Comparison Matrix Comprehension Strategy

Social studies often involves a great deal of classifying and recognizing the similarities and differences between regions or peoples.  As pointed out by Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock (2001, p. 15), “asking students to independently identify similarities and differences enhances students’ understanding of and ability to use knowledge.”  In order to facilitate these classifications, students can use two different graphic organizer strategies.  A comparison matrix is one method which allows students to compare several items at the same time by organizing the characteristics of each item side by side. 

The comparison matrix may be used before, during, or after reading.  Before reading, the strategy may serve to activate prior knowledge.  During reading, this strategy may help students by providing a reading purpose and assist in self-monitoring of  their own reading.  When using the comparison matrix after reading, it may be used to review what has been read, with students even determining what characteristics or items should be in the matrix.  When filling in the matrix, students may simply mark them with an "x" or they may actually provide evidence of the characteristic's presence.  Finally, in an effort to save time and money at the copier, students can make these easily by folding paper.

Strategy Steps

  1. Select the items to be compared from the text.
  2. Select the characteristics to be compared.
  3. Create a grid, with characteristics on one side and items on the other axis. 
  4. Students complete the grid.
  5. Discuss.
  6. If the matrix was completed before the reading, alterations will likely need to be made after reading along with discussion.

Comparison Matrix


Items to be compared

Characteristics #1 #2 #3

Strategy Example

World Religions Comparison Matrix


Items to be compared

Characteristics #1  Christianity #2  Judaism #3  Islam
1.  Monotheistic X X X
2.  Belief in truth of other religions     X
3.  Recognizes original sin X X  



Implementation Guide

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