Verbal Protocols of Reading: The Nature of Constructively Responsive Reading

Verbal Protocols of Reading: The Nature of Constructively Responsive Reading

Verbal Protocols of Reading: The Nature of Constructively Responsive Reading

Verbal Protocols of Reading: The Nature of Constructively Responsive Reading


Researchers from a variety of disciplines have collected verbal protocols of reading as a window on conscious reading processes. Because such work has occurred in different disciplines, many who have conducted verbal protocol analyses have been unaware of the research of others. This volume brings together the existing literature from the various fields in which verbal protocols of reading have been generated. In so doing, the authors provide an organized catalog of all conscious verbal processes reported in studies to date -- the most complete analysis of conscious reading now available in the literature.

When the results of all of the studies are considered, there is clear support for a number of models of reading comprehension including reader response theories, schema perspectives, executive processing models, and bottom-up approaches such as the one proposed by van Dijk and Kintsch. The summary of results also demonstrates that none of the existing models goes far enough. Thus, a new framework -- constructively responsive reading -- is described. This new model encompasses reader response, schematic and executive processing, and induction from word- and phrase-level comprehension to higher-order meaning. The important concept in this new model is that readers respond to bits and pieces of text as they are encountered, all as part of the overarching goal of constructing meaning from text.

This volume also includes a critical review of the thinking aloud methodology as it has been used thus far. This examination suggests that it continues to be an immature methodology, and that much work is needed if a complete theory of conscious processing during reading is to be developed via verbal protocol analysis. Finally, after reviewing what has been accomplished to date, the authors provide extensive discussion of the work that remains to be done and the adequacy of the verbal protocol methodology for permitting telling conclusions about text processing.


In the fall of 1989 Michael Pressley moved to the University of Maryland at College Park. For a variety of reasons, including a new friendship with John Guthrie, Pressley found himself thinking about reading comprehension in 1989- 1990. That year, Peter Afflerbach interviewed successfully for a position in reading education at Maryland, joining the faculty in autumn, 1990. We became close friends, talking a great deal about reading in 1990-1991 and 1991-1992, working on projects such as the grant that in 1992 would fund the National Reading Research Center at the Universities of Maryland and Georgia. Because Pressley chose to conduct studies involving verbal protocols of reading, there was especially high incentive for interaction, for Afflerbach had conducted several such investigations in his career. It was decided in the spring of 1992 that we had made enough progress conceptually in our discussions of protocol analysis that it would make sense to attempt to conduct a session at the December 1992 meeting of the National Reading Conference on the methodology. Although a proposal for an NRC session was crafted in the spring of 1992, one which was accepted, neither author really knew what we would present in such a session, confident we could get our thoughts together by autumn. Fortunately, we did, enough to present a preliminary version of what is now chapter 3 of this volume. The audience reception was so positive that we knew we had to refine our thoughts and write this book, if for no other reason than to fulfill a desire by many reading researchers to know just what claims about reading are justified on the basis of existing protocols of reading.

The following spring we proposed to Hollis Heimbouch of Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., that we prepare a book on verbal protocol analysis. During a . . .

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