Psychological Science 2018, (3) 559-564 DOI:     ISSN: 0412-1961 CN: 21-1139/TG

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Reading comprehension
Word decoding
Reading fluency
Hierarchical lineal modelling
Initial status
Growth rates
DENG Ci-Beng
LI Ji-Wei
Article by Wei,w
Article by Deng,C.B
Article by Li,J.W

Predicting Reading Comprehension from the Initial Status and Growth Rate of Word Reading among Chinese Students at Lower Grades

Wei WEI1, 2, 2

1. Shanghai Normal University


Reading comprehension is the ultimate aim of learning to read, and it depends primarily on word reading during early school years. On the basis of the moderate or strong correlation between word reading and reading comprehension, more and more recent studies argued that the growth rate of word reading also contributes to reading comprehension, and it was confirmed by some studies on reading acquisition in alphabetic languages. However, there are few studies examining the contribution of the growth rate of word reading to reading comprehension in Chinese acquisition. Moreover, few studies compared the relative contribution of two word reading skills, i.e., word decoding and reading fluency, to reading comprehension. Therefore, the aim of this study was twofold. The first was to examine whether the initial status and growth rate of Chinese word reading (word decoding and reading fluency) during Grade 1 uniquely contributed to reading comprehension at the end of Grades 1 and 2, and the second was to compare the relative contributions of word decoding and reading fluency to reading comprehension. One hundred and eighty-three Grade 1 students (101 boys and 82 girls) participated in this study, and they were assessed at the November, February, and May during Grade 1 (T1, T2, and T3), and at the May of Grade 2 (T4). They were assessed on nonverbal IQ (T1, Nonverbal Matric), word decoding (T1-T3, Character Recognition), reading fluency (T1-T3, One-Minute Reading), and reading comprehension (T3-T4, Passage Comprehension). Hierarchical linear modelling was used to estimate the intercepts and slopes of word decoding and reading fluency based on the data at three time points (T1-T3). Results showed that the intercept correlated with the slope for both word decoding (r = -.65) and reading fluency (r =-.52). Results of hierarchical regression analysis showed that the slope of word decoding uniquely predicted reading comprehension at T3 and T4, after nonverbal IQ and the intercepts of word decoding and reading fluency were statistically controlled. Moreover, the slope of reading fluency uniquely predicted only reading comprehension at T4, but it made unique contribution to the growth of reading comprehension from T3 to T4 (by controlling the autoregressive effect). The contribution of word decoding (the intercept and slope) to reading comprehension at T3 was higher than that of reading fluency (the intercept and slope), while their contribution to reading comprehension at T4 was approximately equivalent. The results indicated that the growth rate of word reading is important for the development of reading comprehension in Chinese acquisition, and the policy makers and reading educators should take the growth rate of Chinese word reading into consideration when using word reading to predict later reading achievement. The increasing contribution of reading fluency to reading comprehension also confirmed the theory of automatic information processing in reading, which argued that the automaticity of word decoding reallocated the attention resource from basic word recognition to higher-order comprehension processes.

Keywords Reading comprehension   Word decoding   Reading fluency   Hierarchical lineal modelling   Initial status   Growth rates  
Received 2017-10-25 Revised 2017-12-04 Online: 2018-05-20 
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