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date: 23 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The demands of literacy tasks change appreciably after students have mastered the basics of reading words accurately and with reasonable automaticity. At about age 10 reading becomes a tool for acquiring information, understanding a variety of points of view, critiquing positions, and reasoning. The results of international and US assessments show that many students who succeed at early reading tasks struggle with these new developmental challenges, focusing attention on the instructional needs of adolescent readers. Commonly used approaches to comprehension instruction in the postprimary grades, such as teaching reading comprehension strategies, do not adequately respond to the multiple challenges adolescent readers face. One such challenge is the need to acquire discipline-specific ways of reading, writing, and thinking, often from teachers who are themselves insufficiently aware of how reading literature differs from reading science or history. We argue that appropriate attention in instruction to discipline-specific literacy practices, to maintaining an authentic purpose for assigned literacy tasks, and to the role of focused discussion as a central element in teaching comprehension would improve reading outcomes and would revolutionize current theories about the nature of reading comprehension.

Keywords: adolescent literacy, comprehension, disciplinary literacy, comprehension interventions, history, science, literature, instructional conversations, development, instruction

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