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Answering the call for a comprehensive textbook on what reading teachers really need to know, this is the book that arms educators with not just the what and the how, but also the why that other texts don't cover. Two prominent literacy experts team with an elementary school specialist to give preservice teachers an easy-to-understand textbook that demystifies the research and incorporates everyday classroom experience. With its meticulous coverage of every aspect of effective reading instruction, this book ensures that general educators across grade levels
With its practical, research-based answers to the three most important questions literacy educators face—what to teach, how to teach, and why to teach the recommended way—this textbook will prepare future teachers to enter the classroom ready and motivated to implement best practices.
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P.G. Aaron is Professor, Departments of Education and School Psychology, Indiana State University. R. Malatesha Joshi is Professor, College of Education, Texas A&M University. Diana Quatroche is Professor and Acting Chair of Elementary Education, Indiana State University.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Excerpted from Chapter 1 of Becoming a Professional Reading Teacher, by P.G. Aaron, Ph.D., R. Malatesha Joshi, Ph.D., & Diana Quatroche, Ph.D.
Copyright © 2008 by Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisherWhat Factors Influence the Acquisition of Literacy Skills?
A knowledge of the factors that promote and impede literacy acquisition is essential for teachers who wish to accelerate students' acquisition of literacy skills and to help those who are lagging behind to move forward. No single factor is responsible for children's acquisition of literacy skills or for their failure; rather, a variety of factors contributes to children's literacy development. The following section presents the most salient of these factors. The model of reading set forth in this text, known as the Component Model of Reading, is useful for organizing the factors that influence the acquisition of literacy skills into a coherent format. The theoretical framework on which this reading model is based is derived from the following works: Aaron, 1995; Aaron, 1997; Aaron and Kotva, 1999; Gough and Tunmer, 1986; and Joshi and Aaron, 2000.The Component Model of Reading
In the context of this reading model, a component is defined as an elementary and independent process that operates on other internal cognitive processes (Sternberg, 1985). What qualifies a cognitive process as a component is its elemental nature and its independence from other mental processes. An example of an elementary operation of the reading process is decoding written words. The independent status of a process can be evaluated by subjecting it to the criterion of double dissociation. One analogy that can be used to explain the dissociation concept is the functioning of the automobile, which has several components: the fuel system, the electrical system, the transmission system, and so on. Each of these components is independent from the other components because one of these components can break down, leaving the others intact. When a component, regardless of what it is, fails to function normally, the automobile is disabled. Likewise, a child will read poorly if any of the components of reading, such as decoding or comprehension, fails to develop typically.
There is overall agreement that at the cognitive level, reading is made up of at least two components: decoding and linguistic comprehension. Fluency, or speed of reading, is claimed by some researchers to be yet another component, but its independent status is not clearly established. The implications of the componential nature of reading is that one component can develop at a typical rate while the other component, independent of the first, lags behind. For example, a child might fail to develop optimal decoding skills yet show typical listening comprehension skill; another child's decoding skills might develop typically but listening comprehension may lag. As a result, there are four different kinds of readers: those who have impaired decoding skills but typical linguistic comprehension; those who have typical decoding skills but poor linguistic comprehension; those who have impairments in both decoding and comprehension skills; and those who have satisfactory decoding and comprehension skills. Apart from these cognitive factors, there are also extrinsic factors that can hold back the acquisition of literacy skills. Factors influencing the acquisition of literacy skills are organized into three domains within the Component Model. These three domains are
Although the cognitive domain satisfies the two requirements of a component—elemental nature and independence from other cognitive processes—the other two domains do not satisfy these requirements nearly as well. Nevertheless, the Component Model provides a framework for teachers to navigate their course through various assessment decisions and meet the instructional needs of the children in their classroom. The Component Model is used here as a means of coherently organizing the several factors that affect literacy development. The important thing to remember is that students can fail to acquire satisfactory levels of literacy skills because of deficiency in any component in one of these three domains. It follows, then, that in order to enable students to attain satisfactory literacy skills, the deficient area must first be identified and then remedial instruction targeting the deficient area implemented. Astudy by Catts, Hogan, and Fey (2003) demonstrated the success of such an approach. The three domains of the Component Model of Reading and their constituent components are shown in Figure 1.1.The Cognitive Domain
The initial idea of the componential nature of reading comes from a proposal by Gough and Tunmer (1986) in the form of a simple mathematical formula:
RC = D _ LC
RC = reading comprehension, D = decoding of the printed word, and LC = linguistic comprehension (in this case, listening comprehension). This means that decoding and comprehension are two components of the cognitive module of reading. According to Gough and Tunmer, if D = 0, then RC = 0. Likewise, if LC = 0, RC = 0. That is, if a child's decoding skill is zero, his or her reading comprehension is zero; if a child's listening comprehension is zero, his or her reading comprehension is also zero. In other words, a child who cannot decode the printed word cannot read and understand, and a child who cannot listen and understand also cannot read and understand. The model formula as used in this textbook is slightly modified from the one shown above. The modified formula is RC = WR _ LC, where RC = reading comprehension, WR = word recognition, and LC = listening comprehension. The difference between the modified formula and the original one proposed by Gough and Tunmer is that word recognition replaces decoding.
Word recognition (WR) is made up of two subprocesses: decoding and instant word reading (sight word reading). After a child's decoding skills reach a certain level, recognition of familiar words becomes fast and automatic, a skill also referred to as sight word reading. This text uses the term instant word reading instead of sight word reading because the latter term implies that visual processes are mainly responsible for quick recognition of the written word. However, studies show that phonological skills play a major role in decoding, which is a precursor to instant word reading (Ehri, 1998). In other words, whereas a few words can be read by using visual memory, a large sight vocabulary depends on well–developed decoding skills. Visual memory has a limited capacity, perhaps not exceeding a few hundred words, yet a mature reader can recognize more than 80,000 words instantly. Obviously, the instant recognition of this many words cannot be accomplished by visual memory alone.Comprehension
Comprehension is a generic term that includes both listening comprehension and reading comprehension. Studies have shown that these two types of comprehension are highly correlated and that they are mediated by the same cognitive mechanisms (Jahandire, 1999).
The validity of the original simple view of reading was demonstrated by Hoover and Gough (1990) in a study of 254 bilingual (English–Spanish) elementary school children. The investigators found that a substantial proportion of the variance in reading comprehension was accounted for by the product of decoding and listening comprehension (first grade, 71%; second grade, 72%; third grade, 83%; fourth grade, 82%). Subsequent studies by other researchers showed that decoding and listening comprehension do not make an equal contribution to reading comprehension at all grade levels; decoding makes a greater contribution in first and second grades, whereas comprehension makes a greater contribution in the upper grades (Rupley, Willson, & Nichols, 1998).Independence of Word Recognition and Comprehension
The independence of word recognition and comprehension is also supported by studies from neuropsychology (Marshall & Newcombe, 1973) and developmental psychology (Frith & Snowling, 1983). For instance, in Marshall and Newcombe's study, some patients with stroke misread the word father as "dad" and garden as "flower," which indicated that their comprehension was relatively intact but that their decoding skills were impaired. The converse pattern was seen in other patients, who tended to pronounce words mechanically but failed to comprehend their meaning. For example, these patients read the word sale as "Sally" and listen as "Liston." When asked what these words meant, they answered that it was the name of a girl and the name of a boxer, respectively, which indicated that they could pronounce the written words—albeit mechanically—but that their comprehension of these words was impaired.
Likewise, developmental studies have shown that the ability to pronounce written words is independent of the ability to comprehend their meaning. Frith and Snowling (1983), for instance, described two kinds of poor readers: children with average or above average IQ who can understand spoken language quite well but have difficulty with written language (i.e., dyslexia) and some children with autism who are precocious readers and can sound out written words but cannot comprehend well what they have read (i.e., hyperlexia; see Box 1.1). Hyperlexia and dyslexia are often considered to occupy opposite poles of reading difficulty. Thus, these two conditions show that reading difficulties can arise for different reasons.
In addition to this evidence, recently conducted neuroimaging studies show that decoding and comprehension tasks activate different parts of the brain, indicating that there are separate neurological substrates for decoding and comprehension processes (Shaywitz, Mody, & Shaywitz, 2006). What is relevant from an educational perspective is that assessment of the components of cognitive domain and instruction that targeted the weak component produces improvement in children's literacy skills (Aaron, 1995; Aaron, 1997; Aaron, Joshi, Boulware–Gooden, & Bentum, in press; Aaron & Kotva, 1999; Joshi & Aaron, 2000).
Data from genetic studies also add to the evidence that word recognition and comprehension are independent processes. Keenan, Betjemann, Wadsworth, DeFries, and Olson (2006) reported that their genetic study of dyslexia in identical and fraternal twins showed that there is substantial and significant genetic influence on individual differences in both reading and listening comprehension. In this study, word recognition and listening comprehension each accounted for significant, independent genetic influences on reading comprehension. As noted at the beginning of this chapter, reading fluency and vocabulary knowledge are two important correlates of reading skills. Nevertheless, they are not accorded status as components in the Component Model of Reading.Box 1.1. The syndrome of hyperlexia
The syndrome of hyperlexia is a developmental disability in which children show extraordinary word recognition skill in conjunction with very poor comprehension. Hyperlexia is marked by three features: 1) learning to read words at 3 or 4 years of age in the absence of formal instruction, 2) exhibiting compulsive behavior and rituals when reading words, and 3) comprehending both written and spoken language very poorly. Frequently, but not always, this condition is associated with autism.
There are also some precocious children who can decode written material very well and also comprehend it quite well. Teachers should be careful not to mistake these precocious readers as having hyperlexia. Hyperlexia is marked by extreme deficiency in comprehension of both spoken and written language, and for this reason, very young children with good decoding skills should have their comprehension assessed. As with dyslexia, hyperlexia can vary in severity.Fluency
As noted previously, some researchers consider the speed with which written words are named, known as fluency (a correlate of instant word reading), to be a factor independent of decoding skill (e.g., Bowers & Newby–Clark, 2002; Wolf, Goldberg, Cirino, Morris, & Lovett, 2002). Although the importance of speed of processing information is well recognized, its independent nature has not been settled. In a recent study that analyzed data collected from more than a thousand 5– to 10–year–old children, Konold, Juel, McKinnon, and Deffes (2003) reported that processing speed, along with vocabulary knowledge, made independent contributions to reading. However, other studies have indicated that speed of processing contributes only a negligible amount of independent variance to reading comprehension. This likely is so because instant word recognition is closely associated with reading speed, and instant word recognition is accomplished by processing the written word automatically and at a very fast rate (Adlof, Catts, Hogan, & Little, 2005; Cho & McBride–Chang, 2005; Hawelka & Wimmer, 2005). This makes it difficult to separate reading speed from instant word recognition ability and assign speed an independent status. For instance, can a child who is a fluent reader be a poor decoder? Conversely, can a child who is a poor decoder be a fluent reader? Neither possibility is likely. Vukovic and Siegel (2005) investigated the independent nature of fluency and concluded that the existence of poor readers who are deficient in naming speed but not in decoding has not been documented. This means that fluency marks a stage in which the reader has developed from a plodding decoder into a swift instant word recognizer. Instant word recognition and speed of reading, therefore, are not treated as two different components in the Component Model. So, what is the final word on fluency? When children begin to read, they tend to focus on letters and syllables rather than on words in order to decode. By about the third grade, they are able to process bigger chunks of words and identify words instantly and automatically. Once children become instant word readers, they become fluent readers. When they reach this phase, they do not have to invest attention in decoding words but can focus on the meaning of the text. The ability to read words instantly and effortlessly, therefore, is a prerequisite for good reading comprehension. In one study, Vaessen, Gerretsen, and Blomert (2007) studied Dutch children in order to evaluate the "double–deficit hypothesis," which states that poor readers have deficits in two different areas: decoding and naming speed. After testing 162 children with dyslexia, the investigators found that nearly 90% of the slow readers also had decoding difficulties and concluded their results do not support the double–deficit hypothesis.
The results of the previously mentioned studies should not be taken to mean that speed of processing is unimportant. The fact that fluency...
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