Activity and Imagined Activity Can Enhance Young Children’s Reading Comprehension
Arthur M. Glenberg, et al.
Journal of Educational Psychology 96 (2004): 424–36.
This study describes an experiment in which young children read a passage and manipulate plastic figures so that they can portray the actions and relationships in the passage. By manipulating the figures, the children get a structured, embodied experience with a clear goal (portray the action in the text). After some practice doing this, the children were asked to simply imagine manipulating the figures. This is a request to engage in simulation in their heads. As a posttest, the children read a final passage without any prompting.
Children who completed the sequence of embodied experience then simulation were better at remembering and drawing inferences about the new passage, as compared to children who received no training. They were better as well, compared to children who were instructed to only imagine the passage.
And, most interestingly, they were better compared to children who manipulated the figures without the intermediate instructions to imagine manipulating.
Encouraging simulation through the initial use of physical enactment helped the children learn a new reading comprehension strategy, namely a strategy whereby they called on their experiences in the world to build simulations for understanding a text in specific ways.
Gee, James Paul. “Learning and Games.”
The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning. Edited by Katie Salen. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008. 21–40.