Helping adolescents self-monitor their reading comprehension

A pretty African American university woman reading at the parkTo help adolescents improve their reading comprehension, many teachers encourage them to ask themselves basic questions as they are reading to monitor their understanding.

However, this strategy, called the self-monitoring strategy, may be too advanced for some students, especially those with learning disabilities and attention problems, say the authors of a small study published in the Education and Treatment of Children.

Some students may not be able to develop their own questions while they are trying to read. These students may benefit from a more structured approach to the self-monitoring strategy that involves answering prepared questions at predetermined pauses in the text, the researchers write.

Researchers tried this more structured approach with 3 high school seniors with learning disabilities in a suburban high school. Based on immediate recall and performance on a 10-item reading comprehension quiz, reading comprehension improved for the 3 students compared with their baseline levels.

Adolescents with learning disabilities often fail to monitor their reading comprehension and fail to use repair strategies (e.g. reread part of the passage), the researchers write. Students can be gradually trained to use a self-monitoring strategy to improve comprehension by providing them some structure at first, the researchers write.

“All three participants continued to perform at or above their intervention levels during the maintenance condition when they were no longer provided with embedded prompts to stop and answer self-monitoring questions,” the study says.

“The Effects of Self-Monitoring of Story Elements on the Reading Comprehension of High School Seniors with Learning Disabilities,” by Tim Crabtree et al., Education and Treatment of Children, 2010, Volume 33, Number 2, pp. 187-203.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)