Reading for understanding : an empirical contribution to the metacognition of reading comprehension

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköpings universitet

Abstract: Fifty-three Swedish students in grade 5 and 8 were the subjects of this study. They were either good or poor comprehenders, as defined by a combination of a reading test and teacher ratings. Data collection was made primarily by means of a semi-structured interview; students were also asked to read and recall three texts with different structures. Questions covered text comprehension, reading and general learning strategies, self-concept, awareness of text and cognitive functions, conceptions of learning and reading. Poor and good readers seem to differ in the way they process text information and monitor their cognitive functions. What characterises good readers is their ability to organise their knowledge and use it appropriately. Their cognitive and metacognitive abilities are well integrated, whereas the pattern of functions in poor readers seems distorted - a good cognitive ability is not backed up by an equally good metacognitive or monitoring ability, and vice versa. Poor readers are less confident than good readers; they regard themselves as poor learners and their verbal responses are less elaborate. Often their decoding is not automatic, leaving less capacity for comprehension. The gap between good and poor readers widens from grade 5 to grade 8, as more independent reading is expected. The younger students believe they will improve, the older students have lost interest in studies. Instead they have learned to keep their two lives separate: one in school, one outside.  

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