Dr. Judith M. Newman

Self As Informant is a self-directed Workshop consisting of a number of activities which are laid out so that you can explore and reflect on what you do when you read.

Research into reading as a constructive activity began in middle 1960s with the work of Kenneth Goodman. In 1968 he published a book The Psycholinguistic Nature of the Reading Process in which he laid out an argument explaining what he called "reading miscues."

At about the same time (1969) there was another breakthrough article in the Reading Research Quarterly by Ryan and Semmel: Reading as a constructive language process which reviewed a wide array of research and demonstrated the cognitive processes involved in reading.

In 1971, Frank Smith published the first edition of Understanding Reading in which he developed an extensive argument based on the then available research on a wide range of topics including eye-movement studies, error detection, and language development. He showed that reading had to be a complex constructive process based on more than just the information from the print on the page; in order to read, he argued, readers had to rely heavily on what he called "non-visual" information in order to construct meaning.

In the late 60s Edmund Huey's 1908 book: The Psychology and Pedagogy of Reading was rediscovered. His early experiments were actually the first evidence that reading was a constructive activity.

These and other important works made it clear that reading involved a lot more than just discriminating letters and words (pattern recognition) and translating/associating them with speech (decoding).

These Self As Informant activities will revisit these ground breaking arguments and allow you to discover for yourself the complexity of reading. Start with Activity 1 and work your way through the various activities systematically. By the end you'll have had some very interesting insights into what happens when you read.