Fluency: A Review of Developmental and Remedial Practices

CIERA Report #2-008

Melanie R. Kuhn
Steven A. Stahl
University of Georgia

CIERA Inquiry 2: Home and School
How do children become fluent readers? What instructional strategies are effective in promoting fluency among beginning readers?

The purpose of this paper is to provide a review of the theoretical discussions and practical studies relating to fluency instruction and reading development. Our basic research strategy was to survey the range of definitions for fluency, the primary features of fluent reading, and studies that have attempted to improve the fluency of struggling readers in one of three common groupings--individually, as dyads, and in redesigns of classroom instruction.

In conducting this review, we encountered a range of theories supporting the role of fluency in the reading process and many studies that have attempted to improve fluency and, thereby, to improve reading more generally. We found that (a) fluency instruction generally seems to be effective, although it is unclear whether it is successful because of specific instructional features or because fluency instruction involves children in reading increased amounts of text; (b) assisted approaches, such as reading-while-listening, seem to be more effective than nonassisted approaches, such as repeated reading; (c) repetitive approaches do not seem to hold a clear advantage over nonrepetitive approaches; and (d) effective fluency instruction moves beyond automatic word recognition to include rhythm and expression, or what linguists refer to as the prosodic features of language.

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