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Teachers take an active role in developing and deepening students’ comprehension by asking questions that cause them to read the text again, resulting in multiple readings of the same text. In other words, these text­based questions provide students with a purpose for rereading, which is critical for understanding complex texts.

What does "which" stand for in this context?

1.rereading

2 . refer to all the sencence preceding "which" (the fact that these textbased questions provide students with a purpose for rereading

Which is more persuasive 1 or 2? Or other possible one?

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    I'd say it is "rereading": we understand that rereading is critical for understanding complex texts. – BillJ Mar 21 at 9:59
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Here is my thought process on understanding what "which" stands for in this context. First, what is the context of "which"? The phrase "which is critical".

What is it that is critical? First let's ask, critical for what? "Critical for understanding complex texts." So, what is it that's critical for understanding complex texts? Rereading (reading the text again).

So, I agree with the first commenter, BillJ. "Which" specifically refers to "rereading". The paragraph is about teachers taking an active role, and in this example their active role includes providing text-based questions. The teachers encourage rereading, but it's the rereading that is critical for understanding complex texts.

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The "which" in that sentence is a non-restrictive modifier. Means it gives non vital information without that "which" it makes sense as well. It adds extra information.

These modifiers describe the nouns that just preceded them(nearest noun). So in your example it's "Rereading" So it literally means -

rereading is critical for understanding complex texts.

If you want it to mean rereading is critical - use which. But if you want it to substitute the whole sentence then you should use a "present participle"

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The example text is written in an ambiguous way, and it is only through context that we can guess at the intended meaning for "which."

In this case, "which" refers to "rereading." The only way to know that it refers to "rereading" and not to "purpose" is to have read and understood the previous sentence. Taken alone, the following sentence:

These text-­based questions provide students with a purpose for rereading, which is critical for understanding complex texts.

Could mean either

  1. "rereading is critical for understanding complex texts"

or

  1. "a purpose for rereading is critical for understanding complex texts"

If the prior sentence had been all about how a sense of purpose contributed to understanding, the best interpretation would been option 2 instead of option 1.

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