In this study, eye movement recordings and comprehension tests were used to investigate children's cognitive processes and comprehension when reading illustrated science texts. Ten-year-old children (N = 42) who were beginning to read to learn, with high and low reading ability read two illustrated science texts in Chinese (one medium-difficult article, one difficult article), and then answered questions that measured comprehension of textual and pictorial information as well as text-and-picture integration. The high-ability group outperformed the low-ability group on all questions. Eye movement analyses showed that both group of students spent roughly the same amount of time reading both articles, but had different methods of reading them. The low-ability group was inclined to read what seemed easier to them and read the text more. The high-ability group attended more to the difficult article and made an effort to integrate the textual and pictorial information. During a first-pass reading of the difficult article, high- but not low-ability readers returned to the previous paragraph. The low-ability readers spent more time reading the less difficult article and not the difficult one that required teachers' attention. Suggestions for classroom instruction are proposed accordingly.
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