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
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."