The Comprehension Game is based on Heikki Lyytinen’s 30-year research on reading, in which a central role has been played by the so-called Jyväskylä Longitudinal Study of Dyslexia. The research has resulted in hundreds of scientific articles that describe the development and learning before, during, and after learning to read. In contrast to most reading supports, the Comprehension Game does not focus on basic reading skills, meaning the ability to sound out words from written text. For this purpose, GraphoLearn is a good practice method. The Comprehension Game helps achieve the ultimate goal of reading, which is the ability to comprehend and understand the content of the text, so it can be applied in practice.
In today’s world, Finnish girls learn to master the main goal of reading, as evidenced by the PISA results. Their achievements are based on starting and continuing to read as soon as they acquire basic reading skills. Girls start reading early, and most of them read so much (for example, encouraged by earning reading diplomas) that they can “automate” their reading by the 2nd or 3rd grade. This means that the majority of their cognitive processing capacity is not tied up in basic reading processes, allowing resources to be available for understanding the message conveyed by the text.
Unfortunately, the world’s most reading nation – the Finns, of whom a higher proportion read daily newspapers than others (Miller & McKenna 2016) – cannot motivate all boys to read sufficiently to reach the girls’ level. Consequently, Finnish boys’ PISA results have fallen behind the global leaders, in contrast to the girls.
Even girls have something to learn in achieving critical literacy, which is practiced as a fundamental function in the Comprehension Game. This development is intended to occur through the repeated evaluation of the truthfulness of each statement.
In Finland, a large majority achieve sufficient basic reading skills during their first year of school, thanks to excellent education. However, the primary goal of reading remains unattained for many boys. This is evidenced by research on adults. Among adults, over 10% do not even understand their employment contracts when reading. This is likely to predominantly affect men who, after acquiring basic reading skills, do not read for their enjoyment or even newspapers.
Therefore, valuable advice is needed to prevent the decline in PISA results. Especially now, when games that attract boys increasingly and in more captivating ways take up their time, diverting them from reading. Reading is essential to achieve the primary goal of reading and to acquire knowledge through reading, which is the way the majority of knowledge is acquired.
The essential scientific basis for achieving full literacy
The Comprehension Game has been built with the support of the best scientific knowledge to help achieve full literacy. Full literacy requires at least as good comprehension of information when reading as the learner can achieve through spoken language.
In addition to teaching full literacy, the Comprehension Game, through its entire structure (evaluating the truth of each statement), promotes and motivates a critical approach to texts. This skill is increasingly valuable for modern readers as the availability of less accurate information continues to grow.
Good literacy ensures learning in school. Therefore, Comprehension Game practice is aimed at being integrated into the school environment, alongside reading textbooks. When content is created by multiple education professionals, the game can provide optimal content for learning in each language, school, and age environment.
The core of learning (memorization) is repetition. It is realized when the learner commits to learning with sufficient intensity. This is most likely achieved in an enjoyable, game-like environment, in which children are increasingly accustomed to spending their time. Game elements should be maximized, especially for boys, by utilizing, for example, competitiveness, as long as it is done with the criterion of increasing one’s skills, and not solely for comparison.
Research on full literacy identifies a set of essential requirements for achieving the main goal of literacy. These are precisely the aspects that PISA measures. These requirements have been particularly recognized in contexts related to learning, especially in school learning.
In a well-structured school system, the guidance for school learning proceeds step by step, always ensuring that the necessary background information for taking the next step has been learned. Therefore, the school context is particularly suitable for practicing reading comprehension. A child can understand when not overwhelmed by too much information at once. The simplest example of this is that when introducing a new topic, one must first master the concepts on which the understanding of certain information is based on. Before one can learn multiplication, one must learn addition, or before one can deeply study geography, one must know, for example, the types of natural entities that exist, such as continents and seas, or countries and cities within them, etc.
In addition to learning concepts and vocabulary at various levels, progression goes from a basic level to a meta-level. This gradual progression allows the learner to gradually acquire all the basic knowledge and ultimately expertise, which is obtained from primary school to university and beyond.
The Comprehension Game can help at all levels of knowledge acquisition, where the matter can also be visually presented. Therefore, its most versatile application area is learning core concepts based on non-fiction literature. Every non-fiction book contains core concepts and a wealth of supplementary material. However, it is usually not necessary to memorize all of this material. Even university students excel in learning assessments without necessarily memorizing all of them.
It is important to highlight that the Comprehension Game is based on dynamic assessment. It provides the most accurate assessment of the learner’s current level of knowledge, based on which it directs them to practice the things they have not yet learned. The Comprehension Game also adapts to the pace and quality of each learner’s knowledge retention to optimize learning.
Some of the features of the Comprehension Game include:
- Language independence
- Ability to effectively teach knowledge acquisition through reading, with a focus on the core concepts of written information
- Ability to teach visually presented information without limitations and cost-effectively
- Basics, usage, and evidence are easily accessible
- Ensures learning by providing feedback to both learners and teachers on their understanding and retention of the subject
- Can teach core concepts even without acquiring traditional textbook-style materials
- Works on almost all devices with a modern internet browser, regardless of the operating system
- Learning materials can be customized and created according to educational needs
Validation research related to the game has been initiated in two different environments that represent extreme ends in terms of learner contexts and content: Finland and Zambia.
In Finland, all elementary school teachers have the opportunity to use the Comprehension Game for free. So far, the Comprehension Game has been piloted in Laukaa, Finland.
The Comprehension Game has also been introduced in rural Zambia, specifically in Katete, where literacy is unfortunately scarce or absent. The learning content is provided in the local language (Cinyanja). The use of the Comprehension Game in Zambia is expanding and is currently under ongoing research. Initially, the GraphoLearn game was used to practice basic reading skills, and currently, the Comprehension Game is being used to practice reading comprehension. The research results have been published in a section describing basic literacy learning, and the part related to reading comprehension is planned to be published in 2023 with appropriate literature references.
The Zambia study focuses on a large group of people who have no access to information, since they lack literacy and even access to radios. This was evident when none of the 20 families we researched in April 2022 were aware of, for example, the war in Ukraine or the resulting threat to food security. They were also unaware of a similar threat caused by climate change in their region. The danger arises from the difficulty of growing the local staple food, maize. Sooner or later, it will become problematic, so preparations should be made to cultivate alternative sources of food.
Miller, J.W. & McKenna, M.C.. (2016). World literacy: How countries rank and why it matters. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315693934.