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Reading comprehension: Unanswered questions and reading instruction challenges

Literacy and Learning

ISBN: 978-1-84950-776-9, eISBN: 978-1-84950-777-6

Publication date: 22 February 2010


Literacy demands have changed over the years and for success in society it is necessary to handle a wide range of texts and written information. The school has been criticized for not giving their pupils the necessary abilities to handle the kind of information they are faced with in society. One important dimension of literacy is reading comprehension, but even though much written information has the form of tables, drawings, graphs, etc. such presentations are most often accompanied by written text. This chapter focuses the comprehension of different kinds of written information, and data from different tasks are evaluated in light of the simple view of reading. A total of 132 grade 6 readers were given four reading comprehension tasks concurrently with a decoding task and a listening comprehension task. It was found that the sum of decoding and listening comprehension accounted for a larger part of the variance in all the reading comprehension tasks than the product of decoding and listening comprehension. The pupils' results on a naming task and morphological tasks from preschool accounted for significant parts of the variance in the comprehension of both plain text and text combined with tables and graphs over and above the concurrent decoding and listening comprehension results. Speed of orthographic identification in 2nd grade accounted for an additional, significant part of the variance in the plain text reading tasks. These results show that processing speed and linguistic knowledge, such as morphological knowledge, are important contributors to the comprehension of different kinds of written information. Even if speed of orthographic identification is especially important for comprehending plain texts, a broad linguistic and cognitive perspective seems to be important when preparing pupils to comprehend different kinds of written material.


Halaas Lyster, S.-A. (2010), "Reading comprehension: Unanswered questions and reading instruction challenges", Scruggs, T.E. and Mastropieri, M.A. (Ed.) Literacy and Learning (Advances in Learning and Behavioral Disabilities, Vol. 23), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 115-153.



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