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date: 25 September 2020

Summary and Keywords

Reading comprehension requires the construction of a coherent mental representation of the information in a text. Reading involves three interrelated elements—the reader, the text, and the activity, all situated into a broader sociocultural context. The complexity inherent in reading comprehension has given rise to a multitude of influential models and frameworks that attempt to account for the various processes that give rise to reading comprehension: for example, activation of prior knowledge and integration of incoming information with currently active memory contents. Other models and frameworks attempt to account for the components that constitute reading comprehension, such as decoding, vocabulary, and language comprehension.

Many of the most prominent models of reading comprehension describe single readers engaging with single texts. Several recent models attempt to account for the additional complexity of comprehending multiple texts. Along with engaging in comprehension of multiple texts comes the need to contend with multiple information sources (i.e., sourcing). As such, researchers have developed models and frameworks to capture the processes learners engage in when the need to engage in sourcing arises, such as when readers encounter conflicting information.

Much theorizing in the reading comprehension literature has implicated typical readers, which suggests that many models and frameworks may not represent all readers across various skill levels. Existing research has identified several sources of individual differences in reading comprehension that in part determine the success of comprehension processes. Such individual differences include working memory, executive functions, vocabulary, inferencing, and prior knowledge. Prior knowledge is particularly important because of its power to both facilitate and interfere with comprehension processes. As such, the need to overcome the disruptive influence of incorrect prior knowledge (i.e., knowledge revision) becomes especially important when readers encounter information that conflicts with that prior knowledge.

Keywords: Reading comprehension, individual differences, sourcing, multiple-text comprehension, knowledge revision

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