ERIC Number: ED288181
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Sep
Reference Count: 0
Inference Strategies in Reading Comprehension. Technical Report No. 410.
Phillips, Linda M.
A study investigated the inference strategies used by sixth grade students reading narratives, and the results were compared with the inference strategies identified as those used by skilled adult readers. Subjects, 80 sixth grade students from two Canadian urban centers were divided into two groups: 40 high-proficiency readers and 40 low-proficiency readers. Equal numbers of students were randomly assigned to read either three familiar or three unfamiliar passages and to verbalize their thinking as they constructed interpretations. Qualitative and quantitative analyses showed that young readers' inference strategies appeared to be a decomposition of those used by adults as reported in the study by A. Collins and others. While some of the subjects' inference strategies overlapped those of adults, the students appeared to use more strategies that adults subsume into one or two strategies. The results suggest that reading proficiency may compensate in instances where there is insufficient background knowledge; however, whether one has sufficient background knowledge or not makes little difference in overall performance when the level of reading proficiency is low. Moreover, particular inference strategies seem to be a manifestation of an ability to effectively use background knowledge in reading comprehension. Because adult readers come to a written work with years of reading and life experience, it is unknown whether adult inference strategies would be useful as models for young readers. (References and tables are provided; two examples of passages and a list of inference questions are appended.) (JC)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Ottawa (Ontario).
Authoring Institution: Illinois Univ., Urbana. Center for the Study of Reading.