There are five subcategories of reading comprehension that students struggle with.
5 subcategories of reading comprehension:
- lexical comprehension
- literal comprehension
- interpretive comprehension
- applied comprehension
- affective comprehension
When it comes to reading comprehension, students are often frustrated by not understanding why they don’t get it. The best tutoring services use reading evaluation and assessment tools that target your child’s issues and can explain those issues to parents and students. In addition, tutors use their expertise to evaluate students and use strategies to enhance each area.
Lexical comprehension is the fundamental level where students simply understand the meaning of the words they read. This is the vocabulary of the text. The larger a student’s vocabulary, the more they’ll understand what they read.
This is an essential skill for reading comprehension because if a person needs help understanding the words in a text, it is difficult to understand the text’s overall meaning.
To comprehend a text, a person needs to have a good vocabulary. An extensive vocabulary helps a person understand the text more quickly because they do not have to stop and look up the meaning of each new word they come across. Instead, they can focus on understanding the overall purpose of the text.
However, understanding the meaning of words in a text is more than knowing their definitions. It also involves understanding how words are used in context, such as identifying the meaning of words with multiple meanings, recognizing idiomatic expressions, and understanding figurative languages like similes and metaphors.
Lexical comprehension is essential to reading comprehension, and developing a solid vocabulary is crucial in improving one’s ability to understand what they read.
Students can use three strategies to improve their vocabulary: logographic representation, front-loading, and wide reading.
- Logographic representation uses a visual or a “logo” to represent a word. For example, if students were learning the meaning of the word “sizzle,” they would write the definition of the word and draw or identify an image of a piece of meat on the grill.
- Front-loading vocabulary is identifying potential language students struggle with and providing definitions for those words before reading. Then, tutors would discuss the word’s meaning with the students sent before they read the text.
- Wide reading is one of the critical components of tutoring. This is the additional reading that students are doing outside of class. Wide reading is eclectic reading at a student’s reading level. In addition, the tutor gives brief definitions of unfamiliar words.
Literal comprehension is the “Get Smart, Just the Facts Ma’am” level of understanding where students can answer the four “w”s (Who, What, When, and Where) and How questions. Literal comprehension is the most basic level of reading comprehension, in which readers can understand the surface meaning of a text by identifying and recalling explicitly stated information directly presented in the text.
At the literal comprehension level, readers can answer questions that require them to recall specific details or information from the text, such as who the characters are, what happened in the story, where the events took place, and when they occurred. Additionally, readers at this level can identify a text’s main idea and supporting details.
While literal comprehension is an essential foundation for higher-level comprehension skills, more is needed for truly understanding and analyzing a text. Readers must also be able to engage in inferential and critical thinking to fully comprehend a text’s meaning and significance. Inferential comprehension involves using clues from the text and background knowledge to draw conclusions and make predictions, while critical comprehension involves evaluating a text’s credibility, bias, and underlying messages.
Strategies to improve literal comprehension includes keyword identification, skimming, and scanning are supportive of the 9 Fundamental Reading Comprehension Activities.
- Keyword identification is locating the vocabulary in the text that carries the most meaning. Then, students can underline or highlight these words as they read and return to them later when answering questions.
- Scanning is looking for a predetermined piece of information within the text. For example, the student may be looking for the definition of the word “scan” and would move their eyes over the page looking for the keyword “scan,” pause there and see if the definition followed. If not, they would continue through the text until they locate that information.
- Skimming is similar to scanning because students aren’t looking for the nitty gritty. Instead, students are trying to get the broad strokes of the material being read. At the end of skimming, students should have the main idea of that particular chunk of material that they are reading.
Interpretive, Applied, and Affective Comprehension
The same three strategies can be used to build the skill level for these three types of higher-level reading comprehension.
Interpretive Comprehension demonstrates a higher level of comprehension. As students understanding of text improves, they can make inferences, explain why things happened, answer what-if questions, and wonder, “How about this or that.”
Interpretive comprehension requires readers to read between the lines and use their background knowledge and critical thinking skills to understand a text’s meaning. Readers must be able to identify and analyze figurative language, such as metaphors and symbolism, and understand the author’s tone, point of view, and purpose.
Interpretive comprehension is an essential skill for success in academic and real-world contexts. It allows readers to evaluate and analyze complex texts critically, make informed decisions, and communicate effectively with others.
Applied Comprehension, or evaluative comprehension, is a higher reading comprehension level. In this instance, students are making connections with things they have already read, seen, and experienced. At this level, readers can connect the text and their lives and evaluate and judge its ideas and values.
Applied comprehension requires readers to go beyond interpreting a text’s meaning and critically evaluate its significance and relevance to their lives. Readers must be able to draw on their own experiences and knowledge to make connections and support their interpretations with evidence from the text.
Students should be explicitly taught strategies for connecting texts and real-world situations to develop applied comprehension skills. Students should also be encouraged to reflect on the text’s ideas and values and evaluate its credibility and bias.
Affective Comprehension is the empathetic level of comprehension where students make connections based on social mores, cultural norms, and how they would feel if they were a character within the text.
Affective comprehension requires readers to use their emotional intelligence and social awareness to understand and connect with the characters in the text. Readers must be able to identify and analyze the emotions and motivations of the characters, as well as understand how the text reflects and challenges social norms and cultural values.
Students should be explicitly taught strategies for identifying and analyzing the characters’ emotions in the text, such as close reading, visualization, and empathy exercises. To develop their affective comprehension skills. Additionally, students should be encouraged to reflect on their emotional responses to the text and explore how it reflects and challenges their cultural values and beliefs.
The three strategies tutors can use to enhance the higher-level reading skills of interpretive, applied, and affective comprehension are Think Alouds, intensive reading, and extensive reading.
- Think Alouds are tutor lead and involve the tutor reading aloud and explaining what’s going on in their head as readers. This strategy can help struggling readers identify areas in which they can improve.
- Intensive reading involves diving deep into the literal meaning of the text. With intensive reading, students seek to gain information they can use later. An example would be reading a school science textbook.
- Extensive reading, similar to wide reading, entails reading a broad range of material. The difference is students ask interpretative, applied, and affective comprehension questions. In addition, they analyze the text to extract themes and meanings.
Each of these five subcategories makes up the skills under the umbrella of reading comprehension. They stack upon one another, becoming more powerful as you level up to each comprehension type.