Sociocognitive Processes in Guided Silent Reading: A Microanalysis of Small-Group Lessons

Ian A. G. Wilkinson, Richard C. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The merits of silent and oral reading have been viewed traditionally from an intraindividual perspective without considering the classroom context in which reading naturally occurs. This study provides the first direct evidence of the effects of silent reading when it is embedded in small-group lessons typical of much classroom reading instruction. One hundred children in four third-grade classes, each divided into three ability groups, received two silent and two oral reading lessons. Group dynamics were measured from videotapes of the lessons, and students' comprehension was measured from recall of stories covered in the lessons. Results showed both positive and negative consequences of silent reading. Students were more attentive during silent reading than they were during oral reading and they were more responsive to story content during discussion. However, silent reading lessons proceeded at slower pace because, at the end of each reading unit, more able readers had to wait for their less able peers to finish reading before discussion could resume. The slower pace seemed to offset benefits accruing from attention and discussion. These results suggest that the effects of silent reading in small-group lessons are best viewed from an inter-rather than intraindividual perspective. Any benefits that occur from silent reading probably are due to the dynamics of the reading group during teacher-guided instruction and may not be due solely to direct cognitive consequences for individual students.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)710-740
JournalReading Research Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 1995


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