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IES Research Conference 2009 Reducing the Complexities of Reading Comprehension: A Simplifying Framework Charles Perfetti.

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Presentation on theme: "IES Research Conference 2009 Reducing the Complexities of Reading Comprehension: A Simplifying Framework Charles Perfetti."— Presentation transcript:

1 IES Research Conference 2009 Reducing the Complexities of Reading Comprehension: A Simplifying Framework Charles Perfetti

2 IES Research Conference 2009 Overview Critical Preliminaries The comprehension problem What is comprehension? Building mental models word by word Comprehensive Comprehension Processes, knowledge, and strategies A medium-grain cognitive framework Simplifying Frameworks Pressure points A simplified framework Implications

3 IES Research Conference 2009 The comprehension problem National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP): 1 of 3 fourth-graders and 1 of 4 eighth- graders cannot read at the basic level. That is, when reading grade appropriate material, these students do not understand what they read ---IES Reading for Understanding

4 IES Research Conference 2009 Even adults can have trouble understanding written texts "By God, for a minute there it suddenly all made sense."

5 IES Research Conference 2009 What do we mean by “comprehension”? Comprehension is defined as “intentional thinking during which meaning is constructed through interactions between text and reader” (Harris &Hodges, 1995). Thus, readers derive meaning from text when they engage in intentional, problem solving thinking processes. ---National Reading Panel 2000

6 IES Research Conference 2009 A simpler idea: learning to read with comprehension is learning to understand writing as well as one understands spoken language “We can expect the comprehension of written language to approximate the comprehension of spoken language. When that happens, then reading comprehension has developed, for practical purposes, to its limiting or asymptotic level. …All other limitations are imposed by linguistic abilities, relevant knowledge, and general intelligence. If we make things more complex than this, we push onto the concept of reading comprehension all these other important aspects of cognition, with the muddle that results from conceptual conflation.” ----Perfetti, C. A., Landi, N., & Oakhill, J. (2005). The acquisition of reading comprehension skill. In M. J. Snowling & C. Hulme (Eds.), The science of reading: A handbook (pp ). Oxford: Blackwell.

7 IES Research Conference 2009 Too simple? We accept, approximately and in an idealized form, the assumption that reading comprehension is the joint product of printed word identification and listening comprehension, an idea famously asserted by Gough and Tunmer (1986) as a simple view of reading. However, we also must assume that learning to read with comprehension brings … additional complexities… ----Perfetti, C. A., Landi, N., & Oakhill, J. (2005). The acquisition of reading comprehension skill. In M. J. Snowling & C. Hulme (Eds.), The science of reading: A handbook (pp ). Oxford: Blackwell.

8 IES Research Conference 2009 The text and the mind “…researchers working in the area of reading comprehension have shown repeatedly that meaning does not exist in text.” --Alvermann & Eakle, p. 14 (in Sweet & Snow, Rethinking reading comprehension 2003)

9 IES Research Conference 2009 Well, yes but The application of the symbolic principle (a language form is a symbol for meaning) is constrained by the language that implements it. 1. The dog bit the man 2. The man bit the dog 3. Likud members will not react favorably to the President’s speech. 4. Likud members will react favorably to the President’s speech

10 IES Research Conference 2009 A definition that includes the text Reading comprehension “the process of simultaneously extracting and constructing meaning through inter- action and involvement with written language. It consists of three elements: the reader, the text, and the activity or purpose for reading.” ---p.viii, Report of Rand Reading Study Group, 2002.

11 IES Research Conference 2009 Building a mental model from a text “Comprehension occurs as the reader builds a mental representation of a text message.” ----Perfetti, C. A., Landi, N., & Oakhill, J. (2005).

12 Mental model Word 1 Each word is fit into mental models (multiple structures) to the extent possible Text messages are understood (and mental models are built) word by word

13 Mental model Word 2 Each word is fit into mental models (multiple structures) to the extent possible Text messages are understood (and mental models are built) word by word

14 Mental model Word 3 Each word is fit into mental models (multiple structures) to the extent possible Text messages are understood (and mental models are built) word by word

15 Mental model Word 4 Each word is fit into mental models (multiple structures) to the extent possible Text messages are understood (and mental models are built) word by word

16 IES Research Conference Comprehensive Comprehension: More than we need for some purposes? The complex processes of comprehension: Three non-independent aspects Processes Knowledge Strategies

17 IES Research Conference 2009 What are reading comprehension strategies? Reading Comprehension Strategies: Theories, Interventions, and technologies (Danielle McNamara, Ed.) Erlbaum/ Taylor & Francis, 2007) Many interesting chapters on comprehension strategies Definition of reading comprehension strategy: A cognitive or behavioral action that is enacted under particular contextual conditions with the goal of improving some aspect of comprehension. Art Graesser, page 6.

18 IES Research Conference 2009 Comprehension Processes: Strategies 1. Making connections 2. Questioning 3. Visualizing 4. Inferring 5. Determining importance 6. Synthesizing 7. Monitoring 8. Metacognition 9. Answering questions 10. Recognizing story structure 11. Summarizing

19 IES Research Conference 2009 Strategies that can be taught effectively (according the NRP) NRP report (2000) identified 16 categories of text comprehension instruction; 7 concluded to have a solid scientific basis 1. Comprehension monitoring 2. Cooperative learning (where children learn reading strategies together) 3. Graphic and semantic organizers 4. Question answering 5. Question generation 6. Story structure 7. Summarization

20 IES Research Conference 2009 A possible advantage of strategies that focus attention on what the text says? McKeown & Beck IES study (J Ed Psych, in press) Strategies: Predicting Summarizing Making inferences Generating questions Comprehension monitoring Content focus: Questioning the Author Content focus produced better comprehension

21 IES Research Conference 2009 Frameworks for reading comprehension Caveat: frameworks vs models Grain size issues Useful frameworks range between 3 and 20 components Trade-offs of completeness with simplicity

22 IES Research Conference 2009 One with 4 Components: Rand Ready Study Group Report (2002): A heuristic for thinking about reading comprehension

23 IES Research Conference 2009 A cognitive framework An (almost) consensual framework of medium grain size Perfetti, C. A. (1999). Comprehending written language: A blueprint of the reader. In C. Brown & P. Hagoort (Eds.), The neurocognition of language (pp ). Oxford University Press. Perfetti, C. A., Landi, N., & Oakhill, J. (2005). The acquisition of reading comprehension skill. In M. J. Snowling & C. Hulme (Eds.), The science of reading: A handbook (pp ). Oxford: Blackwell.

24 Visual Input Linguistic and Writing System Knowledge Linguistic System Phonology, Syntax, Morphology Orthographic System Mapping to phonology Orthographic Units Phonological Units Word Identification Lexicon Meaning Morphology Syntax - argument structure - thematic roles Meaning and Form Selection Parser Comprehension Processes Situation model Text Representation Inferences NonLinguistic (conceptual) knowledge Perfetti (1999); Perfetti, Landi & Oakhill, 2005

25 Visual Input Linguistic and Writing System Knowledge Linguistic System Phonology, Syntax, Morphology Orthographic System Mapping to phonology Orthographic Units Phonological Units Word Identification Lexicon Meaning Morphology Syntax - argument structure - thematic roles Meaning and Form Selection Parser Comprehension Processes Situation model Text Representation Inferences NonLinguistic (conceptual) knowledge Perfetti (1999); Perfetti, Landi & Oakhill, 2005

26 Visual Input Linguistic and Writing System Knowledge Linguistic System Phonology, Syntax, Morphology Orthographic System Mapping to phonology Orthographic Units Phonological Units Word Identification Lexicon Meaning Morphology Syntax - argument structure - thematic roles Meaning and Form Selection Parser Comprehension Processes Situation model Text Representation Inferences NonLinguistic (conceptual) knowledge Control Processes Attention Strategies Monitoring Perfetti (1999); Perfetti, Landi & Oakhill, 2005

27 IES Research Conference Simplifying frameworks To highlight broad components that are pressure points for comprehension problems

28 IES Research Conference 2009 Pressure Points Processes Word Identification Word Meaning Selection Sentence meaning Text integration Successive sentences Global Text Meaning Gist; (summaries) Knowledge sources Word form Word meaning + local text meaning Word meaning + syntax Sentence meaning + referential word meaning All relevant knowledge from text

29 IES Research Conference 2009 A focus on word meanings Lexicon Meaning Morphology Syntax - argument structure - thematic roles Meaning and Form Selection Parser Comprehension Processes Situation model Text Representation Inferences

30 23% below median on comprehension component but above median on lexical component 9% had the reverse pattern: Above median on Comp, below on Lexical Lexical Component N= 799 Scatter Plot of subjects’ normalized component scores following factor analysis and rotation Comprehension Component N. Landi dissertation (University. of Pittsburgh adult sample) Word knowledge and Comprehension

31 Word knowledge Lexical Quality and Comprehension (Perfetti & Hart, 2001; 2002; Perfetti 2007) General relationships between comprehension and knowledge of both Word meaning Word form Meaning: Word learning Skilled comprehenders (ERPs) show stronger recognition of a word learning episode (Perfetti, Wlotko, & hart, 2005) Meaning: Word to text integration Skilled comprehenders (ERPs) show stronger integration of word meanings across sentences in text (Perfetti, Yang, Schmalhofer (2008) Form: Stability of orthographic word representations

32 IES Research Conference 2009 Spelling instability in adult readers Is this a correct spelling, yes or no?

33 IES Research Conference 2009 Simplification Options Processes or Knowledge Process 1. Decoding 2. Meaning selection 3. Proposition extraction 4. Mental model building Knowledge 1. Orthography 2. Linguistic Knowledge 3. Word knowledge 4. Nonlinguistic (Conceptual) knowledge

34 Visual Input Linguistic and Writing System Knowledge Linguistic System Phonology, Syntax, Morphology Orthographic System Mapping to phonology Orthographic Units Phonological Units Word Identification Lexicon Meaning Morphology Syntax - argument structure - thematic roles Meaning and Form Selection Parser Comprehension Processes Situation model Text Representation Inferences NonLinguistic (conceptual) knowledge

35 Visual Input Linguistic and Writing System Knowledge Linguistic System Phonology, Syntax, Morphology Orthographic System Mapping to phonology Orthographic Units Phonological Units Word Identification Lexicon Meaning Morphology Syntax - argument structure - thematic roles Meaning and Form Selection Parser Comprehension Processes Situation model Text Representation Inferences NonLinguistic (conceptual) knowledge

36 IES Research Conference 2009 Word Identification Meaning Selection Situation Model Building Proposition Extraction A simplified process framework of reading comprehension

37 Word knowledge Conceptual knowledge Linguistic Knowledge A Simplified Knowledge Framework of Reading Comprehension

38 Word knowledge Conceptual knowledge Linguistic Knowledge Attention The Simplified Knowledge Framework of Reading Comprehension

39 Word knowledge Conceptual knowledge Linguistic Knowledge Attention The Simplified Knowledge Framework of Reading Comprehension text

40 Word knowledge Conceptual knowledge Linguistic Knowledge Text knowledge Attention The Simplified Knowledge Framework of Reading Comprehension text

41 IES Research Conference 2009 What about spoken language? 1. Correlations of spoken and written language increase with educational levels approaching.9 in adult sample 2. Spoken language is the source of much of the relevant knowledge

42 IES Research Conference 2009 What about Comprehension Strategies? They are implicit in the framework: Attention and control processes are about strategies. The central strategy is active engagement with a text with the intention of understanding. 1. This can include comprehension monitoring, question asking, question answering, summarization, and others

43 IES Research Conference 2009 Engagement vs Mindless reading Engagement: The reader is motivated to understand the text and seeks to do so. High Standard for Coherence (van den Broek et al, 1995)

44 IES Research Conference 2009 Mindless reading: evidence that cognition is altered Cognitive processes partially control eye- movements Reichle & Schooler research Adult readers; Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. 50 chapters, pages per chapter up to 25 lines per page. Self Paced reading. Trained to hit the Z key when they caught themselves thinking about something else In hours of reading, readers caught zone outs 8-36 times (ave 23) Highly accurate in self-catching: Experimenter controlled Probes produced average of 9% additional zone out reports

45 IES Research Conference 2009 Mindless reading results NormalSelf-caught ZO No. of fixations Off text fixations Length effect+0 Frequency effect +0

46 IES Research Conference 2009 Attention So the framework needs attention and control; otherwise the cognitive part doesn’t work Comprehension monitoring is the central strategy for controlling attention

47 IES Research Conference 2009 Limitations: What complexities are needed? Knowledge must not be inert. Support for using knowledge Complex text environments Multiple texts Using texts for arguments and problem solving

48 IES Research Conference Implications of Simplification: 1. The basics of comprehension 1. Word knowledge Form and meaning 2. Language knowledge 3. Conceptual knowledge 4. Text knowledge 5. A “habits of mind” High standards for coherence and engagement

49 IES Research Conference 2009 Implications of Simplification Focus on fewer problems But must understand the underlying complexities Hypothesize privileged pressure points Word meaning and conceptual knowledge Engagement Others May encourage research that leads to educational improvement

50 IES Research Conference 2009 Variability in word episodes: Evidence for a pressure point Hart, B., & Risley, R. T. (1995). Meaningful differences in the everyday experience of young American children. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes. Words heard per hour Words heard per week Words heard per year 4 years Welfare61662,0003 million13 million Working Class 1,251125,0006 million26 million Professional2,153215,00011 million45 million

51 IES Research Conference 2009 IES Reading Initiative The Reading for Understanding Research Initiative (Reading Initiative) is intended to support applied basic research to (a) identify underlying processes that are malleable and potential targets for intervention, (b) develop and evaluate interventions (e.g., instructional approaches, curricula, technology, teacher professional development programs) to improve reading comprehension for students in prekindergarten through Grade 12, and (c) develop and validate assessments of reading comprehension.

52 IES Research Conference 2009 Simplicity is a mixed virtue “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” --H.L.Mencken

53 IES Research Conference 2009 An engaged reader


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