Cognitive strategies in word identification from verbal reports of first graders in different reading levels and instructional approaches

Corazon Raposa Agravante, Fordham University


The word identification strategies of 32 first-grade beginning readers in 2 reading levels (upper and lower) and in different classroom literacy instructional approaches (meaning-oriented and skill-oriented) were investigated from the children's perspective. The children verbally reported the strategies they utilized to identify unfamiliar words while reading connected texts. The major word reading strategies reported were sounding out, chunking unfamiliar words, using context, reading by sight, and analogizing to known words. Additional strategies reported by the lower group only in the meaning-oriented classroom were skipping unknown words, re-reading, asking someone, and referring to the word wall. These different strategies were employed either alone or with other strategies. Similarities and differences in using the various strategies were observed in the two instructional settings. On the whole, sounding out was employed the most in both settings, but to a significantly higher frequency in the skill-oriented classroom than in the meaning-oriented classroom. In the latter classroom, the percentages of employing the different major strategies were distributed more evenly except for using analogy, which was employed the least in both instructional settings. In terms of chunking unknown words, more instances of looking for little words were reported in the meaning-oriented classroom. No significant difference was found for the reading groups. Some trends, but not reaching significance, were observed. In general, the frequencies of using sounding out, chunking unfamiliar words, and analogizing to known words were higher for the upper group. For the lower group, more instances of employing context, reading by sight, and combining strategies were found. For the lower group in the skill-oriented classroom, however, the instances of using sounding out were almost as high as those in the upper group in the same classroom. The highest percentage of successful word identification involved reading by sight. On the whole, the classroom reading instructional approach was found to influence the strategies that the children utilized. Verbal reports were found to be a rich source of information regarding beginning readers' ways of reading unknown printed words. Instructional implications of the findings and recommendations for future research were presented.

Subject Area

Literacy|Reading instruction|Curricula|Teaching|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Agravante, Corazon Raposa, "Cognitive strategies in word identification from verbal reports of first graders in different reading levels and instructional approaches" (2002). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3040389.