For many years, the study of reading was taken to apply almost exclusively to the process of learning the written code. It was often assumed that once a child could recognize words in their written form, the understanding system already available from the child’s oral language experience would permit comprehension to proceed smoothly. We now know that reading comprehension is not nearly so simple a matter. First, there is reason to doubt the logic that equates reading comprehension with word recognition plus oral language comprehension. Second, researchers have become increasingly aware of the complexities of comprehension itself, written or oral. One problem faced by anyone seeking to understand current beliefs about reading comprehension is the interdisciplinary nature of research in the area. There are no readily available syntheses of the relevant work in the diverse disciplines of cognitive psychology, artificial intelligence, linguistics, and reading education. This book is one step towards such a synthesis. Our approach is outlined in the introduction, where an overview is also presented. Here, let us just offer a few general words about the planning and execution of the volume.
We have tried to put together a fairly complete interdisciplinary survey while avoiding frequent repetition and overlap in the topics addressed. In line with this goal, we drafted chapter summaries that anticipated (in a general fashion) the final form of the book. We then selected experts in each area to address each of the subjects along the lines of the charges we provided for them. Our goal was for the volume to have the cohesion and completeness of the work of a single individual. To the extent that this ideal was not achieved, the responsibility must rest with the editors. Whatever success was attained in meeting this goal we owe to the splendid cooperation of the contributors.
The National Institute of Education provided support to most of the authors through Contract No. US-NIE-C-400-76-0116 to the Center for the Study of Reading. We are all especially grateful to the Institute for providing so favorable a climate for the kind of basic research from interdisciplinary perspectives that this volume exemplifies. Naturally, the views expressed in this volume are those of the individual authors and do not represent National Institute of Education policy.
Spiro, Rand J., Bruce, Bertram C., & Brewer William F. (Eds.). (1980). Theoretical issues in reading comprehension: Perspectives from cognitive psychology, linguistics, artificial intelligence, and education. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. [586 pp.; ISBN 0-898-59036-1]