Developing effective comprehension strategies and skills with Oxford Reading Buddy

Oxford Reading Buddy

Successful comprehension is what allows children to acquire and apply new knowledge, to communicate successfully, and ultimately, to be academically successful. However, good comprehension is more than simply processing single words or sentences; it’s the reader having a coherent understanding of the meaning of the text as a whole. To do this, they need to make use of a number of comprehension strategies and skills. The aim of Oxford Reading Buddy is to encourage and support the use of these strategies and skills, both during and after reading.

The pedagogy underpinning Oxford Reading Buddy is based on the findings of multiple international studies into how children develop reading comprehension and the effective teaching of comprehension. You can read the details in the report: The pedagogy underpinning Oxford Reading Buddy – a research based approach; but if you’re looking for a quick overview, we’ve summarized the findings of the research, and how it has been used to develop Oxford Reading Buddy, for you below.

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Developing reading comprehension: the research

Research has consistently found that children’s reading comprehension can be improved by teaching specific, interactive strategies to help them comprehend a text. What’s more, these strategies need to be introduced to children explicitly so that they can actively practice using them. In 2017, the Education Endowment Fund’s analysis of the best research in the area found that, on average, these comprehension strategy approaches accelerated progress by six months. Professors Jane Oakhill and Kate Cain, the experts behind Oxford Reading Buddy, have been central to much of this research.

Comprehension Strategies and Skills

Comprehension Strategies are consciously applied as children read to help them construct meaning, whereas Comprehension Skills are used after reading to answer questions about a text. In Oxford Reading Buddy, the Comprehension Strategies are embedded by a personal ‘buddy’ who models the thoughts and behaviour of a good reader and encourages children to think and reflect during reading. The in-book Buddy Questions and end-of-book quizzes use the Comprehension Skills to assess the reader’s understanding of the text. 

The Comprehension Strategies and Skills used in Oxford Reading Buddy include:

  • Text Structures, Organization and Features: making sense of a text by ordering events and drawing on knowledge of text conventions.
  • Inference: connecting up the ideas within a text, and going beyond the literal meaning. 
  • Activation of Prior Knowledge, including Vocabulary: using both vocabulary knowledge and background knowledge related to the topic of a text to understand it. 
  • Understanding vocabulary: using vocabulary knowledge to understand a text. 
  • Questioning and Prediction: the ability to consider what might happen in a text, dependent on understanding what has happened so far.
  • Visualization: being able to develop visual images of the situation you are reading about.
  • Determination of Importance: focusing on the important information in a text, rather than trivial details.
  • Monitoring Comprehension: the ability to reflect on your own comprehension during reading, and knowing how to overcome any problems you encounter.

You can find out more about each of the Comprehension Strategies and Skills used in Oxford Reading Buddy on the support site.

Mia's Little Brother, Coaching eBook, Oxford Level 17

An example of a buddy prompt encouraging visualization,
from Mia’s Little Brother, Coaching eBook, Oxford Level 17

Find out more about Oxford Reading Buddy

Oxford Reading Buddy supports each child’s personal reading journey, deepens comprehension, motivates them to succeed, and provides teachers with valuable insights into their attainment and development. It is an easy-to-use digital reading service that can be used across a wide range of devices to seamlessly support independent reading in your school. 
Find out more!

Oxford Reading Buddy

Read the full research background

To find out more about the research that underpins Oxford Reading Buddy, download the full report.