The making of stronger readers: the role of syntactic proficiency in understanding texts
The purpose of the project is to investigate the importance of children’s proficiency in establishing sentence meaning from word order (syntax) for reading comprehension.
Beyond the first 3 or 4 years of schooling, benefit from education requires strong reading skills. Unfortunately, a substantial number of children struggle with comprehension of educational texts. International reading research and Danish practice have recognized the importance of supporting children’s acquisition of decoding skills and vocabulary. However, the role of syntactic proficiency has been largely overlooked despite evidence that school-aged children differ substantially in their ability to establish sentence meaning from word order.
The Making of Stronger Readers project involves a series of studies of how children’s reading comprehension depends on their syntactic proficiency, i.e. their ability to extract literal sentence meaning from word order. The aim of the studies is to investigate 1) the development of syntactic proficiency in the school years, 2) the mechanisms through which syntactic proficiency relates to reading comprehension, and 3) the effect of supporting syntactic proficiency through instruction.
- Nielsen, J. L., Christensen, R. V., & Poulsen, M. (advance online). What’s format got to do with it? A comparison of three syntactic comprehension measures. Journal of Research in Reading. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9817.12438
- Poulsen, M., Nielsen, J. L., & Christensen, R. V. (2022). Remembering sentences is not all about memory: Convergent and discriminant validity of syntactic knowledge and its relationship with reading comprehension. Journal of Child Language, 49, 349-365. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0305000921000210.
- Olsen, M. H., & Poulsen, M. (2022). Analyse af krævende syntaks i danskfagets tekster. Nydanske sprogstudier, 60, 83-11. https://doi.org/10.7146/nys.v1i60.129350
- Vang Christensen, R. (2019). Sentence Repetition: A Clinical Marker of Danish Developmetal Language Disorder. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 62, 4450-4463. https://doi.org/10.1044/2019_JSLHR-L-18-0327
- Grandjean, D., & Poulsen, M. (2017). Er syntaks en flaskehals i forståelsen? En undersøgelse af syntaksens betydning for børns lytte- og læseforståelse [Is syntax a bottleneck in comprehension? An investigation of the role of syntax in children’s listening and reading comprehension. Nydanske sprogstudier, 52-53, 207-230. https://doi.org/10.7146/nys.v1i52-53.26264
- Poulsen, M., & Gravgaard, A. K. D. (2016). Who Did What to Whom? The Relationship Between Syntactic Aspects of Sentence Comprehension and Text Comprehension. Scientific Studies of Reading, 20, 325-338. https://doi.org/10.1080/10888438.2016.1180695
Helle Hallenberg Hansen, Associate professor, University College Copenhagen
Martin Hauerberg Olsen, Associate professor, University College Copenhagen