Thank you for drawing attention to this incredibly important, and serious under-discussed, aspect of effective reading. I worked with many (high-school age) students who persistently looked away from the page, primarily when they had difficulty with a word but also just out of habit. It's an enormously difficult tendency to break, and it gets harder the longer it goes on. I spent a lot of time having students follow along the text with their finger so that they would keep focusing on the words. Unfortunately, a lot of teachers take it for granted that all readers naturally possess this ability, and it doesn't even occur to them to check for difficulties. Even if they do, getting a student to maintain a focus on the text requires a huge amount of repetition, accompanied by immediate correction; you have no choice but to be a zealot.
The problem is that teachers who have been trained against anything resembling "drill n' kill" are likely to reflexively push back against it, regardless of how necessary it is. If they've been trained three-cueing style, they might even encourage students to look away from the words, without understanding the repercussions.
Submitted by Erica Meltzer (not verified) on May 28, 2020 - 4:07pm