To be able to teach reading, it is important to understand what happens when we read.
Reading basically involves transforming a text, which is a graphic representation, into thought, or meaning. It used to be thought that this was simply a matter of combining letters into words, words into sentences and sentences into meanings. However, over the last thirty years, psychologists and linguists, using a variety of experimental techniques, have discovered that things are much more complex. Several models of the reading process have been put forward to account for the experimental findings. A key element in explaining reading is the amount to which what the brain already knows affects perception of what is being read (top-down processing). This idea was initially thought to be in contrast to earlier ideas that reading was a linear progression from page to understanding (bottom-up processing), but newer research seems to indicate that both elements play important parts in reading.
The following sections outline some
very important research and ideas in our understanding of reading:
language movement and disagreements over his conclusions about the
nature of reading fuel the current "reading wars." (Stenhouse Publishers,
Goodman defined reading as: “a receptive psycholinguistic process wherein the actor uses strategies to create meaning from text” (Goodman, 1988). Basically, the study of reading looks at translating a linguistic surface representation (text) into thought. Goodman based much of his theory on analysing miscues (mistakes) in texts being read-aloud. He believed that efficient readers minimize dependence on visual detail, but focused his theories on the interactions of reader and text. Basic physical sensory information (the physiological process) is cycled into deeper levels of cognitive processes.
Cycles– readers move from text to understanding through cycles of deeper processing, moving from optical, to perceptual, to syntactic, to meaning
Cognitive Processes of the brain used in reading are:
This limited view, however, was still an improvement upon Noam Chomsky’s ‘generative grammar’, which lacked explanation of top-down processing. Goodman also promoted the use of ‘natural texts’, believing that language must be studied in context. This follows from his postulated three sources of linguistic information: symbols (characters), language structure (syntax), and semantic (meaning).
helped develop the field of cognitive science in the 1970’s with his work
on long term memory and semantic mapping in the mind. He improved upon
Goodman’s model by creating a non-sequential model that relies heavily
on the use of schemata and top-down processing for explaining understanding.
“[can delineate] in a general manner, without limitation to any single determinate figure as experience, or any possible image that I can represent in concreto” (Kant, 1781).Instantiations:
A schema filled in with default values is called a prototype. Whereas a schema is an organized abstract framework of objects and relations, a prototype consists of a specified set of expectations. A prototype is a highly typical instantiation or instance of a schema (Langacker, 1987). If the instantiation (example) matches our schema (idea), we comprehend. If understanding does not occur, we can infer that the text does not have enough clues, or that the reader does not have the appropriate schema. Learning involves creating or changing schemata through:
We can therefore think of schemata in terms of our:
Circuits), have used experimental research to show these two theories
pointing to an intersection that is ‘reading’, how these models can work
together is still unknown. They have, however, created a detailed
model of sentence reading that takes into account the interactions of initial
encoding, long term memory / knowledge, and the active processes of working
memory and parsing.
In this model, the parser (the part of the brain that analyses sentences for structure) is seen as a purely syntactic device. It uses input from the lexicon (personal vocabulary of language and morphemes) to produce a structural representation for the sentence. The parser uses the principles of minimal attachment and late closure.
An example of minimal attachment is illustrated by Rayner and Pollatsek (1989) in the sentences, "The girl knew the answer by heart" and "The girl knew the answer was wrong". The minimal attachment principle leads to a grammatical structure in which "the answer" is regarded as the direct object of the verb "knew". This works for the first sentence, but not the second, illustrating the effect of late closure having a bearing on the grammatical structure.
They also assume that the nature of temporary storage in the working memory is phonological. Therefore, if comprehension fails, the inner speech module can replay the message. There is little mention of details about how meaning is represented.
Though there is a detailed mapping of cognitive processes during reading, Raynor and Pollatsek also found that good readers are able to recognise lexical forms at a processing speed faster than the time required to activate context effects and conscious predicting. Thus, their theories present a more integrated approach, involving both bottom-up and top-down processing, as “the interactive models, attempting to be more comprehensive, rigorous and coherent, give emphasis to the interrelations between the graphic display in the text, various levels of linguistic knowledge and processes, and various cognitive activities” (Weber, 1984).
Short Circuit – any reading that does not end with meaning
Referenceshttp://www.litandlearn.lpb.org/strategies/strat_4PReP.pdf - Literacy Strategy
http://nadabs11.tripod.com/reading/ - Teaching Reading
http://www.indiana.edu/~eric_rec/ieo/bibs/whole.html - Whole Language Reading Instruction
http://www.cal.org/NCLE/DIGESTS/LANG_EXPER.HTML - ERIC Digest
http://www.scism.sbu.ac.uk/inmandw/review/ml/index.html - Reference Reviews on Machine Learning
www.stenhouse.com, Stenhouse Publishers “About the Authors” (1997-2003)
Rayner, K., & Pollatsek, A. (1989) The Psychology of Reading. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence
Goodman, Kenneth S. (1988) in Carrell et al. Interactive Approaches to L2 Reading Cambridge, CUP
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This website last modified April 03 / 03