Reading fluency in primary school and beyond: A longitudinal study from grade 3 to 7 of prosodic reading and its relationship to text comprehension

Reading fluency in primary school and beyond: A longitudinal study from grade 3 to 7 of prosodic reading and its relationship to text comprehension

First Author: Christopher Sappok -- University of Cologne
Additional authors/chairs: 
Markus Linnemann; Sabine Stephany
Keywords: Fluency, Prosody, Longitudinal, Assessment, Comprehension
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose
Prosodic reading is an important aspect of reading fluency. Studies indicate that it represents prognostic potential for reading comprehension and that its promotion may lead to positive bootstrapping effects. Longitudinal studies are rare, but knowledge of the trajectory of prosodic reading is necessary for appropriate promotional interventions to be effective. Therefore, these research questions arise: How does prosodic reading develop? What is the relationship between prosodic reading and text comprehension? How and to what extent do individual learning biographies differ?

Method
We conducted a longitudinal study with 31 students from grade 3 to 6 and 4 to 7. Students had to read an expository text aloud annually. The resulting audio files were assessed by 51 university student raters in terms of e.g. NAEP fluency scale, engagement, and a heuristic prosody evaluation measure. Additionally a reading comprehension test was conducted each year.

Results
Development is not completed at the end of primary school as three groups of learning biographies were identified: Students with excellent prosodic reading skills and high comprehension skills at the end of primary school or before, those who reached this level about one year later, and students whose levels of competence stagnated alarmingly during this period.

Conclusions
There is a clear difference between basic and advanced prosodic reading which should be taken into account in both assessment and promotion. Reading strategy training should not be postponed until the development of prosodic reading has supposedly been 'completed'.