Good questions increase reading comprehension for students, yet classroom practice often focuses on lower-level inquiries. A study reported by Barbara M. Taylor for the University of Minnesota Center for Reading Research states that good questions must make a student stop and think, find connections between their real life and their reading, and consider the story at more than surface level. This type of questioning takes more time but improves both engagement and success.
Before reading, students should consider what they already know about the topic and any questions or predictions they already have. They should also approach the genre deliberately, observing the text structure in order to predict the type of information they will encounter. Questions can include: What do you already know? What do you wonder about? What do you notice about the cover, the title, the first page? Do you think this will be true information or fiction? What do you think you might discover? According to the Akimi Gibson, the author of "Reading For Meaning: Tutoring Elementary Students to Enhance Comprehension," students build new understanding by using prior knowledge as a foundation.
During reading, students need to make connections between the text and their own experiences, determine importance, make and adjust predictions, ask questions, make inferences and visualize the story. Questions should include: What do you think will happen next? Why do you think that happened? What does this remind you of? What do you picture when you close your eyes? What is the most important thing you read? When returning to a text, students should be able to retell what was previously read before continuing.
After reading, students need to re-evaluate their understanding of the topic or story and assess the value of the text. Questions can include: What is your opinion of the author or text? What new ideas or information did you learn? How were your questions answered? What questions do you still have? Which of your predictions were addressed, and how? Keep in mind that predictions have value without being correct -- the act of predicting and verifying is linked to higher engagement and comprehension regardless of accuracy.
Why and How
Strong readers support their predictions, inferences and opinions in order to demonstrate full comprehension. Students should use evidence from the text or their own background knowledge to support their predictions. This allows students to demonstrate how they "read between the lines" and highlights the difference between opinions, predictions, guesses and facts.
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