An Examination of Reading Comprehension and Reading Rate in University Students

  • Author / Creator
    Hebert, Megan E
  • The following dissertation includes three studies investigating reading comprehension and reading rate in university students. The first study focused on measuring adult reading comprehension more effectively and efficiently by testing whether brief versions of standardized reading comprehension measures could provide a reasonable estimate of reading comprehension in less time. Results suggested that a computerized brief version of the Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults reading comprehension subtest (Bryant, Patton & Dunn, 1991) appears to be an adequate measure of reading comprehension and rate in studies where there is a need to measure reading comprehension quickly and reliably and that the Curriculum Based Measurement (CBM) appears to be an adequate brief screening measure of reading comprehension and rate that would be appropriate to use in situations where it is important to ensure adequate reading comprehension skills. The second study examined how different component skills of reading comprehension contribute to performance on four different reading comprehension tests. Consistent with studies examining children’s reading comprehension, the tests were at best moderately correlated and the total amount of variance explained by word and nonword reading rate, text and sentence reading rate and working memory varied across four different reading comprehension measures. Overall, word and nonword reading rate explained between 6 and 15% of the variance, sentence and text reading rate explained between 10-29% of the variance and working memory explained between 5-22% of the variance. The third study compared university students with and without a history of reading difficulties on measures of word and nonword reading rate, text reading rate and comprehension, and question-answering times. Consistent with past studies, results indicated that students with a history of reading difficulties demonstrated slower word, nonword, and text reading rate than their typical reading peers, but had comparable reading comprehension scores. Results also found that students with a history of reading difficulties took longer to answer questions even when reading rate was controlled, suggesting that they require extra time to complete reading comprehension measures for reasons other than slow reading rate. These three studies examine reading comprehension and reading rate within the university population, and thus contribute to filling a current gap in understanding of these processes in adult reading research.

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  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
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    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.