Evaluation of a Reading Comprehension Strategy Package to Improve Reading Comprehension of Adult College Students with Acquired Brain Injuries
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Adults with mild to moderate acquired brain injury (ABI) often pursue post-secondary or professional education after their injuries in order to enter or re-enter the job market. An increasing number of these adults report problems with reading-to-learn. The problem is particularly concerning given the growing population of adult survivors of ABI. Combat-related brain trauma and sports concussions are two factors contributing to increases in traumatic brain injuries, while higher incidences of stroke in young adults and better rates of survival after brain tumors are contributing to increases in non-traumatic brain injuries. Despite the rising need, empirical evaluation of reading comprehension interventions for adults with ABI is scarce. This study used a within-subject design to evaluate whether adult college students with ABI with no more than moderate cognitive impairments benefited from using a multi-component reading comprehension strategy package to improve comprehension of expository text. The strategy package was based on empirical support from the cognitive rehabilitation literature that shows individuals with ABI benefit from metacognitive strategy training to improve function in other academic activities. Further empirical support was drawn from the special education literature that demonstrates other populations of struggling readers benefit from reading comprehension strategy use. In this study, participants read chapters from an introductory-level college Anthropology textbook in two different conditions: strategy and no-strategy. The results indicated that providing these readers with reading comprehension strategies was associated with better recall of correct information units in two free recall tasks: one elicited immediately after reading the chapter, and one elicited the following day. The strategy condition was also associated with better efficiency of recall in the delayed task and a more accurate ability to recognize statements from a sentence verification task designed to reflect the local and global coherence of the text. The findings support further research into using reading comprehension strategies as an intervention approach for the adult ABI population. Future research needs include identifying how to match particular reading comprehension strategies to individuals, examining whether reading comprehension performance improves further through the incorporation of systematic training, and evaluating texts from a range of disciplines and genres.