In one of the biggest success stories of the time period, research showed repeatedly that comprehension can in fact be taught.
After extensive observations in intermediate-grade classrooms, Durkin (1978–1979) concluded that teachers were spending very little time on actual comprehension instruction.
Although they gave many workbook assignments and asked many questions about text content, Durkin judged that these exercises mostly tested students' understanding instead of teaching them how to comprehend. “Growth in Reading and How Children Spend Their Time Outside of School.” Reading Research Quarterly 23: 285–303.
One of the most surprising findings of classroom research of the 1970s and '80s was the small amount of time that children spent actually reading texts.
Estimates ranged from 7 to 15 minutes per day from the primary to the intermediate grades (Anderson et al. Children typically spent more time working on reading skills via workbook-type assignments than putting these skills to work in reading connected texts.
It depends heavily on knowledge—both about the world at large and the worlds of language and print.
Comprehension inherently involves inferential and evaluative thinking, not just literal reproduction of the author's words. Two years ago we reviewed the most recent research about comprehension instruction (Pearson and Fielding 1991). To meet this criterion of authentic use, instruction should focus on the flexible application of the strategy rather than a rigid sequence of steps. Instead of just talking about a strategy, teachers need to illustrate the processes they use by thinking aloud, or modeling mental processes, while they read. A phase in which teachers and students practice the strategy together is critical to strategy learning, especially for less-successful comprehenders. It should also externalize the thinking processes of skilled readers—not create artificial processes that apply only to contrived instructional or assessment situations. Teachers should also demonstrate how to apply each strategy successfully—what it is, how it is carried out, and when and why it should be used (Duffy et al. During this time teachers can give feedback about students' attempts and gradually give students more and more responsibility for performing the strategy and evaluating their own performance (Pearson and Dole 1987). “Interestingness of Children's Reading Material.” In Aptitude, Learning, and Instruction. 3: Conative and Affective Process Analyses, edited by R. Teachers can increase the likelihood that more time for contextual reading will translate into improved comprehension skills in the following ways. Research from the 1980s indicated that in traditional reading classrooms, time for comprehension instruction was as rare as time for actual text reading. The first part of this reciprocal relationship was the focus of much research of the last 15 years—developing methods for activating and adding to readers' knowledge base before reading to increase text understanding (Beck et al. More recently, researchers have emphasized the second part of the relationship: the role that actual text reading plays in building knowledge. For example, increases in vocabulary and concept knowledge from reading silently (Nagy et al. At present research offers no answers, but we recommend that, of the time set aside for reading instruction, students should have more time to read than the combined total allocated for learning about reading and talking or writing about what has been read. “Does Text Structure/Summarization Instruction Facilitate Learning From Expository Text? The equivocal results of sustained silent reading programs throughout the years (Manning and Manning 1984) suggest, though, that simply allocating time is not enough. The specific characteristics of various MRC corpus are listed and compared.The main ideas of some typical MRC techniques are also described.