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New Research On Reading

September 2007 - Research from Kent State University published in Current Directions in Psychological Science examined techniques for improving comprehension of texts and found that rereading or summarizing can enhance people's "metacomprehension" - the ability to accurately evaluate how well they are learning.

John Dunlosky and Amanda Lipko stress the importance of being able to learn efficiently given the amount of new and diverse information people have to assimilate and the time constraints under which they operate. They explain that previous research has repeatedly demonstrated that people are not very accurate at judging how well they have learned complex materials.

The study also found that techniques that focus attention on the most important details of a text also help people evaluate their learning. For example, attempting to recall key ideas from memory and then explicitly comparing the outcome with the correct answers improves metacomprehension. Researchers conclude that such techniques have considerable potential for helping people learn more efficiently.

Boys do best with women teachers

A study led by professor Herb Katz from the University of Alberta published in Sex Roles has found that boys experiencing reading difficulties develop more positive self-perceptions and respond better when working with female teachers.

Herb Katz said:

"As competent reading is the strongest predictor of school success, it's crucial to find ways to engage boys to become stronger readers. Although boys and girls enter kindergarten with similar performance in reading, by the spring of third grade, boys have lower reading scores, which makes this an opportune time for reading intervention."

Focusing on 175 third- and fourth-grade boys identified as struggling readers, the study involved a 10-week programme to determine the effect of the teacher's gender on performance, self-perception, and view of reading as a gender-specific or gender-neutral activity. Research assistants visited schools to conduct 30-minute reading sessions, selecting books with significant interest for boys. They included duet reading when student and tutor read simultaneously and solo reading when students read independently.

Herb Katz commented:

"From this we can conclude that the drop in the number of male teachers, especially in elementary schools, is not the reason why boys are underachieving in reading. Therefore, the strategic hiring of male teachers as a way to address boys' poor reading scores may be naive."


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