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Improving Reading Rates through Timed Reading

One of the theories underlying timed reading (TR; also known as paced reading and accelerated
reading)—where readers read under some degree of time pressure—is based on research
concerning working memory (short-term memory). Memory is usually divided into long-term
memory and working memory. The former stores our permanent records of experience while the
latter contains all the information that is ready for processing operations (Baddeley, 2006, 2007).
In reading theory, comprehension is mediated through processes in working memory (cf.,
Daneman and Merikle, 1996 for a comprehensive review; Smith, 2004). In lower-level
processing, working memory supports orthographic, phonological and morphological processing
for word recognition, and then assembles the information at the word and clause level to
construct meaning from the text. Working memory is generally described as a limited-capacity
system, which means that it has limited storage and limited ability to perform multiple processes
simultaneously (Baddeley, 2006, 2007). Under such circumstances, working memory can
maintain information actively for only a very brief period of time (Kintsch, Patel and Ericsson,
1999). If one expends too much attention on lower-level processing (e.g., word decoding), then
less attention will be available for higher-level processing (e.g., making inferences, drawing on
background or world knowledge). This may result in poor comprehension (LaBerge and Samuels,
1974; Perfetti, 1985; Samuels, 1994). 

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