Effect of Text Presentation on Reading Fluency and Comprehension: An Exploratory Analysis

Article excerpt

Previous research found that the type of text being read affected reading fluency and recall, and students of varying reading skills take different approaches to the task. The current study explored the effect the reader's skill level and format of presentation had on fluency and comprehension assessment by comparing student behavior between conditions in which students read from a book or from a typed single page. No significant differences were found in mean fluency and comprehension scores between the Book and Typed conditions for the two highest reading skills groups. However, the difference between the Typed and Book conditions was significant for both fluency and comprehension among children in the lowest reading group. Students in the lowest reading group read more fluently and with better comprehension from the Book condition than from the Typed condition. Suggestions for further research are included.

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Reading continues to be the academic area most frequently identified as deficient in special education eligibility referrals (Joseph, 2002) and a large majority of children identified as learning disabled have a deficit in reading (Lerner, 2003). Thus, many academic intervention models exist for reading and scholars frequently recommend using fluency measures such as curriculum-based measurement (CBM; Deno, 1985) for making instructional decisions or problem identification (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1998; Gresham, 2001; Kaminski & Good, 1998; Shinn, 2002). Moreover, reading fluency measures are also useful tools for large-scale screening of student skills (Berninger, 2002).

Administration procedures for reading fluency probes, as outlined by Shinn (1989), involve having the student read orally for 1 minute from a typed passage written on a page that contains no additional markings, such as pictures. The number of words read correctly within the timed probe is counted to obtain a score that represents reading fluency. Adequate fluency in reading is important because reading fluency and comprehension have consistently been linked and comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading (Burns, Tucker, Hauser, Thelen, Holmes, & White, 2002; Fuchs, Fuchs, Hosp & Jenkins, 2001; McCormick & Samuels, 1979). Fluent reading consists of quick and effortless reading of words presented in text (Carmine, Silbert, Kame'enui, & Tarver, 2004) but how that is measured is a matter of some debate (Burns, 2003).

Reading fluency could be assessed with speed of accurate contextual reading (Nathan & Stanovich, 1991) or by whole word reading without context (Torgesen, Wagner, & Rashotte, 1997). However, the format of the assessment could affect the results (Burns, 2003). Further, Jenkins, Fuchs, van den Broek, Espin and Deno (2003) compared contextual reading fluency and context-free fluency and found that fluency from contextual reading was more strongly correlated with comprehension (r = .83) than context-free fluency such as word lists (r = .54). Fluency of contextual reading predicted reading comprehension, but fluency of reading word lists did not (Jenkins et al., 2003). This finding makes some intuitive sense given that, in general, the instructional environment affects student performance (Ysseldyke & Christenson, 2002). An instructional environment consists of the situational variables that interact with the student to determine the resulting behavior (Ysseldyke & Christenson, 1987). Comparatively, a reading environment would then encompass those situational variables that are specific to the reading task and interact with the student to determine reading behavior. Thus it seems reasonable to infer that environmental variables such as assessment format (e.g., reading words within or without context) would affect reading outcomes.

Although the nature of the reading task affected the outcome in the Jenkins et al. …