The main purpose of the article (Flood, Lapp, & Fisher, 2005) is to reiterate a seemingly forgotten neurological impress method (NIM) of increasing reading fluency. The researchers extend the method with an additional comprehension component, hence “plus.” The study reaffirms the relatively easy method’s ability to increase reading fluency and comprehension.
Does NIM enhance comprehension? Although they are testing the method as an appropriate means for increasing reading fluency, earlier research already makes a strong case for its use (Heckelman, 1969). Therefore, one might infer the focus of the current research is on its adaptability, specifically to comprehension. So far, causation between reading fluency and comprehension cannot be demonstrated (Adlof, Catts, & Little, 2006; Riedel, 2007), but correlations have been made (Klauda & Guthrie, 2008; Miller & Schwanenflugel, 2006). Then, at the very least, this research (Flood et al., 2005) indicates that using the NIM method does not negatively affect reading comprehension. The researchers’ claim is supported by the results, and their inferences do not extend beyond their research.
The Most Important Information
By including the comprehension measurement, the researchers determined that the NIM Plus method does not sacrifice comprehension for reading fluency. Besides a marked increase in fluency, each of the two studies revealed student comprehension also significantly increased. In addition, NIM previously studied in secondary grades, demonstrated NIM’s value as low as third grade. Interesting to note, the studies were conducted in two different schools, one of which was Title 1, and 100% of the subjects received or reduced lunch. Regardless of socioeconomic and ethnicity, NIM Plus was effective in increasing reading fluency and comprehension. One might wonder, further, how deep into the primary grades NIM can be effective.
NIM Plus is a inexpensive and easy method for increasing reading fluency. The focus on fluency does not interfere with the comprehension of text. One might infer from the data that the method actually supports comprehension. Because the method is relatively easy, other school personnel can employ the method. However, one should note the instructors in the research had at least some formal training in reading instruction.
Although the NIM Plus cannot be held accountable for the increase in comprehension, especially since the “Plus” more accurately represents assessment not instruction, the underlying principals might. For example, increasing reading fluency means increasing automaticity, the ability to recognize and read words rapidly, and prosody, the inflection, stress, and pause demonstrated by proficient readers. If students read words effortlessly (automatically) and meaning (appropriate prosody often reflects meaning (Miller & Schwanenflugel, 2008)), then freed cognitive processes can be directed towards comprehension (LaBerge & Samuels, 1974). This might be reason for results portraying higher comprehension. However, no scholar has conducted research indicating the free processes are automatically directed towards comprehension.
The author assumes NIM Plus (as well as NIM) to be multisensory. A further discussion of this is warranted. This is where the expertise of this writer ends, and speculation begins. In a series on the Brain, privately viewed, students examined the reading brain. NIM boasts multisensory in that words are “etched” into the brain. Students participating hear the word, see the word, read the word, and say the word. This combination might be strong enough to “etch” the word into long-term memory. In addition, the intimacy of the strategy, often referred to as the psychological effects, connect the reading emotionally. The strategy requires the teacher to sit close to the student, and gently guide their finger along the words. Emotion enhances memory, therefore might aid in the commitment of words to long-term—possibly more than just words such as story structure, phonemes, however, this may reaching and beyond the ability for this writer to even speculate.
The left side of the brain, widely accepted as associated with language, plays an integral in the reading process. However, prosody seems to require lateralization. The right side of the role brain is responsible for prosody. NIM in unique in that it also enhances prosody. The proficient reader materializes the unwritten prosodic features of text, thus engaging the right side of the brain. Could it be that the multisensory approach combined with the lateralization is responsible for the success of the method?
The authors assume that reading fluency is an integral component to the reading process. Further, they assume that reading fluency is a precursor for comprehension. They are not alone in their beliefs; on the contrary, there are many beliefs in regards to the precursors of reading comprehension. Regardless, these researchers believe that words are actually impressed, or “etched”, into the brain because of the method. This assumption might be difficult for some consumers to undertake. Another difficult assumption, mentioned earlier, is believing freed cognitive process are redirected to comprehension while reading. Thus far, it is unproved. Heretofore, NIM studies have not utilized brain imaging, but should consider it for further research.
If this research is taken seriously, then every able man, woman, and child should be trained in NIM tutoring. There is no reason for students to struggle with reading when such a method exists. The previous statement may seem extreme, but evokes several questions. Is there a way to utilize this method through technology? In that case, the public would not have to be trained. If this research is taken seriously, further studies need to be conducted in all grade levels. If the field fails to take this line of reasoning seriously, then a low-cost efficient method for increasing reading fluency and supporting comprehension is lost. The authors mentioned NIM being overlooked for fifteen years in the introduction of the article; reading teachers cannot afford to lose sight of this method again.
Adlof, S. M., Catts, H. W., & Little, T. D. (2006). Should the simple view of reading include a fluency component? Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 19(9), 933-958.
Flood, J., Lapp, D., & Fisher, D. (2005). Neurological impress method plus. Reading Psychology an International Quarterly, 26(2), 147-160.
Heckelman, R. G. (1969). A neurological-impress method of remedial-reading instruction Acad Therap Quart.
Klauda, S. L., & Guthrie, J. T. (2008). Relationships of three components of reading fluency to reading comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100(2), 310-321.
LaBerge, D., & Samuels, S. J. (1974). Toward a theory of automatic information processing in reading. Cognitive Psychology, 6(2), 293-323. doi:10.1016/0010-0285(74)90015-2
Miller, J., & Schwanenflugel, P. J. (2006). Prosody of syntactically complex sentences in the oral reading of young children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(4), 839-843.
Miller, J., & Schwanenflugel, P. J. (2008). A longitudinal study of the development of reading prosody as a dimension of oral reading fluency in early elementary school children. Reading Research Quarterly, 43(4), 336-354.
Riedel, B. W. (2007). The relation between DIBELS, reading comprehension, and vocabulary in urban first-grade students. Reading Research Quarterly, 42(4), 546-567.