Critical culturalized comprehension: Exploring culture as learners thinking about texts

Alexandra List, Gala S. Campos Oaxaca, Hongcui Du, Hye Yeon Lee, Bailing Lyu

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We examine the role of culture in comprehension. Prominent theories of comprehension conceptualized the outcome of reading as learners’ construction of a cognitive representation of texts. We emphasize that such representation reflects not only texts’ content, but also individuals’ understandings of the real world, as described in texts. We suggest that, thus, individuals should be supported to question and analyze the mental representations that they form; we use the term “culture” to capture such questioning and analysis. Rather than an individual difference factor, we argue for conceptualizing culture as a way of thinking, or as individuals’ reasoning about the commonalities and differences in their and others’ worldviews and the linking of these to underlying values. When such reasoning is engaged in reference to texts, we refer to this as culturalized comprehension; when such reasoning is further engaged to resist or recast the values introduced in texts to generate counternarratives, we refer to this as critical culturalized comprehension. In emphasizing the importance of culturalized and critical culturalized comprehension and describing the set of cognitive processes involved, we argue for research in educational psychology to examine how learners may be consciously, reflectively, and critically engaged in using texts to understand their world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalEducational Psychologist
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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