Bottom-Up Theories of the Reading Process
By D. R. Reutzel|R.B. Cooter
Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 29, 2013
Bottom-up theories hypothesize that learning to read progresses from children learning the parts of language (letters) to understanding whole text (meaning). Much like solving a jigsaw puzzle, bottom-up models of the reading process say that the reading puzzle is solved by beginning with an examination of each piece of the puzzle and then putting pieces together to make a picture. Two bottom-up theories of the reading process remain popular even today: One Second of Reading by Gough (1972) and A Theory of Automatic Information Processing by LaBerge and Samuels (1974). Gough’s (1972) One Second of Reading model described reading as a sequential or serial mental process. Readers, according to Gough, begin by translating the parts of written language (letters) into speech sounds, then piece the sounds together to form individual words, then piece the words together to arrive at an understanding of the author’s written message. In their reading model, LaBerge and Samuels (1974) describe a concept called automatic information processing or automaticity. This popular model of the reading process hypothesizes that the human mind functions much like a computer and that visual input (letters and words) is sequentially entered into the mind of the reader. Almost without exception, humans have the ability to perform more than one task at a time (computer specialists sometimes call this “multitasking”). Because each computer (and by comparison the human mind) has a limited capacity available for multitasking, attention must be shifted from one job to another. If one job requires a large portion of the available computer’s attention capacity, then capacity for another job is limited. The term “automaticity” implies that readers, like computers, have a limited ability to shift attention between the processes of decoding (sounding out words) and...
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