"A good reader will automatically visualize and make connections, but never in isolation from other comprehension strategies. The process of comprehension requires that readers assemble flexible strategies to solve problems. From this point of view, the orchestration of strategies - not single strategies - is a condition of deep comprehension." (Dorn, L. J., & Soffos, C., 2005, p. 2) 

Working Definition

Text comprehension is a largely top-down process that can be most effectively attended to when the largely bottom-up process of decoding is preformed with automaticity. Since comprehending is ultimately an internal cognitive process, it cannot be directly observed or measured. Comprehending is the act of understanding. This act involves the simultaneous orchestration of multiple strategies. These strategies, again, cannot be directly observed or measured. Comprehending behaviors, being the outcome of the strategies used, can be observed and, at the least, qualitatively measured.


Perhaps trying to design prompts to encompass the entirety of comprehension has done more damage than good to comprehension instruction. These types of questions tend to become more about surface comprehension, and rarely acknowledge specific strategies. Comprehending is a complex process, that requires orchestrating many different strategies simultaneously. With that in mind, no prompts are provided for the very broad scope of comprehending.

© 2014, Robert Pottle
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