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László Tóth: The Development of Comprehension of Narrative Texts in the Primary Grades

In this paper the author reports on the first stage of a longitudinal study which explored the development of the understanding of a narrative text with elementary schoolchildren. The new feature of the author's conception is that he wants to use the same text throughout. For this purpose he chose a narrative literaty text with a more complicated message than a simple story. He has developed a questionnaire of items consisting of the following components: (1) location of data, (2) perception of events, (3) concept formation based on the text, (4) recognition of explicit relations, (5) world knowledge, (6) drawing conclusions and (7) aesthetics and message. According to the author, (1), (2) and (4) constitute the direct components of comprehension, the others the indirect ones. He tried to avoid his own subjectivity by having a group of arts students interpret these items. The resulting interpretation was then used as the basis of the assessment of the children's answers. The research began in three schools of Debrecen, with approximately 300 studens in the sample. The most important finding of the study is that primary information processing develops gradually, but interpretation does not. Though interpretation changes significantly in the third grade, such development is not present in the fourth, where improvement was found only in direct comprehension. The author hopes that the next stage of this research will provide new data and further our knowledge on the nature of comprehension.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 97. Number 1. 41-59. (1997)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: Tóth László, KLTE Pszichológiai Intézet, H 4032 Debrecen, Tessedik Sámuel u. 176.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia