Reading and Writing

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 205–230 | Cite as

Promoting gains in reading fluency: a comparison of three approaches

  • Valerie Marciarille LeVasseurEmail author
  • Paul Macaruso
  • Donald Shankweiler


On the ground that reading fluency entails appropriate phrasing or prosody as well as facile word recognition, we investigated the effectiveness of text-based and word-based repeated readings procedures for promoting fluency of reading aloud and comprehension in second-grade children. Repeated readings of text printed with spaces between phrases and ends of lines at clause boundaries (phrase-cued text), repeated readings of text printed with conventional layout (standard text), and repeated readings of lists of difficult words from text were compared. Computer-based, guided repeated reading training intervened between a pretest and post-test reading of text. Each training condition led to significant benefits on one or more of the experimental measures obtained from reading aloud. Repeated readings with text resulted in greater gains in fluency than repeated readings with word lists. Reading with natural prosody was most strongly facilitated by repeated readings of phrase-cued text, which provided visible support for sentence structure.


Cued text Reading fluency Repeated readings Rereading Training 



We thank the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development for major support of this research from program project grant HD-01994 to Haskins Laboratories. Partial support was received from a University of Connecticut Dissertation Fellowship awarded to the first author. We are grateful for the cooperation of teachers and administrators at the William R. DuTemple Elementary School in Cranston, Rhode Island and the Lebanon Elementary School in Lebanon, Connecticut, and to the children whose willingness to participate made this research possible. We thank Laura Conway Palumbo and Dave Braze for devising the criteria for dividing the text into phrasal segments and Jay Trudeau and Steve Katz for assistance in adapting the E-Prime operating system for implementation of the training. Margie Gillis made helpful comments on an earlier draft of the text. Finally, we are grateful to April Hanks and Lisa Macaruso for the time and careful consideration they offered in conducting the fluency ratings.


  1. Bourassa, D. C., Levy, B. A., Dowin, S., & Casey, A. (1998). Transfer across contextual and linguistic boundaries: Evidence from poor readers. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 71, 45–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Carver, R. P., & Hoffman, J. V. (1981). The effect of practice through repeated reading on gain in reading ability using a computer-based instructional system. Reading Research Quarterly, 16, 374–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Carver, R., & Liebert, R. (1995). The effect of reading library books at different levels of difficulty upon gains in reading. Reading Research Quarterly, 30, 26–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chomsky, C. (1976). After decoding: What? Language Arts, 53, 288–296.Google Scholar
  5. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  6. Conte, R., & Humphreys, R. (1989). Repeated readings using audiotaped material enhances oral reading in children with reading difficulties. Journal of Communication Disorders, 22, 65–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dahl, P. R. (1979). An experimental program for teaching high speed word recognition and comprehension skills. In J. E. Button, T. Lovitt, & T. Rowland (Eds.), Communications research in learning disabilities and mental retardation (pp. 33–65). Baltimore, MD: University Park Press.Google Scholar
  8. Dowhower, S. (1987). Effects of RR on second-grade transitional readers’ fluency and comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 22, 389–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dugan, M. (1988). It’s just a trick. Crystal Lake, IL: Rigby Education.Google Scholar
  10. Faulkner, H. J., & Levy, B. A. (1994). How text difficulty and reader skill interact to produce differential reliance on word and content overlap in reading transfer. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 58, 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fleisher, L. S., Jenkins, J. R., & Pany, D. (1979). Effects on poor readers’ comprehension of training in rapid decoding. Reading Research Quarterly, 15, 30–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fodor, J. D. (2002). Prosodic disambiguation in silent reading. In M. Hirotani (Ed.), Proceedings of NELS 32. Amherst, MA: GLSA, University of Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  13. Francis, W. N., & Kucera, H. (1982). Frequency analysis of English usage. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  14. Fries, C. C. (1962). Linguistics and reading. New York: Holt.Google Scholar
  15. Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D., Hosp, M. K., & Jenkins, J. R. (2001). Oral reading fluency as an indicator of reading competence: A theoretical, empirical, and historical analysis. Scientific Studies of Reading, 5(3), 239–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Herman, P. (1985). The effect of RR on reading rate, speech pauses, and word recognition accuracy. Reading Research Quarterly, 20, 553–565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hindson, B., Byrne, B., Fielding-Barnsley, R., Newman, C, Hine, D. W., & Shankweiler, D. (2005). Assessment and early instruction of preschool children at risk for reading disability. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97, 687–704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Krueger, C. (1997). The midnight pig. Crystal Lake, IL: Rigby Publications.Google Scholar
  19. LeVasseur, V. M. M. (2004). Promoting gains in reading fluency by rereading phrasally-cued text. Dissertation, University of Connecticut.Google Scholar
  20. LeVasseur, V. M., Macaruso, P., Palumbo, L. C., & Shankweiler, D. (2006). Syntactically-cued text facilitates oral reading fluency in developing readers. Applied Psycholinguistics, 27(3), 423–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Levy, B. A. (2001). Moving the bottom. In M. Wolf (Ed.), Dyslexia, fluency, and the brain (pp. 357–379). Timonium, MD: York Press.Google Scholar
  22. Levy, B. A., Abello, B., & Lysynchuk, L. (1997). Transfer from word training to reading in context: Gains in reading fluency and comprehension. Learning Disability Quarterly, 20, 173–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Marciarille-LeVasseur, V. M., Shankweiler, D., & Macaruso, P. (2001, April). Piecemeal reading. Paper presented at the meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  24. Martin-Chang, S. L., & Levy, B. A. (2005). Fluency transfer: Differential gains in reading speed and accuracy following isolated word and context training. Reading and Writing, An Interdisciplinary Journal, 18, 343–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mason, J. M., & Kendall, J. R. (1979). Facilitating comprehension through text structure manipulation. The Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 25, 68–76.Google Scholar
  26. Meyer, M. S., & Felton, R. (1999). RR to enhance fluency: Old approaches and new directions. Annals of Dyslexia, 49, 283–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Morgan, R., & Lyon, E. (1979). Paired reading—A preliminary report on a technique for parental tuition of reading-retarded children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 20, 151–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. National Center for Education Statistics. (1995). Listening to children read aloud. Retrieved August 7, 2003, from Scholar
  29. National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research on reading and its implications for reading instruction. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.Google Scholar
  30. Odgers, S. F. (1987). What a day! New Zealand: Shortland Publications.Google Scholar
  31. O’Shea, L. J., Sindelar, P. T., & O’Shea, D. J. (1985). The effects of repeated readings and attentional cues on reading fluency and comprehension. Journal of Reading Behavior, 17, 129–142.Google Scholar
  32. O’Shea, L. J., Sindelar, P. T., & O’Shea, D. J. (1987). The effects of repeated readings and attentional cues on reading fluency and comprehension of learning disabled readers. Learning Disabilities Research, 2, 103–109.Google Scholar
  33. Perfetti, C. A., & Hart, L. (2002). The lexical quality hypothesis. In L. Vehoeven, C. Elbro, & P. Reitsma (Eds.), Precursors of functional literacy (pp. 189–213). Philadelphia: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  34. Rashotte, C. A., & Torgesen, J. K. (1985). Repeated reading and reading fluency in learning disabled children. Reading Research Quarterly, 20, 180–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rasinski, T. V. (1990). The effects of repeated reading and listening-while-reading on reading fluency. Journal of Educational Research, 83(3), 147–150.Google Scholar
  36. Rasinski, T. V. (1994). Developing syntactic sensitivity in reading through phrase-cued texts. Intervention in School and Clinic, 29(3), 94–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Samuels, S. J. (1979). The method of repeated readings. The Reading Teacher, 32, 403–408.Google Scholar
  38. Schnick, T., & Knickelbine, M. (2000). The lexile framework: An introduction for educators. North Carolina: MetaMetrics, Inc.Google Scholar
  39. Schreiber, P. A. (1991). Understanding prosody’s role in reading acquisition. Theory into Practice, 30(3), 158–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Slowiaczek, M. L., & Clifton, C., Jr. (1980). Subvocalization and reading for meaning. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 19, 573–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Stoddard, K., Valcante, G., Sindelar, P., O’Shea, L., & Algozzine, B. (1993). Increasing reading rate and comprehension: The effects of repeated readings, sentence segmentation, and intonation training. Reading Research and Instruction, 32, 53–65.Google Scholar
  42. Tan, A., & Nicholson, T. (1997). Flashcards revisited: Training poor readers to read words faster improves their comprehension of text. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 276–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Tunmer, W. E., & Chapman, J. W. (1998). Language prediction skill, phonological recoding ability, and beginning reading. In C. Hulme, & R. M. Joshi (Eds.), Reading and spelling: Development and disorders. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  44. Wood, C. T. (1975). Processing units in reading (Doctoral dissertation, Stanford University, 1975). Dissertation Abstracts International, 35(9-B), 46–99.Google Scholar
  45. Woodcock, R., McGrew, K., & Mather, M. (2001). Woodcock-Johnson psychoeducational battery (3rd ed.). Itasca, IL: Riverside Publishing.Google Scholar
  46. Young, A., & Bowers, P. G. (1995). Individual differences and text difficulty determinants of reading fluency and expressiveness. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 60, 428–454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Young, A., Bowers, P. G., & MacKinnon, G. E. (1996). Effects of prosodic modeling and repeated reading on poor readers’ fluency and comprehension. Applied Psycholinguistics, 17, 59–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valerie Marciarille LeVasseur
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Paul Macaruso
    • 1
    • 2
  • Donald Shankweiler
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Haskins LaboratoriesNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Psychology DepartmentCommunity College of Rhode IslandWarwickUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

Personalised recommendations