Skilled And Less Skilled Readers Education Essay

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This paper will discuss the differences between skilled and less skilled readers. It will give detail of different types of reading, including whole word techniques and phonics instruction. Then will investigate comprehensive reading, and what it means to be able to comprehend text, along with the advantages of the aspect of reading, relating comprehension to skilled and less skilled readers. Word-level reading and decoding will also be examined along with how it affects reading and understanding of text. There will be a brief text on dyslexia and why less skilled readers do not fall into this classification, and also the effects vocabulary has on reading. Throughout the paper there will be suggestions of what pedagogical implications could be drawn from these sub-skills of reading and how being a skilled reader or a less skilled reader affects educational outcome.

In today's contemporary society reading is a necessity, in western society learning to read begins at a very young age, some children are taught by parents to read before they start school at the age of 5. Children learn to read at a young age, not all of these children will become skilled readers, and many will struggle and continue to learn how to read into adulthood.

Reading is taught in schools through either whole word techniques or phonics instruction. For whole word instruction around 50 to 100 words are taught at once, compared with phonics which teaches children to listen carefully to phonmes that make up words, when the word is written phonomes are represented by letters. According to Carlson teaching children at primary level the relationship between spelling and sounds (phonics) makes reading easier, along with developing other skills, which then results in better reading.

Comprehension is important when discussing reading, it is the level in which one understands a text. This understanding is prevailed from the words that are read and how they trigger knowledge from outside the text. However it needs to be noted that comprehension is not an individual feature of reading it is related to language understanding and can depend on a number of developing skills, such as capacity of working memory (Colgate University). Skilled and less skilled readers have different levels of reading comprehension. A difference in levels of language skills lead to different levels of reading comprehension, less skilled readers have lower language skills. These limitations could be due to working memory limitations, or lack of lexical processing. For example the limitation of working memory, to supress irrelevant information can lead to a let-down of comprehension. Less skilled readers are likely to neglect the meaning from text as they spend too much time trying to read each letter of a word. Another aspect that effects reading comprehension is comprehension monitoring, here the reader is ensuring a constant understanding of the text ( Rynar, 2001). This process is used by skilled readers, less skilled readers do not use it ( Baker, 1984). Reading comprehension largely relies on information from outside the text, therefore a huge difference in comprehension skill comes from knowledge already known. Hence readers who lack background knowledge and reading skill are certain to fail ( Rayner, 2001).

An aspect that affects reader's comprehension is type of text and organisation. Commander and Stanwyck found that the recall of primary and secondary ideas was different between skilled and less skilled readers. Skilled readers could recall more accurate primary ideas. However for secondary ideas poor readers outperformed skilled readers. It was suggested that skilled readers have a good idea of the structure of the text along with the main ideas, whereas less skilled readers focus on detail and miss main ideas ( Commander and Stanwyck ,1997). This shows that skilled readers can understand the more proficient ideas which when in the class room may allow them to outperform their peers.

August et al found that children can recall text, even when they do not understand it, this proves as a problem when teaching in a class room. This is because teachers often ask children questions about text that has been read, in order to confirm their reading comprehension. Teachers should ensure that other methods are put in place in order to measure comprehension.

Furthermore, in relation to reading comprehension there are inferences. This help us to extract more meaning from text than is linguistically stated, however this does not always lead to the correct conclusion. Some readers have problems with making inferences, primarily less skilled readers. Titles can also give context and bring different aspects of already known knowledge and interpretation to a text, this would then effect reading comprehension.

Halliday and Hasans idea is that a text is recognised because of language markers which relate to what is being said to what has already been said.

Cohesive devices such as co-reference, lexical relationships and conjunctions are important when it comes to reading comprehension, they will make the understanding of a text easier, although the lack of cohesive devices or their inappropriate use will make understanding more difficult. Coherence is in our mind, coherent reading refers to how we make sense of things that we read.

Discourse comprehension is complex it places a large strain on working memory, there are however, indivdiaual differences in working memonry capacity. One way of measuring working memoery is to measure reading span ( Daneman and Carpentar).

There are differences in comprehension when it comes to skilled and less skilled readers.


Reading comprehension skills include two components, the application of non-linguistic knowledge and the application of general language skills to written text.

There are several differences between skilled and less skilled readers. According to Sameuels et al a skilled reader is one that uses minimal context and visual cues for word recognition. Paran took this further and suggested that the differences between the two readers is that, a less skilled reader will use a bottom up approach to reading, the reader will look at every letter, organise these letters into words ,words in phrase then into sentences. Therefore the reader will process all the letters before meaning is formed (Paran). A skilled reader will use a top-down approach, they will use a non-linear view of the process in which comprehension begins with the reader. Additional, Goodman claimed that skilled readers do not read every word, instead they guess what the next words in the text could be, by guessing words they do not need to process all the letters within a word ( Goodman) . As Rayner et al suggested about this view, there was a bottle neck during skilled reading during the stage of getting visual information to the processing system. This hypothesis has been replaced, it is now thought that for skilled readers processing activities involved in reading happen fast so information needed for reading gets into the processing system rapidly ( Rayner et al, 2001). Context also has a large impact on how one will process meaning from a text. Skilled readers also rely less on context as they can identify words quickly. Readers of low skills rely more on context in order to support word identification (Perfetti ect). Differences in skilled and less skilled readers start from a young age, and this gap widens over time, which may reflect the amount of exerpaices and how much practice an individual partakes (Wagner and Stanovich, 1996

There has been further research that has looked further into skilled readers, research on eye movements and on word identification. Eye movements will be discussed firstly. When reading, our eyes are moving rapidly, and these movements are broken down into times when our eyes are fixated. These fixarions last aroud 200 to 250ms. When the eyes are moving, vision is supressed to allow for new information. Skilled readers will regress to reread the text about 10-15% of the time, despite this these readers skipped short words and words that they could predict from context. If the readers found the word harder, there eyes would be fixated for longer. This research suggests that readers are not guessing the words but they are processing the text, Rayner 2001. For less skilled readers, they fixate there eyes for longer on individual words, these fixations last longer, there eye movements suggest that they are having more difficulty reading.

Word-level reading is another component when discussing skilled and less skilled readers. Low skilled readers can pronounce words but may not be able to comprehend them. There are several on-going arguments to whether word-level reading or decoding is related to reading comprehensions, and whether or not decoding can predict compression. For example Katz and Wicklund (1971) found that less skilled readers have weak decoding skills. Whereas Cromer claimed that less skilled readers who are not comprehensive readers could decode words. Research by Landi, found a higher coloration between reading comprehension and decoding in children who are not good at word-level reading. When reading, if someone has a problem decoded a word they may overload much of their working term memory and therefore may not be able to comprehend sentences properly (Shankweiler, 1989). Prefetti found that children who had difficulties with comprehending words, also where slower readers. In addition, Shankweiler et al, found that less skilled readers comphrension was the same as good comprehends when reading regular words. They also found that less skilled readers find it harder to recognise words, therefore compromising the development of word recognition. This can then hider chances of word decoding. This evidence shows clearly that word-level reading and reading comprehension are related, with a sufficient amount of evidence pointing to the theory that word-level reading is not a good predictor of word comprehension. However many researches have argued that decoding can be important at predicting reading comprehension when a text is challenging, relative to the readers capability ( Jackson,2004)

Therefore this would suggest that if someone can decode the words they may be able to comprehend them easier, but for high skilled readers who have a good understand of comprehension, they would not need to spend as much time decoding words.

Word knowledge is highly correlated with reading comprehension ( carrol).

Children or adults who are poor readers will often lack a wide vocabulary. Poor readers will read less and therefore be exposed to less word, which hinders the chance to extend their vocbaloy and improve reading. As Stanovich (1986) claimed, the gap between skilled and less skilled readers gets wider and makes learning harder. According to balch 'vocab is one of the best predictors of reading comprehension' . However there is not a lot of teaching of vocab at schools, teachers assume that children will pick it up through reading. Bimiiller (2004) suggests that children should be encouraged to read the same book over and over, instead of reading different books. This way words will be learnt and explored, in turn extending ones vocabulary, and may also result in generative elements. Teachers can help to extend children's vocab by encouring reading out loud and class discussions. They can add to this by asking questions or adding information (Blachowicz et al., 2006)

It is interesting that less skilled readers are no diagnosed at dyslexic. Children with dyslexia show difficultly when it comes to naming numbers, colours and pictures. A piece of research conducted by Perfetti, Finger, and Hogaboam (1978) investigated skilled readers and less skilled readers, along with dyslexic and non-dyslexic readers. This research tested young children, who were not diagnosed as dyslexic, and who where either a skilled or less skilled reader. It found that less skilled readers had huge difficultly in naming words, but where just as fast as skilled readers when it came to naming number colours or pictures. Therefore less skilled readers have extreme difficultly in decoding words compared to skilled readers, but are not dyslexic as they only struggle with one component.

When it comes to academic attainment, less skilled readers and skilled reader show differences in achievement. Researches Snow and Strucked suggested that less skilled reader and word decoders are not likely to be able to keep up with the reading demand at secondary level. However, research by Jackson (2004) found that word decoding and comprehension are diffidently related amongst university academics, the research also shows that word decoding and comprehension 'does not affect overall academic attainment'. However this evidence can only apply to a small amount of university students, who will already have a large amount of academic success and intelligence, the sample, is not representative.

Perfetti finger