Why Reading Comprehension is Complex yet Simple: Pathways in which Various Language and Cognitive Component Skills Contribute to Reading Comprehension
Author: Young-Suk Kim
Presented at 2017 AERA
Abstract: According to the simple view of reading, reading comprehension is a function of word reading and listening comprehension (Hoover & Gough, 1990). Strong empirical support has been found for the simple view of reading (see Florit & Cain, 2011 for a review). However, another line of research (multicomponent view of reading) has revealed that reading comprehension draws on multiple skills including foundational cognitive skills (working memory, attentional control); foundational oral language skills (vocabulary, grammatical knowledge); higher-order cognitive skills (inference, perspective, comprehension monitoring); and knowledge (text structure, content) (Bowyer-Crane & Snowling, 2005; Brimo, Apel, & Fountain, in press; Cain, Oakhill, & Bryant, 2004; Daneman & Carpenter, 1980; Oakhill & Cain, 2012; Seigneuric & Ehrlich, 2005). Interestingly, recent studies revealed that the multiple language and cognitive skills identified by the multicomponent view of reading make contributions to listening comprehension. If language and cognitive component skills of listening comprehension and reading comprehension are highly similar, and listening comprehension is a necessary component skill, then, an important question is pathways in which these language and cognitive skills make contributions to reading comprehension. The purpose of the present study was to unpack pathways in which multiple language and cognitive skills, identified by the simple view of reading as well as multicomponent view of reading, contribute to reading comprehension. The following data were collected from 350 children in Grade 2: reading comprehension, listening comprehension, word reading, inference, perspective taking, comprehension monitoring, vocabulary, grammatical knowledge, and working memory. Reliabilities were greater than .70. Four alternative models of structural equation modeling were fitted to the data and compared: (1) Word reading and listening comprehension were hypothesized to completely mediate the relations of language and cognitive component skills (e.g., vocabulary, inference) to reading comprehension (2) higher-order cognitive skills were hypothesized to have direct paths to reading comprehension above and above word reading and listening comprehension; (3) foundational oral language skills were hypothesized to have direct paths to reading comprehension above and above word reading and listening comprehension; (4) foundational cognitive capacity, working memory, was hypothesized to have a direct path to reading comprehension above and above word reading and listening comprehension. Model (1) described the data best compared to the other models, indicating that word reading and listening comprehension are directly related to reading comprehension, and the language and cognitive component skills (e.g., working memory, vocabulary, grammatical knowledge, inference, perspective taking, and comprehension monitoring) are indirectly related to reading comprehension via listening comprehension and word reading.