The effects of oral and silent reading on reading comprehension

Naomi Lauren Schimmel, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of reading mode (oral and silent) and text genre (narrative and expository) on the reading comprehension of fourth graders. Research remains unclear about which mode, oral or silent, leads to stronger comprehension. Prior studies have also compared comprehension of narrative and expository texts, with strong agreement that narrative is better than expository. The present mixed methods study combined these factors to examine their interaction and effect on comprehension as measured by retelling and comprehension questions. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected via comprehension scores, surveys, and interviews. Participants (N = 48) completed a survey about their own preferences when reading, and 12 students were selected for interviews to learn more about their thinking in regards to oral and silent reading. Using a repeated measured design, results were analyzed using descriptive statistics, analysis of covariance, paired t-tests, and correlational statistics. Additionally, interview data were categorized and analyzed for student opinions about their reading. Results revealed that silent reading was stronger for narrative passages in retell measures, but there was no difference for comprehension questions. In the expository passages, there was no difference between the reading modes. Comprehension of narrative texts was consistently stronger than expository texts in both silent and oral reading. Finally, the surveys and interviews revealed that students generally preferred to read silently. Implications and recommendations for instruction were made based on the analyses, as well as suggestions for future research.

Subject Area

Education|Elementary education|Literacy|Reading instruction

Recommended Citation

Schimmel, Naomi Lauren, "The effects of oral and silent reading on reading comprehension" (2016). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10116318.