Instructional Science

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 27–39 | Cite as

Improving early reading comprehension using embodied CAI

  • Arthur M. GlenbergEmail author
  • Andrew B. Goldberg
  • Xiaojin Zhu


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 



This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants No. BCS 0744105 to Arthur Glenberg and IIS-0711887 to Xiaojin Zhu. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. We thank Lauren Hazen and Sally Miles for their invaluable help in data collection, and Mina C. Johnson-Glenberg for inspiration that computer images can indeed be used as manipulatives.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arthur M. Glenberg
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Andrew B. Goldberg
    • 3
  • Xiaojin Zhu
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Computer SciencesUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

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