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Reading Comprehension in and via L2: Do we know what we are measuring?

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Abstract:

Efforts to measure reading comprehension are normally predicated on the assumption that there is a direct (though not necessarily linear) relationship between reading comprehension and a latent variable commonly referred to as ‘reading ability.’ Vexingly, educational researchers and practitioners working especially in developing countries regularly report a phenomenon in which children ‘read’ a target text at normal speed and with good levels of accuracy, but with little or no comprehension. Less attested are situations in which children are reported as being totally unable to ‘read’ but demonstrate some level of comprehension of target texts.
This presentation will report the results of an EGRA assessment carried out in Cameroon in which it was common to find children who appeared to have no ability to read connected text material—at least in an oral mode—yet who demonstrated various levels of comprehension as measured by their ability to answer comprehension questions. Apart from the possibility that all such children were intentionally presenting themselves as nonreaders, it is reasonable to ask what strategies these children were using to answer the comprehension questions. IF such children have developed ‘comprehension’ strategies which are not based on a full decoding of the text, then we have to ask, “What are/were we measuring in this exercise?”, and, “What are the implications for EGRA and similar assessments?” Is it possible that many children in L2-only educational settings develop subtle but clever data extraction strategies which mimic reading comprehension without requisite decoding ability?
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Association:
Name: Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference
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http://www.cies.us


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p709147_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Walter, Steve. "Reading Comprehension in and via L2: Do we know what we are measuring?" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p709147_index.html>

APA Citation:

Walter, S. "Reading Comprehension in and via L2: Do we know what we are measuring?" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p709147_index.html

Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: Efforts to measure reading comprehension are normally predicated on the assumption that there is a direct (though not necessarily linear) relationship between reading comprehension and a latent variable commonly referred to as ‘reading ability.’ Vexingly, educational researchers and practitioners working especially in developing countries regularly report a phenomenon in which children ‘read’ a target text at normal speed and with good levels of accuracy, but with little or no comprehension. Less attested are situations in which children are reported as being totally unable to ‘read’ but demonstrate some level of comprehension of target texts.
This presentation will report the results of an EGRA assessment carried out in Cameroon in which it was common to find children who appeared to have no ability to read connected text material—at least in an oral mode—yet who demonstrated various levels of comprehension as measured by their ability to answer comprehension questions. Apart from the possibility that all such children were intentionally presenting themselves as nonreaders, it is reasonable to ask what strategies these children were using to answer the comprehension questions. IF such children have developed ‘comprehension’ strategies which are not based on a full decoding of the text, then we have to ask, “What are/were we measuring in this exercise?”, and, “What are the implications for EGRA and similar assessments?” Is it possible that many children in L2-only educational settings develop subtle but clever data extraction strategies which mimic reading comprehension without requisite decoding ability?


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