Monday, October 22, 2007

Literature Review

Effective Reading Comprehension Strategies


Reading comprehension is fundamental to ultimate educational success. Yet elementary students struggle with it on a daily basis. In order for students to comprehend their reading materials, it is helpful to explicitly teach comprehension strategies. (Check out this list!) I will be looking at two aspects of human cognition to be of assistance in this task: metacognition and activating prior semantic knowledge. As an educator, it is important that I help my students reach as much of their potential as I can. Testing different strategies on my students can help me, but even more importantly, can help my students identify the best ones for each of them.

Literature Review

Effective classroom instruction includes four elements. These are: the quality of the instruction itself, teaching at levels appropriate for the students, incentive and motivation on the part of the students, and the right amount of time spent on the task at hand. These elements are multiplicatively related: ineffectiveness in any one of the four elements renders the whole model ineffective. However, improvements in two or more areas provide greater gains than improving only one. (Slavin, 1994)

When students attempt to read new material, whether it be narrative or expository, it is a good idea for them to ask themselves to think about the content of this material. They can take a picture walk through the text, look at headings and chapter titles, and make predictions about various events or words highlighted. Good readers are active in their reading. They ask questions about new words and concepts, make comparisons, and draw on their prior knowledge to assist them in comprehension. (Duke and Pearson, 2002) Developing good reading comprehension is more than just thinking about how to comprehend. Students must also be taught specific skills that are essential to good comprehension. These include phonological skills, knowledge of the structure of the text, fluency, and vocabulary. (Gersten, et al., 2001)
Students taught in a more direct and explicit fashion on decoding skills improve faster than students taught in a more implicit fashion. (Foorman & Torgesen, 2001)

Students learn more and better when they have previous knowledge or experience with a topic under study. This helps them use top-down processing to extend their neural networks in semantic memory. They use bottom-up processing to connect to the former nodes and links in their networks. (Matlin, 2005) The more knowledge they gain, the greater their semantic networks will be. The use of graphic organizers can greatly enhance students’ ability to access prior knowledge and bring it to the fore.

Fluency instruction is imperative to good reading comprehension. It takes energy for students to sound out words. If students stumble and are unable to produce a word quickly, they lose momentum and forget what the context of the sentence is. This obviously has a negative effect on comprehension. Fluency must be practiced over time, requiring plenty of both time and practice! Researchers have not found evidence that silent reading has a positive effect on student achievement, but they have found evidence that repeated oral reading positively impacts word recognition, comprehension, and fluency. (Watkins, 2007) Repeated reading is a cost-effective way to help children improve fluency. Materials on hand are more than acceptable to use, especially since any type of text will do.

Questioning techniques on the part of the teacher are also a vital component of teaching students to comprehend text well—what are “wait-time” and “think-time”? Not only do students need time to think of answers, but the questions they are being asked should be higher-level questions—not just yes/no, true/false, or simple detail questions. There is power in “Why?” questions. Asking questions that require elaboration on the part of students helps them to comprehend, teach, and practice new knowledge. (Pressley, 2000) Get more ideas from Will Thalheimer.

Specific comprehension strategies are needed to build skills, but metacognition is important so that students will monitor their own understanding and areas of confusion and frequently evaluate the text with which they are working. (Duke and Pearson, 2002) (Read some effective practices.) Metacognition is the study of thinking about one’s thinking. (Read about metacognition.) Improving students’ thinking and helping them to learn to think about their own thinking are useful skills.

Combining explicit instruction of reading comprehension strategies, building on prior knowledge, and utilizing metacognition should help me determine the most effective strategies for reading comprehension improvement in my classroom.


Ed Psy said...

From what you present here the major topic that needed to be presented are: Semantic memory , and how it is related to reading comprehension. Metacognition and then related it to semantic memory and reading comprehension/.

Working memory model and why it is important in reading comprehension.

You mention a couple of times metacognition
..."metacognition is important so that students will monitor their own understanding "... however you do not present at all the theory on metacognition.

MRH said...

As a result of the No Child Left Behind Act, (NCLB), an even greater emphasis is being put on improving reading skills and performance. By using reading strategies and targeting the Big 5 areas of reading, which includes phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension and fluency, teachers can help students to become better readers overall. There is a significant amount of research available right now that supports this and shows that instruction that is scientifically based helps drive us to reach all students to become better readers. As you discussed specifically reading comprehension, it is important to remember that it is just a part of the whole package of reading. Another component that you mentioned was reading fluency. In my class, I have my students read a reading passage of 100-130 words/week. They are allowed to read with a partner, and each one has to read the passage 3 times each. You would think that they would find this monotonous, however, they really look forward to reading fluency days, and they are allowed to go anywhere in the classroom. Since they enjoy it, they perform very well on their end of week assessments, and are improving their own fluency each week. A question I would ask is this: Specifically, what cognitive areas are associated with reading comprehension? And, how can we improve students' reading skills when we consider the cognitive areas related to reading comprehension? Reading comprehension should not be taught alone, but within the whole reading program, along with the other 4 areas, as mentioned above. Thanks for sharing!

Mrs. E said...

I really liked your discussion regarding students reading new material as well as the hyperlinks you included. (I also love your blog address)

In the fourth paragraph which begins “Students learn more…” I was thinking you could also discuss the schemas that they form as they are processing what they are reading. You could also discuss more in depth how top down and bottom up processing apply to reading as far as creating networks and connections. As well as the how using graphic organizers can “greatly enhance students’…bring it to the fore.”

As for the next two paragraphs you also may want to consider discussing a specific theory or cognitive process explaining why fluency and questioning techniques should work. I know according to what I understand through our readings in class good questions can lead to deeper levels of processing, which would certainly help comprehension.

My final question or suggestion is instead of only including a hyperlink on metacognition you could include a few articles discussing what it is and how it is beneficial even at the younger grades when people don’t always see it as important. I know as I was researching for math manipulatives I have always been under the impression that they are designed for younger students, however, there was tons of research out there regarding using manipulatives in the upper grades as well.

ahogue edpsych said...

I enjoyed reading your literary review on reading comprehension. This is a very important topic that not only affects one subject area, but transcends all. From reading your introduction, you mentioned the cognitive processes of metacognition and semantic memory. When reading the paragraph that contained metacognition, I noticed you had a hyperlink to explain the concept. I believe that you could utilize the hyperlink in conjunction with our text to explain the concept of metacognition in more detail. You could add in the concepts such as metamemory and metacomprehension as examples to bring depth to the concept as well. For the concept of semantic memory, you used a good example with a hyperlink. Perhaps utilizing our text, specifically in chapter eight, you could define semantic memory by utilizing the theories which help define the concept.

Overall, your literary review was interesting and helpful for classroom use.

EPFR 515 - RR said...

Reading comprehension is a fundamental part of education. Due to all the standardized testing and NCLB act students need to have effective strategies to help them comprehend what they read in all core academic areas. I really enjoyed your link about improving reading comprehension. There were many helpful tools in that link. I printed it out and put into my resource book. I thought your section on previewing before reading was very important. Before my students start a new book or short story, we look at it and discuss anything related. I find out what they know about the material and any other knowledge they can bring in. The students like brainstorming and really get into it. I think that previous knowledge and being introduced to what others know really enhances the reading experience. I liked the link on graphic organizers. There were many I have seen before and some I have not. I love getting new ideas! You wrote about fluency and how it needs to be taught. I could not agree more. I teach special education students and many of them struggle with this. I think they were never taught strategies to improve their fluency when they are younger. I know some of it is disability driven, but many do not have any strategies that help them. Many of my students will shut down and quit reading when they come across a word they cannot read. I also think that silent reading does not help fluency, however, I do think students need to practice silent reading because whey they begin taking standardized tests, they need to be able to read silently. Finally, I thought your paragraph about higher level questioning was important. Too many teachers ask the who, what, when, where questions and do not challenge their students. This is something I struggle with and am currently working on. Overall, this was well written and easy to follow. I really enjoyed all the links included in the text. You may want to include research on metacognition and semantic memory and how it relates to reading comprehension in the lit review.

R. Reznack

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Literature Review