The development of decoding and comprehension: A comparison of the benefits of three types of reading practice
Rynearson, Kimberly Ann Prater
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Top-down models, bottom-up models, and the interactivecompensatory model of reading acquisition make different assumptions regarding less skilled readers' use of graphic cues and contextual information when identifying words in text (Goodman, 1965, 1967; Gough & Hillinger, 1980; Gough & Tunmer, 1985; Smith, 1971; Stanovich, 1980). This study examined the benefits of three types of extended practice for a sample of first-, second-, and third-grade students in terms of improvement in word recognition accuracy and reading comprehension ability. Specifically, this study examined whether extended practice reading words out of context (e.g., in isolation), practice reading words in the context of a passage, or practice reading words in a passage combined with practice using comprehension strategies (e.g., pre-reading comprehension questions, text lookbacks) will result in greater gains in word recognition accuracy and the ability to correctly answer typical comprehension questions. Additionally, this study investigated whether different types of practice are more or less beneficial for readers at two levels of reading skill, roughly reading grade levels 1-3 and 4-5. The results of this study showed that beginning readers rely on their decoding knowledge to name words. These readers require practice decoding words in order to build reading skill. Additionally, the results of this study indicated that explicit instruction in the use of comprehension strategies and modeling of the effective application of these strategies may improve beginning readers' ability to comprehend text. These findings favor balanced reading instruction that incorporates explicit instruction in word knowledge and the literature-rich activities of the whole-language classroom.