Term Paper: Reading Theories to Adults, Who Already

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Reading Theories

To adults, who already have gone through the struggle of reading when they were young, the efforts of other children to do the same does not appear that difficult. Yet, when one actually considers all that is being accomplished with the "reading" of the written words, it is amazing indeed! Reading is a multifaceted and active process of many different steps that lead to a satisfactory conclusion.

As with any other human behavior, there a several different theories concerning the strategies that are used in this reading process. One theory is known as a cueing system, where "reading" is more than just saying the words aloud. Rather, the "reader" must properly combine four different cues or clues to decode words in a running text. The first is the spelling pattern or letter-sound information (graphonicic); the second is how the words are arranged (syntactic); the third is what words make sense (semantic); and the fourth is experiential (background). This model is supported by those who rely on evidence from the types of mistakes people make while read or "miscue analysis." This approach suggests that when children see a difficult-to-read word, they should make an educated guess by trying these different cues. The child would be asked to cover up different clues for practicing the other ones. However, reading is much more than a guessing game. As Adams (1998) states: "If the original premise of the three-cueing system was that the reason for reading the words is to understand the text, it has since been oddly converted such that, in effect, the reason for understanding the text is in order to figure out the words. How did this happen?" It is not so much that the cueing system was wrong as first devised, but rather its meaning since it has become distorted over time.

Another theory looks at the interrelationship between automaticity and fluency. The former is fast, accurate and effortless word identification at the single-word level, where speed and accuracy of single word identification best predicts comprehension. The latter consists of automatic word identification and application of correct prosodic features as rhythm at the phrase, sentence, and text levels. Wood, Flowers, and Grigorenko (2001) also stress that fluency involves anticipation of what is to come in the text and only speeded practice is not enough. Anticipation is especially critical for comprehension. When a process becomes so expert through practice, it becomes automatic and does not need conscious attention, freeing selective attention for other processes. Although reading speed seems to be a good measure of the decoding automaticity component of reading fluency and achievement, it does not mean that students should receive intensive instruction and practice in becoming fast readers. When teachers offer effective instruction in fluency, then fluency, comprehension, and rate will improve. If teachers focus most on developing reading rate at the expense of reading with expression, meaning, and comprehension, students may read fast but without sufficient comprehension. Fluency is more than reading fast: it is reading at a relatively fast rate with good expression and phrasing and understanding.

The educational psychologist R.C. Anderson developed the schema theory based on Piaget's concept of schema, or viewing organized knowledge as an elaborate network of abstract mental structures that represent a person's overall world understanding. This is helpful in the sense that learning is founded on integrating different ideas and concepts. "One of the major problems involved in comprehension is that all people hardly ever share the same schemata; one of the problems in reading comprehension is that readers do not always old the same schemata as do the writers" (Porter). Readers fail to comprehend when they do not have schema; teachers must help students build the prerequisite knowledge or review what they already know before introducing new material. Brewer (2000) states there is an ambiguity between a narrow and broad use of the term schemata. Problems exist when using the term to refer to all forms of complex knowledge. Thus, it seems better to use the narrower usage, as in mental representation for generic knowledge. However, with the narrower usage, one must accept that schemata are only the appropriate representations for a subset of knowledge and that other forms of mental representation are needed for other forms of knowledge. Despite this, schema theory provides education with a way to think about the representation of some forms of complex knowledge, focuses attention on how old knowledge helps acquire new knowledge, and emphasizes top-down, reader-based influences in reading.

Transactional theory in teaching suggests a "reciprocal, mutually defining relationship" (Rosenblatt, 1986) between the reader and literary text, similar to a river and its banks working on each other and contributing. It greatly places the responsibility on the reader and demands consideration of the mind of the reader(s). Similar to schemata, each reader brings something different to the text, and the teacher invites personal responses and input. In opposed to the cueing theory, for example, these theorists turn around the process. Readers bring their experiences and knowledge to the reading task, expecting meaning from print and coordinating cues to reach that meaning.

This theory, most of all, makes comprehension the center of the process: Meaning is the combination of what the reader and writer together bring. However, it is important for teachers to consider all these theories in reading.. As with the acquisition of langauge, it is a very complex process that integrates a variety of ways to acquire ability and knowledge.

The process of literacy starts far before children attend kindergarten, and even pre-school, and continues through adulthood. Literacy is considered more than just a cognitive skill; it is now recognized as a complex and active process that includes the cognitive, social, linguistic and psychological aspects of learning (Teale & Sulzby, 1996). Literacy is seen as an individual's ability to effectively communicate in real-life applications and consists of reading, writing, speaking, listening, observing and thinking (Cooper, 1997). It includes all aspects of communicating in a wide variety of situations. Abilities are learned by children with actual situations and experience and support from the expertise of knowledgeable individuals, such as caregivers and teachers. Reading is an integral part of the overarching concept of literacy.

Lifelong learning is based on a strong foundation of reading ability and comprehension. Learning to read in the beginning school years is critical to future success in school, work and life in general (Burns, Roe, & Ross, 1999). It is clearly recognized that in order for children to become competent readers, caregivers must read to them from infancy. It is important for parents encourage learning and interactions in the home that provide for maximum literacy development. Also, teachers need to use a number of different approaches to help children of varying abilities enhance their reading efficiency.

Studies regularly demonstrate that children begin their reading and writing capabilities very early in their lifetime. From birth through the first years of elementary school, younger children start gaining their basic understanding about the function of reading and writing. Reading competency does not come automatically; the ability has to be acquired through interest, instruction and monitoring by parents and teachers (Hiebert, et. al 1998). Other key abilities include oral language skills; appreciation for learning; print and letter understanding must be gained through integrated activities that consist of; cognitive, social, motor, emotional, and language development that involve early experiences with language and literacy, sharing books, and listening to books being read.

There are no firm rules that need to be followed by parents and teachers in how to teach children literacy. As noted above, there are a number of different theories that have been suggested on how children acquire the ability to read, just as there are on how children learn to speak or cognitively develop.

However, there is one important aspect that needs… [END OF PREVIEW]

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