Executive Control Processes in Reading

By Bruce K. Britton; Shawn M. Glynn | Go to book overview
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Richard K. Wagner Florida State University

Robert J. Sternberg Yale University

Provided we have written a chapter that is to some degree comprehensible (a wildly questionable assumption, we admit!), there are two obvious prerequisites to an individual's ability to comprehend it. First, the individual must have mastered the basic decoding skills that serve to attach meaning to written symbols, including letters, numbers, and words. Mastery of these decoding operations is, of course, absolutely prerequisite to reading of any kind. Second, the individual must have access to relevant "world knowledge" so as to interpret and evaluate the presented information in a meaningful way. We read, understand, and remember material that we can relate to prior knowledge much differently than we do material that bears little relation to anything we know about ( Bransford & Johnson, 1972; Britton, Holdredge, Curry, & Westbrook, 1979; Dooling & Lachman, 1971; Gardner & Schumacher, 1977). Although these prerequisites may suffice for at least rudimentary comprehension, in our view there is an additional prerequisite of truly skilled comprehension of written material: the ability to determine how and where to apply one's reading resources in order to maximally reach one's comprehension goals in a given situation.

We view the intelligent application of one's reading resources, given the nature of one's comprehension task and one's text, as an important facet of executive control of reading, and of reading comprehension more generally. We distinguish three constituent parts of executive control of reading: (a) devising or accessing previously devised strategies for optimal allocation of reading time and effort, given one's reading goals and text. (b) implementing one's strategies, in a manner that does not disrupt


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Executive Control Processes in Reading


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