Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal 9: 207–240, 1997.
1997 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Comprehension monitoring of written discourse
across early-to-middle adolescence
DOUGLAS J. HACKER
The University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Abstract. Comprehension monitoring is conceptualized as a metacognitive process involving
monitoring and control of ongoing discourse processing. The error-detection paradigm was
used in an experiment in which 315 7th-, 9th-, and 11th-grade students of low-to-high reading
ability monitored and controlled their reading as they searched three times through a text.
Search One showed that although all readers failed to monitor many problems, monitoring
at lexical, syntactic, and particularly semantic levels increased with age and reading ability.
Monitoring for low-ability readers remained low at all three grades. Search Two showed
an asymmetry in the effects of instruction to search for errors, and some students exhibited
constraints on monitoring and control. Finally, Search Three showed that some students had
knowledge necessary to monitor more errors but failed to apply that knowledge to the text.
Key words: Comprehension monitoring, Reading processes, Writing processes, Text revision,
Error detection, Metacognition, Comprehension process, Cognitive monitoring
Current conceptualizations of comprehension monitoring include two vari-
eties of processes: processes of evaluation through which a reader monitors
his or her ongoing discourse processing of text information; and processes
of regulation, which enable a reader to exert control over his or her dis-
course processing to resolve problems and ultimately increase comprehen-
sion (Andre 1987; Baker 1985; Brown 1980). Monitoring of one’s think-
ing and the subsequent control that one exerts over his or her thoughts
have been described as executive processes (Butterﬁeld & Belmont 1977;
Miller, Galanter & Pribram 1960) or metacognitive processes (Brown 1980;
Butterﬁeld, Albertson & Johnston 1994; Flavell 1979; Nelson & Narens
With development, individuals come to take a more active, self-directive
role in certain areas of cognition (Flavell & Wellman 1977; Kreutzer, Leonard
& Flavell 1975); that is, they develop the ability to monitor and control their
own cognitive processes. However, evidence from recent studies of com-
prehension monitoring of reading indicates that the development of control
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