What are some reasons to teach reading comprehension strategies in content-area classes?
Page 1: The Significance of Reading Comprehension
Despite the fact that some middle and high school students have not mastered it, reading comprehension (the ability to understand written text) is seldom taught in the upper grades. Mr. Dupree, however, is convinced that it is important for him to teach reading comprehension strategies to students who have not yet acquired these skills. During the course of his research, he learns that when students comprehend or understand written text, and combine their understanding with prior knowledge, they are able to perform the reading-comprehension skills listed in the table below:
|Reading Comprehension Skills|
|Identify simple facts presented in written text (literal comprehension)|
|Make judgments about the written text’s content (evaluative comprehension)|
|Connect the text to other written passages and situations (inferential comprehension)|
Mr. Dupree recognizes that these three reading-comprehension skills are necessary if students are to benefit from the science textbook and, ultimately, to succeed in his class.
Why Teach It?
Mr. Dupree further learns that reading comprehension is critical to the development of all students’ reading skills. This is particularly true in the upper grades, where the curriculum requires that students comprehend increasingly complex expository text. Consequently, teachers expect that, once students complete the third grade, they will be able to read and understand textbooks in all subjects, including science.
Expository text is that which is informational, descriptive, persuasive, or explanatory in nature.
Keep in Mind
Although it’s important to ask students questions about what they read, doing so is not the same as teaching them how to comprehend what they have read.
Unfortunately, many middle and high school students haven’t learned effective strategies for comprehending expository text and for navigating this type of information. In addition, a lack of sufficient background knowledge and content-specific vocabulary also impede students’ ability to comprehend the subject matter.
For Your Information
Although reading comprehension is complex, students’ comprehension of texts may be influenced by several major factors:
The reader — This includes the reader’s cognitive capabilities, motivation, knowledge, and experiences.
The text — This includes the wording of the text and the way that the information is selected, described, or presented.
The instructional activity — This includes the purpose of the activity, the nature of the activity itself, the operations performed to process the text, and the outcomes of the activity.
The environment or context — This includes the classroom environment, especially the native language, culture, and ethnicity of the reader, the teacher, and the other students.