Why Reading Comprehension Problems Matter
If you can’t understand what you read, what’s the point of reading it at all? This is common sense, but yet many students make it to college and still have reading comprehension problems.
And what a tragedy waiting to happen that is. If you can’t comprehend what you read, how can you expect to score well on exams? How can you expect to connect the content to prior knowledge, discuss it with others or apply the information learned to your present life?
Reading Comprehension Study
In one study reported by G.K. Georgiou and J.P. Das in the Journal of Learning Disorders in Jan 2014, they easily found 32 university students who had reading comprehension problems and average intelligence and average reading fluency. The researchers compared them to 60 controls who were in the same age group. The controls had the same level of intelligence and reading fluency but good reading comprehension.
As the researchers increased the working memory demands of the students, the poor comprehenders began having greater and greater difficulty. It was the poor level of reading comprehension that hurt the students, not the lack of fluency. Students could conceivably read chapters out loud and sound like a professional but walk away not having a clue about what the material was about.
Applying Lessons To Current Education
This is exactly the problem that the Common Core State Standards are trying to resolve, and their plan of how this will happen is to get children to start thinking more about what it is that they read. Developing thinking skills and getting away from memorization skills is the name of the game for the Common Core Standards.
Interestingly, the researchers concluded that those who couldn’t comprehend as much had a deficient information processing system.
Could it have been that the students developed a deficient information processing system because the emphasis in school had never been on allowing the students to think on their own? Was it even possible that the students spent too much time in memorization or simply that they didn’t spend enough time in independent thinking
It’s something to think about.
Our reading programs work specifically on these kinds of skills, the key being automation of decoding as early in life as possible. Decoding automaticity frees up thinking space for reading comprehension.
Source: Georgiou, G.K., Das, J.P. University Student with Poor Reading Comprehension: The Hidden Cognitive Processing Deficit. J Learn Disabili 2014, Jan. 6.