Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Teaching and Learning (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Maria Carlo

Second Committee Member

Jeanne Schumm

Third Committee Member

Marjorie Montague

Fourth Committee Member

Randall Penfield


The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that there is a reciprocal relationship between comprehension and fluency during reading. The notion that oral reading fluency can facilitate reading comprehension is well established in the research literature on the development of reading comprehension. However, more recent models have questioned the unidirectionality of this relationship and have suggested that reading comprehension may increase fluency through reading rate. This hypothesis was examined via analyses of second grade students' oral reading of connected texts. Four previewing conditions which isolated lexical effects, comprehension effects, and prosody effects on oral reading fluency were manipulated in an experiment and the effects on students' passage reading times and prosody were evaluated. Students who were on-level readers were randomly assigned to one of four experimental conditions consisting of word preview (lexical factor), listening preview (prosody and comprehension factor), summary preview (comprehension factor) and no preview. Following the preview, students were asked to read passages aloud. Analyses of Covariance were performed to test the effects of lexical priming, comprehension priming and prosodic modeling on oral reading fluency as measured in correct words per minute (CWPM) and prosodic reading, while controlling for students overall achievement in reading as measured by the STAR-R score. The results showed significant differences in CWPM favouring the listening preview and summary preview over the no-preview condition for students at lower levels of fluency performance. The results are discussed in relation to theories of reading that highlight the role of comprehension and fluency in the integration of information during reading.


Lexical Priming; Struggling Readers; Prosody; Reading Rate; Comprehension Mediates Fluency; Reading Theory