Publication Details

Byers, S., Jones, P. T. & Kervin, L. K. (2012). What Counts as Comprehension in Teacher Practice?. Literacy Learning: The Middle Years, 20 (3), 18-27.


Comprehension is generally considered to be an essential skill required in all learning areas. The Australian Curriculum argues that much of the explicit teaching of literacy occurs in the English learning area, and is strengthened, made specific and extended in other learning areas as students engage in a range of learning activities with significant literacy demands (ACARA, 2012, p. 9). This has important ramifications for all teachers because they are charged with the responsibility of ensuring their students acquire the literacy skills necessary for success in the discipline areas. Despite this, comprehension means different things to different people. This paper reports on an action research project investigating teacher and student understandings of comprehension in the middle school years Specifically it asks the question: What counts as comprehension in teacher practice? After considering teacher and student perceptions of what comprehension is in different subject areas in Years 5, 7 and 9, strategic professional development seminars have been developed and implemented. These seminars are aimed at introducing teachers to current ideas about comprehension and providing them with practical, achievable strategies to use in the classroom.