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Decomposing the Variance in Reading Comprehension to Reveal the Unique and Common Effects of Language and Decoding

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Decomposing the Variance in Reading Comprehension to Reveal the Unique and Common Effects of Language and Decoding

Barbara R Foorman et al. J Vis Exp.

Abstract

The Simple View of Reading is a popular model of reading that claims that reading is the product of decoding and language, with each component uniquely predicting reading comprehension. Although researchers have argued whether the sum rather than the product of the components is the better predictor, no researchers have partitioned the variance explained to examine the extent to which the components share variance in predicting reading. To decompose the variance, we subtract the R2 for the language-only model from the full model to obtain the unique R2 for decoding. Second, we subtract the R2 for the decoding-only model from the full model to obtain the unique R2 for language. Third, to obtain the common variance explained by language and decoding, we subtract the sum of the two unique R2 from the R2 for the full model. The method is demonstrated in a regression approach with data from students in grades 1 (n = 372), 6 (n = 309), and 10 (n = 122) using an observed measure of language (receptive vocabulary), decoding (timed word reading), and reading comprehension (standardized test). Results reveal a relatively large amount of variance in reading comprehension explained in grade 1 by the common variance in decoding and language. By grade 10, however, it is the unique effect of language and the common effect of language and decoding that explained the majority of variance in reading comprehension. Results are discussed in the context of an expanded version of the Simple View of Reading that considers unique and shared effects of language and decoding in predicting reading comprehension.

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