Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Reflecting on Miscues in Content Area Readings

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Reflecting on Miscues in Content Area Readings

Article excerpt


This article describes a case study of a struggling middle school reader. Different content area texts (science, math, literature) were selected and three oral reading miscue analysis cycles were conducted. After each miscues analysis the reader reflected upon select miscues using Retrospective Miscue Analysis. Miscue readings indicated some difference between the readings and RMA discussions showed increased knowledge about the reading process.


Struggling middle school readers like Kyle (pseudonym) often view themselves as poor readers based on the number of "mistakes" made during reading. Successful reading is perceived as reading words accurately. Students like Kyle are embarrassed by their inability to read accurately and fluently, thus creating feelings of anxiety about their reading. By the time they are in middle school these readers are overwhelmed by the reading demands required across content areas. Kyle's words hit deep as I had observed many students in my own teaching experience [a]"shame"[ed] to read because of their perception of themselves as readers. As a result of my initial observations, I wanted to explore how struggling readers might learn to revalue their knowledge about reading and come to understand more about their successes. I became interested in Retrospective Miscue Analysis (RMA) as a process which gives readers an opportunity to see their own miscues and build upon their strengths. RMA has been used with primary aged children (Martens, 1998) and intermediate, middle school, high school, and adult readers in helping them revalue the reading process and understand it as a process of constructing meaning (Y. Goodman, & Marek, 1996). It has also been used to conduct reflective conversations with youth in juvenile correction centers (Moore & Aspengren, 2001). In this inquiry I wanted to see what kind of miscues a struggling middle school reader makes when reading different types of texts encountered in school and how knowing about the quality of his miscues might influence his confidence and attitude toward reading. The questions I explored were: How do text features affect the patterns of miscues? How do insights about these patterns increase a student's understanding of the reading process? Could RMA help a reader revalue his own reading process and perception of himself as a reader? I hoped insights about readers struggling to process and make sense of content area texts would provide teachers with information to support content area literacy instruction.

In this article, I give a brief background on RMA and Kyle. Then I explain how I used RMA with Kyle. This case study looks at kinds of miscues (observed responses that differ from the expected response) Kyle made when reading different types of text and identifies his insights when he reflected upon the different miscues made during the readings.

Miscue Analysis and Retrospective Miscue Analysis

Miscue Analysis is a tool that provides teacher/researchers with increased understanding about the reading process (Y. Goodman, Watson, & Burke, 1987). It is used to aid researchers in developing deeper insights into the reading process and it can help teachers analyze the oral reading of individual students. This tool allows the researcher to qualitatively analyze why miscues are made and allows the researcher to interpret and understand what miscues reveal about the reading process. RMA is a follow up miscue procedure which provides the reader with information about the reading process and asks the reader to reflect upon select miscues made during the reading (Y. Goodman & Marek, 1996). Developed by Chris Worsnop in the 1970s, RMA utilizes metacognition as it incorporates the ability to reflect upon one's reading process. Earlier studies of content area miscues across science, social studies, math, and basal reader texts found no significant difference among miscues made across different texts, indicating the reading process is consistent across content areas (Kolczynski, 1978). …

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