Critique the “Top-Down and Bottom-Up” Models of Reading and Outline Their Relevance to Reading Instruction

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Critique the “Top-Down and Bottom-Up” Models of Reading and Outline Their Relevance To Reading Instructions Sherry Ann Osborne

The ability to read is thought to be fundamentally important for functionality in our modern world. Nations measure the success of educational institutions by the ability to produce highly literate citizens and funding for many educational institutions in the United States and elsewhere hinges on the literacy attainment of student populations. The international demand for reading success has over the years resulted in periodic shifts in reading instruction with fervent emphasis at one point on the Top Down model of reading with an equally fervent shift to the Bottom Up model of reading instruction. Historically, these shifts are not new but an investigation into both models prove that they are both inefficient in laying sole claim to beginning reading success and that scientific based research provides more eclectic and conclusive evidence as to what is truly required for early reading success.

The Whole Word approach to the teaching of reading which emanates from the Top-Down reading model is philosophically Constructivist in nature. It therefore means that the methodologies and instructional activities are child-centred, reader-oriented and allows for a personal construction of meaning. In this logographic reading model, processing employs higher order skills in a whole to part deconstruction of the word. Chall (1967) proposes that words should be introduced through their meaning and requires sight recognition of words using Gestalt principles of shape and length. Meaning is viewed as the goal of reading and the reader uses his prior knowledge and experiences with language through semantic and syntactic cuing in order to make predictions to arrive at the meaning of words in particular contexts. The reader therefore does not use all the elements in a word for decoding but rather uses the ‘most productive cues...
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