Instructional Science

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 27-39

First online:

Improving early reading comprehension using embodied CAI

  • Arthur M. GlenbergAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Arizona State UniversityDepartment of Psychology, University of Wisconsin Email author 
  • , Andrew B. GoldbergAffiliated withDepartment of Computer Sciences, University of Wisconsin
  • , Xiaojin ZhuAffiliated withDepartment of Computer Sciences, University of Wisconsin

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An embodied approach to reading comprehension suggests that emerging readers must learn to map words and phrases onto their remembered experiences, but this is made difficult by the necessity of focusing attention on decoding. Having children manipulate toys to correspond to what they are reading overcomes this problem, but introduces its own problem for the classroom, namely having to provide a classroom full of children with manipulative. In this article, we demonstrate that having first- and second-grade children manipulate images of toys on a computer screen benefits their comprehension as much as physical manipulation of the toys. In addition, manipulation on one day facilitates reading in the same domain one week later. These findings encourage the use of manipulation of text-relevant images as an educational technology for enhancing early reading comprehension. The findings also set constraints on theoretical accounts of embodiment while reading.


Reading comprehension Embodiment Educational technology Emerging readers Computer aided instruction