Children's text comprehension: Effects of genre, knowledge, and text cohesion


Our goal in this project is to develop a better understanding of text comprehension exhibited by elementary-school children. The research focused on the role of text genre (narrative and expository text), text cohesion (high or low) and the readers' level of prior world knowledge (assessed using the Woodcock-Johnson III Academic Knowledge test). Sixty-four students in the fourth grade read four texts, including one high-cohesion and one low-cohesion text from each genre. Comprehension of each text was assessed with 12 multiple-choice questions, including both local questions (focusing on specific information contained in one or two sentences) and global questions (focusing on general themes). Children showed better comprehension of the narrative than expository texts, but this advantage appeared only on global questions. There was a benefit of higher knowledge, but only for the expository texts. The benefits of cohesion were greatest for narrative text comprehension and on global questions.

Publication Title

ICLS 2006 - International Conference of the Learning Sciences, Proceedings

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