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An investigation of the PASS model and depth of processing in adolescents with reading difficulties



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The comprehension of text involves a number of psychological and cognitive processes such as perception, attention, memory, and learning (Pearson & Stephens, 1994). The purpose of the study was to investigate the relationships that exist between cognitive processing (e.g., PASS model) and depth of processing (e.g., surface or deep) in reading comprehension within a sample of adolescent students who exhibited reading difficulties. The theoretical frameworks used in this study were the PASS model (Planning, Attention, Simultaneous and Successive processing) and a depth of processing model which dichotomized processing into two categories: surface or deep. These frameworks were contextualized within the reading comprehension domain. Students with reading difficulties in grades 9 to 11 were selected for participation based upon teacher nomination procedures (n = 84). As the raw scores for a number of measures used in this study could not be converted into standard scores, a random sample of students without reading difficulties in grades 9 to 11 (n = 67) served as a comparison group for the purposes of data analysis. Both groups of students were administered a series of tasks designed to measure the PASS model components (e.g., two tasks for each component) as well as two subtests of the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test - Revised (Woodcock, 1987). Students with reading difficulties were asked to complete a questionnaire designed to measure depth of processing as a general approach to learning (e.g., Learning Process Questionnaire, Biggs, 1987). They were also asked to read a series of short passages and provide oral summaries in order to determine depth of processing within the domain of reading comprehension. In addition, a randomly selected subsample of students with reading difficulties (n = 14) were asked to participate in a short interview in which a Miscue Analysis was conducted and several open-ended questions were asked regarding their approaches to reading comprehension. Results of the study suggested that students with reading difficulties differed from students without reading difficulties on all PASS model components except for successive processing. Students with reading difficulties generally used surface strategies when learning although they identified a deep level of motivation. Within the context of reading comprehension, they identified a number of deep and surface level processing strategies although they applied predominantly surface level strategies when actually reading and comprehending text. Gender differences on the PASS model tasks were also investigated; no gender differences were found.





Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Educational Psychology and Special Education


Educational Psychology and Special Education



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