Comprehension of Students With and Without Learning Disabilities: Identification of Narrative Themes and Idiosyncratic Text Representations

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In an interview organized around the comprehension of a story adapted from a natural text and the identification of story theme, adolescent students with learning disabilities (LDs) performed below the level of same-age students without learning disabilities (NDs) and at the same level as younger students without learning disabilities (YNDs) matched on standardized reading comprehension scores. However, on 1 sensitive measure of theme identification (incipient awareness of theme), the LDs scored below the YNDs as well. The LDs also made more idiosyncratic importations during their summarizing and discussing of the story, and such importations were associated with poorer theme identification. The findings suggest that LDs have specific difficulty with “getting the point,” perhaps because they build up less effective text representations through the inappropriate use of background knowledge or intrusion of personal points of view.

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