Date of Award

Fall 1983

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Leslie, Lauren

Second Advisor

Negin, Gary

Third Advisor

Greenfield, Carol


The purpose of the present research was to investigate the effect of background knowledge on the quality of miscues when miscue rates were equated and on comprehension. The study sought to determine whether level of background knowledge (high or low) for an expository passage and/or level of oral reading accuracy (95+% or 90-94% based on miscues per hundred words) had a greater effect on the quality of miscues and on comprehension. The quality of miscues was determined by the use of graphic cues, the proportion of miscues causing meaning loss, and the proportion of meaning-loss miscues which were self-corrected. Comprehension of the passage was measured by the number of passage propositions retold after oral reading and by the number of textually explicit, textually implicit and scriptally implicit comprehension questions answered correctly. Subjects were 57 average third grade readers, one group of whom had been taught the food chain unit (high prior knowledge group) and the other group which had not yet studied the food chain in their science classes. Results show that level of background knowledge affects the use of graphic cues and the proportion of meaning-loss miscues made during oral reading. Low background children relied more heavily on graphic cues regardless of level of accuracy than children with prior knowledge for the topic, and they also made significantly more miscues which resulted in loss of meaning, regardless of oral reading accuracy level. Children with high levels of prior knowledge answered correctly significantly more comprehension questions of three types: textually explicit, textually implicit, and scriptally implicit. The difference in the high and low groups' ability to retell the passage after oral reading was non-significant.