Locating Information in Text: A Focus on Children in the Elementary Grades

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This paper reviews research related to the ability of elementary school children to carry out search tasks with informational text. The review is organized within a framework of components of the search process: Goal Formation, Text Selection, Information Extraction and Integration, and Evaluation. Research suggests that older and more proficient readers are better able than younger and less proficient readers to execute search tasks successfully and spontaneously. Other factors, such as the considerateness of text and the reader′s prior knowledge of text structure and topic, also have been shown to affect children′s ability to search informational text. Finally, the article closes with a discussion of problems in existing instructional practice and with recommendations that (a) elementary teachers should provide systematic instruction in how to locate information in text, (b) children should read more informational text, and (c) children should be taught explicitly about informational text.