Decoding and Comprehension

Downloads and links to relevant research and articles, along with book recommendations.
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Susan Godsland
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Decoding and Comprehension

Postby Susan Godsland » Thu Jan 07, 2016 4:15 pm

Reading ability is based on two major, essential, interacting but different components: phonics decoding ability x language comprehension (vocabulary and background knowledge).
Prof. Pamela Snow: ''So, learning how to read comprises two important component skills...''

The Simple View of Reading. ... eading.pdf ... eNumber=57
Phonics: The Holy Grail of Reading? Jenny Chew explains the relationship between Decoding and Comprehension. ... ng-Key.pdf
This flowchart is based on The Simple View of Reading. It will help you identify whether a child is struggling with decoding, comprehension- or with both. ... ddled.html
Decoding, comprehension and muddled thinking.

There is a widely circulated myth that too much emphasis on decoding through phonics causes children to 'bark at print / word-call', the belief being that, ''As long as a child is decoding text, the brain is preoccupied and cannot assimilate the intellectual content of text'' (E.Carron. TES), but, as Prof. Stanovich points out, ''There is no research evidence indicating that decoding a known word into a phonological form often takes place without meaning extraction. To the contrary, a substantial body of evidence indicates that even for young children, word recognition automatically leads to meaning activation..when the meaning of the word is adequately established in memory''(RRF 50 Stanovich p8)

''Experienced practitioners and teachers point out that, in the course of phonics teaching, as children 'start to get the hang of it', they begin to self-teach and 'need to read a lot to consolidate their skills', that is, to develop effortless reading and focus more and more on comprehending the text. At this point, children may appear, some would say, to be 'barking at print' without fully understanding what they are reading. Although this is often levelled as a criticism of phonic work, such behaviour is usually transitional as children hone their phonic skills. Given that even skilled adult readers may find themselves 'barking at print' when they are faced at times with unfamiliar text, it is hardly surprising that children may do so in the early stages of reading'' (Rose Review para 49) Canadian SEN teacher Susan S. notes that, ''You find the phenomenon of children who decode very well but understand almost nothing in only two populations: children with intellectual disabilities and children with very limited English'' (Kitchentablemath blog 30/12/08) ... 12024/full
Specific Reading Comprehension Disability: Major Problem, Myth, or Misnomer?
''Although poor reading comprehension certainly qualifies as a major problem rather than a myth, the term specific reading comprehension disability is a misnomer: Individuals with problems in reading comprehension that are not attributable to poor word recognition have comprehension problems that are general to language comprehension rather than specific to reading''

When students struggle with word decoding, their comprehension also suffers. As Professor Keith Stanovich pointed out in his book chapter on the Matthew Effects, Romance and Reality; ''Reading for meaning is greatly hindered when children are having too much trouble with word recognition. When word recognition processes [i.e. decoding] demand too much cognitive capacity, fewer cognitive resources are left to allocate to higher-level processes of integration and comprehension'' (Stanovich. Progress in Understanding Reading.p393)

“Phonological decoding made a significant unique contribution to reading comprehension for the eighth/ninth-grade group, to spelling for the fourth/fifth- and eighth/ninth-grade groups, and to the decoding rate and accuracy measures for all three groups, with only three exceptions” (quoted in ... h-findings)

The goal of synthetic phonics instruction: overt, conscious phonics decoding -> fluent, subconscious phonics decoding = mental energy freed for comprehension. ... CogSci.pdf
Prof. Daniel Willingham ''Students must be able to decode fluently before [comprehension] strategies can be effective''.
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Susan Godsland
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Joined: Sun May 24, 2015 1:32 pm

Re: Decoding and Comprehension

Postby Susan Godsland » Fri Jan 08, 2016 2:40 pm

Balkanism – decoding separate from reading comprehension? ... rehension/

Also- see 'shinpad's' comment:
The simplification of the phonics approach (by government, by reporters, by some publishers) left schools thinking a) if we teach discrete phonics, all our children will learn to read and/or b) phonics is separate from our normal teaching of reading which can continue unaltered. Yes, teaching phonics discretely is important. But you may as well not bother if you don’t make it explicit to the child that they need to apply these skills in their ‘other’ reading and writing.

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