New Data Shows Building Knowledge Can Boost Reading Comprehension
Kindergartners who got a literacy curriculum grounded in science topics had better reading comprehension than peers who got the standard approach focusing on general comprehension skills, according to new research.
Studies have repeatedly shown that readers who have knowledge of the topic they’re reading about are better able to understand the text. There’s also evidence that reading comprehension scores are highly correlated with general cultural knowledge, suggesting that the more knowledge you have, the better you can understand whatever you read.
Still, the typical approach to literacy instruction in elementary school rests on the notion that comprehension is best taught as a set of skills and strategies like “finding the main idea” and “making inferences.” Students spend many hours every week practicing such supposed skills, often through middle school. Whether or not they’re acquiring substantive knowledge is considered relatively unimportant to reading comprehension.
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