EFFECTS OF VARYING PROTOTYPICALITY AND ARGUMENT-REPETITION ON SENTENCE COMPREHENSION BY HIGH- AND LOW-ABILITY READERS

PATRICIA ANNE JOAN PIERCE ANTONACCI, Fordham University

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to determine the effects of varying word concepts in sentences on the comprehension of high- and low-ability readers. Word concepts were varied on two factors: (a) degree of category membership and (b) number of repetitions of arguments.^ Category membership was operationalized by administering the Prototypicality Rating Scale (PRS) to a group of students similar to the subjects in the investigation. Their ratings yielded data which determined the prototype and nonprototype concepts from each semantic category.^ A total of 40 target sentences was constructed from the word concepts that varied in degree of prototypicality. There were four sentence types: (a) prototype with two repetitions of arguments, (b) prototype with no repetitions of arguments, (c) nonprototype with two repetitions of arguments, and (d) nonprototype with no repetitions of arguments. The sentences were constructed to contain a text base of five propositions and three different arguments.^ One hundred twenty sixth-grade students from a middle school in Yonkers, New York, were randomly selected and classified as high- or low-ability readers based upon their comprehension scores on the Metropolitan Achievement Test.^ The target sentences were presented one at a time to the subjects who were tested for immediate free recall. A three-way analysis of variance with repeated measures on prototypicality and argument-repetition was performed on the number of propositions recalled from the target sentences.^ The major findings indicated that recall was better for: (a) high-ability readers than for low-ability readers, (b) sentences containing prototype word concepts than for those with nonprototype word concepts, and (c) sentences with two repetitions of arguments than for those with no repetitions. Further, comprehension of low-ability readers was facilitated to a greater degree than comprehension of high-ability readers by both types of sentences, those containing prototype word concepts and two repetitions of arguments.^ A major conclusion suggested by the results of the current investigation is that text containing prototype word concepts and repetitions of arguments facilitates reading comprehension. Further, such text benefits the comprehension processes of the unskilled reader to a greater degree than the skilled reader.^

Subject Area

Reading instruction

Recommended Citation

PIERCE ANTONACCI, PATRICIA ANNE JOAN, "EFFECTS OF VARYING PROTOTYPICALITY AND ARGUMENT-REPETITION ON SENTENCE COMPREHENSION BY HIGH- AND LOW-ABILITY READERS" (1982). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8223588.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8223588

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