The Influence of Rapid Sequential Reading on Generating Inferences

Grant Winners

  • W. Matthew Collins, PhD – Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences
  • Anil Sawh – Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences
  • Belkis Rivas – Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences


  • Don Rosenblum, PhD – Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences


Speed reading training is marketed towards individuals with claims of improved reading speed, improved comprehension and improved retention. Unfortunately, research suggests that techniques promoted by speed reading training like inhibiting sub-vocalization actually decrease comprehension. Furthermore, studies that have directly examined reading comprehension in speed readers find that despite increases in reading speed, comprehension actually decreases. However, very little research has addressed how speed reading affects specific reading comprehension processes, like inference generation. In general, inferences are important for readers to understand passages and important for the long-term storage of passages in memory. The purpose of this research is to extend prior findings on speed reading and reading comprehension by examining how the generation of bridging inferences during reading is affected by speed reading. Bridging inferences are inferences that connect ideas in a passage and are necessary for complete understanding of a passage. In collaboration with Dr. Daniel from Indiana University Northwest, 60 normal readers and 60 speed readers will read a series of passages which require the generation of inferences while reading in order to be understood. Following each passage, readers will perform a lexical decision task which involves deciding whether a string of letters is word or not. Critically, letter strings in the lexical decision task will either be a non-word, a word, or a word representing the critical inference. If speed readers fail to generate inferences while they are reading, they should be slower and significantly less accurate when presented with inference words in the lexical decision tasks, compared to normal readers.