Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Retrospective Miscue Analysis for Struggling Postsecondary Readers

Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Retrospective Miscue Analysis for Struggling Postsecondary Readers

Article excerpt

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Recent studies (ACT, 2006; American Institutes for Research, 2006; Associated Press, 2006a; Associated Press, 2006b) reinforce what developmental educators have known for some time: Many college students are underprepared for the demands of reading at the college level and can benefit from developmental literacy instruction. Although definitions of "who" underprepared college readers are vary, general agreement might include a description of underprepared college readers as having difficulty engaging in college-level literacy practices including reading expository material at a level proficient enough to integrate information and gain understanding (Martino, Norris, & Hoffman, 2001). Other researchers have found that underprepared readers have difficulty accessing effective reading strategies, have limited experience applying metacognitive awareness, and may have incomplete or unhelpful conceptions of how they read and process language (Caverly, Nicholson, & Radcliffe, 2004; El-Hindi, 1996). As a result, many students are unsure of what they need to become more effective readers (Maitland, 2000). In addition, it has been noted that many underprepared readers are guided by misconceptions about the nature of the reading process (Marek, 1996a) and these misconceptions can influence how they engage in collegelevel literacy practices. Others have found that underprepared college students do not exhibit high levels of self-regulated learning and may be functioning in a passive and dependent role (Maitland). Through our discussions of the theoretical underpinnings of Retrospective Miscue Analysis (RMA), and our excerpts from actual RMA sessions, our goal is to make apparent how RMA has exhibited positive influence to directly address such areas.

This article is about expanding ideas of what can be useful in a postsecondary literacy context to serve those students who need more than classroom instructional time in order to develop as college readers. Specifically, the expansion discussed herein will be in the context of oneon-one instruction for underprepared college readers. The type of one-on-one instruction focused on here is Retrospective Miscue Analysis (RMA), an individualized approach to literacy instruction that utilizes students' own oral reading miscues as the basis for metacognitive discussions about the reading process.

Miscue Analysis

Although oral reading miscues are sometimes associated with younger readers, readers of all ages and proficiency levels produce miscues. College readers are no exception, and ample work has demonstrated the utility of examining college readers' miscues (e.g., Brown, 1980; Ohaver, 1972; Paulson, 2001; Smith, 1980; Warde, 2005). This section introduces and describes miscues.

Defining Miscues

Miscues are unexpected responses to the text that readers produce when reading an unfamiliar text aloud. The term "miscue" is used to avoid the negative connotations of "error" or "mistake" and reflects the method's underlying assumption that miscues are the result of the same language cue systems that produce expected responses in oral reading; they are not simply random errors. The term was introduced by Ken Goodman (1965), and a taxonomy of miscues was soon developed (Goodman, 1969). Soon after, the process of miscue analysis was adapted and formalized by Yerta Goodman and Carolyn Burke (1973; Goodman, Watson, & Burke, 2005), and there have been hundreds of miscue analysis studies published since (Brown, Goodman, & Marek, 1996). The following illustrates the miscues of a ist-year college reader (excerpted from Paulson & Freeman, 2003).


Analyzing Miscues

This reader made four miscues in this section of text: one substitution (it for that), one omission (should is omitted), and two insertions (all is inserted in two places). In the first sentence, he substituted it for that. This is a syntactically and semantically acceptable miscue, since the miscue retains the grammatical form of the sentence and does not change the meaning. …

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