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Cognitive Processing in Oral and Silent Reading Comprehension Author(s): Aita Salasoo Reviewed work(s): Source: Reading Research

Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 1 (Winter, 1986), pp. 59-69 Published by: International Reading Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/747960 . Accessed: 18/04/2012 02:43
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Cognitive processing in oral and silent reading comprehension


AITA SALASOO
Indiana University

THERELATION between oral and silent readingcomprehensionwas examined in an information-processingframework.In this framework,comprehensioninvolves constructionof and access to a hierarchicalknowledgestructureby the reader.Readingratesand comprehension measures that probed recognitionof various levels of text structurewere collected for passages read orally and silently by 16 college students. Oral reading rates were slower than silent readingrates. More encompassingor higher level representations were verified more Differencesdue to readingmode were slowly thanlexical and lower level text representations. found only for low- and high-levelpropositionsthat occurredin the text explicitly; for these, silent readingof the text led to slower verification responses than oral reading. The results created in (slower) oral reading are acsuggest that memory traces of text microstructure cessed faster during memory-basedcomprehensiontasks than traces established by faster processes that occur duringsilent reading.

Processus cognitifde la comprdhension de l'crit en lectureorale et silencieuse


ENSEBASANT sur le processusde traitement de l'information on a comparela comprehension de l'6criten lectureorale et en lecture silencieuse. Selon cette base, la comprehensionimpliet l'utilisationd'une organisationhierarchiquedes connaissances(preconque l'61aboration naissances)par le lecteur.En faisant lire oralementpuis silencieusementdiffdrentspassages par seize.61lves de college, on a pu recueillirdes donnees concernantla vitesse de d6chifde la comprehensionen postlecture,a partirdesquelles on peut deterfrage et I'6valuation miner la reconnaissancedes niveaux diff6rents de la structuredu texte. La lecture orale s'effectuait plus lentementque la lecturesilencieuse. On a pu observerla theoriede l'effetdes niveaux (levels effect) de Kintsch (1974) dans la capacit6d'utiliserles preconnaissances:les representations plus globales ou d'un niveau sup6rieurse v6rifiaientplus lentementque les lexicales et de niveau inf6rieur.Des diff6rencesattribuables au mode de lecrepresentations ture n'ont6t6 constaties que pour les propositionsdes hautet bas niveaux retrouv6es explicitementdans le texte: la lecture silencieuse entrainaitune v6rificationplus lente des r6ponses a la lecture orale du texte. Les r6sultatsobtenus revelent que le mode de comparativement lecturechoisi produitun effet qui affecte le cours temporeldes processusde comprehension au niveau superieur.Lors d'exercicesm6morielsde comprehension,il est plus facile d'acc6der aux donnees sur la microstructure du texte enregistreeslors de la lecture silencieuse, oui le processusd' "enregistrement" des donnees s'effectueplus rapidement.Finalement,on proposeraquelquesorientationsaux recherchesulterieures.

Note. This manuscriptwas acceptedfor publicationunderthe editorshipof S. Jay Samuelsand P. David Pearson.

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Procesamientocognitivoen la comprensi6n de lecturaen voz alta y en silencio


la relaci6n existente entre la comprensi6nde lectura en voz alta y en silencio EXAMIN6 dentrode un marco de procesamientode informaci6n.En este marco de referenciala comprensi6n involucrala construcci6ny acceso a una estructurade conocimientojerarquizado. Diecis6is estudiantesuniversitariosleyeron pasajes tanto en silencio como en voz alta. Se recogieronmedidasde tasa de lecturay medidasde comprensi6nque sondeabanel reconocimientode varios niveles de la estructura del texto. La velocidadde lecturaen voz altafue mais lenta que la de lecturaen silencio. Se observ6 un efecto en funci6n de los niveles (Kintsch, de comprensi6n:Representaciones 1974) paralas latenciasde reconocimiento mis completas o de un nivel maisalto fueronverificadascon maislentitudque las representaciones 16xicasy de texto a nivel maisbajo. Se encontraron diferenciasdebidasal estilo de lecturas61oparalas proposicionesde bajo y alto nivel que ocurrianen el texto de maneraexplicita:La lecturaen silencio del texto condujoa una verificaci6nde reipuestasmis lentaque la lecturaen voz alta. Los resultadosrevelanun efecto debido al modo de lecturaque involucrael flujo temporalde procesos de comprensi6na un nivel maisalto: Los trazos de memoriade la microestructura del texto que se crearonen la lecturaen voz alta (maislenta) son accesadosmaisripidamente durantelas tareas de comprensi6nbasadas en memoria que los trazos establecidos por los procesos mis rapidosque ocurrendurantela lecturaen silencio. Se delineansugerenciaspara investigacionesfuturas.
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bei lautemund stillem Leseverstehen KognitiveVerarbeitung

von lautemund stillem Leseverstehen DAS VERHALTNIS wurdenach dem Ansatzder Informavon und untersucht.In diesem AnsatzbedeutetVerstehen die Konstruktion tionsverarbeitung durch den Leser. Messungen von onden Zugang zu einer hierarchischenWissensstruktur line Lesewerteund von Verstehennach dem Lesen, die das ErkennenverschiedenerNiveaus von Textstrukturen laut testeten, wurdengesammeltvon Texten,die von 16 Collegestudenten und still gelesen wordenwaren.Die Werteim laut Lesen warenlangsamerals im leise Lesen. Ein Niveau Effekt (Kintsch, 1974) wurde ftir die Verstehen-Erkennen Latenzenbeobachtet: Umfassende Reprisentationenoder solche h6heren Niveaus wurden langsamer erfaBtals lexikalischeund Textreprdisentationen niedrigenNiveaus. Unterschiede je nach Leseartwurden nur beobachtetftir Sitze hohen und niedrigen Niveaus, die im Text explizit vorkamen: als lautes Lesen. Die stilles Lesen des Textesfiihrtezu langsameren bestitigendenAntworten Ergebnisselassen einen Lesarteffekterkennen,der den zeitlichen Verlaufvon h6herenVervon Textmikrostruktur, die durch(langsameres)lautes betrifft:Erinnerung stehensvorgdingen die auf Geddichtnis Lesen geschaffen wurde, ist in Verstindnisaufgaben, basieren, leichter wordensind, welche als Eindrticke,die von schnellerenProzeBenhervorgerufen zugdinglich werdengegeben. bei stillem Lesen entstanden.Hinweise ffir weitereUntersuchungen 1) The reader's primary goal in both (oral and silent) reading modes is to understand the written text. 2) Perceptual and cognitive processes mediate between the printed page and the reader's comprehension-the knowledge gained by the reader during and following reading of the printed page. 3) Comprehension is characterized as a hierarchy of levels of knowledge computed or activated in memory (e.g., Just & Carpenter,

Both for the observer and for the skilled reader,oral and silent readinghave obvious differences. Oral reading includes an immediate vocalization response and is slower than silent reading. But do we understandbetter what we read aloud compared to material we read silently? The present study addresses the nature of comprehensiondifferencesbetween oral and silent reading.The assumptionsof the information-processingframeworkadoptedfor this investigationare as follows:
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1980; LaBerge & Samuels, 1974; Rumelhart, 1977). During reading comprehension, words are identified (e.g., Glushko, 1981; Levy, 1981), larger meaning structures or propositions are constructed and integrated to prior knowledge (e.g., de Beaugrande, 1980; Kintsch, 1974, 1977), and, accordingto some are researchers, inferences or macrostructures drawn from information in the printed text (Frederiksen,1981; van Dijk, 1979). 4) The reader in this framework comes from the populationof college students and is practicedat readingfor comprehensionand for later retrieval of various levels of knowledge from the text. Caution in extendingthe following discussion to otherpopulationsis advised. Numerous previous studies of oral and silent reading have used both on-line measurements of readingbehavior and performanceon subsequent memory and comprehensiontests. However, this body of research has not been conclusive about the extent and locus of differences between oral and silent reading processes. Two examples suffice: First, differences between silent and oral reading have been observed in eye movements (e.g., Anderson & Swanson, 1937; Fairbanks,1937; Wanat,1976) and in reading rates (e.g., Juel & Holmes, 1981; Mead, 1915, 1917; Rogers, 1937), but the role of these differenceshas yet to be clarified in a model of readingcomprehension.Second, the implications for silent reading processes from oral reading errors or miscues (e.g., Danks & Hill, 1981; Goodman, 1969, 1970a, 1970b; Goodman & Goodman, 1977; Levy, 1981; Weber, 1968) are not clear. Skilled silent reading is covert in natureand errors of omission can be inferred only indirectly from regressive eye movements (Rayner & McConkie, 1976). Nevertheless, miscue analysis is the empirical foundation of Goodman's theory of reading (e.g., Goodman, 1970a, 1970b; Goodman& Burke, 1973). Miscue data from oral readingcan be informativeabout silent readingonly if one assumes a unitarycognitive basis for comprehensionin both modes of reading. And this assumptionis the one under investigationhere: How similar are the cognitive components of comprehension following oral and silent reading?
Oral and silent reading SALASOO

Historically, two kinds of evidence have been held to support the existence of shared cognitive processes in oral and silent reading. First, the process of phonological recodinghas been implicatedin both modes of reading(e.g., Baron, 1977; Glushko, 1981; Kleiman, 1975; Spoehr& Smith, 1975). The functionof phonological recoding of visual print may be to keep several words (their meanings and structural constraints)in short-term memoryduringfluent & Oka, (Banks, Shugarman, 1981). reading Recodingoccurs relativelyearly in the temporal course of reading, when comparedto the final product of comprehension. Second, a sizable number of studies have failed to find comprehension differencesafter oral and silent reading (e.g., Anderson & Dearborn, 1952; Anderson & Swanson, 1937; Gray, 1956; Jones, 1932; Juel & Holmes, 1981; Poulton& Brown, 1967; Rogers, 1937). Because researchershave identified an on-line reading process (phonological recoding)in both modes of readingand because they have failed to observe differencesbetween the two comprehensiontests, it may seem appropriate to conclude that a central cognitive basis is common to both oral and silent reading. Such a conclusion would be premature and of the literwould constitutea misinterpretation ature;researchin both fields is still surrounded by controversyand steeped in methodological problems. Phonological recoding may interact with properties of the text structure, such as contextualconstraint(e.g., Wanat, 1976), and with measures of readabilitythat are functions of both the reader and the text (e.g., Coke, 1974). Evidence for such interactionsfrom vocalization suppressionstudies is difficult to assess, since under such conditions subjects may use unnatural readingstrategies.Indeed, if phonological recodinginteractswith some text- and reader-basedvariables, it may also be affected by readingmode. The body of literature on oraland silentreadis inconclusive.Severalclassing comprehension room studies of oral and silent reading have reported oral readingadvancomprehension tages (Collins, 1961; Elgart, 1975; Swalm, 1973); othershave found silent readingto be superior for comprehension (e.g., Mead, 1915, 1917). Thus, one cannotdrawstrongconclusions
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from the null findingsin postreadingtests. One methodologicalproblemwith the oral and silent reading literaturehas been an often loose, global definition of comprehension (if one is attemptedat all). Inappropriate or insensitive measurement techniques often follow from this type of conceptualshortcoming.Another problem with comprehension measurement tools has been a wide range of components used to produce the required response. The task demands posed by multiplechoice comprehensionquestions (e.g., Collins, 1961), standardized written comprehension tests (e.g., Elgart, 1975), and oral cloze procedures (e.g., Swalm, 1973) vary greatly. Solutions to these problems in measuring comprehensionof reading texts may lie in recent developmentsin the field of text and discourse processing: namely, in the proposalof a numberof detailed models of knowledgestructure and comprehension(e.g., Anderson, 1976; de Beaugrande, 1980; Kintsch & van Dijk, 1978; Minsky, 1975, 1980; Schank, 1975, 1981). In one model (Kintsch & van Dijk, 1978), reading passages and the meanings derived from them by readersare viewed in terms of hierarchical propositional structures and their interrelationsand associative links with the centraltheme of the text. By carryingout a propositionalanalysisof a readingtext based on such models (e.g., Turner & Greene, 1977), one can identify levels of knowledge structures in relationto the centraltheme. The lowest level in this hierarchyis given to lexical (or surface) knowledge of the words that occur in the text; concepts related to the meaning of perceived words compose the propositional comprehension structures.Largerunits of meaningexplicitly presented in the text comprise the text's of low-leveland high-levelpropmicrostructure ositions. High-levelmicrostructure propositions are more complex and encompass lower level propositions. The same knowledge structures that describe the text itself are importantfor the processes involved in reading, understanding,and rememberingthe passage. Kintsch (1977) has

suggested that higher level structures require more processing and leave more enduring memory traces than lower level structures. In support of this notion, strong microstructure levels effects have been found in reading time and recall measuresin studies of silent reading (Cirilo & Foss, 1980; Kintsch& Keenan, 1973; Kintsch, Kozminsky, Streby, McKoon, & Keenan, 1975): More time is spent reading higher level propositionsthan lower level ones, and afterwards, the former are recalled with greaterprobabilitythanthe latter. This study examinestwo extensionsof prelevels effects in comprehenvious propositional sion. First, in traditional memory studies (e.g., Tulving, 1976), itemsthat are recalledbetterare recognizedmore poorly.It is but a small step to resultto the superior relatethis well-documented recall of high-level propositionsover low-level propositions.The predictionfollows that higher level statementsfrom the text might be recognized with less accuracy,speed, and confidence than lower level knowledge structures.Second, a text also entails the ability to comprehending derive inferences consistent with the thematic of the content or the meaning macrostructures text (Frederiksen,1981; van Dijk, 1979). Using analysis, one may be able to compropositional pare comprehensionof inferences with that of high-levelpropositionsthat occur in the text. In sum, recent advancesin text analysis and comprehensionmodeling have enabled more accuof various aspects of reading rate measurement comprehension.'These tools may makeit possible to understand betterthe natureof comprehension in oral and silentreading. In this spirit, the present study asks whetheroral and silent readingprocessesdifferentially affect various levels of comprehension, namely, lexical knowledge, low- and high-level propositions, and inferences. Four dependent variables were used to investigate reading and comprehension;the first variablewas chosen to confirm the relation between oral and silent reading rates, and the other three variables to measure comprehensionat each of four different levels.

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Three additionalquestion types addressed higher levels of comprehension. The propositional representation constructedduringreading Subjects and of a text was examined by comprehension Sixteen Indiana University students were tested individually.Subjects were right-handed asking readersto verify (a) high- and low-level native English speakers with normal or cor- propositions, and (b) inferential statements. rectedvision and no knownreadingdisabilities. The verificationquestions occurredin two versions, each of which required either a "Yes/ Subjectsreceivedcredit as partialfulfillmentof True" or "No/False"response from the reader. the requirementsfor an introductorypsycholLow-level propositions presented for recogniogy course. tion either were exact repetitionsof one-clause sentences from the test passage or had one subMaterials Twelvetest passages andthreepracticepas- stitutedword that renderedthe statementinconwith the text. Similarly, high-level sages between 150 and 300 words in length, gruous test items repeated or misrepreproposition of in used studies listening comprepreviously hension (Blank, Pisoni, & McClaskey, 1981; senteda clause centralto the passagetheme, but Brunner& Pisoni, 1982), were chosen as ex- one which did not necessarily occur within a pository readingtexts. For each text, four veri- single sentence. Inferencesrequiredsubjectsto fication statementswere constructedto evaluate synthesize information explicitly conveyed in various levels of comprehension.A sample pas- the passage; false inferenceswere contradictory to accuratesyntheses. sage and its statementsare shown in Table 1. for the lexical in the Memory knowledge text was tested with questionsthat requiredrec- Design Reading mode and level of comprehension ognition of test words as having occurredin the were within-subjectsvariables. Readquestion or not. The were of reading passage questions mode was blocked-each subject read six the standard form, "Didthe word 'XXXX' oc- ing stories aloud and six silently. The orderof silent cur in this story?"Either correct words or disoral and blocks was counterbalanced response tractorwords synonymousto words which had orders of occurred in the test passage (and of similar across subjects. Two counterbalanced the 12 test were each with 8 subused, passages length and frequency) occurred in the target Withineach of these two subject groups, jects. position.

Method

Table1 Sampletest readingpassage


In ancientRome, JuliusCaesarbannedchariotdriving at night. It seems the thundering chariotwheels made too much noise. Now-over 2,000 years later-people are startingto realizethat noise isn'tgood for them. It affects their hearing,their peace of mind, their ability to workefficiently, and, as some doctorspoint out, theirgeneralhealth. Most people still accept noise as a routinepartof their daily lives: sirens, horns, airplanes,householdappliances, powermowers,jackhammers.Some even seek out noise in the form of loud rock music. People can see a smog-filled sky or a filthy lake and they recognizepollution, but noise is not usually regardedwith equal concern. Noise is a form of pollutionand, like other forms, it'sgetting worse. A U.S. governmentstudy says thatnoise pollution is doublingevery ten years. Says Dr. VernO. Knudsen,a noise expertat the Universityof California:"Ifnoise continues to increasefor the next 30 years as it has for the past 30, it could become lethal." Questions Lexical knowledge:Did the word "doctors" occur in this story? Low-levelproposition:Noise pollutionaffects one's work. High-levelproposition:People are startingto realize the harmfuleffects of noise. to the rise in noise pollution. Inference:Moderntechnologyhas contributed

Oral and silent reading

SALASOO

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"Yes/True" responses were made on the lefthandside of the responsebox by half of the subjects and on the right-hand side by the other half. In addition,correctand incorrectquestion versions were counterbalanced among each group. The order of the four questions, one at each level, was also randomfor every passage presentation. Procedure Subjects were tested individually in a sound-attenuatedroom. The instructions, the prompts during the course of the experiment, the reading passages, and the comprehension questionswere all presentedon a GBC Standard cathode-ray-tube (CRT) display monitor (Model MV-10A) placed at eye level about 40 cm in frontof the subject. Stimuluspresentation and responsecollection were carriedout by a PDP-11/34 computer.The subject interacted with the visual promptsby pressingappropriate buttons on a seven-button response box connectedto the computer. The start of each reading passage was announced on the center of the CRT screen by a prompt: "Attention! New Story Coming Up. Please press READY button to begin." When the subjecthad indicatedhis or her readiness, I announcedthe readingmode (oral or silent) for the passage. The passage appearedon the CRT screen one sentenceat a time and was advanced control. by the reader's button-press Subjects were instructedto read each sentence once and then to press the "Ready" button in orderto continuereadingas fluentlyas possible. The presentationtechnique preventedregressive eye movementsto previous sentences and also allowed for the collection of sentenceby-sentencereadingrates for each test passage. At the end of each passage, the question phase was announced on the screen by a centered prompt: "Attention! Questions. Please press READY button to begin." Subjects initiated each questionpresentation themselvesand were instructedto respondas quickly and accurately as possible once the questionshad appearedon the screen. After making their "Yes/True" or "No/False" responsesto each question, subjects enteredconfidenceratingsof their responseson a scale from 1 to 7. A rating of 7 indicateda
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highly confident response and a rating of 1, a guessing response. A rating scale reminderon the screenat this time was terminated when subjects presseda buttonto select a confidencerating. Then, feedbackaboutthe correctanswerto the comprehensionquestionwas providedin the form of a flashing light immediatelyabove the correct button on the response box. Following the four questions,the next readingpassagewas announced. Thus, for each passage, sentenceby-sentence reading rates and comprehension data in the form of the numberof errors, question-answering latencies, and confidence ratings for each questiontype were collected. Three passages served as practice for all subjects at the beginning of the experimental session; the first was read silently, and the second and third, orally. Instructionsemphasized the contentof the readingin orderto understand passages. Oral fluency and intonationof reading aloud were not mentioned in the instructions. I attemptedto minimize any feelings of performance anxiety during the oral reading blocks.

Results
Unless otherwisenoted, all reportedresults are statisticallysignificant,p < .01. Reading Latencies A two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), with reading mode and passages as fixed factors, was performed on subjects' mean sentence-by-sentence reading times for each passage. As expected, subjects took longer to read passages aloud, M = 8.71 s, than to read them silently, M = 6.95 s, F(1, 15) = 22.06. This difference, M = 1.76 s, was found for all 16 subjects. There were significant differences in readingtimes betweenthe passages, F(5, 65) = 10.28, reflecting differences in sentence lengths, but these differences did not interact with the readingmode effect, F(5, 65) < 1.0. Comprehension For initial ANOVAs, the four question types (lexical, low-level and high-level propositional, and inferential)were treatedas a single
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factor,questionlevel. An extensionof the levels effect would predict slower, less accurate, and less confident recognition responses to the questionswith highercomprehensionlevels. For each subject, the total numberof errors for each questionlevel were summed for silent and for oral reading (for a possible total of six each). In addition, the mean response latency and confidence rating for each question level over all reading passages were computed for each reading mode condition. Separate ANOVAswith the orderof readingmode blocks as a between-subjectsfactor and question level and readingmode as fixed, within-subjectsfactors were performedon the numberof errors, mean response latencies, and mean confidence ratings. errors. No significanteffect Comprehension of orderof readingmode was found, so this factor was not includedin furtheranalyses. As exeffect indicated pected, an overallquestion-level differentialerror patternsfor the various comprehensionlevels of the questions, F(3, 45) = 8.18. However,no significantdifferenceswere found in the numberof errorsmade in oral and silent readingconditions,F(1, 15) = 3.54, p > .07. In addition, no significantinteractionwas found betweenthe level of comprehension question andthe readingmode, F(3, 45) = 2.22, p > .09. Furtheranalysisof the propositional microstructureyielded the expected levels effect for low-level and high-level propositionsexplicitly representedin the text, F(1, 15) = 8.04, p< betweenques.02, but no significantinteraction tion level and reading mode, F(1, 15)< 1.0. Thus, when four levels of postreadingcomprehension were measured,silent and oral reading led to equally accuratecomprehension.Importantly, the various question levels were not affecteddifferentially by the readingmode. latencies. Since the initial Response ANOVA did not reveal practice or fatigue effects due to the order of reading mode blocks, F(1, 14) = 3.04, p> .10, further analyses summed over this factor. Significant main effects of both readingmode, F(1, 15) = 11.52, and question level, F(3, 45) = 32.13, were obtained in the subsequentanalysis with the four question types as one factor. Furthermore,in data for response latencies, reading mode and
Oral and silent reading SALASOO

question level interactedsignificantly,F(3, 45) = 4.85. No differences between silent and oral reading were found in the latencies for responses to questions probing lexical and inferential levels of knowledgegained from the text, F(1, 15) = 2.02, p> .17, and F(1, 15)< 1.0, respectively. In contrast, oral reading led to fasterverificationof propositionsreflectingthe microstructure of the knowledge representation texts, F(1, 15) = 27.95. The failureto obtaina significant difference between response latencies for low- and high-level propositions was unexpected, F(1, 15) = 2.96, p> .10. The comprehensionquestion latency and error data are shown in Figure 1. Confidenceratings. Contraryto what one mightexpect fromtheiruse in listeningcomprehension tasks (e.g., Brunner& Pisoni, 1982), confidence ratings failed to reflect meaningful Figure 1 Responselatencydata (top panel) and error data (bottompanel) for four levels of comprehensionquestionsafter silent reading (filled bars) and oral reading(open bars)

E SILENT
g a z
0

5.04.0-

ORAL

w u I, z

c)

RW

3.0

0.50

S0.25LEXICAL LOW HIGH INFERENTIAL

PROPOSITION PROPOSITION

LEVELOF COMPREHENSIONQUESTION

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differences between silent and oral reading processes. An overallANOVArevealeda significant effect of question level, indicating differences between the four types of comprehension-levelprobes, F(3, 45) = 9.20, but no significant differences due to reading mode were observed, F(1, 15)< 1.0. The mean confidence ratingwas 5.70, where a ratingof 7 indicated a very confident response and a rating of 1, a guessing response. Subsequentanalyses indicatedno significantquestion-leveleffect between low- and high-level microstructure propositions. Thus, subjects' confidence in their recognition or verification responses to informationfrom texts they hadjust readappearedto be minimally related to cognitive processes used in readingcomprehension.

Discussion
The present study investigateddifferences between oral and silent reading using a structured concept of text comprehension.From the results, one can identify specific levels of knowledge structuresused in text comprehension which were affected by prior reading mode: Subjects correctly recognized low- and high-level propositional statements from the text more quickly after oral reading than after silent reading. However,this effect was not reflected in subjects'errors in or confidence ratings of comprehensionquestions. In contrast, as predictedby previous research, the reading mode did affect reading rate. The observed readingtime varied inversely with response latencies on low- and high-level propositional statements: The mean oral sentence-by-sentence reading time was 1.76 seconds longer thanthe mean silent readingtime. Two hypotheses in the literaturerelate to these results. Accordingto the first hypothesis, the ongoing vocalizationresponse in oral reading requires attentionalcapacity that is shared with othercognitive processes involvedin comprehension (Goodman, 1970b; Wanat, 1976). This view predicts slower and less accurate comprehension performance in oral reading.

Also, in this view, higher levels of comprehension should suffer more than lower levels in the oral reading mode. In fact, the results of this study contradictboth of these predictions and may be taken as support for views that adult readershave automaticpronunciation responses that do not demandprocessing capacity in oral reading(e.g., Danks & Hill, 1981). According to the second hypothesis, the slower speed of oral reading(comparedto silent reading) is accompaniedby greaterreliance on context ratherthanthe printedtext, resultingin poor comprehension.Stanovich(1981) has suggested that faster silent reading enables more effective use of low- and high-level text information, leading to superior comprehension. This prediction, again, was not confirmed by the data. The most importantresult in this study is that faster responses relatedto text microstructure followed oral reading than silent reading. Text difficulty is implicatedin this finding; the mean error rate for comprehension questions was 21%, and many subjects remarkedon the difficulty of the experimentaltask. It appears that the reading materials and/or the comprehension task in the present study were difficult for the subjects. In many tasks, difficulty leads to slower humanperformance.In reading,too, when comprehension is difficult, the perceptual and cognitive processes may be slowed down (Levy, 1981). Additionalsupportfor this argument comes from reportsof spontaneousvocalization during (silent) readingof difficult texts (e.g., Hardyck& Petrinovich,1970). Eitherthe vocalization of the oral reading response or its slower rate may compensatefor the otherwise faster encoding of text microstructure for comin silent These reading. prehension hypotheses concerning the role of text difficulty remainto be testedwith easy readingpassages. Oral readinghad the greatesteffect on text This suggests thatthe processes microstructure. that integrate informationwithin and between clauses are more influenced by the reading mode than either lexical or inferential processes. Workingmemory processes involved in syntacticparsingandthe developmentof propositional knowledge structuresmay receive the
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benefitsarising from oral reading.I suggest that the speed of integratinglexical (and other structural) knowledge into higher levels of comprehension is critical in processing differences between silent and oral reading. Presumably, phonological recoding provides the entry into this working memory store in both reading modes. How does this (albeit broad) proposal relate to the two specific accounts of oral and silent readingthatdominatethe literature? Because Goodman's model of reading (e.g., Goodman, 1969, 1970a, 1970b; Goodman & Goodman, 1977) rests almost entirely on oral reading error data, Goodman has attemptedto specify the processes in both reading modes in some detail. One point of confusion has already been alluded to, but at this time Goodman'sperspective should be examined in greater depth. For most adult oral readers, Goodman suggests that "primarily, oral output is produced after meaning has been decoded" (1970b, p. 483). Thus, oral reading requires both the decoding of the meaning component, which Goodman identifies with silent reading, and then, a derivative recoding process, interpretableas phonological recoding, "to produce an oral languageequivalentof the graphicinput which is the signal in reading" (1970a, p. 502). The underlyingcognitive processes leading to meaning reconstruction (i.e., comprehension) are presumedto be the same processes in both silent and oral reading, according to Goodman (1970a). This appears inconsistent with his assertion of active sampling, prediction, and processing speed differencesbetween the two reading modes (cf. 1970a, p. 502). Thus, while Goodman indicates awareness of differencesin the relativeratesof processing,he nowhere associates them with reading comprehension processes. Therefore, Goodman implicitly predictsno differencesbetweenoral and silent readingin comprehensionperformance. A more flexible account of differences in oral and silent reading has been proposed by Danks and Fears (1979). Two alternative models of the oral readingprocesses are postulated-the decoding and comprehension hypotheses. Both models necessarily include phonological recoding or, as Danks and Fears
Oral and silent reading

name it, decoding (not to be confused with Goodman's similarmechanismreferredto as reThe Danks and Fears (1979) models coding). differ in that comprehensionoccurs prior to the spoken oral reading response only in the comprehensionmodel. Which of the two models is used depends on variables such as the reading skill and motivationof the reader,the specific task, and the text difficulty.The presentresults may exemplify comprehension-guided oral reading, accordingto Danks and Fears. Again, text difficulty would appear to underlie the result of faster recognition of microstructure statements read orally than of those read silently. In orderto gain furtherinsight into these models, it is necessaryboth to specify in greater detail the processing stages between phonological recoding and comprehensionand to test out the predictionsabout text difficulty with easier readingpassages. In sum, the resultsof this study suggest that temporaldifferencesexist between the comprehension processes for silent and for oral reading. This reading mode effect (in both reading rates and in response latencies to comprehension questions) may occur after words have been recognized, in the assignmentof meaning and case roles, and in the text-unitintegration processes that take place in working memory.I propose that the additionaltime spent in working memory during completion of these higher level comprehensionprocesses in oral reading (compared to silent reading) may result in memory traces that are retrievedfasterin later, memory-basedcomprehensionprobes of these higherlevel units of the text meaning.The study found no differences between oral and silent reading in responses to lexical questions. One must be cautiousin interpreting this null result; it may suggest that lexical access is not the locus of the readingmode effect. This result also suggests that hypotheses of oral reading superiority that rely on the possibility of double encoding into working memory, i.e., from both the visual and auditory (vocalization) inputs, are untenable:Additionalworking memory activation would predict largest oral reading advantages for the lexical probes. The lack of significant differences found between oral and

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silent readingin responselatenciesfor inference probes suggests that inferences may not be drawn automatically during on-line reading comprehensionand may instead be computed from stored information upon demand (Frederiksen, 1981). As they read for comprehension, readers construct and store propositional structures of the levels specifically verificationstateprobedby the microstructure ments used in this study (cf. Kintsch & van Dijk, 1978). For this reason, additionalworking memory storage during the slower clausal integration processes of oral reading appears laterto facilitatefasterverificationonly for lowand high-levelmicrostructures from the text. In conclusion, the data suggest that differences due to readingmode are primarilya function of the speed of higher level integrationand comprehensionprocesses that occur when subjects read texts for comprehension. Slower reading rates in oral reading led to faster responses to comprehension items on low- and high-level propositional structures from the text. These results supportmodels of oral and silent readingwith commonearly stages of phonological recoding (e.g., Danks & Fears, 1979). Such models obviously have yet to identify the details of the processingand representational levels where time differencesin oral and silent reading will be reflected in memorybased comprehensiontests. The present study also points to the importanceof two theoretical endeavors: first, extending unitary processing models of reading comprehension to account for temporaldifferences due to reading mode, and second, viewing comprehensionas a structuredhierarchyof componentlevels of meaning and structure ratherthanas a global process that somehow revealsitself aftera readerencounters a printedtext. REFERENCES
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Footnotes This research was supported by NIMH research grant MH 24027 to Indiana University in Bloomington. I am grateful to David B. Pisoni for the use of the Speech Research Laboratory facilities and for insightfulcommentson an earlier draft, to Jerome C. Harste for helpful discussions, and to Hans Brunner for access to the experimental materials. Reprint requests may be sent to Aita Salasoo, Department of Psychology, SUNY-Binghamton, Binghamton, NY 13901. 'Unlike many experimenters who have employed nonspecific or low-level comprehension tests, which test primarily memory for text vocabulary (e.g., Swalm, 1973) or ambiguous levels of comprehended knowledge such as "information in the story" (Collins, 1961), one early researcher, Mead (1915, 1917), adopted a measure reported as "percentage of points reproduced of points read." This measure is a precursor, albeit nonspecific, of the current use of propositional text-based analyses to measure comprehension.

chology, 6, 345-348.
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Oral and silent reading

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