31 SES 06 A, Studies on Developing Writing Skills
Reading comprehension has a social and individual character on the cognitive development of adolescents (from 12 to 16). Prior to cognitive scheme theory, Bartlett (1932) noted how subjects distort memories of reading and how they re-write the information received. For reading comprehension to happen, the subject has to build a mental representation of the text read (Johnson-Laird, 1983). This mental model is called situational or reference model by the different studies of Van Dijk and Kintsch (1983) and Just and Carpenter (1987). This model represents the inclusive nature of reading build up from the data obtained from the text and from the prior knowledge of the reader, and where the subject manipulates the information. The various lexical, syntactic, semantic and pragmatic processes interact recurrently and interactively in a principle called by Just and Carpenter (1987) Principle of Immediacy. This process exemplifies the path that walks the information from its presence in the textual web to its consistent representation in the reader's mind, as have studied Van Dijk and Kintsch (1978; 1983) and continued Kintsch (1988; 1998), in understanding the semantic-pragmatic speech level (both its macrostructure and its microstructure and superstructure).
In the process of reading comprehension the consistent representation of the text is obtained through the realization of different types of inferences. According to León, “(…)inferences are identified with mental representations that the reader constructs, trying to understand the message read, replacing, adding, integrating or omitting information to the text” (2003, pp. 23-24). Hence, we can consider that any information extracted by the reader, but not explicit in the text, is an inference (MacKoon & Ratcliff, 1992). Reading, then, is not only a decoding of the graphs and the words of the text, but the spontaneous generation of expectations on the subject of the text. Activation of one or another kind of inference will be related to the context where the inference is done, and the kind of appeal the reader has to make to his previous knowledge on the subject of the text.
In an educational context, the use of various kinds of texts (narrative, expository, argumentative, etc.) leads to a greater complexity in learning inferences, because the discontinuous nature of the information and its non-temporary order demand new cognitive challenges to the reader and forces him to make different inferences (León & Escudero, 2002). Understanding a text in a High School classroom today demands the ability to infer the elements that grant a global coherence, linear and local, to the written text in its various forms. The comparative analysis of reading inferences in Costa Rica and Spain will allow us to know how it is, and what are the differences that take part in the process of understanding journalistic and literary texts in secondary education. Moreover, it will allow us to know which are the problems that derive from incorrect information processing and what strategies should be developed by the students in order to obtain a correct reading comprehension.
In this research we depart from an assumption: There is a direct relationship between learning the different types of inferences and improving the reading comprehension. This study raises some questions which it aims to answer:
- Are there differences in the process of reading comprehension of different speech genres?
- To what extent the sociocultural level of the school and family context determines the development of inferential reading comprehension?
- Can the findings in the field of inferential reading comprehension be extrapolated across different countries and education systems?
Barlett, F.C. (1932). Remembering. A study of experimental and social psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. García Madruga, J.A. (2006). Lectura y conocimiento. Barcelona: Paidós. Graesser, A.C., Bertus, E.L. y Magliano, J.P. (1995). Inference generation during the comprehension of narrative text. En R.F. Lorch y E. J. O’Brien (Eds.), Sources of coherence in reading (pp. 295-320). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Graesser, A.C., Singer, M. y Trabasso, T. (1994). Constructing inferences during narrative text comprehension. Psychological Review, 101, 371-395. Johnson-Laird, P.N. (1983). Mental models: Toward a theory of inference, language and consciousness. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Just, M.A. & Carpenter, P.A. (1987). The psychology of reading and language comprehension. Newton, Massachusetts: Allyn and Bacon. Kintsch, W. (1988). The role of knowledge in discourse comprehension: A construction-integration Model. Psychological Review, 95(2), 163-182. Kintsch, W. (1998). Comprehension. A paradigm for cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kintsch, W. & Van Dijk, T.A. (1978). Toward a model of text comprehension and production. Psychological Review, 85(5), 363-394.
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