The purpose of applying text comprehension strategies is to help students use knowledge gained at early stages of reading instruction. When students are not able to develop their comprehension skills themselves they have to address to comprehension strategies. Comprehension strategy includes a specific set of actions aimed to understand the sense of the text.
NRP’s findings about comprehension strategies include eight strategies:
Comprehension monitoring teaches students to identify difficulties they have in reading process and to overcome these difficulties. Monitoring comprehension is meta-cognitive, meaning that reader is able to assess whether he understands the text or he does not understand it.
Restating. After a part of the text is read student tries to put it in his own words.
Overcoming comprehension problems. Student can learn to find alternative ways to understand the sense of the text. If student meets an unknown word, he may:
– read to the end of the sentence and try to guess meaning of unknown word from general context
– consult the dictionary to check may be this word was used in a figurative sense
Look back through the text. Student is able to find necessary sentence or passage in the text he has read.
Look forward in the text. If student has some difficulties in understanding a sense of the sentence or passage he may look forward in the text for information that might help understand a difficult part of the text.
Graphic and semantic organizers mean creating graphic pictures that represent relation between important elements of the text (events, dates, characters) and ideas of reader.
Answering questions. One type of questions requires looking back through the text to answer the question that helps students remember the content of the text. Another type of questions requires thinking actively and using knowledge to find the answer.
Generating questions. Learners ask questions about the text that develops students’ imagination and requires knowledge to view text from different perspectives.
Recognizing story structure helps students get acquainted with how the components are organized in text.
Summarization means exposing of essential ideas of the text. To compose the summary student has to distinguish important information from less important.
Making use of prior knowledge. Student may have some prior information (information about the author, general world knowledge) and may use it for better comprehension.
Using mental imaginary. Readers make mental pictures of what is read. Making mental pictures develops students’ memory and contributes to better comprehension of the text.
Text comprehension strategy instruction may be implicit or explicit. Some students can acquire strategy instruction implicitly. But more effective is explicit instruction, when teacher explains to students how and when the strategy should be used.
Five methods for teaching comprehension strategies:
- 2. Direct explanation. Teacher explains to students when the strategy may be helpful and how to use this strategy. Teacher can describe some problems that may arise while reading and explain how students may solve these problems by applying comprehension strategy.
- 3. Modeling. Teacher demonstrates how to apply comprehension strategy by showing how he applies it himself. Teacher reads the text and thinks aloud how he may solve the problems that arise while reading the text.
- 4. Guided practice. Teacher guides students while they are learning to use comprehension strategies. Teacher may urge students to generate questions and assist them in generating to give the example of questions.
- 5. Application. Teacher helps students to apply comprehension strategies until students learn to apply the strategies themselves.
- 6. Cooperative learning. Students get together (in groups or in pairs) to accomplish a task. Having different ways of thinking students use different approaches to solve the problem and help each other apply comprehension strategies.
Skilled and efficient comprehension strategies instruction teaches students to use strategies flexibly and consciously and helps them become good readers.
1. National Reading Panel. (2001). Put Reading First, The Research Building Blocks of Reading Instruction.