A comprehension-based approach to learning and understanding

Walter Kintsch, Bruce K. Britton, Charles R. Fletcher, Eileen Kintsch, Suzanne M. Mannes, Mitchell J. Nathan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

20 Scopus citations


This chapter reviews the educational implications of a psychological process model of discourse comprehension. It indicated the place of this model among other contemporary approaches to discourse comprehension in cognitive science by emphasizing three global contrasts. First, it has contrasted an approach with others along a dimension that ranges from a concern with the text as an autonomous object to an emphasis on the processor, the subject of comprehension. The second dimension that is used to differentiate an approach from others is one that ranges from reading as passive absorption of information from the text to reading as an active construction of meaning. The final problem addressed is that the mental representations that are formed on the basis of reading a text must be related to and embedded in the reader's understanding of the real-world situation described by the text. The chapter reviews that these projects demonstrate the feasibility of theoretically motivated projects in education. This has been tried often enough before, not always successfully because the psychological theories used were too simplistic and could not provide adequate accounts of complex behaviors. The studies describes that in the domain of text comprehension it is now possible to forge direct links between research in cognitive science and educational practice. It should not be overlooked that this educationally motivated research has contributed a great deal to the further development and refinement of the theory of comprehension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPsychology of Learning and Motivation - Advances in Research and Theory
Number of pages50
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993

Publication series

NamePsychology of Learning and Motivation - Advances in Research and Theory
ISSN (Print)0079-7421


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