Situation models: a framework to study reading comprehension
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 10:37 authored by Shifali Diesen
The ultimate goal of reading is comprehension (Nation, 2005). The ability to read and understand text is a critical part of the education experience, and the long term consequences of poor school achievement are well known. Difficulties with reading comprehension not only hold back an individual’s learning and academic achievements but can also limit their employment options, social functioning in society, and life satisfaction (Ricketts, 2011). Reading comprehension, however, is extraordinarily complex, and rather difficult to measure considering that it involves a number of cognitive processes that cannot be observed directly (Ricketts, 2011). Understanding written text not only requires recognising words, accessing their meanings, activating relevant background, and generating inferences, but also involves monitoring ongoing comprehension (Ricketts, 2011). It follows that effective strategies for reading comprehension instruction should draw upon cognitive theories, and must extend beyond supporting text-based processing (Koning & van der Schoot, 2013). Models of reading comprehension accept that comprehension requires the reader to build a mental representation of the text (Nation, 2005). This mental representation of the text refers to the unique ‘situations’ described in the text (Zwaan & Radvansky, 1998). Situation models offer a useful framework to study reading comprehension and not only embody an individual’s personal representation of the meaning of the text but also provide a way to study the processes involved in comprehension monitoring (Rinck & Weber, 2003). The current thesis represents a first step towards invesitigating reading comprehension difficulties using a situation model framework. The first part of the thesis is a review of literature on situation models. This review contains a broad discussion of situation models, and critically evaluates research findings with a focus on methodological issues. Specifically, the implications of these methodological concerns on the interpretation of research findings are discussed. The second part of the thesis describes an empirical study combining reading time and eye movement measures to study reading comprehension processes within the framework of situation models.