Repeated reading is a reading strategy whereby students read a text multiple times until a desired level of fluency is achieved. Fluency is the ability to read connected text rapidly, smoothly and effortlessly with little conscious attention to the mechanisms of reading such as decoding. Research has shown that repeated reading builds reading fluency. Fluency serves as a bridge between decoding words and comprehension.
A study was done that reviewed the literature for fluency used during developmental and remedial instruction and concluded that teachers should use fluency instruction more often because of its benefits to reading. In addition, fluency in oral reading has been shown to predict comprehension better than some measures of reading comprehension that are direct such as questioning and retelling.
Repeated reading has numerous benefits. The repeated reading method with its iterative cycles of reading provides the required practice for struggling, non-fluent readers. Research has also shown that the fluency gained from one session of repeated reading has been found to carry forth to future sessions. It has also been discovered that after several sessions of repeated reading a student becomes more articulate.
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Despite improving on a student's overall reading fluency, repeated reading also improves a student's comprehension ability. Research has demonstrated that multiple reading of a single passage reinforces all levels of the written language structure. Repeated reading gives the poor reader a much needed chance to practice higher linguistic structure.
In addition, repeated reading increase the word per minute (wpm) of a student. Research has shown that there is a steady increase in the reading score of students who participate in repeated reading. Repeated reading also assists non-fluent readers to build automatic word identification skills.
Another positive influence of repeated reading is that it helps students to be more confident in their reading and more motivated to read. In this regard, repeated reading influences a student's reading-oriented self-esteem. Generally, repeated reading is successful since by reading the same text over and over again, the number of word recognition errors decrease, the speed of reading increases and oral reading expression improves.
Repeated reading can successfully be carried out by various people; teachers, paraprofessionals and peer-tutors. To effectively carry out repeated reading in a learning curriculum, the teacher needs a stopwatch and reading materials. The basic steps to be followed in this case would be; to get a quiet location without too many distractions, select a passage in the book of about 100-200 words, have the student read the passage through, if the student is reading aloud and hesitates for longer than 5 seconds, read out the word and have the student reread the word correctly before continuing and if the student asks for help with a word read it out loud and if the student needs a definition, give it, when the student has completed reading the passage, have him read the passage once more.
Peer-tutoring has been proven to be flexible and empirically sound. Carefully selecting and preparing peer tutors is imperative because monitoring student's reading and providing feedback is directly tied to the success of repeated reading. Additionally, teachers should closely monitor sessions of repeated reading and if students have a difficult time monitoring their peer's oral reading or in providing feedback, the teacher should provide additional instructions or adjust the peer groupings.
Providing corrective feedback is another crucial instructional component. It is necessary to communicate feedback on reading speed and word errors to the students. Teachers or tutors should give immediate or delayed corrective feedback at their discretion. An error correction could simply be; requesting the student to read out the passage once more and thereafter, the teacher or the tutor should provide a performance feedback on the student's accuracy and speed. Performance feedback serves as a motivator to the students as it allows them to see their progress explicitly.
Another instructional component is to ensure that the student rereads the passage until a pre-determined performance criterion is reached based on the individual's reading ability. A student who easily reaches the stated target should be provided with a more complicated passage. If a student constantly need s long lengths of time to reread a passage, then an easier passage should be provided to this student.
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The diversity of socio-economic background, race, ethnic background and academic ability may dampen the positive influence of repeated reading on fluency. Research has shown that in most classrooms, students with poor reading skills do not have adequate opportunities to practice and refine their skills as compared to skilled readers.
Inarguably, developing reading fluency requires practice. Unfortunately, repeated reading cannot be implemented daily in classrooms due to curriculum deadlines and time constraints. However, if repeated reading was incorporated more frequently into the learning curriculum, the magnitude of increases I reading scores and the improvements in attitudes would be dramatic.
Nevertheless, if repeated reading is to be incorporated into school curriculums, teachers should first identify the reading and skill levels of their student's in order to design an appropriate literacy program to accommodate every student's reading abilities.
Several theories have been proposed over the years in regard to the importance and benefits of repeated reading. The theory of automatic information processing by LaBarge and Samuels proposes that non-fluent readers have difficulties in reading speed and comprehension power. This difficulty arises from the fact that these readers focus their attention on decoding the words and in the process; the meaning of the words is lost.
Another theory that has been proposed is by Schreiber. He states that the success of repeated reading is due to the discovery of several structural cues rather than from one particular practice. He further states that these cues are necessary for fluency to develop. He also points out that because fluency is not often taught beyond primary levels, the necessary cues are not developed at all or are not well-developed. As a consequence, students begin to struggle with fluency and comprehension as the reading material grows in complexity. This in turn causes a negative influence on comprehension.
A theory by Blum and Koskinen suggests that despite the main benefit of the repeated reading technique, there are other benefits such as the fostering of self-confidence in student's since they face their fears and become more confident in their reading.
A theory by Moyer suggests that repeated reading, in addition to improving a student's fluency, improves on the comprehension power of the student since it integrates all levels of the written language structure. Moyer also puts forth that repeated reading gives a poor reader practice in articulating the phonetics of words and also offers practice in higher level language structure.
Another theory by Herman states that repeated reading is most beneficial to non-fluent readers than to fluent readers and duly notes that the teacher should assign each student adequate time to read depending on the pre-determined reading abilities of the students.