(1) Why was the question asked in ASSET test?

Most stories have a very definite sequence of events. Students understand the story by exploring this sequence. The ability to visualise and logically sequence events in a story is an important skill in comprehending stories. Only when a person is able to decode sentences and place them in the correct sequence, will he be able to understand the deeper nuances of the story.

(2) What did students answer?

48% of 6,763 students chose the correct Option C, “after eating the sixth cake” . 39% of the children chose option D, “after eating the seventh cake” which was a common wrong answer.

Possible reasons for choosing A and B:  Only a few children chose these options (4-6% each), probably indicating that they have guessed the answer or simply chosen any option.

Possible reason for choosing D:  The phrase “This time he ate more slowly” appears just after the sentence “Next he started on the seventh cake” . The proximity of “ate slowly” to “seventh cake” in the passage might have led children to blindly match these two and answer D.

(3) Learnings

This question is an attempt to find out if children are able to understand the sequence of facts in a story. The correct answer Option C has been deliberately worded as “after eating the sixth cake” instead of repeating the words from the passage “started on the seventh cake” to test if children understand that both these phrases refer to almost the same moment in time. Option D was used as a distracter to see if children would miss this point and choose this blindly by matching with the word ‘seventh ’. Those who have related these two expressions have been able to answer correctly. The question is not difficult to answer if children understand what happens first and arrive at what happens next in the correct order. They need to understand how many cakes the man had, how many he ate fast and exactly when he started eating slowly.

4) How do we handle this?

  • Read out a story once to them and help them focus on the events that take place and the order in which they occur.
  • Then list the events on the blackboard in the order identified by the students.
  • After listing as many events from the story as possible introduce the concept of sequence to the class and explain that this is a strategy that they are going to use to understand what they have read. Explain that they are going to build a timeline to review the sequence of events in the story..
  • Begin the timeline process by having students divide themselves up into three groups based on when the event in their sentence happened in the story: BEGINNING- MIDDLE- END
  • In each group, have students work together to decide the sequence of events. When the group has a tentative order, ask them to sit in a line in the right chronological order.
  • When the class has decided on a sequence, have each student attach their sentence to the chart paper timeline hanging on the wall using glue or a stapler or ask them to read out their sentences in order of the story to reinforce the sequence of events.
  • Arranging events in a chronological order and talking about this, will help to understand the story structure, cause and effect and characters. (See the example with the story of ‘The man and His Cakes’).





Useful links

1. Haydn Perry, Once a Week Comprehension, Book 1, Oxford University Press. (A set of comprehension passages and questions)

2. Tips to Strengthen Reading Comprehension (K-3), Article provided by Sylvan Learning Center –http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/departments/elementary/?article=strengthenreadingcom

Educational Initiatives

Educational Initiatives

Founded by a group of IIMA alumni, with ample personal experience of educational institutions, Educational Initiatives (EI) is an effort to ensure every child learns with understanding.

Established in 2001, Educational Initiatives believes in making a difference in education through personalized learning and ensuring that students learn with understanding.

EI has over 15 years of expertise in education, with a deep understanding of child psychology and efficient methods of teaching, based on detailed research and a formidable database of student learning through ASSET.

Our detailed research has proven that children today respond to rote-based questions relatively well, however, they fail to answer unfamiliar or application based questions due to unclear core concepts.
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