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Individual differences in the inference of word meanings from context: the influence of reading comprehension, vocabulary knowledge, and memory capacity.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date12/2004
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Number of pages12
Original languageEnglish


Two studies investigated the ability to use contextual information in stories to infer the meanings of novel vocabulary by 9-10-year-olds with good and poor reading comprehension. Across studies, children with poor reading comprehension were impaired when the processing demands of the task were greatest. In Study 2, working memory capacity was related to performance, but short-term memory span and memory for the literal content of the text were not. Children with poor reading comprehension were not impaired in learning novel vocabulary taught through direct instruction, but children with both weak reading comprehension and vocabulary were. Implications for the relation between vocabulary development and text comprehension are discussed.

Bibliographic note

Cain was lead author and wrote the manuscript. She co-designed experiment 1 with Oakhill, constructed stimuli, collected and analysed data. Cain designed the main experiment (2), constructed stimuli, and analysed data. Cain was PI on the New Lecturer Fund (Nottingham University) that funded experiment 2. She presented these data at the 11th annual meeting of SSSR (2004). RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : Psychology