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The Effects of Repeated Readings & Attentional Cues on Reading Fluency & Comprehension

by Alicia Anthony, studioD

Studies published in several journals have submitted data that suggest that repeated reading increases student reading fluency and comprehension. These studies, including those from both the Journal of Reading Behavior and the International Journal of Human and Social Sciences, contend that students who improve their fluency through repeated reading instruction will increase their reading level, improve comprehension, bolster self-confidence, and grow their overall enjoyment of language.

Utilizing Repeated Reading

Repeated reading can be used in a variety of formats, from whole-class to peer-tutor formats. The peer-tutor model has shown to be both flexible and successful, making it the preferred method, according to a study published in Intervention in School and Clinic. These sessions should be conducted three to five times per week for at least 10 to 20 minutes per session. Within this model, students should read aloud to the tutor, while the tutor provides appropriate feedback to help the student address fluency needs. If the child hesitates on a word for three seconds, the tutor should provide the word. If the student mispronounces or skips a word, the tutor should address the issue after the reading is complete but before rereading. Passages should be read until the student reaches a predetermined fluency level, such as 120 words per minute, for example. This same procedure can be modified for comprehension interventions.

Using Attentional Cues

Attentional cues are part of the rereading process. Rereading only benefits fluency and comprehension if the reader is prompted to correct mistakes or focus on certain aspects of understanding during each subsequent rereading. These cues can come from questioning techniques after the reading is complete. For example, the teacher might ask, "Why do you think the character chose to solve the problem that way?" If the student has trouble answering, he will be looking for the answer upon his rereading, thus increasing his comprehension.

Benefits for Fluency

When students are provided cues to fluency and opportunities to reread text, reading rates increase. In the Journal of Reading Behavior study by Lawrence J. O'Shea of the University of Florida, students increased the rate of reading by an average of 24 words per minute after three readings and 12 words per minute in each subsequent reading. It should be noted, however, that students who received decoding cues suffered a loss of fluency, while students whose cues were focused on rate, saw a marked increase. This shows us that attentional cues have an explicit effect on student outcomes.

Benefits for Comprehension

O'Shea's study found an average increase in student comprehension scores of 7 percent after three readings and 11 percent after seven readings. Regardless of the attentional cues students were given to activate comprehension, the readers were able to retell significantly higher proportions of the text after three repeated readings. However, students who received fluency cues but no comprehension cues, provided retellings after seven readings that were equivalent to the retellings given by students who received comprehension cues after just one reading. This demonstrates that comprehension cues maximize student understanding by focusing the student's attention on meaning.

About the Author

Alicia Anthony is a seasoned educator with more than 10 years classroom experience in the K-12 setting. She holds a Master of Education in literacy curriculum and instruction and a Bachelor of Arts in communications. She is completing a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing: fiction, and working on a novel.

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