine from a syntactic and narrative structure perspective two narrative summary types: a summary with a length constraint and an unconstrained summary. In addition, this research served to develop a multidimensional theory of narrative comprehension.

College freshmen read two short stories written by written by Sake and were asked to write a constrained summary for one text and an unconstrained summary for the other text. Following this the subjects completed a metacognitive questionnaire. The summaries were analyzed to examine transitivity features and narrative structure features. The metacognitive questionnaires were examined to extract information about plot structure, differences between one and two episode stories, and to gain insight into the strategies used by subjects in producing both summary types.

A Paired t- test conducted on the data found that there was a significant transitivity feature mean difference between a constrained summary and an unconstrained summary indicating that the number of transitivity features produced from each summary type were task dependent.

Chi-square tests conducted on the data found that there were proportional differences in usage between plot features and thematic abstract units in an unconstrained summary and a constrained summary indicating that plot features and thematic abstract units produced from each summary type were task dependent.

Qualitative analyses indicated that setting, goal, and resolution are typical within plot organization, there are summary production differences between one and two episode narratives, and subjects do not seem to be aware of summary production strategies.

The results of this research have implications for comprehension and writing instruction.




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