Knowledge Acquisition and Transformation Framework

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It is well established that underpinning good comprehension is having a large vocabulary of words that can be easily recognised (and the ability to quickly and accurately decode words that are not automatically recognised), to have a good understanding of those words and to have the background knowledge to make sense of the text.

In addition, the reader must be able to select and logically connect the key components of the text. One strategy for helping students develop this skill is via the Knowledge Acquisition and Transformation framework. Wiejekumar et al. (2023) provide an overview of some of the research supporting this framework and the key components are outlined below:

  • Help students identify the overall top-level structure of the text focusing on comparison, cause and effect, problem-solution and cause-problem-solution (sequencing is usually embedded within these structures). Teach students signalling words that will help guide this identification process.
  • Students generate an initial main idea statement using a consistent sentence stem related to the identified structure of the text.
  • Key details are added to the initial main idea statement (who/what, when, why, how, where) to provide an effective summary of the text.
 ComparisonCause & EffectProblem & Solution
Example Signal Wordsinstead, but, however, alternatively, different, have in common….cause, results in, because, the reason, effect, as a result, since….problem, difficulty, need to prevent, to solve, answer, reply, suggestions….
Main Idea Stem______ and ____ were compared on _____.The main cause was ____ and the main effect was ______.The main problem was ____ caused by ____ and the main solution was _______.  
Recall/Summary StemIn [the first topic] ….(state key concepts learned). In contrast, [or another relevant signal word], in [second topic]….(state key concepts learned)The [the cause]…(state key information about the cause). The effect was …(state key information about the effect).The problem was …. (describe the key components of the problem). The solution was….(describe the key components of the solution(s) and how it solved the problem).
  • Students then answer inferential questions by integrating the main idea, top-level structures and prior knowledge.
  • Students can use top-level structures to answer multiple-choice questions about the main idea or summary of the text.
  • The framework can also be used in other subject areas to increase understanding and retention of concepts being taught.


Wijekumar, K., Hudson, A., Lambright, K., Owens, J., Binks-Cantrell, E., Beerwinkle, A., & Stack, A. (2023). Knowledge acquisition and transformation (KAT) using text structures. The Reading League Journal, 4 (2), 33-39.