Reading Comprehension Skills: Testing a Distinctiveness Theory - A Summary

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This study was conducted to explore the validity of the reading comprehension skills distinctiveness hypothesis. Students and teachers were randomly assigned to specific comprehension skill training groups: (a) locating details, (b) drawing conclusions, (c) finding the sequence, (d) determining the main idea, and to a control group wherein students engaged in sustained reading of self‐selected trade books. After the training period had ended the Barnell Loft Specific Skills Posttest assessing the four comprehension skills instructed was administered to all of the subjects in each of the four instructional groups and the control. The reading comprehension skill distinctiveness hypothesis would predict that scores for the skill taught would exceed the other skills measured for each skill group and the control group. A unitary hypothesis would predict concurrent gains in the skill taught as well as for all other skills measured. In this study, no differences were found among the skill instructional groups and the control at the conclusion of instruction. The results of this study argue for a unitary or holistic view of reading comprehension. The results also suggest increasing the time students spend engaged in sustained reading of self selected materials as a means for improving students’ reading comprehension. Implications for altering instructional practices and future research are suggested.

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