Embedding reading into trades and vocational training


woman-readingWorking with my ComCol tutors today… we were looking at unit standard 26624: Read texts with understanding. And we came up with this as a draft template for trying standardise reading comprehension questions for trades-based or vocational training texts that they have to work with anyway.

Reading Text Title

Read through the text and then answer the following questions

  1. What’s this text for?
  2. Why are you reading it?
  3. Explicit question
  4. Explicit question
  5. Implicit question
  6. Implicit question
  7. Was it interesting? Say why or why not
  8. Was it useful? Say why or why not
  9. Do you trust the information? Say why or why not
  10. Was it a good reading for your course? Say why or why not

Purpose: Text and Reader

There’s two things to consider here. One is the purpose of the text. In other words, can a reader identify who this is written for? (Questions 1)

The other is the reader’s purpose in reading the text. In other words, why are they reading it? (Question 2).

Questions: Implicit versus explicit

We had a good discussion about this. Basically, if you can put your finger physically on the part of the text that has the answer, you’ve got an explicit idea or question (Questions 3, 4).

If you have to “read between the lines” in any way, it’s implicit – an inferencing skills is required in other words (Questions 5, 6).

Here’s what the NZQA say:

Implicit ideas are ideas that are implied, hinted at, or suggested in the text, but not directly expressed. This standard requires learners to ‘read between the lines’, ‘picking up’ what the author has implied. It does not require the learner to extrapolate or theorise beyond the implicit ideas that are contained in the text.

In general, very factual texts will not provide an opportunity for learners to describe implicit ideas (although they are likely to provide the opportunity for learners to describe the text in terms of its explicit ideas). Reading texts that contain opinion, aspects that require interpretation and ‘reading between the lines’ (such as non-linear narratives and/or abstract ideas), figurative language or layers of meaning and/or information should provide opportunities to describe implicit ideas. Note that this is about the learner’s comprehension – refer to the demands of step/koru 4 of the Comprehension progression of the Adult Literacy Learning Progressions.

These inferencing questions are important as they are probably the questions that will push the readers to function at least at step 4 or above on the learning progressions which I think is one of the requirements of the unit.

In the workshop I used my material on Hacking Reading Comprehension to provide some structure to the kinds of things they were asking readers to identify in the texts, as well as to limit the kinds of responses they were expecting to just answers using multiple choice, T/F or Y/N, or highlight in the text responses as per the Assessment Tool.

If you’re interested in this material on Hacking Reading Comprehension, it’s available below as follows:

  1. When to hack which covers
    1. What hacking reading comprehension is NOT about
    2. When to use the reading comprehension hacks
    3. How the list works
  2. The revised reading comprehension hacks list which covers
    1. Learner responses and inferencing
    2. A list of 19 things you can ask your learners to identify when they’re reading
  3. Some other information and words you need which
    1. Summarises the list, inferencing, and responses
    2. And gives you another list with the kinds of words and phrases that people use when they’re writing test items. This is to help your learners practice the language of testing that they need to make sense of comprehension questions.
  4. Finally, part 4 is my report of when I first used this material with a different group. Today’s post is an update on all of this.

Useful, interesting, credible, valid

These are also in the unit standard. As a group, we thought that most learners would be Ok with identifying whether something was interesting (Questions 7) or useful (Question 8) and saying why or why not. In terms of dealing with whether a text was credible (Question 9) or valid (Question 10), this presented some issues. We attempted to deal with these by simplifying the language (see above).

Probably, the hardest concept to get across to a learner here was the concept of validity. We thought that this probably wasn’t a useful word to use with low level literacy-challenged learners. However, we struggled to find a really good synonym without tying ourselves up linguistically.

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