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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A review and analysis of the literature related to critical reading and a handbook to develop specific critical reading skills Carson, Nancy Lynne

Abstract

This thesis presents a review and analysis of the literature on critical reading, and a handbook designed to assist teachers who wish to improve their teaching of critical reading skills. The relationship between critical reading and reading comprehension is explored under the topic headings of cognitive models, factor analytic studies and models of reading behaviors. It was found that a strong relationship exists between critical reading and thinking, and that some educators recommend the teaching of critical reading skills as a vehicle for developing critical thinking skills. This review indicates that despite evidence which suggests a need for specific teaching of critical reading skills, and despite evidence which indicates the value of teacher questioning in developing these skills, the latter technique is not being well utilized at the present time. Some educators suggest that this situation exists because reading educators express "vague and ambiguous" concepts of this aspect of reading comprehension. General definitions of critical reading indicate that it involves some evaluation of material based on criteria formed by previous reading background and experience. It is difficult to establish the exact subskills involved, but major educators appear to agree that there are four subskills that seem basic to critical reading. These subskills are: 1) fact or opinion, 2) evaluation of characters' actions and speech, J>) inference, k) establishing the author's purpose. The handbook is designed to develop the four specific critical reading skills identified above. Questions are based on stories selected from four basal readers authorized for use in British Columbia schools. The Dale-Chall readability levels are provided for each story, and a foreword to teachers includes suggestions for utilizing the handbook.

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