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A study of 191 native English speaking working class children in grades two, four, and six was undertaken to investigate the development of reading comprehension of selected pronoun-referent structures. Three linguistic comparisons were made: referent type, reference order, and referent distance. Target sentences were constructed with these features and were embedded into short passages, each followed by questions based on the target structure. It was found that noun phrase pronominal structures were easier to comprehend than sentential pronominals, structures with forward reference were easier to comprehend than those with backward reference, and there was no significant difference between inter-sentential structures and intra-sentential structures. A hierarchy of acquisition of reading comprehension was constructed for the various pronoun-referent structures.


Center for the Study of Reading, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Technical Report No. 117.