There were several eras of reading research led by different assumptions and theories. First was the era of conditioned learning, which lasted from 1950 to 1965. During this period, the research was inspired by behavioristic theory, which stated that learning is a conditioned behavior that could be programmed. The second era that lasted from 1966 to 1975 was based on natural learning theory, which claimed that reading was a meaningful process. The third period (1976-1985) was based on information processing theory, which focused on the explanation of the interaction between the symbol system and the mind. The fourth era (1986-1995) was based on sociocultural learning theory, which shifted the focus from individual learning to capturing shared understanding. Fifth was the era of engaged learning (1996-2005), and the final era, which is prevalent now, is goal-directed learning.
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The research is guided by theories and models, which are very close in meaning. According to Alvermann et al. (2013), a theory is an explanation of a phenomenon, while a model is a representation of a theory by depicting the interrelationships of different variables.
There are various theories guiding reading research, which vary from one another, depending on the key assumptions. For instance, the schema theory proposes that the process of reading makes a person interact with the inner structured memory to facilitate inference making. The transaction theory claims that the meaning is created during the process of reading, depending on the reader, text, time, and context. At the same time, Vygotsky’s cultural/historical theory claims that the meaning depends on the cultural, social, and historical context as well as the language.
Considering all the theories, there is a high possibility that while reading, people may create different truths. Therefore, it is of extreme importance that reading is guided by a spiritual leader to understand that Jesus is the only “way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6, New International Version).
Alvermann, D., Unrau, N.J., & Ruddell, R.B. (2013). Theoretical models and processes of reading. International Reading Association.