Helping High School Students Read Like Experts: Affective Evaluation, Salience, and Literary Interpretation

Sarah Levine*, William Horton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This study explored whether a month-long instructional intervention in affective evaluation can help struggling high school readers to engage in literary interpretation in ways similar to expert readers’ practices. We compared pre- and post-intervention think-aloud protocols from five high school students as they read a literary short story with the protocols from five experienced English teachers for the same story. After the intervention, student readers attended more frequently to story details that expert readers also found salient to interpretation. Students also made interpretive moves similar to those made by experts, such as inferences about character goals, interpretation of potential symbols, and attention to patterns and juxtapositions in the text. Further, students’ focus on interpretively salient details influenced their thematic inferences. These findings suggest that the recruitment of everyday, affect-based practices can help novice readers develop more “expert-like” literary schemata and construct more meaningful interpretations of a literary text.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-153
Number of pages29
JournalCognition and Instruction
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychology(all)

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