Over the last few decades, the use of comprehension strategies to help students read has become increasingly popular. Unlike traditional reading skills that support word reading, such as phonemic awareness and vocabulary, comprehension strategies help students become active, self-regulated thinkers about the meanings of texts that they are reading.
Skilled readers regularly employ various cognitive strategies to understand what they’re reading, and teaching this set of strategies results in significant improvements in comprehension for struggling students (Brown et al., 1996; Brown, 2008; Duffy et al., 1988; Pressley et al., 1989).
You may be familiar with comprehension strategies, but you may not realize that these strategies are intimately tied to important higher-order thinking skills called executive skills: the skills we use to engage in self-regulated, goal-directed behavior in any area of life, from planning and executing a trip to the grocery store to reading and understanding a complex text. Executive skills like working memory, cognitive flexibility, inhibition, organization, and planning support students’ use and application of comprehension strategies (Gnaedinger, Hund, & Hesson-McInnis, 2016). Here are seven effective comprehension strategies that help students become better readers and support their goal-directed plans to understand text.