European Journal of Psychology of Education

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 641–663 | Cite as

Computer-based assessment of reading ability and subtypes of readers with reading comprehension difficulties: a study in French children from G2 to G9

  • Pauline AuphanEmail author
  • Jean Ecalle
  • Annie Magnan


Reading difficulties in school are very challenging for teachers due to many different reader subtypes in one and the same class. Moreover, there are few easy-to-use tools enabling teachers to assess reading ability. According to the Simple View of Reading (Hoover and Gough in Reading and Writing, 2(2), 127–160, 1990), efficient reading comprehension is the result of an interaction between word reading (through three word representation levels: orthographic, phonological, and semantic) and comprehension (through three processing types: literal, text-connecting, and gap-filling inferences). Difficulties in one of these components, or in both, should lead to difficulties in reading comprehension and bring about different reader subtypes. This study aims, first, to examine the validity of the tool and, second, to explore performance reading patterns of children with reading difficulties. A population of 485 typically developing French children from grade 2 to grade 9 was tested using three computerized tasks that recorded accuracy and speed: lexical quality to examine the three levels of word representation; silent reading and listening comprehension to examine both literal and inferential processing. Results showed the appropriateness of the tool but also identified a number of limits. It was possible with the results to detect 76 children with reading comprehension difficulties and to divide them into 5 clusters essentially according to their word reading performances. The results are discussed in relation to the theoretical frameworks used to build the tool.


Computerized assessment Reading ability Reader comprehension difficulties French children 



The authors are very grateful to the company ADEPRIO for designing the software program DiCoLec used in this study. The first author currently benefits from a grant from Fondation Orange. The authors thank the master’s degree students who participated in the data collection. Finally, the authors thank the teachers, families, and children who agreed to take part in this study.

Compliance with ethical standards

The present study was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki (Word Medical Association, 2001). It was approved by the laboratory ethics committee. All the participants’ parents were informed and gave their consent for their children to participate in this study.

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10212_2018_396_MOESM1_ESM.docx (32 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 32 kb)


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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisboa, Portugal and Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire d’Étude des Mécanismes Cognitifs (E.M.C), EA3082, Université Lumière Lyon 2 and LabEx CORTEX ANR-11- LABX-0042, Université de LyonBron cedexFrance
  2. 2.Institut Universitaire de FranceParisFrance

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