Reading Narratives Supports Cognitive Development Among College Students

Lisa Whalen


While it is common knowledge that reading narratives enhances reading comprehension and writing skills, what is less well known is that reading narratives also aids in cognitive development and critical thinking. Such findings are important because studies show a decline in the number of narratives high school and college students have read during the past 20
years. Coinciding with a decline in reading narratives is an increase in the number of underprepared students who require developmental (remedial) coursework before enrolling in college-level courses. This is particularly true in reading and composition (writing) courses. The following article presents
a review of the literature on reading narratives and cognitive development among college students. It presents results of studies conducted previously along with original research on reading narratives and enrollment in developmental versus college-level composition courses. This research shows that reading narratives helps develop students’ ability to assume other people’s perspectives, to consider a topic from multiple perspectives, to draw on knowledge from memory, and to evaluate new information by comparing it to prior knowledge.

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