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Research Report

The Science of Reading Comprehension Instruction

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Decades of research offer important understandings about the nature of comprehension and its development. Drawing on both classic and contemporary research, the authors identify some key understandings about reading comprehension processes and instruction, including these: Comprehension instruction should begin early, teaching word-reading and bridging skills (including graphophonological semantic cognitive flexibility, morphological awareness, and reading fluency) supports reading comprehension development, reading comprehension is not automatic even when fluency is strong, teaching text structures and features fosters reading comprehension development, comprehension processes vary by what and why we are reading, comprehension strategy instruction improves comprehension, vocabulary and knowledge building support reading comprehension development, supporting engagement with text (volume reading, discussion and analysis of text, and writing) fosters comprehension development, and instructional practices that kindle reading motivation improve comprehension. The authors present a visual depiction of this model, emphasizing the layered nature of impactful comprehension instruction.


Duke, N.K., Ward, A.E., & Pearson, P.D. (2021). The Science of Reading Comprehension Instruction. The Reading Teacher, 74(6), 663– 672.

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