The Importance of Text Comprehension in Education
The basic element that makes text comprehension so important in students' educational path is its transversality. As you may have already noticed, being able to independently approach content is a skill required for the study of any topic and subject. In this context, following guidelines to optimize text comprehension allows for a solid reference framework, ensuring the elimination of errors or defects that could also compromise the final understanding of the subject.
Understanding a text is an operation that goes beyond simple reading, technically called "decoding." It implies that the reader grasps the meaning of the content in front of them, not stopping at individual concepts but connecting them in a complex cognitive system. In simpler terms, a student who wants to understand a text must try to understand the message that the writer intended to convey. In the case of studying material, therefore, a deep understanding of the text will also be fundamental for the correct assimilation of the concepts.
Although text comprehension may be underestimated by many students, focusing on the development of this specific skill can bring important and generalized advantages to the entire learning process. The opportunities, which can be experienced in all disciplines studied, include:
- Reduction of individual study time;
- Deeper knowledge of the study material;
- Reduction of mnemonic effort.
Text comprehension allows for a high level of autonomy in the study path.
But let's try to give practical and easily applicable advice for perfect text comprehension!
Even before tackling the actual text, read the title and any secondary information (such as the table of contents, subtitle, image captions, and so on). In this phase, you can also ask yourself if you already have prior knowledge on the subject, quickly reviewing it in order to approach the actual reading more easily;
- First reading
Proceed to read the material for the first time, trying to understand the general meaning of the text and underlining the parts that are intuitively more difficult for you to understand;
- Second reading and annotations
During the second reading, try to divide the text into different parts, also relying on the so-called "logical connectors". To facilitate this, you can also use the five Ws rule (who, what, where, when, why) applying it to each section, recycling a technique typically used in journalism that is also very useful for text comprehension. By mentally answering the five questions, it will be much easier to identify more complex and in-depth specific content;
During this phase, critically evaluate your understanding of the text and the effectiveness of your reading and note-taking strategies. In the final phase, you can try to self-analyze how much you have understood from the text and how much remains unclear, by referring back to the previously taken notes. In this way, you can independently achieve a deep understanding of the material.
Between tradition and innovation: text comprehension and AI tools
By now you have understood that text comprehension is so central to the educational path that it boasts a solid tradition both in terms of definition and methods to make the most of it. Like in many other educational fields, ranging from language learning to the integration of playful elements in learning, the development of new technologies in this field has generated a small wave of unprecedented opportunities.
Today, text comprehension is not limited to paper-based materials but is integrated with technological innovations.
Applying AI in this specific case means above all being able to lighten the personal workload without depriving the student of specific skills: simply by relieving them from the initial approach to the text. In fact, it allows for personalizing the study path based on their needs while also leaving room for the basic elements that remain their responsibility. Text comprehension thus becomes less daunting to tackle in all its parts, from the initial reading phase to the assimilation of information.
Last but not least, technology now allows for a very high level of autonomy in the study of individual students, both in the presence and absence of specific learning disabilities. Following the general approach adopted by Italian and international pedagogy in recent decades, individual students can detach themselves from the assistance of reference figures, "disconnecting" from external aspects and starting to rely solely on themselves.
The vocal synthesis as a dispensative measure for reading
Text comprehension is particularly challenging for those who suffer from reading-related learning disabilities (specifically, dyslexia). Since, as we have already mentioned, decoding the text is an element connected but different from its comprehension, students with dyslexia can obviously understand the study material on par with other students.
For this reason, the vocal synthesis tools provided by Algor Education can be used to relieve students from the specific task of reading, offering also the "karaoke function" that allows them to follow the automatic voice in real-time while the text scrolls.
Concept maps as a compensatory tool
Another application of AI to text comprehension allows for a much easier initial approach to study material: we are talking about automatic concept maps. By choosing this functionality, specifically in the "text map" or "photo map" types, you can have a graphical starting product and encounter fewer obstacles during text reading. This type of strategy is obviously not only useful for those with reading-related learning disabilities but can improve the educational path for any student who finds it useful.