Reciprocal Teaching

Instructional Practice
Tier I

Reading selection/text

Target Student

All students can benefit from this instructional practice.


Reciprocal teaching is an interactive instructional practice. This practice can be used to improve comprehension; teachers and students take turns leading a dialogue around sections of a text and apply four comprehension strategies (generating questions, summarizing, clarifying, predicting) to obtain meaning from a text.

How To

This instructional practice is intended to help students improve comprehension of text. Teachers begin by leading a structured dialogue to incorporate four instructional strategies:

(1) Summarizing. Students summarize the text that was read. The text can be summarized across sentences, paragraphs, and the passage as a whole.

(2) Questioning. Students identify key information in the text, frame that information in the form of a question, and self-test for understanding and recall.

(3) Clarifying. Students note when they have experienced a failure in comprehension, identify the source of that breakdown, and ask for help (for example, “What does a word mean?”).

(4) Predicting. Students make a prediction about what they think will happen next in the text.

Reciprocal teaching uses a gradual release of responsibility model. During the early stages, the teacher assumes primary responsibility for modeling how to use these strategies. As students become more familiar, there is a gradual shift toward student responsibility for talking through the application of the strategies to the text.


Brady, P. L. (1990). Improving the reading comprehension of middle school students through reciprocal teaching and semantic mapping strategies (Doctoral dissertation, University of Oregon, 1990). Dissertation Abstracts International, 52(03A), 230–860.

Dao, M. N. T. H. (1993). An investigation into the application of the reciprocal teaching procedure to enhance reading comprehension with educationally at-risk Vietnamese-American pupils (Doctoral dissertation, University of California– Berkeley, 1993). Dissertation Abstracts International, 55(06A), 105–1470.

Leiker, L. (1995). An investigation of the effects of reciprocal teaching on fifth graders’ comprehension and comprehension monitoring. Unpublished master’s thesis, University of Kansas, Lawrence.

Lysynchuk, L. M., Pressley, M., & Vye, N. J. (1990). Reciprocal teaching improves standardized reading-comprehension performance in poor comprehenders. Elementary School Journal, 90(5), 469–484.

Research Summary

What Works Clearinghouse

Related Resources

Reciprocal Teaching Video

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