On reading, Part 4: research on the comprehension strategies – a closer look

I am reblogging this series by Grant Wiggins on the research around comprehension reading strategies because it is an important resource for literacy teachers, which nearly all of us are in this day and age of CCSS.

Here are my key takeaways from Part 4:
1. “It is difficult for many teachers to understand the necessity of keeping the content of the text at the forefront while teaching strategies… This [lack of improved comprehension of the content] occurs, for example, when teachers only ask students questions about which strategies they used and why, instead of asking questions about the content of the selection.”

2. “Many students think comprehension is “knowing what the words mean” and “what the author said”. Thus, many students do not understand the goal or nature of reading for meaning. As a result, the strategies will naturally seem pointless and/or not stick or transfer.”

3. “Far greater attention has to be placed on getting readers to feel the lack of understanding/slow down in the face of the realization that they do not get it.”

4. “The strategies can only transfer i.e. be seen as useful forms of self-regulation by the learner if their use enhances understanding of challenging text; and if the teacher makes clear (through modeling and gradual release) that the strategies reflect a repertoire to be wisely selected from and used flexibly when understanding breaks down.”

Granted, and...

In the three previous posts on reading for understanding (here, here, and here) I looked at the general question: What can we say for sure (or not) in research on comprehension in reading? Here, I take a closer look at comprehension strategies and what the research does and doesn’t say. In general, it supports many of the blunt comments I made here and here  a few years ago: there is still a lack of clarity about what the right strategies are, how to teach them, and which ones work for older students (my focus in these current posts).

Most importantly, the research reveals a very spotty record in terms of transfer of the strategies from individual lessons to a self-regulated repertoire used effectively and autonomously by the reader – the very point of my earlier post for which some took me to task (& some in nasty

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