Prior research has been based on the theory that in the course of reading, good readers use strategies that facilitate comprehension and that these strategies can be taught to children with reading difficulties by using the "think-aloud" method.More generally, the theory is that comprehension depends upon focusing one's attention on the meaning of what is being read, e.g., instead of attending to meaning, you can read words while thinking about an upcoming vacation, especially when reading an assigned book that you may find boring.The strategies in the "think-aloud" method include using mental imagery, asking yourself questions, making inferences about what you've read, determining major themes, and using prior knowledge and surrounding words to find the meaning of a word you don't understand. In demonstrating the "think-aloud" method, the teacher chooses a book to be read (based both on the quality of the book and the interests and abilities of the children) and tells the children the purpose of the method. He or she reads a short section aloud, stopping often to demonstrate strategies, such as asking a question, relating what was read to another book or to prior knowledge, trying to predict what will happen later in the book, etc.The researchers investigated whether children with different kinds of difficulties in reading could benefit from use of the "think aloud" method of teaching. More specifically, they investigated whether particular strategies that are part of the method would benefit children. However, they were less concerned with testing the method than with providing a demonstration that other teachers could use to apply the "think-aloud" method in their own classes.
The participants were one first-grade ("Courtney") and one second-grade girl ("Callie") and one second-grade boy (Yobo) (ages not included). Courtney guesses what a word means by choosing a word with the same first letter or one that's consistent with her interpretation of an illustration. Although not stated in the article, giving up after encoding the first letter suggests difficulty in grapheme-to-phoneme conversion, typical of those who are dyslexic. Using illustrations to find word meaning, although she's usually incorrect, suggests she's trying to use context, displaying what seems to be fairly advanced meta-cognition for a first-grader. Callie has difficulty remembering instructions, makes literal interpretations (their nature isn't clear, since second-graders in general understand little, if anything, about metaphor), and fears failing. Yobo speaks English as a second language (ESL) and is having some difficulty with vocabulary and in understanding when reading about events typical to American culture but not in his culture. (Based on his being a recent immigrant and examples in the article, it seems reasonable to suspect that like most immigrant children his age, he'll soon be reading at grade-level.)
The researchers conducted a think-aloud session. Before reading, one researcher (also a teacher) showed the children the book's cover and asked questions about the title, author, and illustration. Yobo's response