Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Monitoring Local Comprehension Monitoring in Sentence Reading

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Monitoring Local Comprehension Monitoring in Sentence Reading

Article excerpt

Reading comprehension can be defined as the active extraction and construction of meaning from all kinds of text (Snow, 2001), requiring the reader to fluently decode and then understand the material they are reading (Rapp, van den Broek, McMaster, Kendeou, & Espin, 2007; Scarborough, 2001). In today's society, reading comprehension can certainly be seen as a core component of becoming (and being) a successful individual. However, numbers from the National Assessment of Education Progress indicate that a large percentage of students (>30% of fourth-graders and ~25% of eighth-graders) read below a basic level of competence (National Assessment of Education Progress, 2007). Despite the obvious importance of literacy and decades of work aimed at improving students' performance in the reading domain, relatively little is known about the core component processes and cognitive mechanisms that underlie reading comprehension.

In the present study, we will focus on comprehension monitoring, an ability frequently mentioned in discussions about techniques to improve children's reading comprehension. The idea of comprehension monitoring is certainly not new (Dewey, 1910; Locke, 1975; Stauffer, 1969; Thorndike, 1917), and there have been numerous studies looking at its relation to reading performance. Typically, comprehension monitoring is studied by embedding erroneous information in the text materials and then assessing participants' ability to detect these deviations from normal text. The type of error introduced varies between studies and has included internal inconsistency (Berthiaume, Lorch, & Milich, 2009; Chan, Cole, & Barfett, 1987; Ehrlich, Remond, & Tardieu, 1999; Markman & Gorin, 1981; Markman, 1979; Oakhill, Cain, & Bryant, 2003; Oakhill & Cain, 2012), lexical inconsistency (Garner, 1981), incomplete information (Markman, 1977), violation of prior knowledge (Markman & Gorin, 1981), syntactical errors (Paris & Myers, 1981), propositional incohesiveness (Flavell, Speer, Green, & August, 1981), and structural incohesiveness (Harris, Kruithof, Terwot, & Visser, 1981). Some error types (e.g., nonsense words or violation of prior knowledge) are easier to identify than others, with internal consistency errors being the most difficult to detect (Baker, 1984; Garner, 1981; Markman & Gorin, 1981; Reis & Spekman, 1983) and being the best candidate to differentiate between readers with different abilities.

Almost all of these studies viewed comprehension monitoring as a reading strategy that is employed deliberately and with conscious reflection. Participants are usually informed that there are errors in the reading material and asked to indicate where these errors occur, e.g., by underlining the respective words or passages in the text. Alternatively, self-corrections, repetitions, and hesitations during reading out aloud are recorded and taken as indicators for monitoring efforts when reading aloud (see Oakhill, Hartt, & Samols, 2005, for an excellent example). It may be a consequence of this dominating methodology that comprehension monitoring is generally seen as the process by which readers constantly and actively engage in the deliberate evaluation of how well they understand newly incoming information. (1)

Another difficulty affecting real progress in this area of research can be attributed to a certain degree of ambiguity and fuzziness in terminology. Afflerbach, Pearson, and Paris (2008) noted that the inconsistent use of concepts like "reading skill" and "reading strategy" in the pertinent literature confuses students, teachers, and of course researchers. This can potentially render interventions and instruction less effective. To reduce the terminological inconsistency, these authors suggested that the terms skill and strategy should be used to distinguish between automatic and deliberately controlled processes. Notably, with ongoing reading development, strategies are more and more automatized and eventually become skills. …

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