DRTA Directed Reading Thinking Activity (DTRA)

1. What is the purpose of DRTA?

DRTA, developed by Russell Stauffer (1969), involves reading for a purpose determined by the students. DRTA helps students develop skills in reading and thinking. It encourages risk-taking via prediction.

 2. With whom can it be used?

While DRTA can be successfully employed at any grade level, it is recommended as an integral part of the Language Arts programme in grades one through six. It is a technique which motivates and encourages reluctant readers.

 3. What teaching procedures should be used with DRTA?

DTRA begins with a discussion and prediction based on the title, pictures, a paragraph or page of the story.

  • Initial contact with the text is limited so that the discussion will raise questions and predictions.
  • Once a purpose has been set, the students read silently to determine if their prediction was accurate. The teacher should ask, “Did you find out what you wanted to know?”
  • Further discussion ensues regarding the various predictions, plus the added knowledge of facts gleaned from the text read. Students should be encouraged to prove or disprove predictions by orally re-reading the relevant part of the story.
  • The process continues until the story is complete. The teacher acts as a facilitator throughout the process rather than an initiator of predetermined questions.

 Some considerations:

  • DRTA can only be successful if the reading material is unfamiliar to the students.
  • The material should be at the students’ instructional level.
  • The teacher must read through the story carefully beforehand, determining the most appropriate breaks and length of passages.
  • The teacher may read part or parts of the story out loud.
  • A climate of trust needs to be developed so that students will feel secure in expressing opinions and taking risks. The verification or disproving of predictions should be accomplished courteously.

 4. In what types of settings should DRTA be used?

DRTA is a dynamic group reading activity in which individuals’ hypotheses and print mesh to foster discussion. Background knowledge is brought to the reading experience. To provide an environment for this process, Stauffer recommends groups of eight to twelve students.

 5. To what extent has research shown DRTA to be useful?

Directed Reading Thinking Activity has been shown to be a motivating approach to reading. It stimulates thinking and makes the students, not the teacher, responsible for setting the purpose.


  1. Richek, M. A. (1987).  DRTA:  5 variations that facilitate independence in reading narratives. Journal of Reading, 3, 632-642.
  2. Stauffer, R. G. (1976).  Teaching reading as a thinking process.  New York:  Harper & Row.
  3. Stauffer, R. G. (1970).  The language experience approach to the teaching of reading.  New York: Harper & Row.

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