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Becoming a skilled comprehender: causes and consequences

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The product of successful reading comprehension is a coherent and integrated representation of the state of affairs described in the text, referred to as a mental model or situation model. The process of comprehension involves representations at multiple levels: word, sentence, and text, and the integration of information from the word level through to our general knowledge about the world. I will present longitudinal research that identifies a critical role for discourse processing skills in the development of young readers’ ability to construct this mental representation. I will also examine the consequences of good reading comprehension for other aspects of language development, specifically vocabulary and morphological knowledge.

Brief Biography I studied Experimental Psychology at the University of Sussex (1986-1989) and stayed on for my DPhil (1992-1995, supervised by Jane Oakhill) on children’s reading comprehension difficulties, after a brief foray into adults’ anaphoric processing. After lectureships at the universities of Nottingham and Essex, I moved to Lancaster in 2005, where I am currently Reader in the Department of Psychology. I am the incoming editor of the journal Scientific Studies of Reading and author of Reading Development and Difficulties, published by Wiley-Blackwell in 2010.

This talk is part of the Zangwill Club series.

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