Handbook of Reading Research

By P. David Pearson | Go to book overview

11
THE STRUCTURE
OF TEXT
Bonnie J. F. Meyer and
G. Elizabeth Rice

In recent years, researchers in the area of reading have been investigating the effects of the structure among the ideas presented in a text on what the reader learns and retains from the text. Texts are obviously more organized than simple lists of sentences or ideas, and understanding their organization can shed light on important aspects of the reading process. This chapter is designed to provide an overview of some of the ways the structure of text can be described. It will include a brief historical review of contributions from a number of disciplines, a review of the more commonly used descriptive systems in present-day reading research, and a discussion of the issues of current concern to researchers in the area.

We use the term text structure to refer to how the ideas in a text are interrelated to convey a message to a reader. Some of the ideas in the text are of central importance to the author's message, while others are of less importance. Thus, text structure specifies the logical connections among ideas as well as subordination of some ideas to others.

From the point of view of reading research, specifying the structure of a text or passage to be read can provide several benefits. First, text structure is a significant dimension along which text selections may be evaluated as to their similarities and differences. Second, specifying the text structure allows the researcher to identify the amount and type of information which readers remember from text. Third, it allows identification of variations which may arise between the text and the reader's understanding of the text.

The problem of specifying variables on which passages are similar or different is crucial for research on learning or reading prose. Unless these variables can be identified, results obtained from one passage cannot be generalized to another passage. In the past, attempts at solving this problem have involved the classification of passages on the basis of measures of readability. These measures have included such variables as sentence length, vocabulary density and

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Handbook of Reading Research
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Contributors ix
  • Foreword xix
  • Preface xxi
  • Part One - Methodological Issues 1
  • 1 - The History of Reading Research 3
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 2 - Current Traditions of Reading Research 39
  • References *
  • 3 - Design and Analysis of Experiments 63
  • References *
  • 4 - Ethnographic Approaches to Reading Research 91
  • References *
  • 5 - Examples from Word Recognition 111
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 6 - Assessment in Reading 147
  • References *
  • Part Two - Basic Processes: the State of the Art 183
  • 7 - Models of the Reading Process 185
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 8 - Word Recognition 225
  • References *
  • 9 - A Schema-Theoretic View of Basic Processes in Reading Comprehension 255
  • References *
  • 10 - Listening and Reading 293
  • References *
  • 11 - The Structure of Text 319
  • References *
  • 12 - Metacognitive Skills and Reading 353
  • References *
  • 13 - Directions in the Sociolinguistic Study of Reading 395
  • References *
  • 14 - Social and Motivational Influences on Reading 423
  • Notes 443
  • References *
  • 15 - Understanding Figurative Language 453
  • References *
  • 16 - Individual Differences and Underlying Cognitive Processes in Reading 471
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • Part Three - Instructional Practices: the State of the Art 503
  • 17 - Early Reading from a Developmental Perspective 505
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 18 - From Debate to Reformation 545
  • Notes 575
  • References *
  • 19 - Word Identification 583
  • References *
  • 20 - Research on Teaching Reading Comprehension 609
  • References *
  • 21 - Studying 657
  • References *
  • 22 - Readability 681
  • References *
  • 23 - Classroom Instruction in Reading 745
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 24 - Managing Instruction 799
  • References *
  • 25 - Oral Reading 829
  • References *
  • Author Index 865
  • Subject Index 891
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