What REALLY Works: Optimizing Classroom Discussions to Promote Comprehension and Critical-Analytic Thinking

P. Karen Murphy, Carla Firetto, Liwei Wei, Mengyi Li, Rachel M.V. Croninger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


Many American students struggle to perform even basic comprehension of text, such as locating information, determining the main idea, or supporting details of a story. Even more students are inadequately prepared to complete more complex tasks, such as critically or analytically interpreting information in text or making reasoned decisions from reading. Although many reasons undergird students’ comprehension challenges, evidence-based instructional approaches can promote students’ comprehension and critical-analytic thinking. Teacher-facilitated, small-group discussions can promote students’ comprehension and critical-analytic thinking about, around, and with both oral and written discourse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-35
Number of pages9
JournalPolicy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes



  • critical-analytic thinking
  • policy recommendations
  • small-group discussion
  • text comprehension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Administration

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