Gordon Askew has just posted an excellent blog on the topic of 'guessing' words from context:
'Your guess is(n't) as good as mine'
http://ssphonix.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/ ... ne_31.html
(All Gordon's blog posts are well worth reading )
While, from another forum comes this post by Dr Steven Dykstra, psychologist and founding member of the Wisconsin Reading Coalition. (Reproduced by permission of the author)
I find this a very memorable image:
"It appears to me that the dominant approach to reading instruction does not rest not upon any established science of reading, but rather floats over a great, gaping hole with no science or data to support it."
http://www.wisconsinreadingcoalition.org/People have called for a scholarly discussion, let's see if we can have one. That will depend, of course, on whether there is any scholarship on the other side of this debate.
Can anyone who uses or supports the use of guessing cues offer any data from any source that shows teaching those strategies improves reading in any way?
This isn't a rhetorical question. It is an important inquiry on a matter of central importance to education. It is reasonable to expect a response. I believe the systematic avoidance of this issue is at the heart of our national inability to improve literacy.
We've had two national, scholarly reviews which addressed the role of phonics and other decoding skills in reading. There were other major reviews reviews and analyses going back almost 50 years which did much the same thing. All of them had very much the same findings. In that same time there hasn't been so much as one study, much less a review, to even consider the contribution of guessing strategies to reading and reading development. Guessing has been associated with poor reading, but those weren't studies of the consequences of teaching the strategy, only descriptions of how children attempt to read.
In spite of this, the practice of teaching children to guess at words has dominated reading instruction for over 40 years in this nation. Even as more and more teachers incorporate direct instruction of phonics and related skills, they most often do so in combination, or "balance", with guessing strategies, leaving emerging readers to decide for themselves which strategy they should use each time they come to a difficult word, and offering no guidance for that decision. Our best evidence indicates we're teaching children to mimic the poorest readers and hoping they figure out a better way, later, more or less on their own.
In order to support the practice of guessing, professors and various well known reading gurus have taught a series of well known falsehoods about reading which, if they were true, would make the use of guessing strategies both rational and necessary. These include the claim that only 50% of English is decodeable using phonics, that skilled readers don't look at all the letters, and skilled readers often use guessing strategies to identify words. There are many more.
It appears to me that the dominant approach to reading instruction does not rest not upon any established science of reading, but rather floats over a great, gaping hole with no science or data to support it.
Once again, can anyone offer any evidence to support those strategies, or to challenge my thesis? I think that's a worthy question. And if there is no evidence, have we reached the point that these practices should be eliminated from education and the people who practice them retrained to follow better, more effective methods?
Steve Dykstra, PhD