CHILDREN'S USE OF THE EPISODE SCHEMA IN STORY PROCESSING (MACROSTRUCTURE, ENCODING, RECALL)
WILSON, JAY CAROL
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Children's macrostructure processing skills in story comprehension were investigated. One purpose was to determine whether skilled readers differed from less-skilled readers in their use of episode structures to guide encoding and recall. A second purpose was to determine whether children were as sophisticated as adults in their processing, by spending more time processing the information around the beginnings and endings of episodes compared to the middle of the episode.;Below average, average, and above average readers in the fourth and sixth grades participated, forming six skill levels. All children received four stories to read and recall. Each story contained a Setting and two episodes. Each episode consisted of six nodal sentences, reflecting important story structure constituents. Readers read the stories at their own rate, sentence by sentence, on a computer screen. The reading time per sentence was recorded. The children recalled each story immediately after reading it. The readers also indicated three sentences in each story that they felt they had taken longest to read.;Reading skill groups were compared on measures of reading time, encoding patterns, recall and awareness of allocation of resources. Encoding loads were measured by reading time residual scores for each sentence, obtained by comparing actual reading times with reading times predicted by six other factors known to influence reading times: serial positions, number of words, number of new arguments, number of propositions, content word frequency, and rated importance.;Skilled readers read the stories faster and recalled more information than less-skilled readers, demonstrating quantitative differences. Qualitative differences between skill groups were also noted in the processing patterns. The more skilled readers more highly encoded episode boundaries, although none of the skill groups highlighted the boundaries as much as did the adults. None of the readers were aware of their actual processing allocations, yet all readers demonstrated knowledge of where extra time should be spent. All of the skill groups showed comparable recall patterns, emphasizing the important story aspects. The results indicate that although less-skilled readers do not differ from skilled readers in story comprehension, they do exhibit differences in processing allocation, which influences ease of comprehension.