Comprehension is described as the ‘active and intentional thinking, in which the meaning is constructed through interactions between the text and the reader (Durkin, 1973, see References).  It is described as a complex cognitive process, which depends on all of the other four Big Ideas in addition to the prior knowledge and engagement of the reader.

The key causes of reading comprehension difficulties (Kame'enui & Simmons, 1990) are:

  • Inadequate instruction
  • Insufficient exposure and practice
  • Deficient word recognition skills
  • Deficient memory capacity and functioning
  • Significant language deficiencies
  • Inadequate comprehension monitoring and self-evaluation
  • Unfamiliarity with text features and task demands
  • Undeveloped attentional strategies
  • Inadequate cognitive development and reading experiences

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How does Steps develop Comprehension?

Choose the Word – sight vocabulary, using/choosing words in context
Sentence Builder – sight vocabulary, sequencing, using words in context, syntactic awareness
Word Search – sight vocabulary, visual recognition, visual discrimination, visual sequencing, using words in context (when doing printed cloze activity)
Homophones – Lists in Wordlist section (all activities)
Pick the Word – Homophones activity which develops language awareness and vocabulary
Everyday Topics Wordbank – 1,000 words divided into topic lists (all activities provided for every list
Personal Lists – ability to enter lists of words relevant to each individual learner, enabling teachers/parents to pre-teach vocabulary and reading words.  Learners can see and use the words in a variety of contexts, utilising all of the above activities.
Stargame – printable set of materials which can be used for games requiring the learner to generate their own sentence for each word.
Four in a Row (game) – homophones option
Word study lists, including prefixes, suffixes and word roots


Ogle, D. (1986). K-W-L: A teaching model that develops active reading of expository text. The Reading Teacher, 39, 564-570.
Rayner, K. & Pollatsek, A. (1989). The psychology of reading. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Robbins, C., & Ehri, L. C. (1994). Reading storybooks to kindergartners helps them learn new vocabulary words. Journal of Educational Psychology, 86(1), 54-64.
Felton, Rebecca H., Wood, Frank B. (1992). A Reading Level Match Study of Nonword Reading Skills in Poor Readers with Varying IQ. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 25, 5, 318-326.