Effective Teaching: Reading Comprehension Strategies to Try Out

Effective Teaching: Reading Comprehension Strategies
Reading comprehension offers a tool for judging the level of passage or text understanding while reading. Effective teaching reading comprehension strategies offer various modules to enhance this skill combining vocabulary, fluency, phonics and interpretation skills.
EduZenith Staff
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
Reading comprehension is defined as the level of understanding of a passage or text. Reading at the rate of 200 to 220 words per minute is considered as a normal speed of reading. For normal reading rates, 75% is an acceptable level of comprehension. That means if a child can understand the meaning of at least 75% of the total text given, then it is regarded as acceptable limits for reading comprehension.

Various methods are used to improve reading comprehension that include training the ability to self assess comprehension, actively test comprehension using a set of questions and by improving metacognition. Theoretical teaching (teaching conceptual) and a better knowledge of language can also prove of immense help. Practice plays more pivotal part in development and honing the skills of reading comprehension. Self-assessment with the help of elaborate interrogation and summarizing also helps.

Effective reading comprehension is the culmination of mastering vocabulary, phonics, fluency and reading comprehension skills. Person having good comprehension skills is considered as active reader, with an ability to interact with the words by understanding its complete meaning and the concept behind it. Thus skill of reading comprehension distinguishes an active reader from a passive reader who just read the text without getting its meaning.

Aims of Teaching Reading Comprehension
  • To get better grasping of the context, sequence and the characters narrated in text.
  • Certain parts of the text can confuse readers. Reading comprehension skills works on this aspect to get a clear idea of the meaning of the text.
  • Helps to create the questionnaire based on the text about its theme or idea. It often helps in better understanding of the said paragraph.
  • It helps to link the event of narration with our previous experiences and predict the next probable event in the course based on the information given in the narration.
Testing comprehension reading has always proved a great tool in the assessment of the student's abilities as it provides a feedback on his progress. It also enhances the self ability to judge ourselves, provided such tests are carefully designed. The carefully designed comprehension test is a cleverly constructed set of questions targeted at the summary, overall meaning of text including most important meanings of words. The questionnaire can be of different types like open-ended question, closed formats or multiple choice questions.

Informal Reading Inventory (IRI)

In 1930, the need for the protocol of reading assessment gave rise to Legacy Reading Assessment. This assessment is principally targeted at the identification and solution for the particular inhibition to the process of acceleration in comprehension reading by student. This gave a kind of template through which teachers can assess student's progress in reading. These learning readers are known as Basal readers.

Thus came into being the Informal Reading Inventory (IRI), which is a classroom based lesson directing and monitoring the progress system. However, because of its laborious construction, another format is constructed known as criterion based Informal Reading Inventory.

An IRI provides a good description of three levels of comprehension reading progress of immense importance.
  1. Frustration Level or Inability Level where word decoding accuracy is just below 90% with comprehension accuracy below 70%.
  2. Instructional Level or ability supported with guidance where word decoding accuracy is around 90% with comprehension accuracy around 75%.
  3. Independent Level where a student doesn't require the assistance anymore having word decoding accuracy well above 97% with comprehension accuracy below 90%.
Initially IRI provided the frame for recording responses to the posed questions, to be analyzed later to find out the strong and gray areas of student. However, nowadays it also offers many add-ons to get a much elaborate picture of its progress.

Informal Reading-Thinking Inventory (IR-TI)

In addition, in 1995, Manzo and McKenna developed an innovation as Informal Reading-Thinking Inventory, which is aimed at other related areas like thinking development of student besides his word decoding and comprehension accuracy power. It has a format which facilitates additional measuring tool of higher cognitive progress and comprehension. It measures the progress on three levels - how good the student is in reading lines, reading between the lines and reading beyond the lines (recognition, inference and its interpretation and application). The most significant aspect of the IR-TI is the separate judgment it makes of basic comprehension and separately of critical-constructive comprehension.

Informal Reading and Thinking Inventory (IR-TI) provides a set of graded word lists where each list is constructed at a given difficulty of specific grade. These lists are given to the students which mark the first stage in testing to measure his independence level. It is always recommended to give the student the easier step first and then moving gradually to the more difficult ones to boost his confidence. Graded lists are found as a quick and effective tool in assessment of the student's levels.

After graded lists, graded passages are given to the student. The student is asked to read the passage aloud, and then answer the questions. While reading, the teacher records any "unexpected response" like omission, substitution, insertion, self-correction, repetition and hesitation. Once the student finishes with his reading, the book is kept shut and the related questions will be asked. Scoring is done on the basis of answers given and the accuracy of reading and its fluency.

Efforts are put continuously to enhance this format and are focused at developing one's worldview, which is regarded as the highest stage of comprehension reading.