Process Guide



As students progress through information sources learning about a content area topic, their processing of the information and concepts can be guided.  Process guides scaffold students’ comprehension within unique formats.  They‘re designed to stimulate students’ thinking during or after their reading, listening, or involvement in any content area instruction. Guides also help students focus on important information and ideas, making their reading or listening more efficient (Kintsch, 2005; Kintsch & Kintsch, 2005).   Process guides prompt thinking ranging from simple recall to connecting information and ideas to prior experience, applying new knowledge, and problem-solving (Best, Rowe, Ozuru, & McNamara, 2005). 


Teaching Process

1.   It is important to be prepared by reading the text material thoroughly in order to decide what information and concepts need to be emphasized.

2.   You must then determine how much assistance students will need to construct and use meaning at the higher levels of processing.  If students already possess a basic understanding of the content, guides can emphasize higher level thinking. If, on the other hand, the content is new to students, then guides might balance text-based and higher-level processing. 

3.   You should ask: “What format will stimulate students to think about the content in a meaningful and useful fashion, as well as motivate and appeal to them?”  Although there are no set procedures for creating process guides, the more imaginative they are, the greater the chance that students will complete them. 

4.   It is critical that students be prepared to use process guides.  You should begin by explaining the guide’s features, intent, and benefits. Students should be allowed to meet in small groups and complete the guide in class with teacher assistance. Engage the class in discussion based on their responses to the guide, and use this feedback to provide additional explanation and to make any necessary modifications to the guide. 

5.    It is important that students be responsible for explaining their responses to the guide. This should be an integral part of the process guide activity.

6.   Finally, at every opportunity, reinforce the connection between the mental activity required to complete the guide and expectations of how and what students should be reading and learning.


Sample Process Guide Prompts for a Chapter in a History Textbook

1.  In the section under “Afghanistan,” you will learn the background of this country and why there is so much unrest there.  Now read the first paragraph.  Be prepared to explain the termTaliban.

        The Taliban is_____________________________________________________

2.  The paragraph on page 66 will discuss some events caused by the Taliban.  Read the paragraph carefully.  List below some of the events connected with the Taliban:

        The Taliban did these things:_________________________________________


3.   On page 67 the last paragraph of this section tells us whether the Taliban has been successful in its attempt to control Afghanistan.  Read the paragraph and decide.  Write your response here.





Best, R., Rowe., M., Ozuru, Y., McNamara, D. (2005). Deep-level comprehension of

        science texts: The role of the reader and the text. Topics in Language Disorders,

        25, 65-83.

Kintsch, E. (2005). Comprehension theory as a guide for the design of thoughtful

        questions. Topics in Language Disorders, 25, 51-65.

Kintsch, W., & Kintsch, E. (2005). Comprehension. In S. Paris & S. Stahl (Eds.),

        Current issues on reading comprehension and assessment. Mahwah, NJ:




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