The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that
43% of adult Americans have difficulty with moderately challenging literacy activities. Our lives in the information age are complicated, distracting, and tiring, with constant demands to read and process increasingly more information. For readers who struggle, these demands make an already difficult task more daunting. Those fortunate enough to be above average in reading ability may not be performing at their best in today’s highly-distracting, always-connected environment.
Effective reading comprehension requires extracting meaning from writing and organizing it into meaningful chunks, such as words, phrases, and sentences. This paper examines how writing systems have indicated these meaningful chunks through punctuation, as well as the science of techniques that have been used to facilitate chunking during reading.
Language is organized into phrases, clauses, and sentences (chunks) during comprehension.
Historic writing systems fully marked these chunks, but modern writing systems only mark the ends of major clauses and sentences.
Decades of research show that demarcating phrases with chunking improves reading performance.
Good readers have eye movement patterns that correspond to meaningful chunks.
When reading phrase-marked text, poor readers can have eye movement patterns like those of good readers.
This paper reviews the efficacy of chunking techniques on reading performance, particularly for low-ability readers.