Reading and Comprehension

By Jamie Lee Buyak

Constructing Meaning!

Comprehension is more than simply understanding. The goal of comprehension is for students to:

  • Monitor understanding
  • Enhance understanding
  • Acquire and actively use knowledge
  • Develop insight

"Comprehension means that readers think not only about what they are reading but about what they are learning. When readers construct meaning, they are building their store of knowledge. But along with knowledge must come understanding." (P15)

Tips for Efficient Reading

  1. Make connections between what you already know from previous experiences, known as your schema and the new information in the text. Schema is the sum total of our background knowledge and experience. Connecting the old and the new leads to stronger comprehension and understanding.
  2. Question everything- asking questions broadens understanding and keeps you going.
  3. Read between the lines to get the most out of what you are reading. An author generally won't lay everything out for you, sometimes you need to look for it. As Susan Hall stated, "Inferring allows readers to make their own discoveries without the direct comment of the author" (1990). (P18)
  4. Turn the words into mental pictures. Visualizing helps to mentally store information from the text and leads to a greater understanding.
  5. Determine what is important and what is not. It is not about memorizing every single aspect of the text, it is about picking out the most relevant pieces and committing them to memory.
  6. See the big picture. Summarize information- sift through all of the ideas and keep the essentials. Synthesize information- merge new information with our schema.

STRATEGIC READING: thinking about reading in ways that enhance learning and understanding.

Metacognitive Knowledge

Metacognitive knowledge means an awareness and understanding of how one thinks and uses strategies during reading.

Perkins and Swartz (Perkins 1992) define four aspects of metacognitive knowledge that help us understand learners and their strategies.

  • Tacit learners/readers- lack awareness of how they think when they read
  • Aware learners/readers- realize when they are confused or lose the meaning, but may not know how to fix the problem
  • Strategic learners/readers- use thinking and comprehension strategies listed above to enhance understanding. They are able to recover meaning when they feel as though they have lost it.
  • Reflective learners/readers- apply strategies based on their goals for reading. Monitor thinking and understanding. Perkins and Swartz believe that they "reflect on their thinking and ponder and revise their use of strategies."