From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|Part of a series on|
|LEARNING TO READ|
Speed reading is a collection of reading methods which attempt to increase rates of reading without greatly reducing comprehension or retention. Methods include chunking and eliminating subvocalization. No absolute distinct "normal" and "speed-reading" types of reading exist in practice, since all readers use some of the techniques used in speed reading (such as identifying words without focusing on each letter, not sounding out all words, not sub-vocalizing some phrases, or spending less time on some phrases than others, and skimming small sections). Speed reading is characterized by an analysis of trade-offs between measures of speed and comprehension, recognizing that different types of reading call for different speed and comprehension rates, and that those rates may be improved with practice.
Psychologists and educational specialists working on the visual acuity question devised the tachistoscope, which is a machine designed to flash images at varying rates on a screen. The experiment started with large pictures of aircraft being displayed onscreen. The images were gradually reduced in size and the flashing-rate was increased. They found that, with training, an average person could identify minute images of different planes when flashed on the screen for only one five-hundredth of a second. The results had implications for reading.
Using the same methodology, the U.S. Air Force soon discovered that they could flash four words simultaneously on the screen at rates of one five-hundredth of a second with full recognition by the reader. This training demonstrated clearly that, with some work, reading speeds could be increased from reading rates to skimming rates. Not only could they be increased but the improvements were made by improving visual processing. Therefore, the next step was to train eye movements by means of a variety of pacing techniques in an attempt to improve reading. The reading courses that followed used the tachistoscope to increase reading speeds; it assumed that readers were able to increase their effective speeds from 200 to 400 words per minute using the machine. The drawback to the tachistoscope was that post-course timings showed that, without the machine, speed increases rapidly diminished.
Following the tachistoscope discoveries, the Harvard Business School produced the first film-aided course, designed to widen the reader’s field of focus in order to increase reading speed. Again, the focus was on visual processing as a means of improvement. Using machines to increase people's reading speeds was a trend of the 1940s. While it had been assumed that reading speed increases of 100% were possible and had been attained, lasting results had yet to be demonstrated.
It was not until the late 1950s that a portable, reliable and 'handy' device would be developed as a tool for increasing reading speed. The researcher was a school-teacher named Evelyn Wood. She was committed to understanding why some people were naturally faster at reading than others and was trying to force herself to read very quickly. It is told that while brushing off the pages of the book she had thrown down in despair, she discovered that the sweeping motion of her hand across the page caught the attention of her eyes, and helped them move more smoothly across the page. She then utilized the hand as a pacer, and called it the "Wood Method", which was renamed to Reading Dynamics in 1958. She coined the term "speed reading."
More recently, speed reading courses and books have been developed to help the consumer achieve even higher increases in reading speed. With specific reference to pseudoscience concepts, companies have claimed to be able to extract meaning out of consciously unnoticed text from the para-consciousness or subconscious. These courses go by various titles such as photo-reading (1994), and alpha-netics (1999). Reading experts[who?] refer to them as snake oil reading lessons because of their high dependence on the suspension of the consumer’s disbelief.
Also, some speed reading proponents have taught that certain groups of people are more gifted at speed reading than others (young children, dyslexics, ADHD and others). Speed Reading 4 Kids (2003) and Damn the School System—Full Speed Ahead! (1973) are two books that have advocated speed reading for children, including some learning disabled.
Skimming is a process of speed reading that involves visually searching the sentences of a page for clues to meaning. For some people, this comes naturally, and usually can not be acquired by practice. Skimming is usually seen more in adults than in children. It is conducted at a higher rate (700 words per minute and above) than normal reading for comprehension (around 200-230 wpm), and results in lower comprehension rates, especially with information-rich reading material.
Another form of skimming is that commonly employed by readers on the Web. This involves skipping over text that is less interesting or relevant. This form of reading is not new but has become increasingly prevalent due to the ease with which alternative information can be accessed online.
Meta guiding is the visual guiding of the eye using a finger or pointer, such as a pen, in order for the eye to move faster along the length of a passage of text. It involves drawing invisible shapes on a page of text in order to broaden the visual span for speed reading. For example, an audience of customers at a speed reading seminar will be instructed to use a finger or pen to make these shapes on a page and told that this will speed up their visual cortex, increase their visual span to take in the whole line, and even imprint the information into their subconscious for later retrieval. It has also been claimed to reduce subvocalization, thereby speeding up reading. This encourages the eye to skim over the text but reduces comprehension and memory, and leads to missing important details of the text.
Schematic processing uses what is known as brain mapping to decode information in text at a much higher pace. It is based in part on the schematic processing work of Malcolm Knowles, and his theory of andragogy. When applied to speed reading, schematic processing uses the principle that the brain’s ability to comprehend information quickly is based on words or concepts being either familiar or unknown. By training individuals to use their existing brain maps more efficiently, they can then move through familiar words and concepts at a higher rate of speed. When unfamiliar material is discovered, specific study skills learned within this method then assist the reader in processing the new information for greater comprehension.
Commercial speed reading programs
Some businesses selling courses and manuals on speed reading claim that it is possible to increase the reading to beyond 10 words per second with full comprehension, provided the course is followed and that the exercises are constantly practiced. However, a good deal of these courses and manuals are conflicting as to why and how speed reading should be adopted as a method.
Some other businesses claim that a person can double or triple his/her current speed. They claim that a person reading at 2 words per second (the average rate for untrained adult readers), can take a speed reading course and learn how to read at 5 to 7 words per second while maintaining, or even improving comprehension. In many commercial courses, in fact, the comprehension is only increased because the difficulty of the texts used in the course decreases.
One point of contention between the various speed reading courses is the assertions concerning subvocalization. Some courses claim that the main obstacle to speed reading is any form of subvocalization. But there is no evidence that less subvocalisation can improve reading or even can willingly be changed at all. Other courses claim that subvocalization can be used on keywords in order to speed up learning and reading. Some proponents of speed reading claim that subvocalization can be broken down into two levels, only one of which will reduce reading speed.
Speed reading courses and books take a variety of approaches to the concept of reading comprehension. Some courses and books claim that good comprehension is essential to speed reading, and that comprehension will improve with speed reading. Special non-standardized reading comprehension questionnaires are provided in order to convince the reader of the effects of the program. Some courses advise that while comprehension is important, it should not be measured or promoted. Speed reading courses variously claim that not all information in text needs to be covered while speed reading. Some claim that speed reading involves skipping text (exactly as has been measured during studies on skimming), whereas other speed reading promoters claim that all of the text is processed, but with some or most becoming subconsciously processed. Similarly, some courses claim that text should be serially processed whereas others say that information should be processed in a more haphazard or ad hoc fashion.
Reading Dynamics is the speed reading system taught by Evelyn Wood. It was advocated by President John F. Kennedy and other famous figures as a means of remembering the information from thousands of words read per minute.
The system centers on moving one's hand across the page in order to maintain eye focus on the words. Like most speed reading systems, it also suggests trying to suppress the instinct of subvocalization or "thinking aloud," instead focusing on the meaning of the words without being limited by the time it would take to mentally pronounce the syllables.
Maximum Power Reading
Maximum Power Reading was created by Howard Stephen Berg, speed reader and speed learning expert. In 1989 Berg’s world record speed reading claim was published in The Guinness Book of World Records, 28th edition.
Maximum Power Reading is Berg’s approach to reading for both speed and learning. Through the use of schematic processing and other perfected learning strategies, the subject can develop skills to increase both reading speed, as well as learning efficiency.
The schematic speed reading system used integrates reading, study skills and memory strategies to increase speed, comprehension and commit new information to long term memory.
Berg’s schematic speed reading approach was tested in a double blind efficacy study by Strategic Service, Inc. in 1998. The study tested groups of both child and adult subjects before and after completion of the 4 hour home study course, and found that both groups increased their reading speed by 60-70% on average. Comprehension scores for child subjects improved by 10% on average, but scores for adult subjects were between 13.72% and 62.14% worse.
PhotoReading is a commercial product promoted by Learning Strategies Corporation with the phrase PhotoRead at 25,000 words a minute. Doubts have been raised about the ability of the brain to take in such a quantity of data at once. The human vision span is somewhat limited for this purpose if peripheral vision is not utilized.
The PhotoReading system was said to be developed by Paul Scheele, co-founder of Learning Strategies. A company called Subliminal Dynamics claimed that Scheele took a related seminar on subliminal processing with them, which Scheele referenced on page 4 of the first chapter in the first edition of his book. According to Scheele, PhotoReading differs from their system in at least three ways (quoted here verbatim):
- "The key is not subliminal perception. The key is the brain's capacity for preconscious processing. I've spent my years developing a protocol to capture this capacity and put it reliably in the hands of our clients. (Reference the work of N.F. Dixon from England, and P. Lewicki at Tulsa University, Oklahoma)."
- "Neuro-Linguistic Programming is the basis for our techniques of putting folks in contact with the resources of the nonconscious data storage systems of the brain for activation and recall."
- "Accelerative, brain-based teaching and learning are essential in the design and delivery of our programs, including the design of the book."
Evaluation of PhotoReading claims
In January 2000 Danielle S. McNamara submitted a preliminary report to the NASA Ames Research Center on photoreading. McNamara enrolled in a PhotoReading workshop under the tutelage of a photoreading expert trained by Paul Scheele. In three years this expert had trained over 150 individuals in PhotoReading. The trainee spent two months learning the PhotoReading technique. The two participants were "(a) the PhotoReading trainee who participated in a two-day photoreading workshop, and (b) the expert who provided the PhotoReading workshop." (McNamara 4).
McNamara first conducted five baseline tests to measure ordinary reading speeds and comprehension. Then, she administered five similar tests after using the PhotoReading technique. These tests included the Nelson Reading Comprehension Test and the Verbal Reasoning section of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). The study investigated fact-based tests since "PhotoReading has been claimed to be particularly effective for this type of text" (McNamara 5). Subject matter included physiology, perception, and biology. A single idea or sentence within each text formed the basis for each question. According to McNamara "The information in the text that is targeted by the question generally requires little prior knowledge and little active processing of the text to understand" (McNamara 6). In other words, these were relatively straightforward, factual questions.
The results of the study generally indicate that PhotoReading and normal reading require a similar amount of time to complete. In one test, the expert answered 37 of 38 questions correctly after normal reading, and took 19.43 minutes to complete the task. Then the expert took a similar test after PhotoReading the passage, and answered 38 out of 38 questions correctly in a time of 18.13 minutes. McNamara took the same test and scored a 92% both times; photoreading took 21.30 minutes whereas regular reading took 15.80 minutes. These results do not support Scheele's 25,000 words per minute claims.
In a text about perception, the expert read normally and finished the text in 8.82 minutes and answered three questions of eight correctly. Then, the expert "photoread" the text in 0.87 minutes and proceeded to read the text for another 8.12 minutes before finishing. After photoreading, the expert scored one out of eight questions correctly. These results do not support Scheele's assertions that Photoreading helps one study faster and with greater comprehension than with ordinary reading techniques.
In conclusion, McNamara noted that "In terms of words per minute (wpm) spent reading, there was no difference between normal reading (M = 114 wpm) and PhotoReading (M=112 wpm)" (10). In an attempt to explain the appeal of PhotoReading for some individuals, McNamara stated "One aspect of the PhotoReading technique is that it leaves the reader with a false sense of confidence." (12). 
Computer programs are available to help instruct speed reading students. Vortex Speed Reading was one of the early applications, but it was strictly a productivity tool – a program that only presented text one word at a time. Readers needed to focus on the center of the screen, not moving their eyes as they would while reading normal text.
A number of speed reading programs use a different approach. These programs present the data as a serial stream, since the brain handles text more efficiently by breaking it into such a stream before parsing and interpreting it. The 2000 National Reading Panel (NRP) report (p. 3-1) seems to support such a mechanism.
To increase speed, some older programs required readers to view the center of the screen while the lines of text around it grew longer. They also presented several objects (instead of text) moving line by line or bouncing around the screen; users had to follow the object(s) with only their eyes. A number of researchers criticize using objects instead of words as an effective training method, claiming that the only way to read faster is to read actual text. Many of the newer speed reading programs use built-in text, and they primarily guide users through the lines of an on-screen book at defined speeds. Often the text is highlighted to indicate where users should focus their eyes; they are not expected to read by pronouncing the words, but instead to read by viewing the words as complete images. The exercises are also intended to train readers to eliminate subvocalization, even though it has not been proven that this will increase reading speed.
Effect on comprehension
Skimming on its own should not be used when complete comprehension of the text is the objective. Skimming is mainly used when researching and getting an overall idea of the text. Nonetheless, where time is limited, skimming or skipping over text can aid comprehension. Duggan & Payne (2009) gave readers a limited amount of time and compared skimming with normal reading. They found that the main points of a text were better understood after skimming than after normal reading. There was no difference between the groups in their understanding of less important information from the text.
Speed reading courses which teach techniques that largely constitute skimming of written text also result in a lower comprehension rate (below 50% comprehension on standardized comprehension tests) (Carver 1992).
Claims of speed readers
|This article may contain excessive, poor or irrelevant examples. You can improve the article by adding more descriptive text. See Wikipedia's guide to writing better articles for further suggestions. (December 2007)|
The World Championship Speed Reading Competition stresses reading comprehension as critical, and that the top contestants typically read around 1000 to 2000 words per minute with approximately 50% comprehension. The 10,000 word/min claimants have yet to reach this level.
Much controversy is raised over this point. This is mainly because a reading comprehension level of 50% is deemed unusable by some educationalists (Carver 1992). Speed reading advocates claim that it is a great success and even state that it is a demonstration of good comprehension for many purposes (Buzan 2000). The trade-off between "speed" and comprehension must be analyzed with respect to the type of reading that is being done, the risks associated with mis-understanding due to low comprehension, and the benefits associated with getting through the material quickly and gaining information at the actual rate it is obtained.
Howard Stephen Berg was published in the 1990 Guinness Book of World Records as the Fastest Reader in the World reading at a rate of 25,000 words per minute. The figure was deduced from him reading different texts on over a dozen television shows, and being tested by over a dozen newspapers in various cities around the USA. On Cleveland's Morning Exchange, Howard completed an 1100 page book and scored a perfect score on recall. He was retested three years later on the same book using his recall from the previous show again with perfect recall. Dick Cavett had Berg memorize his autobiography in 90 seconds and he demonstrated perfect recall. On Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, Berg memorized a 200 page book, "Going to the Movies," by Quentin Crisp, and scored 100% on the extensive test given by the author. In July-August 1998 Strategic Services, Inc. conducted a double blind study of Mr. Berg's Mega Speed Reading Program. The Efficacy Report showed very favorable results for the participants.
Jimmy Carter, also a U.S. president, and his wife Rosalynn, were both avid readers and enrolled in a speed-reading course (which their daughter Amy Carter attended briefly) at the White House, along with several staff members.
A critical discussion about speed reading stories appeared in Slate. Among others, the article raises doubts about the origin of John F. Kennedy's allegedly amazing reading speed. Ronald Carver, a professor of education research and psychology, claims that the fastest college graduate readers can only read at most twice as fast as their slowest counterparts, namely about 600 words per minute. Other critics have suggested that speed reading is actually skimming, not reading.
|Wikibooks has more on the topic of|
- ^ a b Abela (2004) Black Art of Speed Reading lecture notes
- ^ Brief History of Speed Reading
- ^ Carver, R.P-Prof (1990) Reading Rate: A Comprehensive Review of Research and Theory.
- ^ Handbook of reading research, Volume 3
- ^ http://www.mrreader.com/double-blind-study/
- ^ http://www.subdyn.com/photored.html
- ^ Scheele, Paul R. “The PhotoReading Whole Mind System” Wayzata, Minnesota: Learning Strategies Corporation. 1993.
- ^ Scheele, Paul (2000). "Thread - Official Statement About Scheele". Learning Strategies Corporation]. http://www.learningstrategies.com/forum/ubb/Forum8/HTML/001575.html. Retrieved October 27, 2006.
- ^ http://www.docstoc.com/docs/10454192/Speed-Reading-Study
- ^ John F. Kennedy on Leadership
- ^ American Experience | Jimmy Carter | Gallery
- ^ The 1,000-Word Dash - By Timothy Noah - Slate Magazine
- ^ The Skeptic's Dictionary Retrieved February 26, 2009.
- Allyn & Bacon, (1987) The Psychology of Reading and Language Comprehension. Boston
- Buzan (2000) The Speed Reading Book. BBC Ltd
- Carver, R.P-Prof (1990) Reading Rate: A Comprehensive Review of Research and Theory.
- Carver, R. P. (1992). Reading rate: Theory, research and practical implications. Journal of Reading, 36, 84-95.
- Cunningham, A. E., Stanovich, K. E., & Wilson, M. R. (1990). Cognitive variation in adult college students differing in reading ability. In T. H. Carr & B. A. Levy (Eds.), Reading and its development: Component skills approaches (pp. 129–159). New York: Academic Press.
- Duggan, G. B., & Payne, S. J. (2009). Text skimming: The process and effectiveness of foraging through text under time pressure. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 15(3), 228-242.
- Educational Research Institute of America (2006). A Review of the Research on the Instructional Effectivenessof AceReader. Report No. 258.
- Harris and Sipay (1990) How to Increase Reading Ability. Longman
- FTC Report (1998)  
- Homa, D (1983) An assessment of two “extraordinary” speed-readers. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 21(2), 123-126.
- McBride, Vearl G. (1973). Damn the School System—Full Speed Ahead!
- National Reading Panel (2000). p. 3-1.
- Nell, V. (1988). The psychology of reading for pleasure. Needs and gratifications. Reading Research Quarterly, 23(1), 6-50
- Perfetti (1995) Reading Ability New York:Oxford University Press
- Scheele, Paul R (1996) The Photoreading Whole Mind System
- Stancliffe, George D (2003) Speed Reading 4 Kids
- "Speed Reading Made EZ" Usenet post , part of the alt.self-improve FAQ
- Whitaker (2005) Speed Reading Wikibooks
- Arvin Vohra Education (2005) Rapid Analytical Reading Announcement 
- Carver, R. P. (1992). Reading rate: Theory, research and practical implications. Journal of Reading, 36, 84-95.
- Abela (2004) Black Art of Speed Reading
- "Speed reading methods". kingofreading.com. http://www.kingofreading.com. Retrieved 29 June 2009.
- "BBC-Improve your skim reading technique". bbc.co.uk. BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise/words/reading/techniques/skimming/index.shtml. Retrieved 29 June 2009.