Why is reading comprehension important for students

Reading comprehension: insufficient - the country needs better school books

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One in five school leavers struggles to understand a text. Not surprisingly, finds one expert.

  • At the Reading comprehension cut Swiss students since the first Pisa study in 2000 mediocre from.
  • The Education reformsthat were introduced after the Pisa shock have so far little effectas the last Pisa test shows.
  • Didactics professor Claudia Schmellentin sees above all Potential for improvement in teaching aids and in specialist teaching.

"With German lessons alone, students don't really learn to understand texts," says Claudia Schmellentin. The professor for German didactics
is convinced that this also requires specialist teaching. Only if biology, mathematics or history were also conveyed in an understandable way, the students achieved the desired confidence in reading.

Pisa reforms ineffective

After the first Pisa shock in 2000, the Conference of Directors of Education launched an action plan, which, according to Schmellentin, had little effect.

«They wanted solutions that were too quick. It was not supported enough. You can't just say: 'Now every subject lesson is also a language lesson'. Not much happens like that. "

The Pisa shock and its consequences

In 2000, the Pisa shock shook all of Western Europe. In the first major international student comparison, countries such as Germany, France and Switzerland performed significantly less well than expected. The 15-year-old students in the Far East, Australia, New Zealand and Finland were ahead of them in reading, arithmetic and science.
The shock was followed by hectic activity. Numerous reforms have been carried out in Swiss schools. One of them was to playfully prepare children for reading and writing in kindergarten and to only use standard language in lessons in primary school at the latest. Since then, pupils with poor reading skills have been given targeted, integrated support and language support has taken place in all school subjects.
As a result of the Pisa shock, part-time rectors were replaced with full-time school principals and teacher training was reorganized, i.e. relocated to universities of teacher education. In order to create better comparisons between different schools and school systems, intercantonal binding standards such as Harmos were also developed.

Teaching materials are too high

Schmellentin sees another problem with school books, many of which are bad. The German didactic specialist recently completed a study examining how understandable biology textbooks are for secondary school students. In doing so, she found that "the texts of the teaching material require far higher levels of competence than those available to schoolchildren."

And it would only be small tricks with which one could improve the teaching material texts, as Schmellentin emphasizes. Technical terms are not explained, there are many foreign words and other indigestible things. Often the simplest aids to understanding were missing, such as references to illustrations, which were missing in most school books. "There are little things that would help the student."

It wouldn't take much

That is why Schmellentin's team rewrote the examined texts in the second part of the study. Image references were inserted, terms were explained or better explained, and questions were added to stimulate understanding. The test students then did better in reading comprehension.

Based on the findings of the study, Schmellentin and her team developed tips for teaching material authors on how they could adapt their texts to the "ability of the learners to understand".

The Pisa test

The Program for International Student Assessment (Pisa) is the largest international student achievement test. The study is carried out every three years by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The first study was published in 200. The Pisa test tests the knowledge of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics and science.

Curriculum 21 as an opportunity

Now is a very good time to take a closer look at teaching materials, says Schmellentin. With the new curriculum 21, a lot will change in school books anyway and publishers as well as authors would have open ears for this.

Schmellentin says that good school books alone are not enough. In order to improve the reading comprehension of the students, the subject teachers themselves are just as challenged. “It doesn't happen overnight. Much has already been done, but we still have many steps to take. "

Weaknesses in the school system are therefore still largely responsible for the fact that many pupils often simply cannot read any further in the text.

srf / smul / aebn; morr

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  • Comment from Markus Baumann (pierrotlunaire)
    Does anyone know which texts were used to test reading comprehension for Pisa? I notice that depending on the type of text, very different results come about. Students who first claimed that they did not understand anything also understood difficult texts if they persisted and invested a little time. One shouldn't take this "I don't understand that anyway" too seriously. Even with demanding texts, I never had any problems. However, it takes TIME! And EXERCISE!
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Comment from A. Moser (AM)
    Maybe it just needs a little more common sense? Smaller classes, motivated teachers - and parents who don't have children to be raised by TV, smartphones, iPads and institutions, but who do something with the children, take time for the children. But that's just not "en vogue" in our competitive society - daycare centers, nannies, day nurseries and all kinds of electronic gadgets are part of the good tone and status symbol!
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Comment from Peter Aebersold (P. Aebersold)
    The curriculum 21 brings the "competence orientation" with the "self-directed learning". Teaching aids such as the German teaching aid "Die Sprachstarken" have already been adapted to "competence-oriented" with regard to curriculum 21 and a lot of learning / exercise material has been removed. Because the students learn alone, at their own pace, class lessons are no longer possible. The language and technical instruction required by the experts would no longer exist with curriculum 21. That chance would be wasted.
    Agree agree to the comment

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