Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Education

How do oral vocabulary skills affect reading comprehension?

01 July 2014 - 01 July 2014 | Workshop
Baines Wing SR (139, 1.13)

A Lunchtime Seminar by Danielle Colenbrander
PhD student, ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD) Macquarie University

Poor comprehenders are children whose reading comprehension skills are below the expected level for their age, despite age-appropriate word and text reading abilities. Evidence from a number of studies, including a large randomized controlled trial (Clarke, Snowling, Truelove & Hulme, 2010), indicates that poor oral vocabulary skills may play a role in causing these reading comprehension difficulties.

We wished to specifically explore the nature of the potential link between oral vocabulary skills and reading comprehension. Therefore, we ran a small randomized controlled trial teaching oral vocabulary skills to a group of poor comprehenders. At the group level, children’s knowledge of trained words improved after training. Their reading comprehension scores also improved on a test containing some of the trained words. On an individual level, all children made gains in oral vocabulary scores but only some children made gains in reading comprehension.

These results suggest that, while knowledge of relevant vocabulary items is important for understanding a text, vocabulary knowledge alone is not sufficient for the comprehension of a text. I will discuss these findings in light of the complexities associated with the construct of reading comprehension and the individual variation found amongst children who are defined as “poor comprehenders”.

Event Location

Baines Wing is located between the Great Hall and the Parkinson Building, and is number 58 on the campus map.

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