Department of Cognitive Science
Comprehending individual differences in reading comprehension.
Speaker : Professor Jan Keenan, Department of Psychology, University of Denver, USA.
Date : 27th of November 2012, 4:00PM until 5:30PM
Location : C5C498 - Palermo Room, Macquarie University.
Headlines regularly grab attention reporting large percentages of students who underperform on national tests of reading comprehension. What underlies these reading difficulties? Our twin study of reading comprehension explores the genetic and cognitive bases of individual differences in reading comprehension, finding that difficulties in reading comprehension go beyond those associated with word decoding. There are independent genetic influences on word reading and language comprehension, and the genetic and environmental influences on comprehension skills assessed in preschool before learning to read can predict later reading comprehension problems. But the source of poor performance on tests lies not just in factors related to the reader. This talk will invite you to consider what might be wrong not just with the test-taker, but also with the tests. Despite all tests being called reading comprehension assessments, there are considerable differences across tests in the skills being assessed. We will show how test results depend on how comprehension is assessed, so that a reader can appear to have shortcomings when assessed with one test but not with another. By weaving together characteristics of the test as well as characteristics of the reader, we can get a deeper understanding of comprehension difficulties and lay the foundation for future assessments of reading comprehension.
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