Reading Comprehension/The Attention Components

Reading comprehension utilizes each of the three controls of Attention. First, reading comprehension requires a student to use mental energy to start and sustain reading. As reading material becomes longer, more complex, or more removed from everyday context, a reader must exert more mental energy in order to comprehend the text. Mental energy is especially taxed if a student uses too much effort decoding words and/or using inadequate reading strategies.

The processing controls of attention facilitate readers' abilities to discern the most important, or salient, details in passages. Processing controls help the student filter out non-essential from essential information, while considering the many pieces of information and concepts to understand and remember in a passage.

Finally, the production controls of attention help students use a step-wise approach to reading which facilitates comprehension and remembering. A step-wise approach to reading may involve previewing a passage before reading, self-monitoring comprehension during reading, and using strategies that have helped in past reading situations.

This chart describes some important attention skills related to reading comprehension.

Necessary SubSkillsCommon ObstaclesHelpful Tips
Student has sufficient mental energy to read lengthy passages. Student often lacks the energy necessary to read lengthy passages, or runs out of energy before completing reading tasks. view
Student is able to pull out the most important details and concepts in passages. Student has difficulty determining the most important details or concepts in a passage. view
Student is able to self-monitor when reading, and recognizes when he/she doesn't understand what's been read.
Student paces him/herself when reading, e.g., previews a difficult passage before reading or adjusts his/her reading speed for better comprehension.
Student reads with little self-monitoring of comprehension, and does not seem to know when he/she doesn't comprehend a passage.
Student doesn't pace him/herself when reading, e.g., jumps into difficult passages without previewing, or reads a passage too quickly to understand it.