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Online Reading Comprehension Redux

by Joan Sedita | 1 | 0 Comments

In September, 2014 I wrote a blog entry titled Online Reading Comprehension in which I cited several research pieces written by Julie Coiro. I recently read two more interesting articles written by Julie and some of her colleagues, so I decided to update that post. Both pieces address the fact that the Internet represents an important source of information for many students, yet most lack proficiency in the requisite comprehension skills for efficient and effective Internet research.

The first piece is an interview with Julie and Jill Castek, published in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. Jill and Julie are asked what they have learned from their work in assessing online reading skills. Here are some interesting quotes from the interview:

Jill: “I’ve learned that students’ online reading ability cannot be determined solely on the basis of their reading performance in non-digital contexts. We’ve both seen students who are less proficient offline readers who can skillfully read and communicate in online spaces. We’ve also noticed digital texts often require that readers engage more actively in order to navigate hyperlinks and construct their own reading paths. “

Julie: “I learn a lot by watching online readers, but it’s often difficult to know what they are thinking as they click around and make decisions about what to read. As a result, we’ve often encouraged students to work together in assessment spaces where strategic thinking surfaces more naturally as students share ideas, take turns, and develop expertise together. Pairing students for online assessment activities encourages dialogue and collaboration. As students discuss their ideas, their cognitive processes and ways of working with others become more visible. Often, partners model and exchange strategies with each other to enhance their mutual understanding of the material.”

The second piece is about teaching students skills for engaging in online inquiry written by Julie, S. Michael Putnam, Jennifer Hathaway, and David Quinn. The authors first outline the growing importance of teaching the strategies associated with online inquiry, then introduce a framework called CAPES which they use to develop the skills students need to be successful with this task. CAPES (adapted from the work of Winne and Hadwin, 1998) is a model of recursive behavior where self-regulated learners are introduced to the context associated with a task and use this information to plan a set of actions required to complete the task. The model parallels many of the practices that skilled readers demonstrate as they engage in online inquiry. The model includes a series of questions that are used to establish the context for online inquiry, such as the following:

  • Develop a Question:
    • What am I being asked to research?
    • What knowledge do I have of this subject?
    • What is my interest/motivation in relation to the subject/topic?
    • What is the context necessary to develop the question?
    • What resources are available?
    • How much time can be devoted to developing the question?
  • Locating Information:
    • What experience do I have in researching the Internet?
    • What search engines have I used before?
    • Am I motivated or interested in using the Internet to find information?
    • What access do I have to the Internet?
    • What cues should I use as I locate websites for information?
    • How do I determine whether information is important or necessary?

The authors also list sets of questions for these topics:

  • Evaluating Information
  • Synthesizing Information
  • Communicating Information

Joan Sedita

Joan Sedita is the founder of Keys to Literacy and author of the Keys to Literacy professional development programs. She is an experienced educator, nationally recognized speaker and teacher trainer. She has worked for over 35 years in the literacy education field and has presented to thousands of teachers and related professionals at schools, colleges, clinics, and professional conferences.

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