Children’s Comprehension of Narrative and Expository Texts: The Contributions of Word Decoding and Knowledge Integration Skills Vary Within and Between Text Types

Brenda Hannon


This study examined the concurrent (mean age:  5.96 years) and longitudinal (mean age: 5.96 years) contributions that multiple component skills of reading made to 155 beginning readers’ comprehension scores for narrative and expository texts. The component skills included: word decoding, text memory, knowledge integration, and working memory. For narrative texts, word decoding was one of the best predictors of comprehension scores both concurrently and longitudinally; although longitudinally, the predictive strength of word decoding was equivalent to knowledge integration. In contrast, for expository texts, knowledge integration was a much better predictor of comprehension scores than any other component skill, including word decoding. When the contributions of the component skills were considered between text types, word decoding was a better predictor of comprehension scores for narrative texts than expository texts, whereas knowledge integration was a better predictor of comprehension scores for expository texts than narrative texts. Taken as a whole, these findings suggest that the contributions that component skills make to the comprehension scores of beginning readers vary as a function of text type, and that the common assumption that word decoding is the most important skill for beginning readers may be limited to just the comprehension scores of narrative texts.

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Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

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