Building Content Knowledge to Boost Comprehension in the Primary Grades

Cabell, S.Q., & Hwang, H.J. (2020). Building content knowledge to boost comprehension in the primary grades. Reading Research Quarterly, 55(1), 99-107.

The potential of background knowledge to support linguistic and reading comprehension has been a relatively neglected topic in the science of reading. The authors clarify why knowledge building in English language arts instruction (i.e., content‐rich instruction) can support language and content knowledge, leading to better linguistic and reading comprehension, based on theoretical arguments and empirical studies. The authors review the evidence on this claim, paying special attention to experimental trials conducted in K–2 settings. The authors also share preliminary findings from a novel intervention study testing the example of a widely used content‐rich English language arts curriculum. While a growing literature base demonstrates evidence of promise, additional rigorous trials are needed to examine the effectiveness of this integrative approach to teaching reading for understanding.

"You may have tangible wealth untold. Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be — I had a mother who read to me." — Strickland Gillilan