Good Readers Use Strategies

Excerpts from an article on reading:

In another recent study of L2 reading involving 278 French language students, Barnett (1988) investigated the relationships among reading strategies and perceived strategy use on reading comprehension. The initial part of the study required students to read an unfamiliar passage and write in English what they remembered. The second part of the study asked the students to answer a series of background knowledge questions before reading a text, and the third part of the study required students to continue the ending of a text. The final part required the subjects to answer a seventeen-item questionnaire in English about the types of reading strategies they thought best described the way they read. "Background knowledge scores", "comprehension scores" and "strategy-use scores" were used for analysis which revealed that students who effectively consider and remember context as they read, (ie. strategy use) understand more of what they read than students who employ this strategy less or less well. Moreover, students who think they use those strategies considered most productive (ie. perceived strategy use) actually do read through context better and understand more than do those who do not think they use such strategies" (p. 156).

Given the above discussion, there appears to be a strong relationship between reading strategies used by readers, metacognitive awareness, and reading proficiency. In essence, successful readers appear to use more strategies than less successful readers and also appear to be use them more frequently. Better readers also have an enhanced metacognitive awareness of their own use of strategies and what they know, which in turn leads to greater reading ability and proficiency (Baker & Brown, 1984; Garner, 1987; Pressley & Afflerbach, 1995). Researchers in this area have found that in general, more proficient readers exhibit the following types of reading behaviors: Overview text before reading, employ context clues such as titles, subheading, and diagrams, look for important information while reading and pay greater attention to it than other information, attempt to relate important points in text to one another in order to understand the text as a whole, activate and use prior knowledge to interpret text, reconsider and revise hypotheses about the meaning of text based on text content, attempt to infer information from the text, attempt to determine the meaning of words not understood or recognized, monitor text comprehension, identify or infer main ideas, use strategies to remember text (paraphrasing, repetition, making notes, summarizing, self-questioning, etc), understand relationships between parts of text, recognize text structure, change reading strategies when comprehension is perceived not be proceeding smoothly; evaluate the qualities of text, reflect on and process additionally after a part has been read, and anticipate or plan for the use of knowledge gained from the reading (Aebersold & Field, 1997; Pressley & Afflerbach, 1995). While this list is not prioritized or complete, it does provide one with a description of the characteristics of successful readers, and continues to grow as more research into reading is conducted.