Reading and Comprehension in Adulthood: a Training Programme

Abstract

Reading is a complex activity, which combines and exploits different components (visual and perceptive abilities, memory, metacognition, emotional components), evolving and qualitatively changing across development. Research has primarily focused on investigating and teaching—and if necessary re-habilitating—reading skills during development, with a special emphasis on decoding processes and reading aloud. In adulthood, however, reading is generally practiced in the silent mode, with the aim of understanding texts, and these aspects have been devoted little attention, above all in the perspective of improving reading abilities. Given the crucial role of reading for comprehension not only in the academic context but also in everyday life, this gap needs filling. This paper investigates the effects of a training programme, named SuperReading, on the reading and comprehension abilities of adult subjects. The course is focused on silent reading and combines metacognitive training, memorisation techniques, self-empowerment and eye-movement practice to enhance reading effectiveness. After a brief presentation of the course and its crucial components, the paper illustrates a research project, aimed at measuring the effects of the training. It presents and analyses the data gathered on a population of 108 university students, all of them normotypical readers (test group), and compares them with a control group of 88 subjects matched for age and educational level; it then comments on the results, which show significant improvements in the performance of the test group and significant differences with the control group.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6

Data Availability

The dataset generated during and analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

References

  1. Aghababian, V., & Nazir, T. A. (2000). Developing normal reading skills: aspects of the visual processes underlying word recognition. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 76, 123–150.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Alam, M. (2013). A study test anxiety, self-esteem and academic performance among adolescents. The IUP Journal of Organizational Behavior, XII(4), 34-43.

  3. Albanese, O., Doudin, P. A., & Martin, D. (2003). Metacognizione ed educazione: processi, apprendimenti, strumenti. Milano: Franco Angeli.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Alloway, T. P., & Alloway, R. G. (2010). Investigating the predictive roles of working memory and IQ in academic attainment. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 106(1), 20–29.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Alloway, T. P., Gathercole, S. E., Adams, A. M., Willis, C., Eaglen, R., & Lamont, E. (2005). Working memory and phonological awareness as predictors of progress towards early learning goals at school entry. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 23(3), 417–426.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Anderson, T. H., & Armbruster, B. B. (1984). Content area textbooks. In R. Anderson, J. Osborn, & R. J. Tierney (Eds.), Learning to read in American schools: basal readers and content texts (pp. 193–226). London: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Andrich, S. (2015). Strategie di lettura metacognitive. Erickson: Trento.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Angel, P., & Amar, P. (2005). Le coching. Parigi: PUF.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Bacon, A. M., Parmentier, F. B. R., & Barr, P. (2013). Visuospatial memory in dyslexia: evidence for strategic deficits. Memory, 21(2), 189–209.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Baddeley, A. (1990). Human memory: theory and practice. Hove Sussex: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Baker, L., & Beall, L. C. (2009). 17 metacognitive processes and reading comprehension, Handbook of research on reading comprehension. Oxford: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Borkowski, J. G., & Muthukrishna, N. (1992). Moving metacognition into the classroom: working models and effective strategy teaching. In M. Pressley, K. R. Harris, & J. T. Guthrie (Eds.), Promoting academic competence and literacy in school (pp. 477–501). San Diego: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Boulware-Gooden, R., Carreker, S., Thornhill, A., & Joshi, R. M. (2007). Instruction of metacognitive strategies enhances reading comprehension and vocabulary achievement of third-grade students. The Reading Teacher, 61(1), 70–77.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Ciuffo, M., Angelini, D., Barletta Rodolfi, C., Gagliano, A., Ghidoni, E., & Stella, G. (2019). BDA–16-30 Batteria per la Diagnosi della Dislessia Disortografia, Disturbo di comprensione in età adulta. Firenze: Giunti.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. Abingdon: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Cole, R. (2009). How to be a super reader. London: Piactus.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Cooper, R. (2009a). Evaluation of a SuperReading course with dyslexic adults. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education, 1(2), 4–21.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Cooper, R. (2009b). SuperReading: a ‘Real Reading’ alternative to phonics in adults? Patoss Bulletin, 22(2), 19–24.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Cooper, R. (2012). Updating the evidence of the impact of SuperReading on dyslexic students. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education, 4(1), 26–24.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis. Upper Saddle River: Pearson.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Cornoldi, C. (1995). Metacognizione e Apprendimento. Il Mulino: Bologna.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Damer, D., & Melendres, L. (2011). Tackling test anxiety: a group for college students. The Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 36(3), 163–177.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. De Beni, R., & Pazzaglia, F. (1995). La comprensione del testo. Modelli teorici e programmi di intervento. Torino: UTET.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Efklides, A. (2006). Metacognition and affect: what can metacognitive experiences tell us about the learning process? Educational Research Review, 1, 3–14.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Flavell, J. H. (1979). Metacognition and cognitive monitoring: a new area of cognitive developmental inquiry. American Psychologist, 34(10), 906–911.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Franceschini, S., Bertoni, S., Gianesini, T., Gori, S., & Facoetti, A. (2017). A different vision of dyslexia: local precedence on global perception. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 1–10.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Gathercole, S. E., Pickering, S. J., Knight, C., & Stegmann, Z. (2004). Working memory skills and educational attainment: evidence from national curriculum assessments at 7 and 14 years of age. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 18(1), 1–16.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Geiger, G., Lettvin, J., & Fahle, M. (1994). Dyslexic children learn a new visual strategy for reading: a controlled experiment. Vision Research, 34, 1223–1233.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Grainger, J., Dufau, S., & Ziegler, J. C. (2016). A vision of reading. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20, 171–179.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Hacker, D. J., Keener, M. C., & Kircher, J. C. (2009). Writing is applied metacognition. In D. J. Hacker, J. Dunlosky, & A. C. Graesser (Eds.), Handbook of metacognition in education (pp. 154–172). New York: Routledge.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  31. Holmes, J., Gathercole, S. E., & Dunning, D. L. (2009). Adaptive training leads to sustained enhancement of poor working memory in children. Developmental Science, 12, 9–15.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Kershner, J. R. (1990). Self-concept and IQ as predictors of remedial success in children with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 23(6), 368–374.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Kintsch, W. (1998). Comprehension: a paradigm for cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Kostons, D., & Van der Werf, G. (2015). The effects of activating prior topic and metacognitive knowledge on text comprehension scores. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 85, 264–275.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Law, Y., Chan, C. K. K., & Sachs, J. (2008). Beliefs about learning, self-regulated strategies and text comprehension among Chinese children. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 78, 51–73.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Legge, G. E., Mansfield, J. S., & Chung, S. T. L. (2001). Psychophysics of reading. XX. Linking letter recognition to reading speed in central and peripheral vision. Vision Research, 41, 725–734.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Legrenzi, P. (1994). Prepararsi agli esami. Tecniche e strategie per superare gli esami universitari. Bologna: Il Mulino.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Mandl, H., Stein, N., & Trabasso, T. (1984). Learning and comprehension of text. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Mason, M., & Katz, L. (1976). Visual processing of non-linguistic strings: redundancy effects in reading ability. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 105, 338–348.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Nevo, E., & Breznitz, Z. (2013). The development of working memory from kindergarten to first grade in children with different decoding skills. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 114(2), 217–228.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  41. O’Regan, J. K. (1990). Eye movements and reading. In E. Kowler (Ed.), Eye movements and their role in visual and cognitive processes (pp. 395–453). New York: Elsevier.

    Google Scholar 

  42. O’Regan, J. K. (1991). Understanding visual search and reading using the concept of stimulus “grain”. IPO Annual Progress Reports, 26, 96–108.

    Google Scholar 

  43. O’Regan, J. K., Levy-Schoen, A., & Jacobs, A. M. (1983). The effect of visibility on eye-movement parameters in reading. Perception & Psychophysics, 34, 457–464.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Peterson, R. L., & Pennington, B. F. (2015). Developmental dyslexia. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 11, 283–307.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Preeti, R., Behmani, R. & Singh, K. (2016). Impact of self-esteem and adjustment on academic performance of adolescents. Indian Journal of Health & Wellbeing, 7(1), 133–135.

  46. Pressley, M., & Gaskins, I. W. (2006). Metacognitively competent reading comprehension is constructively responsive reading: how can such reading be developed in students? Metacognition and Learning, 1, 99–113.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Pressley, M., Wharton-McDonald, R., Mistretta, J., & Echevarria, M. (1998). Literacy instruction ten fourth-and fifth-grade classrooms in upstate New York. Scientific Studies of Reading, 2, 159–194.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Rouet, J., Vidal-Abarca, E., Bert-Erboul, A., & Millogo, V. (2001). Effects of information search tasks on comprehension of instructional texts. Discourse Processes, 21, 163–186.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Santulli, F., & Scagnelli, M. (2017). The improvement of silent reading strategies through SuperReading. The Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education, 9(1), 88–100.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Santulli, F., & Scagnelli, M. (2018). Un percorso di inclusione attraverso SuperReading. L’integrazione scolastica e sociale, 17(3), 275–286.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Santulli, F., & Scagnelli, M. (2019). Leggere per comprendere. Un intervento inclusivo nei contesti formativi. Milano: FrancoAngeli.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Scagnelli, M. (2018). Le abilità metacognitive nel contesto universitario, In A. Cardinaletti (a cura di), Test linguistici accessibili per studenti sordi e con DSA. Pari opportunità per l’accesso all’Università (279-295). FrancoAngeli, Milano.

  53. Scagnelli, M., Ciuffo, M., Baradello, A., & Santulli, F. (2018). SuperReading: ulteriori prove di efficacia rilevate con i test di valutazione per l’adulto. Dislessia, 15(1), 35–52.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Scagnelli, M., Della Beffa, F., & Santulli, F. (2019). Valutazione delle competenze di lettura: quali parametri? Giornale Italiano dei Disturbi del Neurosviluppo, 97–109.

  55. Smith, S. D., Pennington, B. F., Kimberling, W. J., & Ing, P. S. (1990). Familial dyslexia: use of genetic linkage data to define subtypes. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 29, 204–213.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  56. van Oostendrop, H., & Goldman, S. (1999). The construction of mental representations during reading. Mahwah: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Vanderswalmen, R., Vrijders, J., & Desoete, A. (2010). Metacognition and spelling performance in college students. In A. Efklides & P. Misailidi (Eds.), Trends and prospects in metacognition research (pp. 367–394). Boston: Springer.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  58. Vellutino, F. R., Fletcher, J. M., Snowling, M. J., & Scanlon, D. M. (2004). Specific reading disability (dyslexia). What have we learn in the past four decades? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45, 2–40.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Vidyasagar, T. R., & Pammer, K. (2010). Dyslexia: a deficit in visuo-spatial attention, not in phonological processing. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 14, 57–63.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Weiss, B., Knakker, B., & Vidnuanszky, Z. (2016). Visual processing during natural reading. Scientific Reports, 6, 1–16.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Williams, J. P., & Atkins, J. G. (2009). The role of metacognition in teaching reading comprehension to primary students. In D. J. Hacker, J. Dunlosky, & A. C. Graesser (Eds.), Handbook of metacognition in education (pp. 26–43). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  62. Wittrock M.C., & Lumsdaine A.L. (1977). Instructional psychology. In M. Rozensweig, L.W. Porter (Eds.).: Annual review of psychology, Palo Alto: Annual Reviews.

  63. Yang, J., Peng, J., Zhang, D., Zheng, L., & Mo, L. (2017). Specific effects of working memory training on the reading skills of Chinese children with developmental dyslexia. PLoS One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0186114.

  64. Ziegler, J. C., Castel, C., Pech-Georgel, C., George, F., Alario, F. X., & Perry, C. (2008). Developmental dyslexia and the dual route model of reading: simulating individual differences and subtypes. Cognition, 107(1), 151–178.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Ziegler, J., Pech-Georgel, C., Dufau, S., & Grainger, J. (2010). Rapid processing of letters, digits and symbols: what purely visual-attentional deficit in developmental dyslexia? Developmental Science, 13(4), 8–14.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This study is part of a project developed by the research centre Euresis, at IULM University. We thank the staff of the Office for Support to Students with Disabilities at IULM University, who collaborated to the gathering of data. We are grateful to all participants to the SuperReading courses for their consent to the acquisition of their personal data and of their reading performances.

Also, The tests were administered to the control group thanks to the cooperation of Angelica Brustia, who participated to the project as an MA student.

Funding

This research has been partially funded by the Department of Humanities, IULM University, Milan.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Melissa Scagnelli.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest

Ethics approval

This study was performed in accordance with the ethical standards as laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments. As IULM University has no ethical committee, the project was submitted to the Ethical Committee of the Università Ca’ Foscari in Venice, which approved it last February.

Consent to Participate

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Scagnelli, M., Della Beffa, F. & Santulli, F. Reading and Comprehension in Adulthood: a Training Programme. J Cogn Enhanc 5, 25–34 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41465-020-00182-4

Download citation

Keywords

  • Reading
  • Comprehension
  • Adulthood
  • Silent reading
  • Training