Dynamic Text Comprehension: An Integrative View of Reading
David N. Rapp and Paul van den Broek
Current Directions in Psychological Science Vol. 14, No. 5 (Oct., 2005) (pp. 276-279)
Reading is one of the most complex and uniquely human of cognitive activities. Our understanding of the processes and factors involved in text comprehension is quite impressive, but it also is fragmented, with a proliferation of “mini-theories” for specific components that in reality are intertwined and interact with one another. Theories of dynamic text comprehension (DTC) aim to capture the integration of these components. They depict reading comprehension as an ongoing process involving fluctuations in the activation of concepts as the reader proceeds through the text, resulting in a gradually emerging interpretation of the material. Features of texts and characteristics of the reader jointly and interactively affect these fluctuations, influencing and being influenced by the reader’s understanding and memory of what is read. We illustrate the DTC approach by describing one theory, called the Landscape model, and summarize how its simulations match empirical data. We conclude with some implications of the DTC framework for basic and applied reading research.